With so much time to think about things, I have, unsurprisingly, been thinking about cars. More specifically, the most beautiful cars ever made.
One thing we seem to have now is time. Time to do whatever we want, provided what we want to do is something inside the four walls of our house.
It’s quite normal to start talking to said walls, don’t worry. We are all doing it. I’d say, worry only if they answer back. Then you should probably call someone.
As confinement continues, it is still impossible to test drive any press cars. Nor are there new launches or racing of any kind. Add all that time we have in our hands and the mind wanders. Mine, of course, into some imaginary world where all the greatest cars live.
That’s why I thought it would be interesting to crack open a cold one, sit down and decide which are the most beautiful cars ever made. I started with a Top-10, but was already at 17 models, so had to rethink the concept of the text. I would have to narrow things down – and come up with a fantastic Top-5.
Of course, by now you have already looked at the pictures and you know my choices. So let me tell you this: there is no number one. Order is completely random. I cannot decide which one I think is the most beautiful car ever made. And, of course, this is totally subjective, there are no objective reasons for my list other than my personal preferences. Feel free to disagree.
Obviously, being a lifelong Ferrarista, there are two Ferraris in here and we will start with the 1962 250 GTO, the most famous Ferrari of all. The 250 series is Ferrari’s most prestigious range of cars, the range where those three hallowed letters were born: GTO, or Gran Turismo Omologato. The GTO was developed for Group 3 racing and became one of the most successful competition cars in history. Thing is, it’s also a road car, one the best drivers in the world of the Sixties drove to the track, won the race in, then drove back home.
Thirty-six were built, they all still exist and have become the hottest car on the planet. In 2018, someone paid $72 million for one, making it the most expensive thing on four wheels ever. Seeing one is almost a religious experience, at least for petrolheads.
Next on the list is the car the GTO replaced, the 1959 250 GT Berlinetta SWB. Clearly, Ferrari was on a roll, design-wise. The SWB stands for Short Wheel Base and many drivers actually prefer to race this over the GTO because of its, well, shortened wheelbase.
Proportions are simply perfect, and the design of the car has no subterfuges; it’s actually very simple, very straightforward and that is why it is so beautiful. I remember the first time I saw one; I swear I got a tear in my eye. But it also made me proud to be a Ferrarista, this car. Like I had been right all along. I want one so much it hurts.
Let’s proceed. Alfa Romeo was always going to be present and, for me, there is no doubt regarding the most incredible car they ever designed: the 1967 Tipo 33 Stradale. For many, this is the one, the most beautiful car in the world. I’d never dispute that. As the name indicates, it is a road version of the Tipo 33, one of the most important competition cars the brand ever built. Because the Stradale didn’t have to comply with any racing rules, designer Franco Scaglione was given free reign and the result is simply breathtaking.
When it came out, it was the fastest car in the world, as well as the most expensive, retailing in Italy for 65 times the national average wage. Today, it would be worth around $10 million to $12 million, but none of the 18 built is likely to come up for sale anytime soon.
Next up, the only racing car present, which, by definition, makes it the most beautiful machine built for a single purpose: winning. The Porsche 917 turned 50 last year, but I still get weak in the knees every time I see one.
It brought Porsche its first overall win at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1970, elevating the German manufacturer to new heights, and then, for good measure, repeated the feat in 1971. The 917 took five seconds to get to 200kph. Enough said, right?
Not one bit of it was designed with aesthetics in mind; everything was related to speed and performance, so it is quite spectacular that it turned out like it did. It’s the pinnacle of what a racing car means, what a racing car looks like and what a racing car is capable of. I am going to say it is simply perfect.
Last, but definitely not least, the Fiat 500, or to give it its actual name, La Nuova 500. The complete opposite of all the other cars here, it was built to kick-start a whole country after a world war. Italy needed to expedite growth and people needed a cheap, practical way to move about. In 1957, designer Dante Giacosa gave them the solution in the form of the greatest small car in history.
The 500 was produced over a life span of 18 years without any major changes and I dare you not to smile when you see one even today, more than six decades later. It’s a landmark of industrial design and it’s the automotive equivalent of the words “cute” and “oh so pretty”. I think it’s a beautiful thing. Hope I will have one in my living room one day.
By Guilherme Marques