100: 2005 Audi A5 - NEW ENTRY
Handsome car of fine proportions, quiet authority and subtle class, all underlined by a look that has aged slowly. Less influential than its five-door Sportback sibling, which sparked an imitator from Audi’s Bavarian rival, but it’s made its mark.
99: 2010 Aston Martin Rapide - NEW ENTRY
Overlooked, hampered by the taint of practicality and hardly capacious in the rear, but this is a truly beautiful four-door car that looks every centimetre an Aston.
98: 2011 BAC Mono - NEW ENTRY
Technical beauty and the unmissable impact of a road car that could pass for a machine from F1. The clean, original shapes of its bodywork make a satisfying contrast with the exquisite quality of its exposed mechanicals.
97: 1930 Bentley 4.5 Litre Blower
As handsome as a classical building and possessed of similarly awesome power. The scale, location and artistry of the grille, the headlights, the mudguards and the blower casing are perfection.
96: 1964 Porsche 904 GTS
Delicately pretty sports racer of a kind that was quite common in this era. Few examples of it were made, but it could have evolved beautifully.
95: 1975 Porsche 917 (road car)
One of the best-looking race cars ever, especially in Gulf Oil colours. Which is why a few 917s were converted for heart-stopping road use.
94: 1971 Maserati Ghibli
Giorgetto Giugiaro designed many beautiful coupés. This Maserati is among the best, brilliantly mixing glamour, dynamism, muscularity and delicacy of detail.
93: 1957 Jaguar XKSS
Another sensational race-car escapee, this time a road-going version of the Le Mans-winning D-Type. Dramatic and curvily purposeful, it must have looked extraordinary among British saloons of the 1950s.
92: 2017 Alpine Renault - NEW ENTRY
Criticise the throwback looks if you like, but the 1961 A110 Berlinetta that is the new Alpine’s inspiration directly rivalled today’s retro Porsche 911, too. Both the new Alpine and original A110 are lithe, compact and pretty cars.
91: 1968 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV 4
Not a favourite of its creator, Giorgetto Giugiaro, curiously, but this Giulia coupé is a fine blend of elegance and implied agility, and the Mk1 1750 GTV is the best detailed.
90: 2007 Audi R8 - NEW ENTRY
Audi’s Bauhaus period produced something new and highly desirable in the R8, especially when those striking side blades came in a contrasting colour. It’s leaner than today’s R8, and the better for it.
89: 1963 Ferrari 250 LM
This mid-engined Ferrari pre-dated the Miura. The 250 LM’s wraparound screen, hunched rear arches and duck-tail spoiler were all sported by the Lamborghini. Both a road and race car, only 32 examples were built.
88: 2002 TVR T350 - NEW ENTRY
TVR gave so much to car design, and our visual pleasure receptors, from the Griffith to this T350. Expressively powerful shapes, detailing somewhere between odd and mad, new ways to disguise the fit & finish challenge of glassfibre-reinforced plastic and baffling methods of entry: the T350 has them all.
87: 2012 Morgan 3 Wheeler - NEW ENTRY
Quite unlike any other car here, the 3 Wheeler is a vintage throwback that’s all about function and fitness for uproarious purpose. That, in itself, gives it a beauty, as do its fine details and the scope for artful customisation.
86: 1932 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster 3
An almost perfect blend of rakish elegance, pre-war sports car proportioning and fabulous detail, not least the Bugatti wheels that would have looked radical in the era of wires.
85: 1956 Bentley S-type Continental
Patrician elegance, class, presence (lots of that) and more than a hint of luxuriant power. Its long bonnet apart, you can spot source material for the Continental GT here.
84: 2016 Ford GT - NEW ENTRY
A striking blend of aerodynamic artistry – witness those flamboyant flying buttresses and that tapering cabin – and referential updating, this GT dramatically builds on the 2003 GT and Ford’s 1966 GT40 legend.
83: 1952 Bentley R-type Continental
More graceful and more suggestive of speed than the succeeding Continental S. Considered to be one of the most beautiful Bentleys ever.
82: 2011 Range Rover Evoque - NEW ENTRY
It offered something truly new in 4x4 exterior design, and when you see increasing numbers of boxily similar SUVs and crossovers, you realise its achievement. Still looks fresh today
81: 1961 Aston Martin DB4 Convertible
Glamorous, decapitated version of the clean-flanked and finely proportioned DB4 coupé, complete with Aston Martin’s handsomely distinctive grille.
80: 2007 Fiat 500 - NEW ENTRY
One measure of a design’s success is how well it ages, and the 500 weathers time’s fickle judgement brilliantly. It’s a charming evocation of the 1957 original and hugely appealing in its own right.
79: 1965 Aston Martin DB3S
A long bonnet, a driver positioned uncomfortably close to the rear axle, a short boot and scanty roofing: it must be your classic British sports car. In this case, with the flourish of Testa Rossa-like front arches and an Aston nose.
78: 1978 Porsche 928
Still looks modern 40 years after it first appeared, its full-bodied, muscular bodywork intriguingly mixed with detailing to make an industrial designer proud.
77: 2007 Maserati Granturismo - NEW ENTRY
This is your classic race-to-the-riviera Italian GT: long-bonneted, curvaceous and just a little bit louche. A subtly protuberant grille adds piquancy to a coupé that remains well proportioned in spite of a cabin that seats four, while its curvaceous flanks are – correctly – suggestive of dynamism.
76: 1969 Ford Capri 3000 GT
The American pony car, European style. Accessible glamour on basic mechanicals, combined with plenty of glitz and the winning proportions of a thoroughbred.
75: 1994 Lamborghini Diablo
The Countach’s successor grew long in the tail, mostly to accommodate the exhaust’s catalysts. The result was less original but still satisfyingly dramatic.
74: 1975 Citroën CX
Still futuristic despite being more than 40 years old. Confidently clean flanks, generous glazing, two-box shape and distinctive headlights still look good, so much so they inspired the recent CXperience concept.
73: 2013 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé - NEW ENTRY
A rare BMW, both numerically and for combining striking proportion, satisfying detail and lines true to the brand. Too many modern BMWs suffer troubling proportions and blandness. This one doesn’t.
72: 1932 Duesenberg Boattail Roadster
Few cars flaunt the idea of magnificent motoring as effectively as this Duesenberg, which achieves unmissable presence with a majestically assertive confection of grille, headlights and tapering tail.
71: 2016 McLaren 570GT - NEW ENTRY
McLarens have steadily got better looking since the MP4-12C (although some fans still carry a torch for it), and the glass-hatched 570GT is the best yet. The glazing creates cleaner lines, with the added appeal of being side-hinged.
70: 1930 Bentley Speed Six
The striking contrast of shallow glazing and deep-sided bodywork suggest speed and mystery in equal measure, as do the long bonnet and tail-mounted spare wheel.
69: 2002 Bentley Continental GT - NEW ENTRY
Magnificently combines aristocratic bearing, muscular lines and bigboned elegance. Bonnet too short for many, both proportionally and for a Bentley, but a fine design regardless.
The inheritor of the Dino 246’s genes and still one of the best-looking mid-engined cars ever, despite looking under-muscled.
67: 1954 Maserati A6 GTS
Vertical A-pillars, side exit exhausts and an air gobbler of a grille blend arrestingly with this Maser’s finely sculpted tail, long, low unbumpered nose and big wire wheels. Fabulous.
66: 1939 Alfa Romeo 2500 SS
Alfa was a blue-blood brand pre-war, producing aristocratic sporting machinery for the amply monied, who could enjoy the sparely sculpted, generously-bonneted drama of this big Alfa coupé.
65: 2005 Aston Martin V8 Vantage - NEW ENTRY
The DB9 design theme in more compact and wieldy form. The start of Aston’s drift towards a range of too-similar cars but mighty appealing in its own right.
64: 1975 Lotus Esprit
Giugiaro at his crisply dramatic best, this mid-engined 1970s wedge is striking for its low roof, straight edges and curves so subtle that you’ll easily miss them.
63: 2013 Jaguar F-Type NEW ENTRY
How do you replace the car that sat atop our 2002 top 100 chart? You don’t; instead, you design a subtly proportioned and handsome sports car and coupé. Even so, there are subtle E-Type references, the rear lights in particular.
62: 2015 Ferrari 488 GTB - NEW ENTRY
The latest in a long line of mid-engined Ferrari V8s, the 488 serves a fine blend of raw beauty, aggressive intent and aerodynamic effectiveness. It’s difficult to look new with this format, especially for prolific Ferrari, but the 488 achieves it.
61: 2010 Ferrari 599 GTO - NEW ENTRY
Ferrari has produced severeal front-engined V12 coupé designs recently, heightening the challenge of achieving individuality each time. The 599 GTB Fiorano managed brilliantly with its flying buttress rear pillars, and this short-booted, long-bonneted coupé was neatly sharpened when it became the 599 GTO.
60: 1993 Jaguar XJ220
MATT SAUNDERS: Has there been a better-looking supercar since? Much of the Jag's final spec disappointed, but the outline didn't. Function has come to define form much more strictly since. But 212mph would do me if it looked like this.
59: 1938 Bugatti 57s Corsica
This is the raffishly aristocratic opentop sports car of the mind’s eye made real. As fast as it looks and with a bonnet that will arrive well ahead of the car’s occupants.
58: 2001 Mini Cooper - NEW ENTRY
Very few hatchbacks make this list, but as BMW’s 2001 Mini gets older and its descendants get fatter, the brilliance of the modern original becomes clearer. A fine and perfectly proportioned homage to the original.
57: 1955 Austin Healey 100M
Exquisite in profile, this apparently simple design is a feast of subtle curves, most of them drawn on the floor of Donald Healey’s workshop in chalk. That’s automotive artistry.
56: 1934 Auburn Speedster 1
An art deco extravagance of an automobile, the body and wings a streamlined sheath around engine, occupants and wheels. Fantastical.
55: 2008 Dodge Challenger - NEW ENTRY
A fine, updated remake of the 1969 Challenger, the 2008 edition brilliantly captures the essence both of the earlier car and the era for octane-pumped muscle cars. The silhouette and details emphatically reference the past, but with crisper, cleaner lines suggestive of robust potency.
54: 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge
There were so many 1960s muscle cars, but this one combines that sexy Coke-bottle waistline pinch with a spoiler, air scoops, Rostyle wheels and a hood-mounted tachometer. It is simply perfect.
53: 2003 Lamborghini Gallardo - NEW ENTRY
Mid-engined supercars are usually as curvy as banana-shaped soap, but Luc Donkerwolke’s teased and subtly blunted edges helped make this Lamborghini’s most-bought car ever.
52: 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
One of the most handsome, sophisticated and beautiful American cars of the 1960s – and that’s saying something in the decade when GM Design was at its zenith.
51: 2014 BMW i8 NEW ENTRY
This certainly isn’t a bland BMW, with its flowing, manta ray-like forms creating a truly striking, beautiful look. This is a different kind of performance car, from appearance to propulsion system.
50: 1929 Alfa Romeo 1750 Zagato
This was the sports car future in 1929. The low-slung Alfa’s wheel at-each-corner stance delivered the agility it implied on the road. Simple and beautiful.
49: 1962 Lotus Elan
Just so far ahead of the competition in its day. Crisp, clean and sparsely curvaceous, its sophistication telegraphed by those pop-up lights and (foolishly) flush-mounted bumpers.
48: 2012 Range Rover - NEW ENTRY
The 2002 BMW-funded remake masterfully contemporised the original, while adding substantial luxury and class. The 2012 evolution is even better, the side-strakes adding grace and the widened rear end perfecting its stance.
47: 1953 Porsche 356 Speedster 1
This jelly mould-edged, narrow-tracked, soap bar-smooth sports car brilliantly avoids looking twee, the smile of its bonnet underlining the importance of shutlines.
46: 1964 Aston Martin DB5
Early ’60s glamour personified well before Sean Connery turned the key, and a cut above the E-Type in terms of status. A stunning design by Italy’s Touring.
45: 1999 Audi TT
Subsequent Audi TTs, handsome though they are, and the Peugeot RCZ, prove that this singular original was the best, with its unadulterated proportions and simpler surfaces.
44: 1963 Mercedes-Benz 230SL
Still the most elegant post-war Mercedes, its quiet elegance long forgotten amid the bombast of your modern Merc. A roadster that looks even better with its hard-top.
43: 1967 Alfa Romeo T33 Stradale
If only they’d made more. If only they'd make something like this now. Exotic, exquisite, sophisticated, fast and liable to bake you on a summer’s day, but who cares?
42: 1968 Dodge Charger R/T
Big-engined, big-panelled muscle, but there’s class here, too, from the quad-light rear end to the hidden headlights in the nose, the racey indents in the doors and pillarless side windows.
41: 1961 Lincoln Continental
Lincoln updated the formal, patrician limo look brilliantly with the near low-riding, square shouldered Continental. Suicide rear doors and the pillarless look added classy surprise.
40: 2007 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione - NEW ENTRY
MATT PRIOR: You know how it goes with concept cars: they all look terrific, and yet the resulting production versions look nothing like them. Well, not so with the 8C Competizione. They made 500 and, truth be told, they weren’t great to drive. The bigger truth is that it has never mattered less.
39: 1966 Jaguar XJ13 3
The XKSS made modern with a mid-mounted V12 and a stance that seemed to suck this XJ onto the road, years before the era of skirts, splitters and flat underfloors.
38: 1960 Ferrari California SWB
Early Ferrari muscle in more refined, romantic form. Quite simple lines, but the glassed-over headlights, finely wrought grille and air scoops hint at the V12 beneath.
37: 2011 Lamborghini Aventador - NEW ENTRY
Lamborghini is all about drama, and it doesn’t get much better than a cabforward slice of it in the shape of the Aventador, a brilliant confection of hard edge, sensuous curve and undamming power.
36: 1971 Citroën SM
A wide, glassed-in nose, a rear track decisively narrower than the front, a car that rides higher on the move than it does at rest: it sounds bizarre, but the SM remains sensationally, lusciously beautiful.
35: 1987 Ferrari F40
There’s delicate beauty in that 308-esque glasshouse, but the F40 is mostly about the beauty of raw power and applying it to the road. Unashamedly crude in places – and wonderful for it.
34: 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
As dramatic as the E-Type, with its tapering cockpit, torpedo-like wheel-housings, hidden headlights and, for 1963 only, split rear screen. Still sensational.
33: 1963 Buick Riviera 4
There are hints of European coupé in the Riviera’s stylish demeanour, but nothing old-world in its scale,potency or chromework. Another truly beautiful 1960s GM machine.
32: 1952 Jaguar C-Type
Less voluptuous than many Jaguar sports cars but no less exciting with its side-exit exhaust, assorted grilles and louvres and a perfect stance.
31: 1961 Aston Martin DB4
The original iteration is often the best, and so it is with the first of the DB4/5/6 generation, the 4 being cleaner, lighter and purer in its exquisite, original form.
30: 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint
Began as the Giulietta saloon's development mule before being lightly beautified for production. Superficially simple design subtly enhanced by acres of gentle curves.
29: 2017 Bugatti Chiron NEW ENTRY
Huge, arcing air intakes, a nose of thrusting width and an octet of penetrating headlights underline the Chiron’s compelling absurd potency, but there’s class, too. Bi-colour paint brings out the beauty, as do rich, high-calibre design details.
28: 1925 Bugatti Type 35
Bugatti’s most famous car. Looks like a bluff-nosed seed on wheels from above, and is hugely appealing for it. The horseshoe grille, big, widespoked wheels and drainpipe exhaust are perfect complements.
27: 1974 Lancia Stratos
A full-bodied, short wheelbase, 1970s wedge of flat roof, the Stratos’s dramatically wrapped windscreen and louvred engine lid provided Lancia with a sensational rally tool and startling road car.
26: 1974 Lamborghini Countach
Surely no other supercar has made such eye-widening impact. A powerpacked blade of a machine that in original LP400 form combined a perfect blend of uncluttered design and arresting detail.
25: 1968 Ferrari Daytona
A landmark front-engined Ferrari, for its bicep-tensing pace, chisel nose, shapely tail and fabulously extravagant indicators.
24: 1974 BMW 3.0 CSL
An evolution of the 2.0 CS, and rare for improving on an original. The thin-pillared glasshouse and high-shouldered waist add at least as much distinction as the reverse-rake nose.
23: 1994 McLaren F1
Enveloping a three-seat, 231mph supercar so that it doesn’t take off, weighs as little as possible and stays cool is some feat, especially when the result sparks seven-figure spikes of desire.
22: 1949 Jaguar XK120
It looks old-school with its spats and split screen, but the XK120 was a staggering contrast to the grinding shoals of black-bodied Austins, Morrises and Hillmans of the 1940s, and it’s sensuously beautiful with it.
21: 1937 Cord 812
Pop-up headlights, front-wheel drive and a skyscraper-high price were unusual, but it was the Cord’s so-called coffin nose – and general excellence – that won it acclaim.
20: 1956 BMW 507
The BMW ‘kidneys’ presented in landscape form, adorning a lithe sports car whose stance, shape and implied potency were just so.
19: 1957 Ferrari TR250
A fascinatingly complicated confection of curves that are all about panel-beaten function. An exciting shout of power.
18: 2004 Porsche 911 (997) - NEW ENTRY
Updating a classic is not always completely successful – the 996-generation 911’s fried-egg headlights are a case in point – but some generations of 911 absolutely gel. The 997 from 2004 is one of them, with its exquisite confection of proportion, stance, and detail.
17: 2004 Aston Martin DB9 - NEW ENTRY
Never mind the slightly sub-standard integrity of early DB9s – this elegantly proportioned, subtly muscled coupé looked every inch an Aston Martin – and modern with it.
16: 1969 Ferrari Dino 246 GT
A feast of superlative curves, the Dino did much to define the envelope of a supercar – you can see that in today’s McLaren 570S – and it remains one of Pininfarina’s, and Ferrari’s, finest designs.
15: 1966 Ford GT40
There’s brutal beauty in the GT40, and more than 40 years on, we know that it’s timeless. A road-legal Le Mans winner, this is Henry Ford II’s magnificent revenge on Enzo Ferrari.
14: 1955 Citroën DS19
It came from Paris rather than outer space, but you could have fooled motor show-goers in 1955. It’s still stunning 62 years on, for its shape as much as its alternative engineering.
13: 1962 Ferrari GTO
From the days when Ferrari was said to throw in an approximately finished body with its high-precision V12 engine. But what a body: potent, sculptural, functional and more.
12: 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic
As close to a piece of art as you will find on wheels, and with a price to match. Extravagantly and absurdly beautiful.
11: 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB
A highly refined Ferrari GT in both looks and manner, its unfussy, delicately chromed Pininfarina lines hiding startling potency.
10: 1954 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing
Beyond the drama of the doors, the SLR also charms you with its slender, low-roofed body, jewellery-like grille, intriguing wheel-arch blisters and staggering top speed of 180mph.
9: 2001 Aston Martin Vanquish
With 4446mm of tautly contained, bumperless muscle, the Vanquish reminded us why we love Aston. It still does. Instantly identifiable but excitingly contemporary, it set the design template for over a decade.
8: 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
Feltham, Newport Pagnell and Gaydon have all produced beautiful Astons, and so has Zagato of Milan, no more so than with this, its rework providing the car with sensuous edge.
7: 1962 AC Cobra 289
A muscular-looking car famous for deploying a surfeit of muscle. There’s complexity in the curves of this AC’s apparently simple shape, making it an eyeful well before it becomes a handful.
6: 1935 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900
The preposterously long bonnet, the swooping wings, the gentle cascade of bodywork from roof to rear bumper… Few cars capture the anticipatory romance of a long drive in a beautiful, powerful car as well as this Alfa.
5: 1963 Porsche 911
Pertly pretty, sparely drawn, its headlights suggestive of eyes, the 911 appeals instantly. And there’s beauty in those voluptuous front wings, the lines romping from windscreen to rear lights and that power-packed tail.
4: 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO
Still Ferrari’s most handsome midengined car, its proportions more perfect than the 308’s, its subtle suggestions of potency just eclipsing the 246 Dino. Exquisite.
3: 1959 Ferrari 250 GTO SWB
Every line, every curve, every cut and every part that bolts, screws or clips to this V12 Ferrari coupé has a purpose. But this is function designed with beauty in mind.
2: 1970 Lamborghini Miura
Low, wide, tightly voluptuous and hunched with power, the Miura still catches breaths more than 50 years on. Never mind front-end lift – this was a supercar unsullied by aerodynamics. And just look at it.
1: 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 Coupé
A grille like full, barely parted lips. A long, power-bulged bonnet. Glass-masked headlights, delicate pillars and a roof gently sinking into a tightly round tail bounded by luscious haunches – no wonder many considered the E-Type to be suffused with suggestions of the erotic.
Fifteeen years have passed since Autocar assembled its original ‘100 Most Beautiful Cars’ list, and new cars have also been launched in this fresh century at a frenetic rate.
Today’s regulations create interesting challenges, but do they get in the way of beauty? And have ideas of automotive beauty changed in the past 15 years? Autocar’s Richard Bremner investigates in the photo gallery above, with guest appearances from our other experts.
Click the gallery above, and feast your eyes