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A car is not just a convenience, a means of carrying people and things long distances in short periods of time. For more people in more places around the world than anything else, the car is freedom. It is something that lives outside your house that will take you pretty much anywhere you like, any time you want to go there.

In almost all cases it can be counted upon to be quiet, comfortable, fast and reliable. It is the most extraordinary device, arguably man’s greatest creation to date. But there are cars and there are cars. Most simply try to improve on what’s gone before. But a few have sought not merely to be better, but to be different. Sometimes it doesn’t work – remarkably Subaru’s idea of a four-wheel drive system activated by the windscreen wipers failed to, ahem, gain traction – but just a tiny number have altered the course of automotive history for the better.

If cars changed the world as they most assured did these, then, are those that changed the world of the car:

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