Since the birth of the first car, people have been fascinated by the art of the automobile—everything from how they’re built to how they seem to what’s under the hood. (Whether you consider Leonardo da Vinci, Henry Ford, or Karl Benz to be that person is a different story for another day.)
We’ve compiled the definitive list of the 10 hottest retro classic automobiles to ever hit the road because we have a strong appreciation for vintage models, new advancements, and future designs.
1. Rolls-Royce Dawn Drophead
The first Silver Dawn drophead debuted in 1949 and was decommissioned in 1954. It was based on Rolls-first Royce’s full-size car after WWII. The name was chosen to symbolize the start of a new age in the world, as well as Rolls-standing Royce’s within it. The Dawn, which was slightly smaller than pre-war cars, aided the British bespoke carmaker in reintroducing motoring craftsmanship while also moving the company into the modern era.
Only three of the original 28 dropheads remain in the United States, and they’re all owned by private collectors. After a 60-year sabbatical, the automaker is reintroducing a successor model.
2. Jaguar E-Type
The Jaguar E-Type, dubbed “the most beautiful automobile ever produced” by Enzo Ferrari, is a classic sports car stalwart from the 1960s. McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, the world’s leading provider of collector vehicle insurance, says, “If you only drive one automobile from this list, this is the one.”
This British driving icon still has plenty of peps–it can reach speeds of up to 150 mph and brakes better than other automobiles of the era. Pay for a day of driving the Jaguar Heritage Driving Experience program in Kenilworth, United Kingdom.
3. Lamborghini Miura
The Miura debuted in 1966 as a sleek mid-engine speedster designed to compete with Ferrari. It is considered by some to be the sexiest car ever made. “Piloting the Miura is more than a driving pleasure; it’s a life experience,” adds Hagerty. “If the sound of six carburetors feeding a thirsty, trembling V-12 moored just behind your head wasn’t enough, it’s also perhaps the most gorgeous car ever created,” says the author.
Contact the Lamborghini Club America or an auction house such as RM Sotheby’s or Gooding & Co. to purchase one. They are frequently the first to know about new cars before they are released to the general public.
4. Ferrari 250 GTO
Between 1962 and 1964, Ferrari produced only 39 of these beautiful race cars, making them incredibly rare. “In terms of value and recognition, the 250 GTO is undoubtedly the holy grail,” Hagerty adds, “but the truth is that just a handful of people in the world will ever get the opportunity to genuinely drive one.”
At the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance two years ago, an early model sold for $38 million at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge sale. If that’s out of your price range, any 1960s Prancing Horse with a V12 engine is deserving of a spot on the list.
5. BMW 3.0 CSL
This is the car to track down if you have any sort of race-track fantasies. BMW brought four models to America when it arrived in 1975, including the 3.0 CSL coupe. The car won the 12 Hours of Sebring event that year and won Daytona the following year, driven by racing veterans Brian Redman, Sam Posey, and Hans Stuck. The two victories cemented BMW’s performance credentials in the United States.
The 3.0 CSL pioneered a number of techniques that would subsequently be used in other BMW models, including the first-ever four-valve six-cylinder engine and an early anti-lock braking system. As part of its BMW Classic Center, BMW offers a behind-the-wheel experience in Munich.
6. McLaren F1
When the McLaren F1 was launched in 1992, it signaled the British supercar maker’s entry into modern racing. It set the record for the world’s fastest production car six years later, at 242 mph. According to Hagerty, “the McLaren F1 was Formula One icon Gordon Murray’s high-tech supercar response to Porsche and Ferrari.”
“And it didn’t just exceed, but demolished, the standards they set. Driving an F1 is a breathtaking display of power, braking, and control.” McLaren only made 64 of these, but it just listed chassis #69, the 60th model, for sale.
7. Austin-Healey 3000
The bulbous British roadster, first in 1959, was the last of the “huge Healeys” when production ended in 1967. The Austin-Healey 3000 was a Swinging Sixties automotive icon, curvaceous and brass. “With its strong six-cylinder engine and overdrive, this was the final iteration of the ‘Big Healey,'” Martin explains. “On today’s freeways, it will easily cruise at 75 mph.” Hemmings and other classic car-buying websites occasionally have late-model Austin-Healey 3000s for sale.
8. Ferrari 308 GTS
If you watched Magnum, P.I. in the 1980s, you’ll recall Tom Selleck’s character, Thomas Magnum, cruising around Hawaii in one of these Targa tops. The two-seater V8 Ferrari 308 GTS was produced from 1975 to 1985 and signified elegance and adventure. When the show finished, the originals were auctioned off, although you might locate one at places like the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Cumbria, England, or Universal Studios Hollywood.
9. Porsche 356
The rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive Porsche 356, Porsche’s first production car, lasted four generations before being retired in the mid-1960s. The 356 is the most evolved of the four-cylinder Porsches, as well as the most pleasure to drive, according to vintage vehicle specialists. It’s not difficult to find one: nearly half of the original 76,000 cars are still in existence.
10. Viper GTS
The V10 Dodge Viper GTS from the 1990s would be impossible to recreate today. It’s as wild as its predecessor, the Shelby Cobra, with 450 horsepower and no anti-lock brakes or traction control to correct driver error. “It’s the car equivalent of whisky, straight up–no pretense, just one hell of an experience,” Hagerty says. You can find one on the internet or through a collector car auction firm like Auctions America or Mecum.