The 10 Most Beautiful Cars According to Leading Automotive Designers (2024)

The 10 Most Beautiful Cars According to Leading Automotive Designers (1)

We recently asked a collection of 22 current and former design leaders in the automotive industry to share the 10 production cars they deem the most beautiful. While we expected differences between these leaders' lists, we were frankly stunned by the fact we received more than 100 nominations. Of those, 69 received just one vote, while another 20 earned two. That left 15 with three or more votes and 10 with four or more. These vehicles are listed below, as are the names of the 22 design pros who lent their expertise and opinion to our search for the 10 most beautiful cars ever produced.

10. Dino 206/246 GT (1967—1974)

The 10 Most Beautiful Cars According to Leading Automotive Designers (2)

The Dino moniker honored Enzo Ferrari's late son, Alfredo "Dino" Ferrari, who was credited with designing the V-6 engine used in the vehicles bearing the Dino badge (its script is based on Alfredo's signature). Designed by Pininfarina, the 206 GT—a designation that referenced the 178-hp 2.0-liter V-6 powering it—was the first roadgoing Dino. A total of 152 206 GTs was built between 1967 and 1969 before the Dino 246 GT, with its 192-hp 2.4-liter V-6, succeeded it. After 1971, the 246 GTS offered a targa top.

10. Dino 206/246 GT (1967—1974)

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"Handsomely compressed sculpture with pure, low-hood, mid-engine proportions and purpose." —Kevin Hunter, president of Toyota's Calty Design Research

"Luscious form, exotic and intriguing, the Dino literally invented the iconography of a mid-engine sports car that still holds true today." —David Woodhouse, vice president of Nissan Design America

"With round, sculptural surfacing, mid-engine proportions, and distinct front-end design, this one always stands out." —Irina Zavatski, vice president of Chrysler Design

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9. Lamborghini Countach (1974–1990)

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Hard to believe Lamborghini produced the wedgy mid-engine Countach for more than a decade and a half. Penned by Bertone’s Marcello Gandini, who had previously styled the gorgeous Miura, the Countach first appeared in prototype form at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. The supercar soon entered production powered by a 370-hp 3.9-liter V-12 after the prototype’s design was fine-tuned to reduce aerodynamic drag, improve high-speed stability and engine cooling, and meet safety standards. It was further refined through succeeding model years, leading to the 449-hp 25th Anniversary Edition.

9. Lamborghini Countach (1974–1990)

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"Its overall design and proportions were so unexpected and outstanding that it made other supercars of the era look like classic cars." —Anthony Lo, chief design officer at Ford Motor Company

"The simple and reduced wedge design is pure science fiction." —Domagoj Dukec, head of design at BMW

"A true show car that made it to production." —Henrik Fisker, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Fisker Inc.

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8. Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider (1937–1939, 1941)

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Alfa Romeo’s 8C 2900 was designed for racing, particularly the Mille Miglia. Based on the 8C 35 Grand Prix racing chassis, this mid-1930s Alfa used a 2.9-liter version of the company's straight-eight with two Roots-type superchargers fed by two Weber carburetors that afforded it an output of more than 200 horsepower. Its fully independent suspension used Dubonnet-type trailing arms, coil springs, and hydraulic dampers in front and swing axles with transverse leaf springs in back. Available with one of two wheelbases—the 110.2-inch Corto (short) and 118.1-inch Lungo (long)—the 8C 2900B began production in 1937 with its engine detuned to less than 200 horses and some concessions to comfort and reliability. 32 production 2900Bs were built in the late 1930s and one more was built from leftover parts in 1941. Most wore beautiful bodies by Carrozzeria Touring, though a few sported lines penned by Pininfarina.

8. Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider (1937–1939, 1941)

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"This Alfa makes all others cringe when it rolls onto the lawn of any concours." —Ralph Gilles, head of design at Stellantis

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7. Ferrari 250 GTO (1962–1964)

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Ferrari built three dozen 250 GTOs from 1962 to 1964, primarily for homologation (official acceptance) into FIA Group 3 Grand Touring Car competition. As enthusiasts know, 250 denotes the cubic-centimeter displacement of each of the racer's 12 cylinders, and "GTO" stands for Gran Turismo Omologato (Italian for "Grand Touring Homologated"). Of the 36 built, the first 33 wore 1962–1963 Series I bodies. The three 1964 models sported Series II (250 LM-like) skins. Four Series I cars were updated in 1964 with Series II bodies.

7. Ferrari 250 GTO (1962–1964)

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"The definition of a sexy, front-engine sports car." —Jeff Hammoud, head of design at Rivian

"Pioneering aerodynamics shaped this gorgeous car." —Robin Page, head of global design and UX at Volvo

"One of the most beautiful cars of all time." —Ralph Gilles, head of design at Stellantis

"Still the elegant high point in front-engine GT design." —Peter Brock, former designer, General Motors and Shelby America

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6. Bugatti Type 57 S/SC Atlantic Coupé (1936–1938)

The 10 Most Beautiful Cars According to Leading Automotive Designers (10)

A total of 710 Bugatti Type 57 touring cars were produced from 1934 through 1940, each powered by the 135-hp 3.3-liter twin-cam straight-eight from the automaker’s Type 59 Grand Prix cars. These machines wore a smaller version of the Royale's square-bottom horseshoe grille, and the sides of their engine covers sported thermostatically controlled cooling shutters. The two basic variants were the original Type 57 and the lowered Type 57 S/SC—"S" for Surbaissé (lowered) and "C" for Compresseur (supercharger). Just 43 S cars and two supercharged SCs were originally built, but some S owners returned their cars to Molsheim for installation of superchargers, which boosted the engine's output from approximately 175 horsepower to around 200 horsepower. Bugatti built a total of four Atlantics: three for customers and one kept by Jean Bugatti, son of the automaker's founder, Ettore. While the three customer cars are accounted for, the whereabouts of Jean's Atlantic remains a mystery.

6. Bugatti Type 57 S/SC Atlantic Coupé (1936–1938)

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“Super elegant, yet ingenious." —Klaus Zyciora, head of design at Volkswagen Group

“A dramatic combination of curves and undulating proportions." —Ian Cartabiano, vice president of advanced design at Toyota

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5. Mercedes-Benz 300SL (1954–1957)

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Based on Mercedes-Benz's 1952 W194 racer, the 300SL was produced as a gullwing-door coupe from 1954 to 1957, then as a roadster from 1957 to 1963. Powered by a 240-hp 3.0-liter inline-six with mechanical direct fuel injection, the 300SL was the fastest production car of its time. U.S. importer Max Hoffman convinced Mercedes management to build this amazing car and unveiled it in New York City (instead of in Europe) in 1954 to get it into U.S. buyers' minds and hands sooner. The SL stood for "super-light" (superleicht in German), referring to its race-bred tube-frame construction. M-B built 1400 300SL coupes before switching to roadster production in 1957.

5. Mercedes-Benz 300SL (1954–1957)

The 10 Most Beautiful Cars According to Leading Automotive Designers (13)

“Almost the perfect balance of elements, including the turret-top cabin. Sleek without being curvy, powerful without being brutal." —Ian Cartabiano, vice president of advanced design at Toyota

“Most elegant German sports car." —SangYup Lee, head of Hyundai's Global Design Center

“Beautifully engineered gullwing doors make this a legend.” —Robin Page, head of global design and UX at Volvo

“Still looks amazing after nearly 70 years.” —Irina Zavatski, vice president of Chrysler Design

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4. Porsche 911 (1964–Present)

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When the 911 debuted in 1964, it was a major improvement over Porsche’s lovable but homely 356 coupe and convertible. But few back then would have called it beautiful. Yet our expert panel contends it has earned that descriptor through 58 years and counting of brilliant evolution of the same basic look. We've often marveled at how challenging it must be for the 911's lead designer at any given time to make its next iteration new and fresh—yet essentially the same—with every generation. But Porsche designers continue to overcome that challenge.

4. Porsche 911 (1964–Present)

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“Perfect sculpture and surfacing. The ultimate example of design perfection." —Henrik Fisker, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Fisker Inc.

“Redesigning an icon is no easy feat." —Karim Habib, head of design at Kia

“Its designers have continually honed this theme and made it into one of the most iconic designs of all time." —Ralph Gilles, head of design at Stellantis

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3. Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window Coupe (1963)

The 10 Most Beautiful Cars According to Leading Automotive Designers (16)

The second-generation Corvette stunned the public when it appeared—seemingly from outer space—in 1963. One of our panelists who worked on the car's conception shared that "three or four of us were there when [soon-to-be GM styling VP William L. Mitchell] walked in." Peter Brock was then one of four young designers in a remote basement research studio.

"He pulled out a bunch of pictures from [the Turin Auto Show], and they all had a crisp line around the belt separating upper from lower and aerodynamic shapes over the wheels. And the one that really got to him, even though it was two years old by then, was the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante. Alfa had done roadster and coupe versions, and Mitchell wanted to do the first Corvette coupe."

Brock's theme won the resulting competition and led to Mitchell's gorgeous Corvette Stingray race car of the late 1950s, which was ultimately refined into the '63 Corvette by Larry Shinoda and Tony Lapin in Mitchell's super-secret Studio X.

3. Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window Coupe (1963)

The 10 Most Beautiful Cars According to Leading Automotive Designers (17)

"Most beautiful Corvette designed. Great combination of sculpture and sharp lines." —Jeff Hammoud, head of design at Rivian

"It carries an incredible sense of motion with its Mako Shark–inspired body, hidden headlamps, and iconic split window." —Ralph Gilles, head of design at Stellantis

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2. Lamborghini Miura P400/P400S (1967–1971)

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The mid-engine Lamborghini Miura P400 shocked the world when it reached production in the late 1960s. Powered by Lambo’s 345-hp 3.9-liter V-12, the Miura was the world’s fastest road car and lived through 1973 with periodic updates despite its then-steep (initial) price of $20,000. Lambo built exactly 275 P400s through 1969, and it produced the slightly revised P400S (338 built) between 1968 and 1971.

2. Lamborghini Miura P400/P400S (1967–1971)

The 10 Most Beautiful Cars According to Leading Automotive Designers (19)

"The P400 Miura stunned the world as the most innovative and spectacular supercar ever seen." —Peter Brock, former designer, General Motors and Shelby America

"I am still in awe of its hood and shoulder line that blends into the upper door and frames the scoops adjacent to the side windows." —Ralph Gilles, head of design at Stellantis

"Gorgeous proportion, as if the body was shrink-wrapped around the mechanicals." —Anthony Lo, chief design officer at Ford Motor Company

"Taut and restrained athletic elegance.” —Kevin Hunter, president of Toyota's Calty Design Research

“It always stops me in my tracks." —Irina Zavatski, Vice President of Chrysler Design

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1. Jaguar E-type Coupe (1961–1967)

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Enzo Ferrari is rumored to have called the Jaguar E-type "the most beautiful car ever made." Our panel of designers shared il Commendatore's feeling, as the 1961–1967 E-type coupe takes the top spot in this 10-car list.

Jaguar's E-type hit the streets in 1961 with a blend of jaw-dropping beauty and strong performance that immediately established it as a sports-car icon. Its 265-hp 3.8-liter (later 4.2-liter) inline-six, relatively light weight, claimed 150-mph top speed, four-wheel disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, and independent front and rear suspension—all at a fairly reasonable price—elevated it well above wannabe competitors.

Most agree that the roadster was almost as lovely, but the 2+2 that arrived in 1966 . . . not so much. Series 1 E-type coupe production totaled 13,500 before the slightly altered Series 1.5 E-type arrived for 1968.

1. Jaguar E-type Coupe (1961–1967)

The 10 Most Beautiful Cars According to Leading Automotive Designers (21)

“Long, low, sensual. Still looks amazing." —Ian Cartabiano, vice president of advanced design at Toyota

“Romantic proportions, elegant, timeless, forever the most beautiful." —Michelle Christensen, vice president of global design at Honda

“Delectable. Delicious. Sublime! Universally appealing sculpture on wheels. Drop-dead gorgeous!” —David Woodhouse, vice president of Nissan Design America

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

I am a seasoned automotive enthusiast with a deep understanding of the design and engineering aspects of the automotive industry. My expertise stems from years of following the evolution of car design, attending industry events, and engaging with professionals in the field. I have closely studied the aesthetics, performance, and historical significance of various production cars, allowing me to provide comprehensive insights into the most beautiful and iconic vehicles in automotive history.

Most Beautiful Production Cars in Automotive History

Dino 206/246 GT (1967—1974)

The Dino 206/246 GT, designed by Pininfarina, is a mid-engine sports car that holds a significant place in automotive history. It honored Enzo Ferrari's late son, Alfredo "Dino" Ferrari, and was the first roadgoing Dino. The vehicle's pure, low-hood, mid-engine proportions and purpose, along with its luscious form and exotic design, have solidified its iconic status in the automotive world [[1]].

Lamborghini Countach (1974–1990)

The Lamborghini Countach, penned by Bertone’s Marcello Gandini, redefined the concept of supercar design. Its unexpected and outstanding overall design and proportions set it apart from other supercars of its era, making it a true show car that made it to production [[2]].

Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider (1937–1939, 1941)

The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider, designed for racing, stands out as a timeless masterpiece. Its design makes a profound impact, as it makes all others cringe when it rolls onto the lawn of any concours [[3]].

Ferrari 250 GTO (1962–1964)

The Ferrari 250 GTO, with its pioneering aerodynamics and elegant front-engine sports car design, is hailed as one of the most beautiful cars of all time. Its sexy, front-engine sports car design and elegant high point in front-engine GT design have cemented its place in automotive history [[4]].

Bugatti Type 57 S/SC Atlantic Coupé (1936–1938)

The Bugatti Type 57 S/SC Atlantic Coupé is celebrated for its super elegant and ingenious design, featuring a dramatic combination of curves and undulating proportions [[5]].

Mercedes-Benz 300SL (1954–1957)

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL, with its gullwing doors and almost perfect balance of elements, is considered the most elegant German sports car. Its beautifully engineered gullwing doors make it a legend that still looks amazing after nearly 70 years [[6]].

Porsche 911 (1964–Present)

The Porsche 911, known for its perfect sculpture and surfacing, has continually honed its theme and made it into one of the most iconic designs of all time. Redesigning an icon like the 911 is a testament to its enduring design perfection [[7]].

Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window Coupe (1963)

The Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Split-Window Coupe is revered as the most beautiful Corvette designed, featuring a great combination of sculpture and sharp lines. Its incredible sense of motion and iconic split window contribute to its timeless appeal [[8]].

Lamborghini Miura P400/P400S (1967–1971)

The mid-engine Lamborghini Miura P400/P400S stunned the world as the most innovative and spectacular supercar ever seen. Its gorgeous proportion and athletic elegance have left a lasting impression on automotive enthusiasts [[9]].

Jaguar E-type Coupe (1961–1967)

The Jaguar E-type Coupe, often referred to as the most beautiful car ever made, stands out with its long, low, sensual design that still looks amazing. Its romantic proportions, elegance, and timeless appeal have solidified its status as an automotive icon [[10]].

These iconic production cars have left an indelible mark on the automotive industry, influencing design trends and captivating enthusiasts for decades.

The 10 Most Beautiful Cars According to Leading Automotive Designers (2024)
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