July 3, 2024 | Jamie Hayes

The Best Cars Of All Time


What's The Best Car Of All Time?

"Best" means a lot of different things to a lot of different drivers. The fastest? Most beautiful? Most successful? However you define it, these are still the best cars of all time.

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1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

The Corvette has always been a style icon, but the 4th-generation Corvette ZR1, with a DOHC 32-valve, 5.7-liter all-aluminum V8 and 375 hp was the first time they built a true beast that could keep pace with the best supercars out of Europe.

1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1Steven N. Severinghaus, Wikimedia Commons

1976 Honda Accord

The Accord walked so the Camry could run. Before the Accord, family cars on American roads were the size of boats, and most people thought the dinky little cars out of Japan were silly and unserious. 

Then the Accord appeared in North America and changed the industry forever.

1981 Honda AccordRiley, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1987 Ferrari F40

Ferrari had to do something special to celebrate their 40th anniversary, and they didn't disappoint. The 470-hp, 200-mph F40 remains one of the finest cars the automaker has ever built.

1987 Ferrari F40Adriano, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda

Plymouth redesigned the Barracuda to be able to envelop the massive 426 Hemi V8 and made one of the meanest, fastest, and most bad-a** muscle cars in history.

1970 Plymouth Hemi 'CudaGreg Gjerdingen, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1961 Lincoln Continental

When more ostentatious Americans were driving around in cars with big fins, the clean lines of the 1961 Lincoln Continental were the epitome of class and luxury. Simply one of the most beautiful cars ever built.

1961 Lincoln ContinentalSicnag, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1955 Ford Thunderbird

The T-Bird isn't just a car, it's a statement. Fun and fast, sure, but behind the wheel, you're driving a work of art.

1955 Ford ThunderbirdRandy von Liski, Flickr

1993 Honda Civic Coupe

The two-door Civic Coupe worked great as an affordable, first car for sensible drivers. It was also fast, rugged, and very easy to modify, which is what made it the hot rodding legend that it remains today.

1993 Honda Civic CoupeRutger van der Maar, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

2002 Subaru WRX

Subaru used to be a sensible brand purchased by your nervous, college professor uncle from the East Coast. Then the fast, fun, and cool WRX quite literally turbocharged the brand's image when it reached American shores in 2002.

2002 Subaru Impreza WRXharry_nl, Flickr

1992 Hummer H1

Heavy vehicle manufacturer AM General first released the Hummer H1, a civilian version of the military Humvee, in 1991, and they haven't been topped since. There's never been a civilian vehicle that's more capable off-road—and ridiculously impractical on-road. The perfect SUV.

1992 Hummer H1harry_nl, Flickr

1996 Audi A4

A car that was so good it saved the company. Audi's going strong today, but it had fallen way behind its competitors by the early 90s. They needed a miracle—and their new A4 sedan was exactly that. 

The car was the first realistic rival to the BMW 3 series, and sales were so good Audi rebounded for the first time in a decade.

1996 Audi A4Vauxford, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

1993 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo

Though not commercially very successful, the 1993 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo is legendary in the tuning and street racing communities as the first import vehicle capable of being modded to put out 1,000 horsepower.

1993 Toyota Supra Twin Turboharry_nl, Flickr

1986 Lamborghini LM002

Packing a V12 engine out of a Countach and outrageous styling worth of Lamborghini's name, the 1986 LM002, codenamed "Cheetah," was the first and greatest true luxury SUV.

The Porsche Cayenne Turbo might sell more, but it will never be the LM002.

1986 Lamborghini LM002Georg Sander, Flickr

1984 Jeep Cherokee

The Jeep name earned its pedigree in WWII, but by the 80s the brand seemed destined for the scrap heap. Then in 1984, GM took the flagship Jeep Cherokee, then a beast of a vehicle, and downsized it.

The resulting 1984 Jeep Cherokee was a smash hit and kicked off the compact SUV category. All that, and it's still one of the best-offroaders that Jeep ever released.

1984 Jeep CherokeeRudolf Stricker, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

1957 Lotus 7

The history of auto-racing is a series of advancements in engineering. One of those advancements was the realization that a low center of mass is a very good thing. The iconic 1957 Lotus 7 proved that and then some.

1957 Lotus 7Brian Snelson, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1984 Toyota Corolla AE86

The Toyota Corolla has never been the most exciting car, but the 1984 Toyota Corolla AE86 was the most fun first-car buyers could have behind the wheel. Many teenagers learned out to drift—on purpose or by accident—thanks to its rear-wheel drive transmission.

1984 Toyota Corolla AE86DestinationFearFan, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

1991 Ford Explorer

Other brands have since stolen its spotlight, but the 1991 Ford Explorer defined an entire generation of SUVs, and it laid the blueprint for a rugged, family-hauler that manufacturers are still copying today.

Ford Explorer Xlt 1991RL GNZLZ, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1982 Ford Mustang 5.0

Fast, mean, unapologetic, and a 5.0 liter engine. And it's a Mustang? Sounds like the ultimate hot-rodder/street racer for the 1990s.

1982 Ford Mustang 5.0Michel Curi, Flickr

1986 Acura Legend

No one could deny that Japan could compete in the luxury vehicle market after Honda released the 1986 Acura Legend. It was sold so many units that Toyota and Nissan started Lexus and Infiniti, respectively, soon after.

1986 Acura LegendKevauto, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

1992 Dodge Viper RT/10

The automotive industry was lacking a certain...flair in the early 90s. Then Dodge released a 400-hp, 8.0 liter, V10 powered beast that looked like an actual snake. 

The Dodge Viper is one of the most outrageous statements in the history of the automotive industry—and that's a very, very good thing.

1992 Dodge Viper RT/10artistmac, Flickr

2004 Toyota Prius

The Prius has been a punchline and a pariah since its 2004 release—but it proved forever that hybrid cars are here to stay. The entire automotive industry is still swimming in the Prius's wake.

2004 Toyota PriusRudolf Stricker, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

1984 Honda Civic CRX

Young drivers all around the world should thank Honda for releasing the 1984 Civic CRX, the first economy car that was actually fun to drive. 

1984 Honda Civic CRXpeterolthof, Flickr

1992 Toyota Camry

The original, 1992 Toyota Camry didn't have the pizazz of earlier American sedans—but it was affordable, practical, and reliable, and that's what modern drivers were looking for.

The Camry soon topped the Ford Taurus as the most popular sedan in the United States, and it's held the top spot ever since.

1992 Toyota CamryVauxford, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

1968 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3

Before Mercedes AMG existed, the brand was still pushing the limits of luxury and performance. The ultimate example was the 1968 300 SEL 6.3. On the outside, it was stern and distinguished. 

On the inside? 6.3 liters of fuel-injected V8 that pushed out 247 hp.

Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 3.5 (1971)Andrew Bone, Flickr

1961 Jaguar E-Type

Call it subjective if you want: The 1961 Jaugar E-Type roadster is quite simply one of the most beautiful cars ever produced.

1961 Jaguar E-TypeMrWalkr, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

1970 Datsun 240Z

OK, so Datsun may have taken a little inspiration from Jaguar's E-Type when they built the 1970 240Z—but can you blame them?

The 240Z had the quality of a Japanese-built car with a style and performance that finally made American car lovers start taking Japanese sports cars seriously.

1970 Datsun 240Zharry_nl, Flickr

1990 Acura NSX

There was a time when major automakers like Ferrari looked down on Japanese brands. Then Honda released the Acura NSX, an all-aluminum, midengine beast with their VTEC variable valve timing system.

Ferrari never underestimated Honda again after that.

1991 Acura NSXAleksandr Semenov151, Shutterstock

1975 Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit GTI

The Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit GTI hatchback was so perfect, essentially every major automaker builds their own version of it today.

1975 Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit GTIVauxford, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

1987 Buick Grand National and GNX

There is no feeling like driving around in an iconic, all-black Buick muscle legend in the late 1980s—and their 3.8-liter turbocharged V6 made it stand out in an American market bursting with V8s.

1987 Buick Regal Grand NationalCshaiku, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

1957 Fiat 500

The original "small car" icon, the dinky, rear-engine Fiat 500 was tearing up racetracks long before the Mini, proving that a car didn't need to be big to be high performance.

1957 Fiat 500Shawn Clover, Flickr

1973 Lamborghini Countach

The originator of the iconic Lamborghini doors, the original Countach has one of the most memorable designs in the history of supercars—as well as a hilariously impractical V12 and a chassis so low you could barely see out the windshield.

1973 Lamborghini CountachBiscuit in Pursuit, Flickr

1949 Ford

Car culture was ready to explode in the United States after WWII—and the brand new design of the 1949 set the standard that all the other American makers would follow for years to come.

1949 FordAlfvanBeem, Wikimedia Commons

1969 Porsche 917

They don't make em like this any more—and I really mean that! The Porsche 917, of which only 25 were ever built, won Le Mans in both 1970 and 1971 before forcing a rule change.

Le Mans would never be the same again—and the 917 still holds the record for the fastest lap to this day.

1969 Porsche 917Jim Culp, Flickr

1987 Porsche 959

The Porsche 959 was years ahead of its time. Not only was it the fastest street-legal car in the world when it was released, but its 4-wheel drive, twin turbo engine, six-speed transmission, and water-cooled heads were a glimpse at the future of the sport.

1987 Porsche 959Matti Blume, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

1964 Ford Mustang

If you looked really close, you'd realize that the original Ford Mustang was pretty much just a Falcon—but young drivers took one look at this iconic car and a legend was born.

1964 Ford MustangSG2012, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1973 Pontiac Trans Am Super Duty

The era of the classic muscle car was coming to a close—and Pontiac went out with a bang. As other manufacturers were making their cars less powerful, Pontiac dropped a Trans Am with a 310-hp 455 Super Duty V8. The end of an era—but you might as well go out on top.

1973 Pontiac Trans Am Super Dutypriceman 141, Flickr

1967 Chevrolet Camaro

It took a few years for GM to come up with their answer to the Ford Mustang. They finally came up with the Camaro in 1967—and it was worth the wait. 

Instantly popular with everyone from racers to moms, the original Camaro might still be the ideal version of an American sports car.

1967 Chevrolet CamaroSicnag, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1964 Pontiac GTO

The Pontiac Le Mans? Not the most exciting car in the world. Throw a 389 V8 engine under the hood and steal the name from Ferrari?

You've just invented the American muscle car.

1964 Pontiac GTOHerranderssvensson, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

1949 Oldsmobile 88

In 1949, the best Ford you could by only had 100 horsepower. Oldsmobile's high-compression, overhead-valve 303-cubic-inch Rocket V8 pushed out 165. 

The 88 set a new standard that American automakers would be chasing for 25 years.

1949 Oldsmobile 88Sicnag, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1938 Bugatti Type 57S Atlantic

Automobile as art. Plain and simple.

1938 Bugatti Type 57S AtlanticUnknown Author, Wikimedia Commons

1938 Volkswagen Beetle

Maybe the most beloved car of all time, there's a reason it was produced unchanged for 65 years. 

1938 Volkswagen BeetleNico Biraogo, Flickr

1966 Lamborghini Miura

Lamborghini created an entirely new kind of car with the V12 Miura: The hypercar. The fastest and most beautiful car of the era, Lamborghini has been trying to top the Miura ever since.

1966 Lamborghini MiuraDavide Oliva, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray

The split-window 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray is the Corvette that all other Corvettes want to be.

1963 Chevy Corvette Split WindowChad Horwedel, Flickr

1955 Chevrolet

You could get a '55 Chevy with a 265-cubic-inch small block V8. If you did, one got the greatest Chevy ever. It quite simply can't be beat.

1955 ChevroletReinhold Möller, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

1908 Ford Model T

There's nothing more to say about the Ford Model T: Cars today do not exist without it.

1908 Ford Model TPierre Poschadel, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

1990 Mazda Miata MX-5

It's the best-selling sports car in history. If you think it's overrated, you're only proving that you've never driven one.

1990 Mazda Miata MX-5SsmIntrigue, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

1959 Austin Mini

The Mini Cooper eventually became a legend on the racetrack, but first came the humble Mini, a compact, front-wheel drive, transverse engine vehicle that set the blueprint for nearly all mainstream cars on the road today. 

1959 Austin Minisv1ambo, Flickr

1964 Porsche 911

The best Porsche ever made. A racing legend. A style icon. The best Porsche ever built. You could go on and on and on and on...

1964 Porsche 911Pat Durkin, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO

It's no wonder that Pontiac stole the name, because the three-time world GT champion Ferrari 250 GTO is the greatest car of all time—and only 39 of them were ever built.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTOBrian Snelson, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons


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