We put our heads together and detail some of the most beautiful cars ever to turn a wheel
While in many instances and for many people cars are utilitarian tools to get us and our things from point A to point B and beyond, vehicle design is also a point at which art intersects with engineering.
As such, a number of truly beautiful vehicles have graced our roads over century or so that the car has existed, and our editorial team – which is packed full of car enthusiasts with strong opinions – has put its collective heads together to come up with a list of the 10 most beautiful cars of all time.
This list is, as it can only be, almost entirely subjective, while choosing only 10 cars from the many thousands of designs that have emerged from car makers over the years will inevitably have notable omissions – not least as we’ve limited our selection to road-legal models.
Nonetheless, if you’re after some inspiration for the most aesthetically pleasing cars of all time, here are 10 to whet your appetite.
Here’s our list of the 10 most beautiful cars in the world
1. Mazda RX-7 (FD)
Engine: 1.3-litre rotary, 239-265hp
Why it’s here: Flowing lines embody archetypal sports-car design
The third-generation Mazda RX-7 was a high point of automotive styling. Launched in 1992 and badged as the ɛ̃fini RX-7 (pictured) in Japan as its maker tried to push itself upmarket as Toyota did with Lexus, the RX-7 embodies a flowing design that could as much have come from nature as from a factory.
Power was by way of from an innovative 1.3-litre rotary engine that was not without its issues, but the circa-1,200kg RX-7 was said to be as rewarding to drive as to look at, and it remains a collector’s item to this day – though we’d look out for a manual one rather than an example with the four-speed automatic.
2. Talbot-Lago T150 ‘Teardrop’
Engine: 4.0-litre, six-cylinder, 140hp
Why it’s here: Has a car ever resembled nature as closely as this?
French carmaker Talbot-Lago built the T150-C-SS chassis over which a number of coachbuilders draped their bodywork, of which Figoni & Falaschi is perhaps the best known.
Known as the ‘Goutte d’Eau’, or drop of water, almost a century later the Teardrop still captivates connoisseurs, to the extent that one example became the most valuable French car ever sold, reaching $13.4 million at auction in 2022.
3. Lancia Stratos
Engine: 2.4-litre V6, 190hp
Why it’s here: About as small and perfectly formed as a car can get
Lancia designed the Stratos to go rallying, which it did with aplomb over the 1970s and early 80s, winning the World Rally Championship three times.
The firm also built 492 roadgoing versions, with power coming from the Ferrari Dino’s V6 engine crammed in the middle of the car – just as the driver and passenger would be crammed in the notoriously tight cabin. Rear visibility was said to be limited, while the driving position required a mismatch of alignment between arms and legs. Despite this, and partly thanks to its impeccable styling, there remains any number of potential owners who would be happy to suffer for such art, and pay £500,000 or more to do so, too.
4. Aston Martin DB9
Engine: 5.9-litre V12, 456hp
Why it’s here: Archetypal Aston’s timeless beauty lives on
In truth we could feature any number of Aston Martins in this rundown, not least as the firm’s design language produced a fair number of models that closely resembled each other in the early 2000s and beyond.
We’ve opted for the DB9 here out of sheer personal preference, as while some prefer the extra muscularity the related DBS offered both in terms of styling and engine output, the DB9 is arguably the more organic-looking car.
Engine: 0.48-0.6-litre, 21-38hp
Why it’s here: Proof beauty can be for everyone
Is the original Fiat 500 cute, or beautiful? Or is it a car that embodies both of those adjectives? Judge for yourself, but to our eyes this trendsetting city car is hugely pleasing to the eye, while its affordable, attainable nature was in itself a thing of beauty.
Fast it certainly wasn’t, and we can think of a fair few other cars we’d rather be involved in a collision in, but so important was the little 500 it not only remained in production for nearly two decades, but also inspired the modern 500, which has been core to Fiat’s lineup for almost as long.
6. BMW Z8
Engine: 4.9-litre V8, 400hp
Why it’s here: It’s a retro redo that arguably looks better than the car that inspired it
We’re not trying to upset anyone here, but the BMW Z8 pleases our eyes more than the BMW 507 (pictured below) that inspired it. Clearly others are free to disagree, but the Z8 manages to be both inspired by and improve on the formula set out by the 507 in 1956.
It helps that the Z8’s power comes from the same V8 found in the E39 version of the BMW M5, and while the Z8 was only available in left-hand drive that hasn’t stopped it reaching serious collector status today; this is a far cry from the relative paucity of sales it managed when new, something else it has in common with the 507.
7. Peugeot 406 Coupe
Engine: various, incl. 3.0-litre V6, 197hp
Why it’s here: Italian styling meets understated French class
While some of the cars in our rundown require six, potentially even seven figures, a Peugeot 406 Coupe can be picked up for between £2,000 and £4,000 today.
Take the plunge on what will admittedly be a 20+ year-old car and you’ll be getting a sleek, lithe and effortlessly cool Pininfarina-styled four-seat coupe, which rumour had was an evolution of a rejected entry-level Ferrari design. Those rumours turned out not to be accurate, but they give a flavour of just how beloved the 406 Coupe’s looks are.
8. Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
Engine: 2.0-litre V8, 230hp
Why it’s here: To show subjective beauty and objective failure can coexist
The Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale was never intended to be a big seller: just 19 are said to have been produced, and when launched in 1966 it was the most expensive car in the world, trumping even the Lamborghini Countach’s asking price.
The Stradale also had few of the niceties one might expect from a road car, including door locks, while the Tipo 33 race car it was based on was not an objective success, either. But as one of the world’s first supercars, this rare model’s scarcity places its value firmly in the ‘many, many millions’ valuation area today – and one look at it should be enough to tell you why.
9. Citroen DS
Engine: various, incl. 1.9-litre 4cyl, 75hp
Why it’s here: Because it’s practical family transport, as well as art
Arguably one of the more important cars of all time, the Citroen DS arrived in 1955 and immediately changed the motoring landscape. Aerodynamically advanced and aesthetically original, the DS also featured innovations like disc brakes, and was noted for its comfort and refinement.
Production continued for 20 years, and the DS name became so important to Citroen that the firm launched an entire sub-brand off the back of it around half a century after launch.
10. Chevrolet Corvette (C2)
Engine: various, incl. 7.0-litre V8, 360hp
Why it’s here: Coke-bottle design typifies US beauty
The fact the C2 ‘Stingray’ Corvette is named after the natural world gives a fair indication that this is a model that crosses over from automotive design to something altogether more profound, with the split rear screen of the original Stingray said to be inspired by the Bugatti Atlantique – a car that could justifiably have featured in this rundown.
Power came from a range of engines, from the ‘small block’ 5.4-litre V8 (everything is relative when it comes to American muscle cars) to the 7.0-litre ‘big block’, while the fibreglass body helped keep prices down.
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If you’ve been tempted by any of the cars in this rundown, take a look at our fantastic range of used-car offers. We may not have £10m+ ultra-rare classics, but we do have a great selection of pre-loved models, all from our network of trusted dealers.
And if you’re after something new we’ve got you covered here, too, as our dealer partners can happily put you in the driving seat of something that offers modern conveniences, together with gorgeous styling.
Plus if you’re falling out of love with your old car, we can happily get that taken off your hands, too, and for a great price as well.