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The Most Beautiful Performance Cars According to Science

So, we decided enough was enough. At carwow, we’re constantly debating which are the most beautiful performance cars, so to settle this age-old argument once and for all (and to find out which one of us is right) we turned to science.

The golden ratio

Dating back 2,500 years, the golden ratio is a mathematical equation used as a benchmark for ideal proportions. Historically it was used by architects and artists in pursuit of perfection and Michelangelo was a big fan – he used the ratio when painting The Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

In more recent times it’s often used to analyse the beauty of human faces (pretty sure George Clooney was deemed the most mathematically perfect person last time we checked) but this time, we’ve used it to study the ‘faces’ of performance cars. 197 of the world’s most aesthetically pleasing performance cars, to be precise. Which Is the Most Beautiful Performance Car?

Drum roll, please. The 2019 Ferrari Monza SP1 is officially the most beautiful performance car of the last 70 years.

Ferrari states the design of the Monza SP1 uses a ‘modern aesthetic to reinterpret a timeless style’ and we completely agree – it’s stunning. And, now we can also say objectively that it’s also the world’s most beautiful performance car.

The top 10 most beautiful performance cars since 1950

The Ferrari Monza SP is also the only car from the last decade to make the top 10.

It turns out that the ’60s weren’t just ‘swinging’ for art, music and fashion – they were also pretty good for car design, with an incredible seven of the top 10 most beautiful performance cars created in that decade. In fact, it’s easy to see the ’60s influence on our winning car.

Three other Ferraris also appear in the top 10; the 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC Speciale in third, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO in fifth and the 1967 Ferrari 330 P4 in seventh, taking the Italian car designer’s top 10 total to four – the highest of all manufacturers.

  1. 2019 Ferrari Monza SP1 (61.75% aligned to the golden ratio)
  2.  1964 Ford GT40 (61.64% aligned to the golden ratio)
  3. 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC Speciale (61.15% aligned to the golden ratio)
  4. 1974 Lotus Elite (60.07% aligned to the golden ratio)
  5. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (59.95% aligned to the golden ratio)
  6. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette C2 (Stingray) (58.86% aligned to the golden ratio)
  7. 1967 Ferrari 330 P4 (58.65% aligned to the golden ratio)
  8. 1974 Alfa Romeo Alfetta (58.53% aligned to the golden ratio)
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  9. 1966 Lamborghini Miura (57.83% aligned to the golden ratio)
  10. 1969 Maserati Indy (57.75% aligned to the golden ratio)
  11. How was the research done?

    By measuring and comparing the distance between different set points on the cars. In total, we plotted 14 different points on each front-on view of the cars, for example, the headlights, the wing mirrors and the corners of the windscreen. Using that data, we then computed and compared the distance ratios between these points, to reveal how closely their design followed the proportions of the golden ratio.

    The top 20

    When looking at the top 20, it’s still dominated by beautiful cars from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, with just four cars from the last decade making an appearance; after Ferrari’s Monza SP1, the 2020 Maserati MC20 is in 11th, the 2019 Apollo Intensa Emozione is in 14th and in 20th position, it’s the 2020 De Tomaso P72.

    Lamborghini, Maserati and Jaguar each have two in the top 20. Maserati’s 1969 Indy is in 10th and the 2020 Maserati MC20 is just behind in 11th. The 1966 Lamborghini Miura takes 9th place and the 1970 Lamborghini Jarama is 18th. For Jaguar, the 1961 E-type storms through in 15th and the 1957 XKSS is in 16th place.

    Positions 11 – 20

    11. 2020 Maserati MC20 (57.65% aligned to the golden ratio)

    12. 1956 BMW 507 (57.58%)

    13. 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing (57.56%)

    14. 2019 Apollo Intensa Emozione (57.12%)

    15. 1961 Jaguar E-Type (57.11%)

    16. 1957 Jaguar XKSS (57.11%)

    17. 1965 Aston Martin DB6 (vantage volante) (56.86%)

    18. 1970 Lamborghini Jarama (56.62%)

    19. 1971 Alpine A310 (56.26%)

    20. 2020 De Tomaso P72 (56.18%)

    The top 100

    In the top 100, Ferrari once again takes pole position when we look at which manufacturer appears the most often. Boasting a massive 16 cars in the top 100, that’s one in every six cars on the list!

    Lamborghini with 10, and Porsche with seven come in second and third, and the remaining positions are taken by Aston Martin, McLaren, Maserati, Lotus, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar and Ford.

    1. Ferrari  – 16
    2. Lamborghini – 10
    3. Porsche – 7
    4. Aston Martin – 7
    5. McLaren – 6
    6. Maserati – 6
    7. Lotus – 4
    8. Alfa Romeo – 4
    9. Jaguar – 3
    10. Ford – 3
    11. Bentley – 3

    The 100 most beautiful performance cars since 1950

    1. 2019 Ferrari Monza SP1 (61.75% aligned to the golden ratio)
    2. 1964 Ford GT40 (61.64%)
    3. 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC Speciale (61.15%)
    4. 1974 Lotus Elite (60.07%)
    5. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (59.95%)
    6. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette C2 (Stingray) (58.86%)
    7. 1967 Ferrari 330 P4 (58.65%)
    8. 1974 Alfa Romeo Alfetta (58.53%)
    9. 1966 Lamborghini Miura (57.83%)
    10. 1969 Maserati Indy (57.75%)
    11. 2020 Maserati MC20 (57.65%)
    12. 1956 BMW 507 (57.58%)
    13. 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing (57.56%)
    14. 2019 Apollo Intensa Emozione (57.12%)
    15. 1961 Jaguar E-Type (57.11%)
    16. 1957 Jaguar XKSS (57.11%)
    17. 1965 Aston Martin DB6 (vantage volante) (56.86%)
    18. 1970 Lamborghini Jarama (56.62%)
    19. 1971 Alpine A310 (56.26%)
    20. 2020 De Tomaso P72 (56.18%)
    21. 2002 Ferrari Enzo (56.18%)
    22. 1973 Lancia Stratos. (56.14%)
    23. 2001 Vauxhall Monaro (55.88%)
    24. 1964 Lamborghini 350 GT (55.62%)
    25. 1963 Aston Martin DB5 (55.47%)
    26. 1968 Morgan Plus 8 (Roadster) (54.99%)
    27. 1999 Pagani Zonda C12 (54.82%)
    28. 1962 Shelby Cobra (289 ‘8000 series) (54.82%)
    29. 1958 Alfa Romeo 2000 (Touring Spider) (54.43%)
    30. 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB (54.36%)
    31. 1984 Renault Alpine GTA (V6) (54.27%)
    32. Brabham BT62 (54.15%)
    33. 2002 Koenigsegg CC8S (54.13%)
    34. 1957 Lotus Seven (54.05%)
    35. 2013 Porsche 918 Spyder (54.00%)
    36. 2003 Bentley Continental GT (54.00%)
    37. 2004 Maserati MC12 (53.99%)
    38. 1994 Porsche 911 (993) (53.89%)
    39. 2020 Ferrari SF90 Stradale (53.89%)
    40. 1984 Ford RS200 (evo spec) (53.87%)
    41. 1965 Lola T70 (mk1 spyder) (53.86%)
    42. 2013 Alfa Romeo 4C (53.74%)
    43. 2015 Aston Martin Vulcan (53.65%)
    44. 2004 TVR Typhon (53.55%)
    45. 1975 Lotus Elite Excel (53.29%)
    46. 2017 McLaren 720S (53.22%)
    47. 2000 Spyker C8 (52.81%)
    48. 1992 McLaren F1 (52.71%)
    49. 2011 Lamborghini Aventador (52.64%)
    50. 2001 Lamborghini Murcielago (52.59%)
    51. 2004 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti (51.96%)
    52. 1956 Ferrari 410 Superamerica (51.84%)
    53. 1984 Ferrari Testarossa (51.83%)
    54. 2003 Porsche Carrera GT (51.71%)
    55. 1958 Lotus Elite (51.63%)
    56. 2013 Ferrari LaFerrari (51.58%)
    57. 1989 Aston Martin Virage (51.48%)
    58. 1987 Ferrari F40 (51.38%)
    59. 2012 Porsche 911 (991) (51.23%)
    60. 1999 Ferrari 360 Modena (51.16%)
    61. 1985 Bentley Mulsanne Turbo R (50.94%)
    62. 2016 Lamborghini Centenario (50.91%)
    63. 2014 McLaren 650S (Spider) (50.79%)
    64. 2011 McLaren MP4-12C (50.79%)
    65. 2003 Ford GT (50.75%)
    66. 2006 Audi R8 (50.60%)
    67. 1966 Alfa Romeo 1600 – Spider Duetto (50.53%)
    68. 2014 BMW i8 (50.41%)
    69. 1991 Bugatti EB 110 (50.29%)
    70. 1975 Porsche 911 930 Turbo (50.29%)
    71. 1997 Nissan R390 (49.90%)
    72. 1963 Porsche 911 (49.71%)
    73. 2016 Aston Martin DB11. (49.05%)
    74. 1986 Porsche 959 (48.89%)
    75. 1992 Jaguar XJ220 (48.73%)
    76. 1958 AC Ace (Roadster) (48.70%)
    77. 2014 Lamborghini Huracan (48.62%)
    78. 1986 Lamborghini LM002 (48.54%)
    79. 1966 Ferrari Dino 206 GT (48.44%)
    80. 1973 Maserati Merak (48.38%)
    81. 1976 Lamborghini Silhouette (prototype S92) (48.32%)
    82. 2020 McLaren Elva (48.27%)
    83. 1985 Bentley Mulsanne Turbo R (48.23%)
    84. 2010 Noble M600 (48.14%)
    85. 2012 Pagani Huayra (48.13%)
    86. 1974 Lamborghini Countach (48.10%)
    87. 2016 Honda NSX (48.05%)
    88. 2015 McLaren 570S (47.91%)
    89. 2007 Maserati GranTurismo (47.90%)
    90. 1971 De Tomaso Pantera (47.66%)
    91. 1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR (47.63%)
    92. 2017 Ferrari GTC4 Lusso (47.49%)
    93. 1957 Maserati 3500 GT (47.32%)
    94. 2009 Aston Martin One-77 (47.15%)
    95. 2016 Bugatti Chiron (47.07%)
    96. 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 (47.04%)
    97. 1979 AC 3000ME (47.00%)
    98. 1968 Ferrari 365 GTB (47.00%)
    99. 2000 Saleen S7 (46.90%)
    100. 2004 Aston Martin DB9 (46.59%)

    So, there you have it. The 100 most beautifully designed performance cars in the world, according to the golden ratio.

    Methodology

    To determine how close each car’s design is to the golden ratio, we manually tagged 14 key points on an image of each car showing the vehicle front-on.

    The specific points are; top left corner of the windscreen, middle top of the windscreen, top right corner of the windscreen, bottom left corner of the windscreen, the bottom middle point of the windscreen, bottom right corner of the windscreen, middle of the left wing mirror, middle of the right wing mirror, middle point of the left headlight, middle of the right headlight, midway between the headlights, bottom left corner of the car, middle bottom of the car and the bottom right-hand corner of the car.

    Using a bespoke custom-built piece of software – the distances between each of the points are plotted and then the distances are compared. These comparisons are in the form of a ratio, this ratio is then compared to the golden ratio. The closer the ratios in the image are to the golden ratio, the higher the percentage.