50 sexiest cars ever

Wheels magazine chooses their 50 sexiest cars... Ever!

It was always going to be controversial. After weeks of unashamed car lust, office slanging matches and, finally, concord, we present a provocative line-up of automotive aphrodisia. The water-cooler arguments start here...

50 - Morris Mini Cooper S
Honest, attainable and outwardly quite innocent, the Cooper S was every bit as sexy as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. The fact that it could take the fight to the big boys on the racetrack - not to mention, on the streets and staircases of Turin - made it an even more worthy, swingin' sixties chick.

49 - Facel Vega HK500
French foundry Facel made aeroplane parts during WWII; it emerged making bodies for Delahaye, Panhard and Simca, before turning out the exclusive Vega series in 1955. Drawn by company boss Jean Daninos, it conveyed European elegance and American opulence, the latter via a big Chrysler V8. A blend of handcrafted exclusivity and 240km/h grand touring ability.

48 - Holden Torana A9X hatch
How many fantasies were hatched by the hatch-hutch? The locally-styled LX Torana hatchback may have been compromised in rear headroom and cargo floor depth, but it made for a sexy - and more successful - fastback touring car successor to the Monaro. The monster V8 and useful (disc) brakes didn't hurt.

47 - Cord 812 Supercharged
The flowing, front-drive Cord 810/812 was as elegant as it was innovative; those pop-up headlights were a first, and Cord's low-slong, front-drive layout (with transmission ahead of the engine) had already pre-empted Citroen Traction Avant. Coffin nose and the absence of running boards were further innovations in this 1930s Hollywood must-have.

46 - Aston Martin V8
Perhaps the essential Aston Martin -long bonnet, ducktail, side strakes and a raffish, ageing roue image - the V8 joined the six-pot DBS in 1969. With increasingly iffy facelifts, the car served as Aston's mainstream model for 20 years and was the hero car for a whole generation of pasty-faced Pommy trainspotters.

45 - Audi Quattro
In 1984, the sexiest woman alive was Grace Jones. Against which, it ain't hard to see why the boxy AUdi Quattro and short wheelbase Quattro Sport fit into this list. The Quattro's boxed guards pre-dated those of the Lancia Delta Integrale and the Audi was the first car to combine all-wheel drive, ABS and turbocharging.

44 - Dodge Charger R/T 440
If muscle cars mean Coke-bottle curves and underbonnet cubes, here's your winner: the 7.2 litre, Dodge Charger R/T 440. The Charger was Dodge's NASCAR weapon, though the 'flying buttress' C-pillar created scary rear lift. It was addressed in in 1969 by the flush-windowed, spectacularly-winged Charger Daytona.

43 - Valiant Chrysler Charger E49
It couldn't trump the Falcon GT-HO Phase III on the race track, but the Charger had the famous Ford beaten in two key areas: acceleration and looks. The two-door E49 swaggered its subtle, curvaceous hips to 60mph (97km/h) in a blistering 6.1sec, 0.3sec quicker than the bluff, brutal-looking Phase III. Hey Charger, indeed.

42 - Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS
The new Camaro apes the '69, but for purity of line, the '67 Camaro is the original and best. Its 'European-style' body was near identical to Mustang's dimensions, but lacked nothing in muscle when specced with the Rally Sport styling package (covered headlamps, all-red tail-lamps) and/or even better, the bumblebee-striped, 6.5-litre SS powerhouse.

41 - Bentley R-Type Continental
Endless wind-tunnel testing; all-aluminium body; fastest four-seater in the world. Doesn't sound like 1952, but they're the stats on the Bentley Continental R-Type. It was, and perhaps remains, the essential gentleman's grand tourer; it was also the most expensive production car you could buy.

40 - Citroen SM
A seductive sliver of intersecting lines and generous glass areas that even extend to the six headlamps and rego-plate area, the stunning Citroen SM (1970) was penned by former GM designer and Harley Earl protege, Henry Lauve. The alloy Maserati V6 engine only added to the futuristic French car's mystique.

39 - Lotus Elite
The wide-eyed face and slightly parted lips, the gentle sway of its budding hips... The Elite was launched in 1957, the same year as the skeletal 7, but the monocoque-bodied coupe promised more for Lotus' future. It was a six-time class winner at Le Mans and an aerodynamic winner with a Cd of 0.29. Not bad, seeing it was designed by Chapman's accountant.

38 - Mercedes-Benz 710 SSK 'Trossi'
Italian aristocrat and Scuderia Ferrari's first president Count Carlo Trossi bought an unsold SSK chassis, then collaborated with an unknown Italian designer and an English coachbuilder to create his own, flowing roadster: the 'Trossi'. It's one of the most stunning symbols of 1930s elegance.

37 - Alfa Romeo 105 Spider
Sexy and significant, the Spider Duetto of 1966 was the last car designed by Battista 'Pinin' Farina before his death. Its side scallops were controversial at the time; likewise, the never-ending argument over the original, round-tailed Duetto versus the later, more masculine square-tailed version.

36 - Alpine-Renault A110
French garage-owner designs and builds a Renault R8-powered sports car, ends up winning the inaugural World Rally Championship (1973). The A110's fibreglass body pirates detail parts from humble French production cars, but the little Alpine is every centimetre (and there aren't many) a pure, pocket supercar.

35 - Aston Martin DB5
How could the most memorable Bondmobile of all not be sexy? This series started with the DB4 in 1958 and with the DB5 of 1963 stepped up to more Aston-like performance from a 4.0-litre six and five-slot tranny. A graceful, yet potent grand tourer that helped plenty of owners to roger more.

34 - Ferrari F40
We'd never seen such a raw and functional Ferrari; the F40 had none of the grace or curves of the 288 GTO. Wings and louvres were functionally applied and, unusually for a Ferrari, the body was unapologetically only a covering for the soul of the car, rather than a part of it. The 2.9-litre, twin-turbo V8 and race-engineered chassis did all the talking.

33 - BMW Z8
If you've never actually seen a Z8 in the metal, just shut the hell up. You wouldn't know the gloved threat of its presence, the toned athleticism of its proportions. It packs serious M5 firepower under the bonnet, and the styling - which recalls, without aping, the classic 507 - communicates heritage and heavy-duty performance just right.

32 - Lotus Elan
The pure, aerodynamic shape of the Elan clothed an immensely clever little car, with its one-piece body shell, snug but well-appointed cockpit, useable boot, properly fitting soft-top and (among) the first flush-fitting bumpers. The backbone chassis was initially designed as a test-mule for Colin Chapman's suspension tinkerings.

31 - Aston Martin V8 Vantage
We reckon the stubby, two-seater V8 Vantage is currently the best expression yet of everything Aston - which is a hard call to make, given they all look much the same. Short and squat, the V8 Vantage pulls off the neat trick of appealing to everyone. By which we mean, men and women, Aston and Porsche 911 owners.

30 - Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano
A stunning return to Ferrari's front-engined form of old, yet absolutely modern in its execution. Pininfarina could easily have slipped into parody of earlier greats like the 375MM 'Bergman' coupe (headlights and front guards), Daytona (C-pillar) or the 250 GT SWB (rounded tail). But the 599 pulls it all off beautifully, and aerodynamically.

29 - Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato
With its brusque, perspex-covered nose and severe Kamm tail, the Junior Z pre-dated the Alfasud by two years and set a lasting template for stylish small cars. Park one next to the Honda CRX that came 19 years later. Jay-Zee still trumps them all with rear-drive and beaut, 1.3 or 1.6 Giulia twin-cams.

28 - Chevrolet 1963 Corvette Stingray
Marked a changing of the guard at GM, after Harley Earl. Derived from Bill Mitchell's experimental Stingray Racer of 1959, the new 'Vette also introduced a coupe to the range that looked even better than the donor roadster. Too bad the cool-looking (but uncool-for-looking) split-window lasted just one year.

27 - Lancia Stratos
Bertone/Gandini's 1970 Lancia Fulvia-powered 'Stratos Zero' concept was more modern Lambo than Lancia (its lines pre-empting the 1974 Countach), but the lead-sled-wedge first lent itself to a mid-mounted Ferrari (Dino) V6. The result was a Group 5 racing and Group 4 rally weapon; the louvred, arrowhead coupe won three WRC titles and four Monte Carlo rallies.

26 - Bolwell Nagari
Iconic Aussie muscle car that had truly world-class GT styling - thanks, in part, to Bolwell-brother Graeme's 1968 stint at Lotus. A refinement of the Bolwell MkVII, the monocoque Nagari introduced subtle influences from the Lotus Europa and Lambo Miura. With Ford V8 power, it was the Drum-smoking, body-shirted sports car of the '70s.

25 - Pagani Zonda
Zonda romps into the list with staggering supercar performance, a monstrous AMG-supplied V12 engine, cosa nostra exclusivity and breathtaking, if rather awkwardly resolved styling. But look more closely, in profile. Is it just us, or is that a huge phallus, being thrust forward by a muscular, rounded rump? Uhh, please don't say it's just us...

24 - Ferrari 206 GT Dino
More from the masterful pen of Leonardo Fioravanti. The Dino - it was intended as a stand-alone brand - dropped jaws when first shown in Paris in 1965 and still has the same effect today. And the 2.0-litre, V6-engined berlinetta was as beautiful inside as out. With the rapid switch to a larger, 2.4-litre engine (made by Fiat), performance stepped up to meet a new rival, the Porsche 911.

23 - BMW 3.0 CSL
Racing, they say, improves the breed, and this 1973 homologation special sure makes us think of breeding. BMW's svelte, pillarless 3.0 CSi coupe formed the basis for its touring car racer, the 'L' indicating the leichtmetal mix of thin-gauge steel and aluminium panels. These helped to trim 250kg from the standard CSi. But the CSL was bludgeoned into aerodynamic shape with a deep front air dam, novel 'air splitter' ridges, a roof air deflector and the post-and-plank rear wing that earned its nickname of Batmobile. The CSL wasn't subtle. But it was sexy as hell.

22 - Alfa Romeo Giulia 105 Coupe
Bertone - and its employee, Giorgio Giugiaro - take the credit for the beautiful little Giulia coupe family of 1963-'76. The silhouette is bright and open at the front, tapering notably in both height and plan towards the rear. Being a small car, it's eager, not muscular.

21 - BMW 507
The 507 has a lightness and grace largely absent from the doughy British designs of the day. Its slender, light body seems almost to float on its wheels, its broad-nostril grille lending to the impression of a soaring bird of prey.

20 - Ferrari 288 GTO
Ferrari's often overlooked Group B omologazione special of 1984 was a stripped-out, muscled-up 308 GTB. How could that not be sexy? More delicate and curvaceous than the slabby F40, the GTO was just as hairy under the covers, with a 2.85-litre, twin-turbo V8 punching out 298kW - and making the GTO the first 300km/h production car.

19 - Mercedes-Benz AMG SL65 Black Series
A Mercedes SL convertible with twin-turbocharged, 6.0-litre V12 is so lacking in sex appeal - y'know, obviously - that AMG had to boost power and torque, lose 250 kilos, punch out the guards and reclothe it in carbonfibre. The result is as sexy as the offspring of a road-going luxury coupe and a DTM racer.

18 - Jaguar E-Type
Probably the proto-penis-on-wheels, but no less technically interesting for its steel monocoque/subframe chassis and brilliant coil-sprung independent rear suspension, than for its jaw-dropping styling. The only detraction is the slightly butt-puckered stance, on relatively narrow tracks. Make ours the Series 1, 3.8-litre roadster.

17 - De Tomaso Mangusta
Lean, mean and with a split rear screen, the Giugiaro-designed Mangusta from 1966 featured centre-hinged rear bodywork that allows the whole sides to be flipped upwards to expose a Ford V8. It was the supercar equivalent of builder's butt-crack.

16 - Citroen DS
Get a sculptor to design your car and it figures he'll come back with a sculpture. Flaminio Bertoni's masterpiece was the 1955 DS. The DS's technological breakthroughs alone make it sexy: hydro-pneumatic suspension, disc brakes, fibreglass roof. Whether in sedan, Safari wagon or Chapron's two-door decapotable, the Deesse just oozed understated, Parisian flair.

15 - Ford Mustang 390 GT
Even trying to forget the famous car chase and the studied cool of the star himself, the Bullitt '68 'Stang 390 GT is just one hell of a sexy beast. It's all there: the angry, hooded eyes and flaring nose, the firm haunches, the Torq-Thrust mags and the accelerating curve of the fastback, ending in the reversed rear panel and cat-slash tail-lights. Yep, McQueen's Mustang looks like it's racing to either mount or murder something. Maybe both.

14 - Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa
If $15 million is sexy - and as any ugly bloke with $15m could tell you, it is - then the 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa is a Richter-rocker on the sex scale. But the design of this sports-racer was probably the most functional and futuristic of its era. Sergio Scaglietti, who nominated this car as his all-time favourite, was inspired by the pontoon tanks of the Lancia-Ferrari D50 F1 car of 1954-'57. Scaglietti described the car as "a Formula 1 car with fenders." Aside from the pure grace of its lines, its layout set the template for today's Le Mans racers.

13 - Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic
Not unlike the Mercedes 300SL, but two decades earlier, the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic was the outcome of engineering solved with elegance. Its distinctive, full-length dorsal fin suggested speed and stability, yet its initial motive was to enable designer Jean Bugatti to use Electron (a magnesium alloy) for the body. The dorsal fins provided a surface for riveting the body and fender halves together. In the event, only the first of the four Atlantics was made from magnesium, the remainder in aluminium. With a 200km/h top speed, it was the Veyron of its day.

12 - Mercedes-Benz 300SL
Automotive sex means styling driven by functionality, with a dash of flair. One of the best examples is Mercedes' 300SL: its most distinctive feature came about through its engineers' demands for strong door sills. The fabulous 'gullwing' doors weren't a mere wank but a brilliant, legitimate engineering solution. The company that invented the motor car also had enough history, and enough respect for it, to incorporate inlets and elements that left no doubt as to the 300SL's heritage. Add a movie-star customer queue and the 300SL soars among the sexiest.

11 - AC Shelby Cobra 427 S/C
Carroll Shelby famously said, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but you can make a mighty fast pig." And a damn sexy pig, too, after Shelby had bull-worked the pretty, British-made AC Ace roadster aluminium body to ultimately accept the Ford 427 in 1965. The stance of the 427 goes further than any similarly haunched British contemporaries. The driver's bum is immediately ahead of the rear axle, the bonnet thrusting out ahead of him. And with a big block of Ford's finest, it was no hollow promise.

10 - Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona
It would be enough just to look the way it does; but it also goes. The Daytona was the fastest GT of its day (1968) - which included the Lamborghini Miura and Maserati Ghibli. The front-engined Daytona was penned by Pininfarina's Leonardo Fioravanti, also responsible for the Dino and the Boxer. Early examples had covered headlights behind a full-width perspex lens; US safety laws for 1970 made it give way to pop-up headlamps. Either way, the Daytona captures the point where '60s flair meets the modernist '70s.

9 - Lamborghini Countach
This broad-shouldered, charging robo-bull may just be the most-postered car of all time. Just eight years after his graceful Miura, Marcello Gandini penned this muscular wedge that would influence supercars for the next two decades. The original LP400 of 1974 was the most graceful, if that's the word, and popularised NACA ducts. Subsequent models grew self-parodying wings and wheelarch flares.

8 - Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
Few car makers had such a rich seam of elegant models to draw on than Alfa Romeo had when it built the brand-reviving 8C Competizione supercar in 2007. Designed in-house, the body is a masterful melange of elements from 1960s Alfa racing coupes, most identifiably the TZ1 and TZ2, and with a dash of Ferrari 250 GTO thrown in. Of course, its mechanicals are mainly Maserati. And you won't find us complaining about any of that.

7 - Porsche 911 turbo 3.3
How to pick a favourite from the automotive world's most enduring and distinctive silhouette? It wasn't easy, but we reckon it's the 911 Turbo 3.3 of 1978. The mighty 930 first arrived in 3.0-litre form in 1975; the Turbo's wider body further accentuated the 911's seductive curves. And the 'whale tail' spoiler, necessary for both cooling and downforce, actually added another iconic silhouette. The 1978 3.3-litre gets my vote. Bigger wheels, bigger wing.

6 - Bizzarrini GT 5300
Giotto Bizzarrini was Ferrari's former chief race engineer who left Maranello in 1961. He quickly collaborated with boutique car brand Iso Rivolta, developing and producing the Iso A3/C, a GT originally designed by Giugiaro. Following a 1965 falling-out with Iso, Bizzarrini refined the A3/C design and began producing road and racing versions of a car he called GT 5300. With 300kW of 5.3-litre Chevrolet power, it had the performance to match the sultry, serpentine looks.

5 - Ferrari 250 GT SWB
It rarely gets better than Pininfarina on the pens and Scaglietti on the panels. Their crowning achievement, we reckon, is the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT SWB. One of the fastest GT racers of its day, and a class winner at Le Mans, it was 200mm shorter than the regular 250 GT series. Its proportions are absolute perfection, from the sweeping front wings to the falling roofline and rounded tail. Any scoop or swage line you see is functional, yet the car isn't intimidating. Inside, it's minimally dressed for race success; black crinkle-finish covers its metal.

4 - Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
Look at the body and again at the date: 1967. More than one Wheels staffer, in eyeing the mid-engined V8 Alfa, reckoned it could be pegged two or even three decades later. The race-based road car was designed by Franco Scaglione, most famous for the BAT Alfas at Bertone. To us, it's a distillation of the most beautiful Le Mans racers of its decade and the next. And yet the 33 was underpinned by a racing chassis and 2.0-litre V8 with world-class racing credentials of its own. Just 18 were built; stratospherically expensive, and sizzling with sex appeal.

3 - Ford GT40
This trans-Atlantic temptress was the product of Lola brains and FoMoCo bucks (and bang). But while Lola had turned out the 1963 Mk6 GT basis, and did plenty of development work, much - or most - of the credit for the GT40's sexiness and success rests with Dearborn. The beaut body was attributed to Ford's Roy Lunn, who gave the car its eponymous 40-inch height and clever, cut-away roofline doors for driver access.

2 - Ferrari 250 GTO
Probably the best-known classic Ferrari, and the point from which road and race GTs diverged forever. The 1962 250 GTO was the aero-evolution of the SWB: head race engineer Giotto Bizzarrini roughed out a low nose, with faired-in headlights and a small grille, augmented by three coverable inlets. Big side gills (two were necessary, three was fashionable) exhausted hot air, and the cockpit swept back to a new GT trademark, the ducktail. It was panel-master Scaglietti who grafted in the new-fangled 'Gurney flap' and sculpted the GTO's final, fantastic shape.

1 - Lamborghini Miura
Okay, so the Miura was always the pre-event favourite to take the number-one spot; it's simply one of the most desirable cars of all time. The Miura was launched, incredibly, in 1966. Even more incredibly, the key figures in its development - designer Marcello Gandini, chassis designer Giampaolo Dallara and NZ-born development driver Bob Wallace - were all just in their mid-20s. It was a breakthrough, with its transverse, mid-mounted V12 engine that frightening Enzo Ferrari out of his front-engined bias. It was the first supercar.

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