There’s nothing quite like seeing the shine of a classic vintage car up close, the smell of the original leather and the shifting of the stick are enough to fill any car enthusiast with glee. To choose just 10 must-see cars is a hard task and each vintage car lover will have their own opinion on which vehicle reigns supreme. But for those who are just getting into the world of vintage cars and looking to find out more about these classic automobiles, we have put together a comprehensive list of 10 must-see vintage cars for you to dive into. From the show-stopping Jaguar E-Type and Porsche 911 to the nostalgic pocket rockets like the Volkswagen Beetle and the Mini Cooper, we’ve got a treat for all car lovers. Each vintage car enthusiast has a love affair with their favourite car. The sound of the engine, the time and effort they put into restoring components of it, from the exhaust pipe to the turbo kit, these cars are a labour of love and are often their most prized possession. What would be your dream vintage car?
The Jaguar E-Type
The Jaguar E-Type is one of the most sought after classic sports cars in the world today and it still commands a huge price tag. The E-Type is one of the most iconic sports cars of all time. Developed by the legendary Motor Company, Jaguar, for Colin Chapman, this car made the transition from land-speed record breaker to sports car and set the standard for all future classic Jaguar cars. Built to emulate the aerodynamics of a 1960’s jet fighter, many details of this car, from the stubby rear end to the E-Types iconic design, will remind you of classic fighter jets.
This car comes in many forms and has been tweaked and modified throughout the years to make it even more desirable. Today’s standard E-Type comes with an F-Type engine that produces 550 hp. However, the original is still our favourite with it’s iconic alloys and sleek body. When the Jaguar was first manufactured in 1961 it retailed at around $5620 as one of the first ‘accessible’ show car. After the end of World War II, Jaguar started producing a car that brought excitement and desire back into the automobile industry. The E-Type had a desirable price tag that wasn’t completely out of reach, and the sound of it’s engine sent heartbeats racing and the shape was eye-catching.
Quick Fact: you may be surprised to know that the iconic shape of the Jaguar E-Type was not based on tests in high winds. Malcolm Sayer was Jaguar’s chief aerodynamicist and he designed the body shape on a purely mathematical basis. To this day drivers attest to the significantly low drag of the Jaguar E-Type.
The Jaguar E-Type, however, is more than just it’s appearance. It’s reputation precedes itself and this model is known for being fast, stable and one of the most wanted vintage cars from around the world.
The Porsche 911
Although the Porsche 911 is often now seen as a fast and scary car among a younger generation, it was actually the most reliable model on the market during the 1970s. There are some parts of the 911 that are hard to find today, but the Porsche 911 still stands as one of the greats. It might have lost its sportscar edge as new regulations came into play in the 1970s, but it has always been and always will be a desirable choice among car enthusiasts.
The prototype for the Porsche 911 was first unveiled at the Frankfurt IAA Motor Show in 1963 and was launched onto the market in 1964. There have since been 7 generations of the 911 over 5 decades – now that’s a legacy. The 911 has always been branded a modern car but never fashionable, from it’s debut in 1963 it caught the eye of sports car enthusiasts with an impressive speed of 210km per hour and its never-seen-before ‘ducktail’ was the world’s first rear spoiler on a production vehicle. It’s soaring price tag made it the car of your dreams and the 911 is still as elusive and desired today.
The 1963 911 was a far cry from the modern 911 that has been manufactured from 2011 onwards. The first model had a 2.0 litre engine, was rear mounted and had a 130 bhp. The original 911 ceased production in 1989, however, in the 1970’s we saw the Carrera RS come into play as the ultimate 911. This is perhaps the most sought after out of the 7 generations and has become quite the collectors item. This model was the perfect combination of luxury and performance, it was the first model to have 3 point seatbelts, it had prominent bellows bumpers, a 3 litre 260 hp engine and a huge rear spoiler. This complete makeover of the 911 gave way to the mystique of porch vehicles and the allure that still surrounds them today.
The Volvo 1800ES
The Volvo 1800ES was manufactured and marketed between 1961 and 1973, originally a coupe the Volvo 1800ES was the perfect companion for coasting couples. For those who worked in the hustle and bustle of the city in the week and escaped to the coast on weekends. A bit smaller than the Volvo 1800, the Volvo 1800ES became the 1800’s successor. It had a lower centre of gravity, which made it easier for you to move around in it. Volvo’s long term ethos has been to build estates that matched the development of customer lifestyles. The 1800ES is no exception, building on the original 1800 model the ES provided extra luggage space perfect for weekend getaways or a day of golf.
The Volvo 1800ES is the ideal road trip companion, with an electrical overdrive, 4-speed manual with floor-mounted gear lever and 3-speed automatic with gear lever steering column. The 1800ES is made for endurance. But it’s not all about logistics, the 1800ES has a sleek and understated body shape it’s statement front and rear bumpers give that classic 70’s aesthetic to the car. In our opinion, the Volvo 1800Ed is an underestimated vehicle in the world of vintage cars. It has the perfect balance of style, speed and practicality and with only 8,078 ever produced it’s one of the rarest vintage cars to get your hands on!
You probably think that the beautiful saloon cars that we so often see in movies and commercials are the ultimate way to ride around in style. But the Jeep is the true classic car; a vehicle that can handle all types of terrain, all weather conditions, and one that you can literally take all over the place, whether it’s at a cottage or back to the office. The Jeep 4X4 is one of the most sought after cars and is much more versatile than your classic vintage car such as a Cadillac limousine.
The Jeep 4X4 came to life in the heat of conflict, it was the go anywhere, do anything vehicle that was seen as the companion of allied soldiers all around the world, particularly during World War II. From the Willy’s quad model of 1940 to the Jeep CJ-3A of 1949-1953, in the space of just 10 years the Jeep was remodelled and adapted for not just the needs of soldiers but as lifestyle and labour vehicles too.
The first civilian Jeep came onto the market in 1945. Known as the workhouse of the second world war, it could do the job of drafting horses at double the pace and without overheating the engine. The CJ was designed to serve the agriculture industry all over the world, but it quickly transformed into the ideal adventure vehicle. The iconic model was even seen as the companion of Queen Elizabeth II on her commonwealth tours. With improved shock absorbers, comfortable seats, low speed hauling and highway speeds of up to 60mph, 7-inch headlights, and a reinforced frame, the CJ (civilised jeep) is truly fit for royalty.
The Bentley R Type
The Bentley R Type, nicknamed the “money Bentley,” is one of the most iconic sports cars from the 60’s. The car was designed in 1952 and had a starting price of $30,000 making it one of the highest priced cars of it’s time. In 1952 cars that could hit a top speed of 115mph were very uncommon, cars that were able to cruise at 100mph with 4 passengers plus luggage was radical; along comes the Bentley R Type. Post war, Ivan Emerden, Bentley’s chief projects engineer was inspired to reinvent the Bentley automobile for the post-war world. His aim was to reduce the aero drag of conventional cars and design a long, low and lithe body shape. using aerodynamics and lightweight construction, the R Type quickly became an icon; beautifully crafted, fast and completely exclusive.
Nothing says glamour like the Bentley R Type
The Chevrolet Corvette
The Chevrolet Corvette (C5) was one of the most popular cars in the U.S. in the 1970s. An all American sports car with impressive performance and superior handling, the C5 was the first mass-production car from General Motors to use the lightweight all-aluminium technology (aluminium was not an option in the 1940s). The C5 came in coupe and convertible body styles, with 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions, and a top speed of 190mph. Today, the Corvette can still be found in private collections all over the world. It’s predecessor, the Ford Model A Released in 1908 is considered to be one of the most basic cars ever made. It didn’t have the long-haul appeal of the Model T, but was considered a good commuter car.
The Ford Mustang
Known as America’s sports car, the Ford Mustang was developed from the humble Ford Fairlane in the early 1960s. The original purpose of the Ford Mustang was to help the US car company keep up with the British sports car company, Jaguar. The Ford Mustang has become an iconic American vehicle and one of the bestselling sports cars on the planet. Although it is mostly known for its iconic race cars like the Ford GT and Shelby GT500, the original version of the Mustang was the original model with a V8 engine. The Jaguar E-Type Series 1 The Jaguar E-Type is one of the most iconic cars to ever grace the classic car scene. Many movies in the 1980s and 90s would feature the sleek red roadster in the background.
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL is the epitome of elegance, power and grace. A car loved and adored by most celebrities, it’s hard to decide which roadster reigns supreme and what selection you should put on your list of must-see vintage cars. The Benz 300SL was never meant to be a commercial car, it was designed for the race track and was the world’s first supercar. It was built over a space frame chassis and has a graceful looking body that boats impressive aerodynamics. The model’s most eye-catching feature however is its vertical opening doors. This genius design detail was a modern bombshell to the automobile market of the 50’s, the Mercedes Benz 300SL brought the excitement and adrenaline of the race track to the cities and suburban neighbourhoods. The model was brought into production for commercial use in 1954 and it commanded all the attention it deserves. AT the New York International Fashion Show in 1954, the supercar wowed crowds with it’s ultra modern design up close.
Ferrari 250 GTO
Known as the Ultimate Prancing Horse, the Ferrari 250 GTO needs no introduction! One of the rarest and classic cars of all time, there are only 36 of these models in existence, making the 250 GTO one of the most sought after cars of the century. In fact, it is the most expensive car to ever be sold at an auction with a winning bid of £22,850,000 in 2014. The car has a low build to improve aerodynamic efficiency. The engine is even located further back in the body of the model to keep it as low as possible. However, there’s nothing small about the power of this classic car. It boasts quad exhaust pipes and has a large rear spoiler as well one of a kind elliptical grille.
What makes this car so superior is that its design ties directly with its mechanics. There are no added gimmicks, but design and mechanics work perfectly hand in hand together to give the perfect vintage car experience. Some argue the Ferrari 250 GTO is the best Ferrari ever made, others argue that it birthed the design inspiration for the models we have today. But the 250 GTO still reigns supreme!
The Mini Cooper
Originally the Austin Mini Cooper, the Mini Cooper was initially introduced as a budget alternative to the Mini Mark I. The Mini Cooper is a car that was completely changed during its history, starting from the low-performance hatchback Mini to the beautifully-styled Mini Cooper S and Mini Cooper D. The original Mini however, has the ability to transcend the gap between the rich and the poor, it appeals to everyone from the race track to the supermarket car park. The mini is the people’s car. It has a transverse engine front wheel drive layout, as we see in it’s one of a kind small bonnet. This design feature meant that 80% of the interior of the vehicle could be used for passengers and luggage without taking away from it’s compact aesthetic.
The Mini Cooper comes with a two-cylinder engine paired to a five-speed manual gearbox and is popular as a racer as well as as a roadster. The car also timelessly handles with bullseye accuracy, making it one of the most fun cars to drive. The Mini has proven relevant and cool throughout the decades, from 60’s chic to the new romance of the 80’s, the Mini is loved by the world. It also reigned champion on the Monte Carlo Rally three times between 1964-1967, gaining even more popularity amongst the riches and gold of the Monte Carlo social scene. The Mini truly is a car that transcends trends and time, and to have a ride in one of the original models should be on all of our bucket lists!