The future of cars is incredibly exciting. There are always advancements and improvements in technology, style, and drivability, and there will continue to be more coming over the horizon in the next few months and years. But there are always going to be some cars that can stand the test of time. No matter when they were built or when they are driven, they turn heads and break the necks of all who see them. Some of the cars listed below inspired the design and the function of some of the most popular cars on the road today.
When you're talking about timeless cars, while they have individual differences that make them unique, they all carry similar traits, including body style, sound, and engine. As you driving down the road these days, there are some cars that you can spot a mile away just based on how they look. Their body and look can give them away in an instant, and that's a quality that all timeless cars have—a classic look that withstands and transcends time. The majority of unforgettable classic cars also had loud engines. When you're designing a car that'll live forever, the car has to have something that'll make it stand out, and these cars aren't shy to let you know they're on the road. Here are 18 cars that your grandad drove that still look good today.
18 1978 Pontiac Trans Am
In 1967, Pontiac came up with the Trans Am as a competitor to Ford's Mustang. It's considered both a pony and a muscle car, and even though it's been over 30 years since it was first rolled out, the Trans Am still has a large fanbase today. What makes this 2-door coupe so special was its characteristic look. While its competitors had similar styles, there were none that rivaled the Trans Am.
If you've considered buying a Trans Am, then you've had engine options that ranged from the 230 cu-in of the Pontiac SOHC I6 all the way to the 400 cu-in of the Pontiac V8.
Beginning in 1978, Pontiac introduced a new special edition of the Trans Am: the Firebird Formula LT Sports Edition. The Firebird not only had an upgraded body style but also received an upgrade to its engine and was faster than any other models that Pontiac had put out before. The 1978 Pontiac Trans Am was bought over 185,000 times in 1978, making it one of the most sold models Pontiac had ever designed.
17 1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7
If you see this car driving down the road today, then you might mistake it for a newer car. The 1973 Porsche Carrera RS 2.7 is a car that clearly has withstood the test of time. When it comes to Porsche, a lot of their cars have a telltale body giveaway. The curvy grooves and dips on their models are a symbol of the style and vision that they believed cars should look like. Considered a "must-have" for any true Porsche collector out there, the Carrera is still, to this day, one of the company's bestsellers and is still considered a luxury car.
The idea for the Carrera RS 2.7 came about when Porsche wanted to build a new vehicle that would top its Type 917 prototypes and was street- and racetrack-legal (which the prototypes weren't.) Initially, Porsche came out with only 500 cars, but when they sold out really fast, Porsche realized that they had discovered gold. From there, they continued to build and improve upon the Carrera, and while it's a car that can be bought brand new today, the 1973 model deserves all of the praise for being the start of something great.
16 1970 Toyota 2000GT
The Toyota 2000GT is the result of a joint project by both Yamaha and Toyota to create an amazing and fast car. While most of the Toyotas that are seen on the road today look like fun family cars, at one point, they made something really special. If you were one of the lucky 337 people who were able to buy the car, then you were one of the few people who were able to experience what technological innovation and desire meant to Toyota.
On the road, the 2000GT can go from 0-60 in 8.5 seconds and has 129 pounds per foot of torque under the hood.
Running on 16 cylinders, the 2000GT can top out at 135 mph, which, at the start of the '70s, was no easy feat. The car's production lasted only 4 short years until both companies started working on different projects, making this car extremely rare. Out of the 337 that were made in that 4-year span, only a few still remain today, and if you're in search of one, then you'll have to dish out some serious cash.
15 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T Hemi
Still an image of style and horsepower today, the Challenger first set foot in 1970. Looking at this original first model, you can see that even the latest 2018 models still have a resemblance to its roots, as they look strikingly similar. Dodge wanted to create a vehicle that would rival the popular Mercury Cougar and the Pontiac Firebird at the time. At the same time of the release, Chrysler was still also producing the Barracuda, which was a smaller, less expensive version of the Challenger.
Often called a "boat car," the Challenger was made to have a wide intimidating stance and a raging engine.
Unfortunately, at the time of its introduction, muscle and pony cars overall were in decline, and the Challenger's sales from its first generation suffered because of it. It wasn't until years later that the public starting buying them in droves, and the trend hasn't stopped since. If you went out and bought a Challenger in 1970, then you had the option of a V6 engine or the Chrysler Hemi V8 engine, which is still used in their cars today. The R/T, which stands for '"Road/Track," was the performance model that you could buy if you wanted to deliver horsepower.
14 1970 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
The Corvette has long been a symbol of class and power, and the ZR1 models sit at the top of the pile with their optimal performance. Chevrolet wanted to create a limited-production radio-delete car that was able to compete on the track. While Chevrolet had other Corvette models at the time that were also nothing to sneeze at, they didn't have a model that pushed the envelope far enough for them. The Corvette ZR1, named for the RPO performance package that's built into it, raised the bar not only for Chevrolet but for its competitors as well.
When the ZR1 model was first introduced, there was limited cars and production due to its special design. Overall, under 100 cars were ordered during its initial 1970-1972 production span. If you purchased the car, it didn't come with any standard comforts that you'd expect in cars today, such as air conditioning, defrosters, or the radio since it was built only for fast driving. If you could do without, then you owned a car that broke ground and can still rival cars today.
13 1971 Plymouth 'Cuda
Although the Barracuda was introduced in 1967 it wasn't until 1971 that the car was completely revamped and perfected. Smaller than the Challenger, the Barracuda was one of the first sports cars to be built with a wider stance and frame. Although competitors were developing similar model types, Chrysler got the jump on them and came out with the Barracuda before them. One of the coolest things about the car was the personalization and customization that the buyer could make. With over 6 different engines and colors ranging from "Bahama Yellow" to "Moulin Rouge," almost any buyer anywhere could get exactly what they wanted
The 1970 and the 1971 models were the only models that came with a shaker, rubber colors, bumpers, and a Spicer-built Dana rear axle.
You wouldn't be able to buy the 440 V8 engine anymore, but you can now buy the models that had the Hemi V8 engine. The sale of the Barracuda only ran from 1967-1974, and production stopped due to the popularity of the Dodge Challenger and decreasing sports car sales.
12 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454
Forever labeled as one of the most successful cars that Chevrolet has ever produced, the Chevelle SS was the mid-size car that'll go down in history. What made the second-generation Chevelle so special were the changes made to the body and the engine of the car. In the front, the Chevelle had the singular chrome bar and a revised simplified grille.
Under the hood, the engine options ranged from a 230 cu-in 3.8L Chevrolet I6 all the way to the 454 cu-in 7.4L Big Block V8 engine. The car also came in a variety of body styles including a 2-door hardtop, a 4-door sedan, and a 4-door station wagon.
One of the body styles of the Chevelle developed into what we all know of today as the "Malibu" and the "El Camino." Even in 1970, the most built-up models of the Chevelle went up to 330 mph. What made the Chevelle so accessible was its ability to cater to any driver who wanted a piece of the car. Whether you were a single bachelor or a family of 5, the Chevelle had a model and style just for you.
11 1967 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale
While Alfa Romeo is a brand that's only recently resurfaced, they've created some beauties in the past. The Tips 33 Stradale was designed and built by Franco Scaglione and was based on a sports car that he also designed. Another car made to exhibit both beauty and speed, the Stradale was the first production vehicle to have dihedral doors with side windows that curved into the roof. The Stradale's finished look was one that came from dozens of alterations over a period of years from various designers and influencers.
Like most Alfa Romeo vehicles today, the Stradale was rare with only 14 being produced. Another key piece of the Stradale was its engine. The body housed a two-liter V8 that produce up to 230 hp. On top of that, the Stradale could go from 0-100 km/h in just 5.5 seconds and topped out at 260 km/h on the road.
10 1965 Shelby Cobra 427
The Shelby Cobra 427 was the equivalent to Ford what the ZR1 was to Chevrolet—the top of the top. And if you were looking for a car that delivered on various fronts, then the Shelby was your go-to. Outside of the car just being absolutely stunning to look at, it wasn't all just for show, and the Cobra packed a whopping 7.0-liter V8 engine underneath the hood. Ford didn't just set out to make a good car; they also designed and developed the Shelby Cobra to be the fastest production car on the road at the time.
Even today, Shelbys aren't cars to be messed with. They're often only seen far and few between because it takes a special driver to handle all of the power that comes with owning one. At its fastest, the Shelby was putting up a top speed of 185 mph and 485 bhp. Powered by the Ford 427 engine, the Shelby was one of the few cars at the time that provided both luxury and power. Today, you can buy the car for over $100,000, a testament to just what true lasting power the Shelby Cobra had then and continues to have today.
9 1965 Jaguar E-Type Coupe Series 1 4.2
Straight out of a 007 movie, the Jaguar E-Type Coupe is a timeless piece of machinery that even the most charming and suave amongst onlookers can't help but stare at. The car breathes luxury and sophistication and is one of the cars that no matter what decade you drive it will continue to be a car to marvel. Initially, the Jaguar was only made for export only, and it wasn't until months after its production began that the car was made available for drivers and buyers on US soil.
The E-Type coupe featured butter-soft leather-upholstered sears and an aluminum-trimmed center panel and console.
It also included optional additions, like a removable hardtop or chrome-spoked wheels. When it came to body style, a buyer had the option of getting the fastback coupe or the roadster, both of which came with the Jaguar E-Type branding. On the road, the maximum speed was 150 mph, and it went from 0-60 mph in just 7 seconds.
8 1989 Audi 90 Quattro
Made more for the track than for the road, the Audi 90 Quattro was the four-door sedan that Audi made in their grand vision. It was an all-wheel-drive powerhouse that included a double-overhead-camshaft valve gear and produced a maximum of up to 6,000 rpm. The Quattro's top speed at the time was 140 mph, and it sprinted from 0-100 km/h in just 8.7 seconds. While Audi has perfected making cars that are both fast and luxurious, the first Quattros that were made reflected the boxy-car body style of most of the cars in the '80s and the '90s.
The Audi 90 Quattro ran on 5 cylinders and had a 2.3-liter engine that propelled it on both the track and on the street.
In the late '80s, Audi dominated in the racing scene, and they used the technology that was developed during this reign in the cars that they still produce today. The 1989 Audi 90 Quattro was considered the wide-bodied terminator of the track, and it handily won that title again and again.
7 1989 Maserati Biturbo
In songs and media today, the twin-turbo engine is one of common talk, but when the Maserati Biturbo first hit the scene, it was the first car to ever have a twin-turbo engine under the hood. In 1976, the owner of Maserati, Alejandro de Tomaso, decided that he wanted to create a car that not only maintained the image of Maserati's prestige but was also affordable and could measure up on the track. The 1989 models were ones that were given the change to the overall body with smoother lines and rounded grilles and bonnets.
Initially, the Biturbo was very successful and sold over 40,000 units after its release. However, the sales of the car started to dwindle until the production of the car stopped. Under the hood, the 2.8-liter engine produced 225 hp and had 246 lb-ft of torque in the US. Maserati would later come out with more model types, including the 222, the Biturbo Si Black, and the Biturbo E Si, for audiences in both the US and Europe.
6 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300SL
Mercedes-Benz never falls short of making amazing and fantastic cars, and they started this trend decades ago. Mercedes always strives to be at the forefront of the newest and most innovative car and tech designs in existence. When making the 300SL, Mercedes sought to create something that was new and redesigned, unlike their previous models, and they came up with the 300SL.
On the 300SL, the front suspension damper struts had separate coil springs and gas-pressurized shock absorbers. The engine was a 3.0L 12-valve SOHC I6. When put on the track, the 300SL could go up to 190 mph with tire rotations at 5,700 rpm. The 300SLs were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to Mercedes's lineup of fast cars. If you could afford it, then you also had the option of buying the 300 SL-24, with 230 hp, the 500 SL with 320 hp, or the 600 SL with 390 hp.
5 1982 Pontiac Firebird
1982 marked the third generation of Firebirds created by Pontiac but was the completely redone model. It was completely restyled when it came to its body and was made more aerodynamic with a rounded hood and curved front fenders. The 1982 Firebird model also came with electronically controlled retractable headlamps and a large glass hatchback in the back. If you wanted the car, then you had the engine options all the way from the 151 cu-in 2.5L Pontiac I4 to the 350 cu-in 5.7 L Chevrolet V8. What made the Firebird special was that it was one of a kind, and it could be tailored to fit whoever drove it.
Additional add-ons to the new 1982 models included a smaller wheelbase, a new updated grille, and more cargo space in the back.
Once inside the car, you had upgrades, including aircraft details and gauges and leather-seat options. At the time, depending on your chosen model or trim, you could pay anywhere between $11,000 and $14,000. The 1982 Firebird's transmission options ranged from a 3-speed automatic THM 200C to a 5-speed manual Borg Warner T5.
4 1968 Plymouth Roadrunner
Considered one of the original muscle cars, the 1982 Plymouth Roadrunner set the path for future sports cars to follow in its footsteps. The Roadrunner was a mid-size 2-door powerhouse with a mean stance and a lot of vroom under the engine. It came in either a 2-door coupe, a 2-door hardtop, or a 2-door convertible option. On the inside, the buyer would have a vinyl seat bench, power steering, AM radio, and automatic transmission.
Under the hood, the standard engine in all of its base models was the 383 CID "Roadrunner" V8 engine.
It had 335 bhp and 425 lb-ft of torque that would easily propel it on the road. The 1968 model sold just under 50,000 models in its first year, making it one of the bestselling muscle cars of that time. During that year, Dodge released the Super Bee, a close model type to the Roadrunner, and it still remains an appearance and performance package on Chargers and Challengers today.
3 1973 De Tomaso Pantera
In Italian, "patter" means "panther," and when the De Tomaso Pantera was created, it was designed with a panther in mind. The car is meant to embody everything a panther is in terms of body, grace, and power. The car came with slat-backed seats to provide comfort to both the driver and any passengers and was more practical than the body-hugging seats that most of its competitors had in place. Pulling inspiration from its European counterparts, the Pantera had electric windows, air conditioning, and car doors that buzzed when opened.
In its 20-year lifespan, only 7,260 Panteras were ever manufactured, but it still remains one of the company's best-selling vehicles. Included was the Ford 351 cu-in V8 engine that had a top speed of 159 mph. De Tomaso eventually released the GT5 model in 1980, and it included an improved body style and a faster engine and was more luxurious than the Pantera. The 1973 model was so impressive that it won the title of "Best Imported Car of 1973," beating out brands like Maserati and Ferrari.
2 1965 GT K-Code Fastback
The GT K-Code Fastback was the car that brought Ford onto the scene as a muscle car producer. What made this car so famous was its specially designed "K" code motor. These engines were also in the Shelby Cobras, and the engine can also be credited for beating out Ferrari in the 1965 World GT Championship and others, including Le Mans, Daytona, and Sebring. The car was made when the designers at Ford wanted to create a car that would dominate on the track and still look good enough to drive around in the streets. While the car was a complete beauty to look at, it was also a dominator on the road and could beat out most muscle cars of its day.
The GT K-Code was incredibly rare, with only a few being built in its lifespan. If you wanted to try and buy one today, it would cost a pretty penny, and even then, you would have to find a seller that would actually want to part with his. This car paved the way for future fast Ford models to be built, including the Cobra and Shelby models, which we're familiar with today.
1 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Not just any Camaro, the ZL1 was and still is an elite class of a driving and racing machine. While the car is beautiful on the outside, it was built for the sole purpose of putting other cars to shame on the track. It was completely spec'd out and even came with other optional additions if the owner really want to amp up the power under the hood. In 1969, the ZL1 had over 500 bhp, which could rival some cars on the road today.
Its base price in 1969 started out at $7,200, but since only 69 of them were ever built, you'd be really lucky to get the car, to begin with.
The car came standard with an OHV V8 engine, a cowl-induction hood, front disc brakes, and the 4:10.1 Posi, which was Chevrolet's strongest axle at the time. At the time, it was easily Chevrolet's fastest production car, spitting out low 13s on the track. It could go from 0-60 in just 5.3 seconds and had 430 hp at 5,200 rpm. Chevrolet still offers the ZL1 Camaro today, although it'll cost a lot more than the original $7,200. But at least, you can still have access to one of Chevrolet's best designs.
Sources: classicdriver.com, mecumauctions.com, mustang360.com