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Most Stylish cars of the past 50 years

Who can pinpoint exactly what makes a car stylish? A stylish car isn't merely the best-looking car of its day, but one whose beauty stands the test of time. And stylishness isn't exclusively about design or performance (though is impotence ever stylish)? No, stylishness in a car is the sum of so many intangibles that the best we can say is: we know it when we see it.
See the list we made and feel free to argue among yourselves.


Mercedes Benz 230, 250, and 280 SL (1960-63)

The SL stood for super leicht ("super light"), but these pert, tidy German roadsters exuded sturdiness beyond their size. The cars from this line, which was mostly unchanged through the '60s, were known as "pagodas" for their roofs, which were lower in the middle, and amounted to a key chapter in a long history of achingly sharp Benzes. The epitome of the good life—with a removable hard top.


Ford Mustang GT (1966-1968)

Few cars better represent American cool than the Mustang, but the early Ponies still looked woefully timid compared to this fastback, which was immortalized in the Steve McQueen movie Bullitt.


Austin-Healey 3000 (1959-1967)

Though it debuted in 1959, the Austin-Healey 3000 (known as the "Big Healey") is too exquisite, too curvy, too unmistakably British not to include here. Who wouldn't look good driving one of these?


Porsche 911 (1963-present)

It debuted at the 1963 Frankfurt Auto Show as the 901, the first six-cylinder, road-ready Porsche ever build. With its iconic rear slope and unmistakable headlights, the 911 is one of the great cars designs of the century. No wonder they're still making them.


Aston Martin DB5 (1963-65)

Named after Aston head David Brown, the DB5 was the first car with a film career, having appeared in Thunderball, Goldfinger, and many others. The DB was so hot that it came with a built-in fire extinguisher.


Jaguar XKE (1969)

Enzo Ferrari declared the E-type "the most beautiful car ever made." Who are we to quibble?


Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso (1962-65)

Only 350 of these luxe roadsters ever made it out of the factory. Its vacation-in-Capri exterior belies the soul of a racing veteran. To give you some idea of its cachet, the one Steve McQueen owned went for $2.3 million at Christie's in '07.


Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray (1963-67)

Among the last generation of elegant Corvettes, the '63 Sting Ray, with its signature split rear window (later dropped for safety reasons), is its smartest, most distinctive vintage.


BMW 3.0 CS (1971-1975)

People romanticize the cuter, more common 2002 (and with good reason), but we dig the stronger, more angular 3.0, which laid the groundwork for the 6-series big coupes, as well as the M line. Dig those signature side vents, which marked BMWs (and more than a few Range Rovers) from the 1950s to today.


Lamborghini Countach (1971 -1978)

If you'd never seen a Countach's super-sloping roofline or scissor doors, you'd think it was a car from the future. Imagine if you'd seen it while Carter was still President. The name—which is pronounced kun-tosh and is roughly the Piedmontese equivalent of "hot damn, that's a fine lookin' woman!"—kind of says it all.


Alfa Romeo GTV 6 (1981-1986)

The GTV 6 wasn't just a shining example of the pack of stellar sport coupes to come out of Europe in the decade; it might be one of the most strangely attractive hatches of all time.

Volkswagen GTI (1983-Present)

If changing a whole generation's idea of performance makes a car stylish, then VW's no-frills commuter car beats out any Ferrari, Aston, or Lambo on the lot. The torque-y four-cylinder GTI schooled '80s America on how to drive like a Euro—at full throttle, accelerating through every turn.


Range Rover (1987-Present)

In 1987, Land Rover unleashed its four-door classic in all its safari chic—rugged outside, plush leather and wood inside—and made preppy America swoon. Two decades later, they're still swooning, and the Range Rover is still the only car to have been displayed at the Louvre.


BMW 3 Series (1977-present)

Admittedly, we could have included the 5 or even the 7 series—all such dignified, handsome, endlessly appealing cars—but nothing defined the decade like BMW's threes, even if their reign started in the '70s.


Ferrari 308 GTB (1984-present)

Yes, it's Magnum's car—just sitting in it will make your chest mane grow—but the 308 is also the most widely beloved, best-designed sports car ever.


Porsche 911 Carrera & Carrera S4 (1995-present)

Porsche reportedly spent $300 million on updating the Carrera and Carrera 4, the last air-cooled cars they made. The Carreras were slightly reshaped, with a lower stance and a wider body that amounted to yet another legendarily cool iteration of their iconic 911.


BMW Z8 (1999-2005)

When it debuted, this roadster was one of the most expensive production Beamers ever made ($192,500), and one of the rarest—fewer than a thousand even made it to the States. But even if they were as plentiful as Camrys they'd still be among the greatest-looking cars of their era.


Aston Martin DB9 (2003-present)

A design started by Ian Callum (now at Jaguar) and finished by Henrik Fisker (now at Fisker), the aluminum-chassis DB9 set the tone of every other Aston Martin that would come out this decade—a long, sleek hood that houses a big, powerful engine (in this case a 470 hp, 6 liter V12), muscular haunches, and an elegant yet sporty style. In other words, everything a guy would want in a car.


Lotus Elise Series 2 (2002-present)

It's loud (the engine is behind your head), it's fast (0-60 in as little as 4.3 seconds), and it's uncomfortable (no headroom, no legroom). But this insanely purist dedication to performance is a style in its own right—pull up anywhere in one of these and no one's going to accuse you of being a poseur.


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