The surprise reveal of the Ferrari Omologata this week left this writer drooling onto his space bar. The combination of smooth, graceful curves, big muscles and those rear louvres just put the zing into my fizz.
You can imagine my stubborn consternation, then, when it turned out that some of you – nay, most of you – disagree. A lesser journalist would simply tell you you’re all wrong and refuse to read the comments, but in an effort to see things from other points of view I sat down, chewed a Bic for a while and came up with some other contenders for the gong of best-looking car this century.
My criteria were simple: it had to have been designed this century and not be too closely based on something pre-2000. For that reason you won’t see the Eagle Speedster here, or the handsome 2005 Ford GT. The other red line was concepts; to make this list it had to be a car that was produced and sold to a customer at least once. It was actually quite a difficult list to compile, with hundreds of good-looking cars but few spectacularly pretty ones. Let’s see what you make of the choices.
It’s just so close to perfect, even to eyes that aren’t especially fond of Ferrari as a brand or image. It eschews the extremes of styling favoured by so many modern Ferraris in favour of a smoother, more classic and infinitely classier shape that says it cares less about the last 10 per cent of aero gains and more about stirring the downstairs areas of anyone who looks its way.
I’d be willing to listen to arguments that the 812 Superfast headlights should be more rounded to better suit the end result, but ultimately it’s just a fabulous piece of design that deserves centrepiece status on a million bedroom walls. Bravo, Ferrari.
Alfa Romeo 8C
Dear, sweet Jehovah, this is a looker. From the three-pod headlights and classic over-prominent nose complete with relatively, blessedly dainty grille, to the desperately pretty wheels and seductive side glass shape, the 8C is an absolute masterpiece in simply making a coupe look good. It’s simultaneously classic and distinctive from every angle.
Never mind that fact that its driving experience was as forgettable as a night in a Belgian motorway hotel, or the later Spider which sort of ruined the aesthetic a bit. The 8C Competizione coupe remains one of the prettiest cars ever made; the sort of thing you could never, ever fail to fall in love with every time you set eyes on its gleaming bodywork.
Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
If the DB7 was the first modern Aston to turn heads in the way now synonymous with the brand, the original V12 Vanquish was the car that really struck people for six. Just look at those beefy wings, that perfect face combining taut but graceful features, each aspect in perfect proportion and in perfect harmony with everything else. Look at the way the comparatively simple door shape exaggerates the wheel arches just enough; never leaning into caracature or boast, but nonetheless possessed of clear intent. It’s a spectacular piece of design.
This one just about sneaks into the list, its design only being finalised in the early months of this century. The car’s desirability factor is boosted by Aston’s famous – and famously charismatic – 5.9-litre V12. Some 2500 were made, across Vanquish and Vanquish S variants.
Alfa Romeo/Touring Superleggera Disco Volante
Yes, yes, alright, so this is technically also an Alfa Romeo 8C. Sue me. It’s here because the Italian coachbuilders – lately having revealed a rather special Ferrari-based work – rendered an incredible, outrageous transformation away from the voluptuous 8C and yet still produced one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful cars ever made. It was at first known as the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante by Touring, but now Touring seems to have the rights to sell it under its own umbrella.
Disco Volante translates literally as flying disc, but more accurately it means flying saucer, such was the effect of its 1950s futurism. It’s far from the most expensive or prestigious car you could drive into Monaco, but not much would turn heads – and keep them turned – like the Disco Volante. A less perfect Spyder version was also made, with from some angles a weird dash of Jetsons.
Jaguar XKR (2007-2014)
The second Ian Callum design to make it to this list is another classic. Perhaps more trim-dependant than some, the new-for-2007 model’s redesign was thorough and gave it much more presence. In black, with the ducktail spoiler and the right wheels, there is and was little to touch the purity of its form and the effortless speed it conveyed at a standstill. You didn’t have to read the specs to know it would sit at licence-burning speeds all day long.
There was also an XKR-S, which went a little overboard with vents and spoilers that just didn’t sit well with the XKR’s clean lines. It was like putting Air Jordans on an immaculately groomed racehorse: both elements nice in isolation, but a bit of a mess together. Stick with a pre-facelift XKR in the right spec and you’ll surely own one of the most beautiful cars ever made.
Or if not any of these, what else would you put up on a pedestal as the best-looking production car of the century so far?
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