Friday, June 28, 2013

Top 5 Classic Sports Cars Of All Time

Any list of classic sports cars must be subjective, inevitably, because there is no way to quantify the concept of a sports car in the first place. My choices will please some but incense others. What, no Ferraris? No Aston Martins? No Mustangs? Most of your choices are European – how come? Are you nuts? Some of these cars are unable to get out of their own way!

But creating such a list is great fun, so here goes. My only rules were that the cars must have been open two-seaters, rear wheel drive, money no object and only one per manufacturer to be considered. Don’t just slag off my selection – suggest one of your own. And justify it to the rest of us.

1 St - Jaguar E Type Series 1 (and maybe 2).

This is the ultimate sports car in every sense – sexy, beautiful, fast, irresistible. I remember as a teenager drooling over a white roadster, just like the one in the photo (but without the whitewalls), parked in a London street in 1960. I wanted that car, oh how I wanted it. It could do 150 mph standing still!

Later I watched a very limited production film called ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’. It was the story of an E Type, driven by a beautiful blond, and an artic truck (the driver doesn’t matter), both on a journey down the autoroutes and autostrada from Calais to Milan. No words, just gorgeous sights and sounds. You can guess the story – the blond would sail off into the distance in her Jag but would stop from time to time to have a coffee, look at the view and so on. The truck would catch up, overtake, wait for the lady to approach in the mirrors, lots of waving, fair hair flying – you get the picture. I’m not sure who got to where first, but it didn’t really matter. The journey was the story. The star was that E Type.

2 Nd - AC Cobra 289

This muscle car was based on the beautiful AC Ace sports car, which itself took its styling cues from an earlier Ferrari 166. I never liked the beefier 427s because I think that the styling was all wrong. The 289 had it all – power, beauty, charisma in spades. And out of reach, then and now, for most of us mere mortals.
I always remember the story of the Cobra salesman – perhaps it was Shelby himself – who, while showing off the car to a potential buyer in the passenger seat, would place a $100 bill in the sun visor and challenge him (or her) to grab it while the car was under full acceleration. Nobody ever managed to grab the money! What a car, what a noise.

3 Rd - Bugatti T35

Probably the ultimate engineer’s sports car. Every little detail was made to perfection. It looked wonderful and sounded even better. The engine made that indefinable noise when on full song. Some people call it the sound of tearing silk. No other car has ever sounded quite like a Bugatti, and the T35 was arguably the best of the breed.

4 Th - Porsche 356 Speedster

I have never driven one of these but I have sat in one. I cannot understand how even an average-sized man could pilot a Speedster because there is simply so little room in the cockpit. But it is a very dramatic car with a great romantic history, James Dean notwithstanding. It goes like a rocket and looks quite like one, I think.

5 Th - Mercedes Benz 280SL, about 1968 vintage

This was an iconic sports car of the 1960s, very Grace Kelly, very French Riviera. Its prettiness belied its good performance, but I think that it always needed to have its roof folded away.
I suppose that was never a problem for Grace Kelly, and anything that she liked I liked too!

So That's It!

So what of the ones I have left out? So many Ferraris qualify as classic sports cars but, in my opinion, the best ones were all closed coup├ęs. The same goes for Aston Martins, Fords (GT40 and Mustang) and many others.

Yes, I know that the Lotus Elan was fantastic but it was a kit car for goodness’ sake! I pondered about the Caterham (Lotus) 7 Roadsport, which is a super car and a supercar in every respect but, somehow, it didn’t seem to be in quite the same league as the Blower Bentley.

I thought about and rejected many other great cars, but I will get around to another Top 10 list that might include them in due course.

So this is my list of the Top 10 Classic Sports Cars Of All Time. Now it’s your turn - what do you think?


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