By¬†Marc Lachapelle of¬†MSN Autos
A car can be sexy in the same way a person can be sexy ‚ÄĒ although the trait is a bit harder to define when you’re talking about sheet metal versus flesh. Part of a sexy car’s appeal is purely physical: proportions and curves, size and muscle. Humans have eyes, lips and hips; cars have headlights, grilles and fenders. But then there’s the truly intangible ‚ÄĒ the animal attraction that turns mere mortals into drooling buffoons. For this, a machine must be bold, distinctive and aggressively elegant. And there’s the sound, too ‚ÄĒ a car’s voice. A beautiful car you admire. A sexy one you desire. Here are our 10 choices for the sexiest cars of all time. They are not necessarily the most beautiful of their breed, but they will get your heart racing and your blood boiling.
Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
The mere name Alfa Romeo is already music to the ears. This fabled Italian automaker will celebrate its¬†100th anniversary in June, and that century is rich with racing exploits and beautiful machines, none more so than the 8C Competizione. Its gorgeous lines are inspired by Alfa racers from the ’30s and ’40s, and it is named after the 8C racer that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four straight years (from 1931 to 1934). The 8C Competizione was introduced at the¬†Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003 as a concept. Only 500 were produced and quickly sold for more than $225,000 each. The 8C coupe has a carbon-fiber body and is powered by a 4.7-liter 450-horsepower V8 engine with a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
The Vanquish is the most exquisite iteration of the superb form that was introduced by theAston Martin DB7 in the early 1990s. Both cars were shaped by Ian Callum, currently Jaguar’s design chief. The Vanquish was Aston Martin’s flagship from 2001 to 2007. The¬†V12 DBS, which replaced it, is spectacular in its own right but doesn’t have quite the same pure feline appeal. The Vanquish is powered by a 460-horsepower 6.0-liter V12 engine with a 6-speed gearbox with automated clutch (the S upped the ante to 520 ponies). Its “hand-tailored” aluminum body panels were precision-fit over a monocoque structure that combines aluminum extrusions and a carbon-fiber transmission tunnel.
Tail fins unquestionably remain the defining feature of American cars from the Fabulous Fifties. They were used liberally, sometimes to excess, but never more gracefully than on the 1957¬†Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Watching it roll down the street from behind is like watching Shakira wiggle her hips on stage, only the Caddie’s rear end is is wrapped in chrome. Cadillac’s first-ever 4-door hardtop has rear-hinged “suicide” doors, is 18 feet long and weighs more than 5,300 pounds. The 6.0-liter 185-horsepower V8 engine is a must with such mass. The Brougham was largely hand-made and sold for $13,074 at the time, more than even a¬†Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. The Brougham has unique features, such as a stainless-steel roof, air suspension and the industry’s first memory power seats.
De Tomaso Mangusta
Alejandro de Tomaso was a fiery, ambitious Argentine who took on¬†Ferrari and¬†Lamborghiniat the game of building exotic sports cars. The Mangusta still looks stunning more than four decades after its 1967 debut, but it is by no means perfect. The impossibly low, midengine supercar has nasty handling traits and is anything but a paragon of comfort, tameness and reliability. Reportedly named after a snake-killing critter (the mongoose) when engines promised by¬†Ford went into Shelby Cobras instead, the Mangusta was nonetheless powered by V8s from the Blue Oval. Only 400 were built, half of them sold in the States, and fewer than a third are still around. A dark-silver¬†1969 Mangusta made an appearance in¬†Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Vol. 2″ as Mr. Bill’s vehicle of choice.
Ferrari 250 GTO
Long, low and lean, the 250 GTO is one of the rarest¬†Ferraris in the legendary Italian carmaker’s 63-year history. Only 36 were built to obtain racing homologation, or approval, as a GT in theWorld Manufacturers’ Championship, hence the abbreviation for “Gran Turismo Omologato.” The GTO subsequently won this title from 1962 to 1964. It is powered by a 3.0-liter V12 engine that develops 300 horsepower, but the car weighs only 2,400 pounds ‚ÄĒ less than a¬†Mazda Miata. In its time, the GTO was the quintessential Grand Touring car; it could win races at the highest level yet be driven on the road. Its interior is Spartan but all is forgiven with the addictive howl of that V12 engine. You could buy a new GTO for $18,000 in the early ’60s, but a collector paid $42 million for a pristine 1962 model in 2008.
While the¬†Jaguar E-Type is the very essence of automotive beauty and elegance, the XKSS is raw energy on wheels. Only 16 copies were ever built of what is basically a road-going version of the sublime D-Type racer that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1955 to 1957. The XKSS has the D-Type’s bulging fenders but skips the large, vertical fin that stood behind the racer’s driving quarters. Jaguar also added a second seat and door, a windshield and a folding top. The XKSS is powered by a 3.4-liter 250-horsepower inline six, good for a top speed of 150 mph. Actor¬†Steve McQueen reportedly acquired an XKSS for about $5,000 in 1959, sold it after a decade and bought it back a few years later. The car is worth millions today.
By 1966 the midmounted engine had become the norm in¬†Formula One, ruled at Indianapolis and helped¬†Ford beat¬†Ferrari at Le Mans. That year also saw upstart Italian automakerLamborghini reveal the first exotic sports car with a midmounted engine. The Miura premiered at the¬†Geneva Motor Show, featuring a 3.9-liter 350-horsepower V12 engine mounted transversely behind the cabin and stunning bodywork by Italian designer Marcello Gandini. It was named after a famous Spanish fighting bull, a convention that became a Lamborghini tradition. The Miura’s impossibly low, long and wide body, draped over big alloy wheels and tires, created the template for the modern supercar. Its flowing lines have a sumptuous elegance that would be lost in Gandini’s next famous design at Lamborghini, the fighter-planelike Countach.
This race-bred German roadster from the early 1930s doesn’t have the swoopy elegance of aBugatti Type 57 Atlantic, but there’s sheer elemental beauty in its spare bodywork, wire wheels, big headlights, stubby windshield and the three large exhaust header pipes shooting out from either side of its long, narrow hood. The SSK embodies the very essence of a classic sports car and was among the best and fastest of its time, with the top models powered by a supercharged 7.1-liter inline 6-cylinder engine that develops 250 horses. Derived from the Super Sport model, it rides on an 18-inch-shorter wheelbase, for greater agility. Hence the “K” for “kurtz,” which means “short” in German. The SSK was the last car designed at¬†Mercedes-Benzby Ferdinand¬†Porsche, and fewer than 40 were built.
Porsche 911 Turbo
The¬†Porsche 911 family of sports cars is the grandest ever, and the Turbo is its wildest child. The first¬†911 Turbo was launched in 1974, in the wake of the first oil crisis. It is powered by a rear-mounted, turbocharged, air-cooled 3.0-liter flat-six engine that develops 260 horsepower. The Turbo became just as famous for its generously flared rear fenders and a large rear spoiler that was quickly nicknamed “whale tail.” Engine displacement and horsepower grew over the years, culminating with the rare 1993 Turbo 3.6S, the last and most powerful of the rear-wheel drive Turbos, with its 3.6-liter 380-horsepower engine. The Turbo’s notoriously tricky handling was mostly tamed with all-wheel drive in the 1995 Type 993. The newest 911 Turbo is both slick and fast, with its water-cooled 500-horsepower 3.8-liter engine.
Shelby Cobra 427 Roadster
In the early ’60s, a tall, lanky Texan named Carroll Shelby set out to beat¬†Ferrari at the highest level of sports-car racing by stuffing aFord V8 engine under the hood of a classic British roadster. The AC Cobra was born. By 1965, with Ford’s backing, Shelby’s team had won the FIA Manufacturers’ Championship with the roadster and its streamlined version, the Cobra Daytona Coupe. The original narrow-fender Cobra, most notably powered by the 4.7-liter 289 engine, was followed by the legendary Cobra 427 Roadster with its radically flared fenders and 7.0-liter V8 engine. Rarest and most valuable are the S/C models (for semi/competition), barely detuned race cars of which only 31 were officially built. The Cobra roadster was a beast of a car then, and nothing has ever quite matched its raw power and brutish looks.