Everyone has their favorite classic sports car, but certain models have more fans than others. They’ve become legendary as the years have gone on, proving their worth over time as others try and fall short of their automotive glory.
In America, for example, the 1960s Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro Stingray remain icons of power, speed and cool. Worldwide, cars from Ferrari, BMW and Jaguar consistently rank among the best sports cars of all time.
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Famous Classic Sports Cars
To put together this list of the Top 10 Best Classic Sports cars, we reviewed what experts in the field had to say, as well as our own experience being around classic sports car owners for decades. You may also want to check out the most expensive cars ever sold at auction.
1960s Jaguar E-Type
Enzo Ferrari, who ought to know, called this “the most beautiful car ever made.” The 1960s Jaguar E-Type is perhaps the high point of British automotive manufacturing history, with the ability to hit 150 miles per hour and look great while doing it.
The Original Porsche 911 Series
Originally called the 901, the Porsche 911 series first hit the market in 1964, establishing a classic sports car icon. The original version, modified many times, lasted until 1989. Early Porsche 911s, especially those from the car’s heyday between 1964 and 1974, are sought after by car enthusiasts.
Ford Shelby AC Cobra
The Cobra, an idea first voiced by U.S. racing driver Carroll Shelby, combined the might of an American-made V8 engine with the traditional British AC Ace roadster. The result was a racing car that had a short but memorable run in the 1960s. They also produced road cars from this line, including the 427 Cobra S/Cs.
Ferrari 250 GTO
Part of the allure of the 250 GTO is that Ferrari made only 39 of them between 1962 and 1964. The sports cars are so rare and so highly valued that a collector paid $38 million for the car at the Bonhams’ Quail Lodge auction at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. This car is one that car enthusiasts love to talk about, but few people will get the chance to drive.
This beautiful sports car almost ended BMW. Made in the 1950s, the cost to produce the 507 was so high that it did not sell well, and BMW almost went bankrupt as a result. BMW ended up making only 250 of these cars, but Elvis Presley famously bought two of them.
Not as beautiful as sports cars from its European peers, the Acura NSX (made from 1990 to 2005) still delivers a high-end sports car driving performance that is increasingly becoming popular among car enthusiasts. It’s also much easier to find today than most cars on this list because thousands were made.
Dodge Viper GTS
The V10 Dodge Viper GTS is a straightforward, high-powered road-eating machine with a 450 horsepower engine. The first generation, made from 1991 to 1995, are some of the most sought after. Dodge recently made the car again from 2013 to 2017.
De Tomaso Pantera
The Pantera from the 1970s has a distinct look (which you expect from Italian cars, especially of that era) and a Ford V8 engine, making it both powerful and beautiful. De Tomaso made the car until 1992, but the earlier versions are the most sought after, especially those sold by American Lincoln-Mercury dealers from 1972 to 1975.
The British-made McLaren F1 is known for its doors that open upward (much like the gull-wing doors of the DMC DeLorean) and for setting the record for the world’s fastest production car in 1998 (242 mph). McLaren built only 64 of these cars.
Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro
Both of these classic American sports cars (some versions are considered more muscle cars than sports cars) are worthy of mention among the best of all time. The Ford Mustang from the 1960s remains the epitome of cool, and the Camaro, which debuted in 1967, began a competition that persists to this day. Car buyers are the ones who benefit.