Ask a dozen race fans what the best looking cars of all time were, and you’re liable to get a dozen different answers. I suppose it depends on which series you follow, as well as when you were born and who you watched race. I’ve been a big fan of open wheel racing since as far back as I can remember, but formula cars don’t do anything for me from a design perspective. That’s the point, really, since everything that goes into a formula car is about making it faster or improving handling; design really can’t be factored into the equation unless it coincides with improved aerodynamics.
I’ve always been a fan of endurance racing, which tends to be under-broadcast on TV. Even their production race cars have an element of style that you simply don’t see in other series, but the best years were the sixties and early seventies. Below are the five cars that stand out for me, but I’d love to hear your picks as well. What do YOU think were the five best looking race cars of all time?
1. Porsche 917K
I’m a fan of any 917, but I think the 917K has the best lines of any variant. Unlike the short-tailed 917Ks, the 917Ls were much more stable at speed, but sacrificed the car’s original clean lines. That said, it still took “Huevos Mas Grande” to drive any of these cars at the limit.
Ford GT 40 Mk 1
Ford’s GT 40 was their way of kicking sand in Ferrari’s face, and it was living proof of what could be accomplished by an American automaker. I still like the early Mark I and Mark II designs the best, since the later Mark IVs tended to look just like the Ferraris they were designed to beat on the track.
McLaren F1 LM
As good as the road-going McLaren F1 looked, it was even more impressive dressed in race trim. I can’t think of many cars that look better with a big rear wing, but the McLaren LM is certainly one of them.
Ask any child who’s ever seen “Speed Racer” to draw a race car, and chances are good it will look something like the Lola T70. It looks like what a race car should look like, which is perhaps the highest compliment you can pay its designers.
It’s ironic that the car I consider to be one of the most beautiful Ferraris ever built didn’t rack up much of an impressive racing history. This is largely due to Ferrari’s indifference about sports car racing, which they essentially abandoned after 1967 to focus on their F1 effort. The 512S (in open and closed cockpit variants) only raced for two seasons, but anyone who’s ever seen the movie LeMans knows the car.