Beautiful craftsmanship, an undeniable charm, and a sense of freedom with a hint of nostalgia: the best old school cars have ubiquitous magic that’s hard to put into words.
As any fan of vintage cars will tell you, there’s nothing quite like the purr of the engine or the smell of the leather when you’re lucky enough to get up close and personal with one of your favorite antique cars. And that feeling when you spot a perfectly restored, rarely seen model? Unbeatable.
A history lesson in a vehicle, these cool vintage cars tell a story before you’ve even sat down on the faded leather or ran your finger approvingly across their pristine paintwork.
While part of the fun of these retro cars comes from driving them, the rest of it comes from simple admiration. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an avid car collector or a window shopper with a big interest in the most expensive cars, you can still appreciate these types of older cars and old-fashioned mechanics.
Read on for our round-up of the best classic cars—including the most beautiful vintage car, the most affordable classic car, and the most reliable classic car. Because, of course, that incredible antique car might not seem quite so incredible if it breaks down in the middle of the road.
Aston Martin DB5 1964
The Aston Martin DB5 was designed to be a talking point and that’s something that’s never really changed. Not only is this one of the most impressive classic cars, it’s also one of the rarest and the most iconic.
Name dropped in the James Bond franchise as well as elsewhere in popular culture, its sky-high price has grown an estimated 790 times since it first arrived on the market. Conceptualized by the Italian designer Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera in Milan, this cool old car was always designed to make an entrance. The more time passes, the bigger the entrance promises to be.
Brand: Aston Martin Model: DB5 First release year: 1964 Current sale value: $990,000
2- Ferrari 250 GTO 1962
The sleek, stylish Ferrari 250 GTO is one of the most famous classic cars of all time and for a very good reason. This one-of-a-kind model sits worlds apart from the rest, both in its modernized design and expensive price tag (just like the world’s most expensive cars).
When it first appeared, this car didn’t even have a name. Before it was christened officially, it was known internally as “Il Mostro”—the monster—because of its strange design. From its launch in the 1960s through to modern times, it’s a car that’s pushed forward full throttle, with a current value that even most millionaires wouldn’t be able to justify.
Brand: Ferrari Model: 250 GTO First release year: 1962 Current sale value: Upwards of $48 million
3- Jaguar E-Type 1961
No self-respecting list of classic cars could start without mentioning the Jaguar E-Type. This iconic car has a history of its own that would still break some records nowadays, with impressive top speeds of 150 mph and a sleek design to match.
Enzo Ferrari described the Jaguar as the most beautiful car in the world and we’d be hard-pressed to disagree. Many of Jaguar’s future designs were inspired by the E-Type, from the body shape to the internal mechanisms and everything in between. It’s a classic car with a legacy that’s lived on arguably further than any other Jaguar in existence.
Brand: Jaguar Model: E-Type First release year: 1961 Current sale value: $125,000
4- Porsche 911 1963
The Porsche 911 is described as a nearly perfect classic sports car—because there’s always room for a little bit of improvement. A long-time staple of the classic car community, this universally loved vehicle takes plenty of prizes when it comes to impressive statistics.
The design of this luxury supercar actually stemmed from the Volkswagen Beetle, as both were designed by the same person: Ferdinand Porsche. And, even nowadays, the 911 continues to take the record of being the most popular classic sports car in the world. All of those cars have all been produced in the same factory, in Stuttgart, Germany.
Brand: Porsche Model: 911 First release year: 1963 Current sale value: Starts at $101,000
5- Chevrolet El Camino SS 1970
Think of old-time American movies and you’ll probably find a vague image of a 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS springs to mind. This American classic was a national and international icon even before the years passed and it turned into a classic car rather than an everyday vehicle.
Released as the high-performance version of the standard El Camino, this American coupe was famed for its surprisingly powerful engines and unique design. After the success of the first release, the Chevrolet El Camino SS was re-released in various new generations, all with slightly more power but the same bespoke body.
Brand: Chevrolet Model: El Camino SS First release year: 1970 Current sale value: $33,000
6- Oldsmobile Starfire Convertible 1962
7-British Motor Corporation Mini 1959
There’s no classic car quite like the classic Mini. Modernized time and time again with new colors and features, this is the classic car you’re most likely to still see in action in the 21st century. Shortly after its initial release, the Mini quickly became one of the most popular classic cars of all time.
Originally, it was known by the name “Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor.” Luckily the far more palatable name “Mini” caught on after its two creators merged. And, while new Minis fight for speed and attention, the original Mini was considered too fast, with an engine that was reduced to 850cc, taking 26.5 seconds to reach 60mph.
Brand: British Motor Corporation Model: Mini First release year: 1959 Current sale value: $31,000
8-Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 1965
The Shelby Mustang was designed to look good and to drive fast. It wasn’t specially designed for comfort, and it definitely wasn’t designed for family days out. But at least it excelled in the area it originally chose. This stylish, high-performance classic car came in plenty of different variations, with edits made over the years to encourage faster speeds (well, just not quite like the fastest cars in the world), cooler designs, and everything in-between.
Its name came from its collaboration between well-known and loved Ford Motor Company and Shelby American, the high-performance vehicle manufacturer founded by former race car driver Carroll Shelby. You’ll spot a cobra symbol on many of these vehicles: a nickname it was given early in its time.
Brand: Ford Model: Mustang Shelby GT350 First release year: 1965 Current sale value: $575,000
9- Mercedes 300SL Gullwing 1954
Mention the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing 1954 and you’ll undoubtedly see ears prick up, especially if you’re in a circle of classic car fans. One of the most stylish and iconic classic cars in the world, the Gullwing firmly cemented its place as a premium offering as soon as it launched.
Capable of reaching a top speed of up to 163 mph, it was the fastest production car in the world at the time. The “SL” in its name translates in German to super-leicht, or “super light”. That racing-ready body was designed to be as light as possible to hit top speeds.
Brand: Mercedes Model: 300SL Gullwing First release year: 1954 Current sale value: $1.9 million
10- Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic 1938
Thought an older Bugatti might be more budget-friendly than a recent model? Think again. You need no better proof that the 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic will ever go out of fashion than by the knowledge that Ralph Lauren owns the very last one to ever be produced. First created as an entirely new design by Jean Bugatti, there were only ever 710 of these models produced.
Known equally as a style icon as well as known for being one of the world’s most valuable cars, the Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic is still around and functioning today, more than 80 years after it first came to life.
Brand: Bugatti Model: Type 57 Atlantic First release year: 1938 Current sale value: Up to $1.4 million