If you’re a car guy, there’s a high probability that you like classic cars. No self-respecting car enthusiast can say no to a fine example of a classic car. These cars are called classics for a number of reasons, which can include notoriety, speed, beauty or just affiliation with a famous person.
Classic cars often tend to be trendsetters in the auto industry, shifting the whole paradigm of what makes an automobile special. These cars have been instrumental in shaping the cars of today, so even if you don’t like classic cars for any reason, they have to be respected.
With all that said, however, for classic car enthusiasts there are certain cars that are staples of every bedroom wall. In this classic car showdown we’ll be looking at 10 classic cars to drive before you die.
1. Acura / Honda NSX
The Honda NSX was brought to North America under the Japanese automaker’s luxury brand Acura. That said, the car was mechanically identical to those sold in other markets. The NSX was built to be an ‘everyday’ supercar, with relaxed ergonomics and components that wouldn’t require servicing every 100 kilometres.
The original NSX had a long production run, from 1990 to 2005. Towards the end of that, it looked pretty long in the tooth but the fact of the matter is, it was a pioneering vehicle in its day. Powered by a high-revving V6 motor that made around 300 horsepower, the NSX was pretty fast for its day. A V6 isn’t as romantic as a V8 or V12s we’re used to seeing in supercars, but as far as V6s go, the NSX had one of the very best.
2. Aston Martin DB5
The Aston Martin DB5 has cemented itself a place in automotive history thanks to appearances in Bond films. It’s universally recognized vehicle that any self-respecting car enthusiast should be able to recognize.
For its time, the DB5 was incredibly advanced. Powered by an all-aluminium 4.0-litre inline-six engine, the car made an astounding 282 horsepower. And remember, this is the 60s we’re talking about, and 282 horsepower for that time was immense. It certainly helped that the DB5 was beautiful to look at as well, but really, which Aston Martin isn’t?
3. Chevy Camaro
The Chevrolet Camaro needs no introduction, as it’s one of the most iconic muscle cars of all time. It was introduced to the North American market as a rival to the infamous Ford Mustang.
The most powerful Camaros of that era were powered by monstrous 6.5-litre V8 engines. But Chevrolet was careful and offered the car in 3.8, 4.1, 4.9, 5.0 and 5.7-litre guises as well in order to cater to every possible niche.
4. Citroen DS
The Citroen DS might come as a surprise to most of you, since it didn’t really have a presence in North America. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it was the most advanced consumer car of its time. Let’s start with its design, which is absolutely beautiful to behold.
But it’s the mechanical underpinnings that really make this car for what it is. It was outfitted with hydropneumatic suspension, automatic leveling system, headlights that turned with the steering wheel, power steering and a semi-automatic 4-speed transmission.
5. Datsun 240Z
The Datsun 240Z came at a time when the motoring industry was dominated by European sports cars. It offered an affordable yet sporty alternative to Europe’s best, but didn’t make any compromises when it came to performance and looks.
The car was powered by a 2.0 litre straight-six engine, which seems absolutely tiny compared to the behemoths that were under the hoods of most American muscle cars of the era. Still, the engine was sophisticated and that meant the 240Z was able to keep up with most muscle cars without making too much of a fuss about it.
6. Ferrari F40
The Ferrari F40 was a ground-breaking car for the Italian supercar maker. The car utilized an enhanced version of the 288 GTO’s twin-turbo V8 engine, producing 471 horsepower, an enormous amount of power given the car’s featherweight body.
The F40 was made entirely out of carbon fibre, which meant it could go from zero to 100 km/h in a sliver over 3 seconds. That’s quick, even by today’s standards. And thanks to its lightness, the car handled like a dream, with many calling the F40 the crowning achievement for Ferrari.
7. Jaguar E-Type
You just have to look at the E-Type Jag and know that it’s a very special car. That flowing body design is as iconic as the engine that lay underneath the hood of this beautiful car. It was powered by a 3.8 litre straight-six engine that put out an impressive 265 horsepower – plenty for a car with questionable braking power. The car was made even more famous for its advertised top speed of 150mph, even if it wasn’t actually able to achieve it.
Still, the E-Type Jaguar is more than the sum of its parts – it’s fast and absolutely gorgeous to look at.
8. Lamborghini Miura
This is where it all started for mid-engined supercars. The Miura was built by a company that had previously built tractors. However, Lamborghini wanted to make a statement with this car and challenge Ferrari as a premium Italian sports car maker.
The Miura utilized a 3.9-litre V12 engine which was designed to compete against Ferrari’s very best power plants. The design of the engine has been incredibly successful for Lamborghini, as the engine was constantly revised and reused for decades.
9. Mercedes Benz 300SL
This gorgeous Mercedes Benz is characterized through the use of its unique gullwing doors. This design made it stand apart from all of its competitors, showing the world that German cars could have as much style as their Italian counterparts.
The car was powered by a 3-litre straight-six engine that pumped out 175 horsepower. This amount of horsepower is achievable by most modern four-pots, but again this car is decades old. What’s more, it was pretty light and that made it pretty quick as well.
10. Shelby Mustang GT350
The Ford Mustang is definitely the most iconic muscle car of all time. It brought affordable horsepower and coupe looks to the masses. But then Carol Shelby decided he’d have a go at the already-impressive V8 engine. And that led to the birth of the Shelby GT350, a muscle car from the 60s with a 4.7 V8 engine cranking out 306 horsepower. At that time, this was a tremendous achievement.
The engine was mated to a durable 4-speed transmission which propelled the car to 100 km/h in just 7 seconds, and onto a top speed over 220. This was enough to satiate most speed demons of the time.
Being a classic car enthusiast isn’t easy. These cars are mostly beautiful to look at but given their age, almost guaranteed to drive horribly. The creature comforts we take for granted these days such as power steering, ABS and launch control were unheard of a few decades ago.
Still, classic cars offer something what most modern cars cannot – the raw thrill of speed. Most classic cars aren’t dulled down by invasive electronics so they’re an absolute hoot to drive. If you like being fully connected to the driving experience, you absolutely have to drive a classic cars. Even better if you drive one of the gems we’ve listed in this post.