Top 10 Iconic Designed Cars of the 20th Century

Tags: #VolkswagenBeetle ,   #E-type ,   #ChevroletBelAir ,   #MostBeautifulCars ,   #CarsDesign

Mark Kirchman

Mark Kirchman

Last updated:  2022-12-05 18:00:11

We all like to move, to travel, going from point A to point B. So, what's the most convenient way to do it than go by car! Automobiles are a practical, usually fun way to go around. Besides that, some of them became a status symbol for their price, engine possibilities, or simply because of the way they look. Car designers give a lot of thought to what they're doing, so the results are the best things those masterminds have to offer. Now we're going to show you our choice of the top 10 most iconic designed cars in the 20th century.

10. Volkswagen, Beetle

Simple and iconic!

We're starting our list with the most produced automobile in the history of humankind! Over 21 million VW Beetles came from the factory lines worldwide from 1938 until 2003! The mastermind behind this modern classic is the legendary Ferdinand Porsche, who got this job from no other than Adolf Hitler. They wanted a cheap car for the German people, but it became a worldwide phenomenon after WWII.

The car's design, influenced by an animal beetle, didn't change much over the years besides the steering wheel and the rear lights. There have been engines from 1100 to 1600 cc and 3-speed and 4-speed transmission through its production years. However, the competition put a stop to the record and, even though we can still see this car on the streets, it's slowly moving to the well-deserved place in the museum.

9. Jaguar, E-type

The most beautiful car made?

The British know how to make fancy cars! Furthermore, rumors go that Enzo Ferarri said this was the most beautiful one ever made! The genius behind this masterpiece is Malcolm Sayer, and in 1961, the car debuted on the market. Since then, people have turned their heads whenever it goes by. If you're a fan of Austin Powers films or the "Mad Men" series, this is the car for you!

At first, the E-type had a 3.8-liter engine, and later it got upgraded to 4.2 liters, with a 4-speed manual transmission and 3-speed automatic. The production stopped in 1975, but it for sure marked the car industry for everyday folk and the car-racing industry. It's safe to say the E-Type got its well-deserved place in history - it's only one of six cars admitted into the MoMA in New York City!

8. Porsche, 365 Speedster

Ferdinand Porsche was a true genius

We turn to the car design legend Porsche and admire his work from 1948. This companies' one of the first and the most iconic cars is model "365 Speedster". The production started in the town of Gmund in Austria, where the workers made only 52 of them by hand! Imagine now trying to start a car company and assembling each car manually.

No wonder that after two years, the production moved to Zuffenhausen in Germany, where the machines took over the assembly line. The span of the engine was from 1.1 to 1.5-liter engine, with 4-speed manual transmission. The beauty of these cars is that they're made on VW Beetle chassis, but they have advanced aerodynamic shape bodies.

7. Mercedes-Benz, 600

One of the most elegant cars from the 20th century

Next in line is the luxurious German-made car. Many famous people drove this model: David Bowie, Coco Chanel, Hugh Hefner, Rowan Atkinson, Jay Leno, and others. But what's so special about this automobile? The designers had their hands untied and had no boundaries regarding making the true car of their dreams.

Finally, they came up with the model "600", and because of its enormous size and weight, it needed a more powerful engine than the previous models. That's why German ingenuity came to light, and they put a new V8, 6.3-liter engine developing 250 horsepower. A very complex system of hydraulic presses controls the doors, windows, seats… a complete revolution for that time. Nevertheless, the car came with a high price and today stands as an important status symbol.

6. Citroen, DS

A commercial appropriate for this car!

This French-made automobile held the record for 60 years as most ordered cars on its initial showcase. In 1955, during the ten days at the Paris Motor Show, DS took in 80,000 deposits! A group of three French designers accomplished producing a car that was the first mass-produced car with hydropneumatic suspension and disc brakes. In the following 20 years, "Citroen" built over one million of those cars, and it even successfully competed in rally racing.

The car has many fascinating innovations, and people think it's the most comfortable car to drive up to the 21st century! This is as the suspension makes you feel like you're driving on the clouds. You pronounce "DS" like déesse, literally meaning "goddess." And we're sure everyone who drove it must have felt like a god or a goddess!

5. Duesenberg, Model J

One of the cars that marked the 30s of the 20th century

Now it's time to go back further in time and show you one of the most elegant cars from the late 20s of the 20th century. Gordon Buehrig is responsible for designing this luxurious automobile, the peak of the car industry of its time! This car had an impressive 7-liter Duesenberg Straight-8 engine manufactured for this American company.

The sad part is that it debuted only one year before the Big Depression hit, so many customers couldn't afford it. Nevertheless, the reception was good, and many famous people drove it, such as Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, the British royal family members, and even the notorious gangster Al Capone! Until 1937 just several hundred of these were produced, but they stayed the symbol of luxury for many years!

4. Chevrolet, Bel Air

Take a look at how it looks to ride this classic car

Chevrolet's one of the most recognizable products ever, "Bel Air," is the car that was top of the line from the 50s to the 80s of the 20th century! Moreover, it has eight generations, and each of them was a smooth four-wheel riding machine. Chevy 1957 was, and still is, the most lovable automobile from the American manufacturers after WWII.

Naturally, engines changed in Chevies over time, alongside the performance. Nevertheless, this vehicle portrays a big part of the American post-WWII culture - it's strong, confident, fast, and elegant! We're jealous of those who had the opportunity to drive one of these in its glory days, but let's not forget that this car didn't lose its value with time. In fact, today is more treasured than ever before!

3. Cadillac, Eldorado

This is one powerful machine!

Here we have a car that every car-loving person would like to sit in and take for a drive on some California boulevard next to the shore or go on a trip from LA to New York! Most importantly, "Eldorado" is the most recognizable Cadillac product of the 20th century and, just like the previous model on the list, it shows the power of American culture after WWII! It's a luxury car manufactured from 1952 to 2002, in 12 generations!

The name comes from two Spanish words, meaning the golden one. It also refers to the lost city El Dorado (The Golden City), a city in today's Colombia, a fascination for Spanish conquistadors. Harley Earl is the mastermind behind the main design of this modern classic made in "General Motors."

2. Ford, Thunderbird

The car you want to have

A duo of George Walker and William Boyer made the "Thunderbird" in 1957. It was an instant success as the sleek design caught the eye of the public. The term personal luxury car got strong with this car as the clients started asking for higher quality driving comfort and not high-speed performance. It had 11 generations, and "Ford" produced over 4.4 million of them!

Firstly, there have been many names as an option for this car, and just some of them include Falcon, Eagle, Thunderbolt, and others. Thunderbird refers to the mythical bird of supernatural strength and power. Secondly, this car was a company's response to another legendary car, the Corvette produced by Chevrolet. However, the response was a success, and today we can enjoy a smooth ride in one of these street birds!

1. Buick, Streamliner

Which one is the best?

When we look at this car, we question if it's some new unreleased model from the future. It has the charm, elegance, aerodynamics, and comfort of hot-rods, yet it looks modern. It took Norman Timbs two whole years to make this car, and no wonder it has a large rear panel lifting hydraulically to expose the chassis.

There's only one piece of this car, and just like some old automobiles, it has a wooden frame and aluminum body around it! Notably, it was based on the Buick "Super 8" engine, developing up to 120 mph. Talented workers in a shop from Colorado restored it, and since 2010 it has had new proud owners. Lucky them!

We're big car fans, and we love looking at pictures and many videos of other enthusiasts working on these vehicles. Moreover, it's not just the engines but the round and boxy bodies around them that fascinate us even more. We encourage everybody to take action and restore old automobile gems, saving them from being lost. Today we enjoy super-cars with hybrid and electric engines. Still, for everyone to appreciate that, we invite them to look at previous centuries' prime models, like on our list and see the evolution of the four-wheel animals. 

What is your favorite car? Do you have your favorite car designer? Tell us in the comment section.

Photo: 15229/Pixabay


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