Top 10 car designs of all time

Cars have been around in some shape or form for almost a century and a half, changing the way we live and commute forever. During all that time, thousands of models have been created, with a multitude of manufacturers having made their mark on the automotive industry.

While most vehicles have been produced with similar style in mind, there have been a few that have become icons due to their innovation. It is those vehicles that have managed to make it onto our prestigious list!

Whether they managed to irrevocably change the industry or were just too sexy not to miss, the next ten cars managed to stand out from the rest and make their mark on history.

Curious? Then read on…

10. Audi R8

As the automotive world continued to cater to the needs of sports car enthusiasts, Audi was hard at work creating a supercar of sorts to wow and impress. Being the first mid-engine sports car of the brand, the R8 was introduced in 2007 and managed to combine horsepower with sheer elegance to create one of the most iconic designs of our time. The large air apertures on the front and rear of the car function to cool the high-performance engine and brakes, while the concave and convex curves of the car bend light for a truly captivating effect. 

9. Toyota Prius

Debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995, the Toyota Prius was the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car. This car is both fuel-efficient and lighter in weight, ushering in a new era of low running-cost compact vehicles for the discerning driver.

8. Ford Mustang

Introduced in 1964, the Ford Mustang followed on from the Ford Falcon's compact economy car platform, but included a longer hood and a shorter rear for a more attractive look. The Mustang came with several customisation options and gave owners the choice of various types of V8 engines to include in their model. While the Mustang was marketed as a sports car, it managed to become Ford’s best seller since the Model T, which was introduced in 1931. The Mustang also happens to be South Africa’s best-selling sports car currently.

7. BMW 325is

A car built with the South African market in mind, the BMW 325is was launched in the first half of the 1990s and has since become ingrained in SA culture. Affectionately known as the Gusheshe, the car combined M3 running gear with a 2.7-litre engine to create an icon that has achieved cult status. This car has even managed to make its way from the ‘90s straight into 2014 through Cassper Nyovest’s smash hit, Gusheshe, and the subsequent Gusheshe Versace Freestyle released by Sheen Skaiz.

6. BMC Mini

The BMC Mini was debuted in 1959 and has managed to change the small car market ever since. Aside from its compact size and interesting design, the BMC Mini is the reason why many of today’s economy cars include a transverse front-engine and front-wheel drive. The Mini also included space-saving rubber cones, which enhanced suspension and changed the way that cars were built from then on.

5. Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport

To describe the Bugatti Veyron as a mere supercar is an understatement. This vehicle is a car of engineering beauty. Packaging the performance specs of the Veyron coupé in the form of a roadster, this car takes cruising in a drop-top to a whole new level. The addition of a transparent roof allows drivers to immerse themselves in their surroundings, even with the roof up, while a maximum speed of 407 km/h is guaranteed to give adrenaline junkies a much-needed fix. 

4. VW Beetle

 German automotive company Volkswagen introduced the Beetle in 1938 with a low-cost market in mind. Advertised as simple, reliable and inexpensive, the Beetle gained popularity in 1945 after World War II, and became the longest-running car model of all time as a result. Incorporating a rear engine and rear wheel drive layout, the design of this vehicle functioned as inspiration for many car designs long after production on it had come to a halt.

3. Buick Y-Job

The Buick Y-Job was shown in 1938 and functioned as the world’s first concept car. Motor manufacturer General Motors wanted to cater to the public’s automotive curiosity and did so by incorporating many modern designs and technology into the Y-Job. This car included power electric windows, flush door handles, pop-up headlights and the vertical grille design that is still used by Buick today.

2. Essex Closed Coach

Established by the Hudson Motor Company in 1918, Essex came up with several small and affordable cars in its short tenure as a car manufacturer. Before going back to being a model, the company began the trend of fully-enclosed vehicles that did away with open-top styles and made way for the models we know today. Thanks to Essex, open-top vehicles became more expensive, while fully-enclosed cars became lower priced.

1. Benz Patent-Motorwagen

The world’s first car, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, was introduced in 1885 and changed transportation in the world forever. Before the invention of this self-propelled car, people travelled by horse and buggy. The Benz Patent-Motorwagen has a single-cylinder, four-stroke motor and wire-spoke wheels, making the patent particularly striking. Although Carl Benz designed the Patent-Motorwagen with an output of barely one horsepower, he managed to move the world forward on just three wheels.

Since we’ve shown you our favourite car designs, it’s time for you to find your own on AutoTrader. AutoTrader South Africa has been the leading media market space for the past 24 years for buying and selling vehicles. Whether you are looking to buy a brand new car or are in the market for a pre-loved model, AutoTrader has over 67 000 cars to choose from to suit your tastes and needs. Find your perfect car on AutoTrader.