What Are The Best Vintage Cars?
The following is a list of the best vintage (classic) cars ever made. (We know that the list is entirely subjective, so if your favorite got left off, we apologize, but that doesn’t mean the ones listed didn’t deserve to be there).
Jaguar E Type (1961)
Our list begins with an iconic British-made two-seater sports car that almost every list includes. The E-Type was sold as the XK-E in North America, and from the moment it hit the market, it set the standard for elegance, performance, and speed. The 3.8 L inline-six engine produced 265 HP, achieving 150 mph and sub 7 second 0 - 60 marks.
The Jaguar's appeal didn’t stop with the engine but captured the public’s attention with a game-changing design. The engine sat on a long frame, with the cockpit set at the car's rear, right over the rear-wheel drive. The smooth front end cut through the wind, unlike any car on the market, making this car faster than almost any other vehicle.
The Jaguar was based on the company’s racing platform, and the design would influence almost every Jaguar that would be made for the next 13 years. The car had many features ahead of its time, like disc brakes, independent front and rear suspension systems, and rack and pinion steering. The advances would send shockwaves through the rest of the automotive world as domestic car makers scrambled to catch up.
If you happen across one, you should expect to pay about $148,000 for the pleasure of sitting behind the wheel of a Jaguar XE or XK-E.
Chevrolet Sting Ray Corvette (1963)
The 1963 Chevrolet Corvette is one of the most valuable classic cars ever. When GM first released it as the second generation Corvette, it featured a new innovative design with increased maneuverability, speed, and performance. There were three V8 engine choices and three transmissions powering the RWD sports car. As far as American muscle is concerned, the car produced a heart-stopping 149 mph and a blistering 6.2 second 0 - 60 mph track time.
One of the most iconic features of the Sting Ray was the hidden headlights that rotated up from the sleek front body line when in use. This unique design was something no other car maker featured and would continue to be a part of Corvettes until 2005).
The Stingray featured excellent amenities like AM/FM radios, air-conditioning, and leather upholstery. Big Tank models came with a 36-gallon fuel tank, which significantly dwarfed the standard 20-gallon unit and increased the range of the Stingray. Not only could the Chevrolet Corvette outruns the competition, but it could also go farther than most and keep drivers pampered. It’s not hard to see why many classic car enthusiasts love this car and why Hagerty values a 1963 Corvette Stingray at $92,700, with prices steadily rising every year.
VW Beetle (1951 Split Window)
No list would be complete without the standard classic car that changed automotive history - the Volkswagen Beetle. When it was first produced in 1938, it was introduced as the people’s car. Although formulated by Nazi Germany, the car was a cheap, mass-produced vehicle that could be built quickly (leading to an abundant supply). The rear-engine car offered new freedom to the average German because it was easy to drive, not overly complicated, and could run circles around the larger, more cumbersome cars of its day. The early models are the most valuable, but one of our favorites is the 1951 split window.
While most people probably remember the Beetles from the sixties and seventies (think Herbie, the Love Bug), one of the first VWs to grace American shores was the 1951 Split Window. The 1.1 air-cooled engine didn’t set any track records with its 70 mph top speed, but it was a precise, fuel-efficient work of art. (My father used to claim that the VW engine reminded him of a sewing machine). The engines were easy to maintain, ran forever, and were instrumental in carting the kids of WWII GIs everywhere they wanted to go.
The exterior of the 1951 Volkswagen Beetle had unique pillar-mounted semaphore turn signals that popped out whenever activated. While interior valued function over form, with a round speedometer and not much else. The three-spoke steering wheel was simple in design, and one unique feature was heated vents that drew heat from the car's rear to the front, drawing engine heat into the floorboard of the cabin.
While the Split Window is one of the most valuable representations of early VW Beetles, any early models are worth acquiring. Hagerty estimates the value of a 1951 VW Beetle at $37,000, which might not seem like a lot, but considering the highest price paid is over a million dollars, this classic is worth investing in.
Ford Mustang Boss 429 (1969)
While the debate rages about what might be the most iconic Mustang ever made, any Mustang from its inception in 1964 to the seventies will probably get plenty of fanfare. Ford needed a sports car that could compete with the Camaro and Charger, so they dropped a 429 engine into it and let it rip down the track. With only 1359 units rolling off the factory line, it is easy to see how this iconic Mustang has become one of the rarest and most valuable Mustangs ever built.
The Boss Mustang carried a 429 V8 (7.0 L) which produced a mind-numbing 375 HP (although many enthusiasts claim the engine produced more like 500 HP), with a single Holley four-barrel carb sitting on top. The sportscar could produce insane top speed numbers in the 150 - 175 range (although official company reports limiting the top speed to 110). Although the Mustang couldn’t reach numbers like its rival, the ‘69 Charger, it was plenty fast for its day.
(The Charger topped 199.5 mph to win the pole at the ‘69 Talladega 500).
Due to the heavy engine, Ford had to compensate to even out the weight distribution, so it moved the battery to the truck and built the car with a rear sway bar to limit any body roll.
The result was a Mustang that handled better than most heavy-engine Mustangs of the day, making it suitable for both street and track.
While 429s are tough to find, Hagerty sets the value for a 1969 Ford Boss at close to $227,000, with many units selling for much more. (Current sale prices are between $300K and $450K).
Ford Model T (1908 - 27)
We might as well include the most iconic car of all time, the Ford Model T. This was the first affordable sedan (the original price was $850), allowing many families to experience the joys of car ownership. Due to streamlined assembly plants, Ford could manufacture the car cheaply and efficiently. With over 15 million units sold, the Model T would flood the streets and highways of America as middle-class families enjoyed the thrills of car ownership. Just to get a handle on the impact of this car, in little over a decade (1918), half of all cars on the road were Model Ts. Ford Motor Company enjoyed the distinction of producing the best-selling vehicle (the Model T) until the VW Beetle surpassed it in sales in 1972.
The car became known as the “Tin Lizzie” as it appeared nationwide. Initially, The car was powered by a front-mounted inline four-cylinder engine that produced about 20 HP. The rear-wheel drive car had a 2-speed manual transmission with pneumatic tires that tended to be flat more than they held air.
While most car enthusiasts might remember Ford’s statement that customers could have “any color as long as it was black” statement, the earlier versions of the Model T were not black at all. Grey, green, red, and blue pigments were used (1908 - 1913). It was not until the 1914 model year that Ford introduced the black color for its vehicles
Hemmings values the Model T as having a value of between $20k and $50k, depending on the condition.
Chevrolet El Camino SS (1970)
When Ford came out with the Ranchero in 1959 as a utility vehicle, GM didn’t waste any time following suit. The early El Camino wasn’t very successful, but when Chevy reintroduced the beast in 1968 with the heavier Chevelle frame, the car's popularity took off. The high-performance Super Sport version with an upgraded 454 V8 has become the holy grail for many collectors.
The 6.6L Turbo-jet V8 engine, with its heavy lifters, aluminum heads, and enhanced manifolds, was topped with an 800 CFM four-barrel carburetor. (Some 1970 Caminos have more powerful 454 ci, which produced 450 HP, over 500 lb/ft of torque, and 0 - 60 runs in under 7 seconds.
(The time is pretty for what was considered a pickup truck).
The interiors of these El Caminos had carpeting, vinyl or cloth seating, and plenty of room on the bench seat. Amenities included items often reserved for more upscale vehicles, like air-conditioning, AM/FM radios, and wall-to-wall carpeting.
Hagerty’s records that the most paid for a 1970 El Camino SS is over $286,000, the prices for this unit have fallen in recent years, but this great beast will likely make a comeback as time continues to march on.
Aston Martin DB5 (1964)
James Bond, notwithstanding, this classic sports car has become a prized collectible for many a car lover. This beautiful car is one of the rarest and best classic cars ever produced. Powered by a 4.0 L inline six that churned out a hefty 282 HP, the Aston Martin had a top speed of 145 mph and a 0-60 run time of around 8 seconds.
Standard equipment included wool carpets, electric windows, dual fuel tanks, full leather seating and trim, and a standard fire extinguisher. A four-speed transmission with overdrive was the early standard transmission, but Aston Martin soon replaced it with a five-speed due to better acceleration and shift points. An automatic version was an option, and 123 convertible DB5s were made, which are extremely rare.
The DB5 has enjoyed a steady price rise since its first appearance in Goldfinger in 1964. The car was so popular with the public that it made its way into another Bond film Thunderball (It continued to appear in subsequent Bond films like Goldeneye). Hagerty estimates the value of a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 in good condition to be $665,000.
About THE AUTHOR
My name is Matt and I've been around cars all my life! I have owned and worked on many different classic vehicles, so I started this site to share my experiences. If you're new to classic cars, then this website is for you.Read More About Matt Lane