The coolest car from the year you were born

General MotorsA 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air.
  • Car models may span generations, but their design is constantly evolving, with new innovations by certain trailblazing vehicles paving the way for changes to occur in both form and style.
  • More than anything, cars are a reflection of culture and the national zeitgeist.
  • Every year has had a new car emerge which added its own flair to the auto industry.
  • Here are the coolest cars from each year between 1950 through 2018.

No decade of car design is ever the same. Models may span generations, but their design is constantly evolving, with new innovations by certain trailblazing vehicles paving the way for changes to occur in both form and style.

Over time, specific brands differentiate themselves from the competition, usually with a new vision of what a car can look like and how it can improve the driving experience. Think about the effect of the 1980 Audi Quattro, as it pioneered four-wheel-drive and its boxy shape paved the way for a new modernity to emerge in automotive bodies.

More than anything, cars are a reflection of culture and the national zeitgeist. For example, the BMC Mini, which defined 1960s British pop-culture, or to the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am, arguably the greatest “muscle car” ever made by an American automaker.

Going one step further, watch how your mind is immediately brought back to the 1980s when you take one look at the DeLorean DMC-12 and the Ferrari F-40. Simply put, cars are capstone statements for their times.

Similarly, cars can also point to changing consumer patterns and emerging societal trends. For instance, the 2010s were an era when plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt and all-electric vehicles like Tesla’s Model X appeared in the market, demonstrating a new eco-conscious shift as the ramifications from climate change became an increasingly prominent force in our lives.

Every year a new car has emerged which added its own flair to the auto industry.

For those seeking to go on a time-travel odyssey, take a look below at nearly 70 years of automotive history, as we profile the coolest cars from each year between 1950 through 2019.


1950: Volkswagen Bus — A car that transcends decades, the VW Bus was the world’s first minivan.

Source: Auto.How Stuff Works


1951: Land Rover Defender Series I — The original Land Rover Defender was born in Britain as a response to the popularity of Jeeps in the United Kingdom

Source: Car and Driver


1952: Ford F-Series OG —This first edition Ford F-Series is the ancestor of the best-selling vehicle in modern American history, the Ford F-150.

Source: Ford


1953: Chevrolet Corvette — A car dripping with class, the original Corvette almost died early after posting poor initial sales numbers.

Source: Corvette Buyer’s Guide: 1953-1967


1954: Willys CJ-5 — The CJ-5 was influenced by the Jeep MC8A1, which was used in the Korean War from 1950-1953.

Source: Kaiser Willys


1955: Ford Thunderbird — An all-time cool-looking car, the T-bird created a new class of vehicle for American consumers: the “personal luxury car.”

Source: Automotive Mileposts


1955: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing (tie) — The Gullwing was a beloved luxury car, and only 1,400 were produced.

Source: RM Sotheby’s


1956: Citroën DS — A sleek and stunning vehicle, the Citroën DS marked France’s automotive comeback after World War II.

Source: Business Insider


1957: Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder (tie) — Custom made, the 250 GT was built to be a race car first and a road car second.

Source: Top Speed


1957: Chevy Bel-Air (Tie) — Quite possibly the coolest car on this list, the ’57 Bel Air is an iconic American vehicle.

General Motors

1958: Fiat 500 — An important car in Fiat’s history, the Fiat 500 Nuova had a sunroof that opened the entire length of the car.

Source: RM Sotheby’s


1959: Cadillac El Dorado — A stunning car, even to this day, the El Dorado helped make Cadillac a household name. Just look at those tailfins.


1960: BMC Mini — A small, UK-made economy car, the Mini symbolized 1960s British pop culture and was recently voted Britain’s “Best-Ever Car.”

Source: Mirror.co.uk


1961: Lincoln Continental — There are few cars as “American” as the Lincoln Continental, with the fourth-generation ’61 version showcasing a four-door convertible.


1962: Studebaker Avanti – A personal luxury coupe built between June 1962 and December 1963, the Studebaker Avanti saw fewer than 6,000 produced.

Source: How Stuff Works Auto


1963: Porsche 911 — The sports car that inspired generations, Porsche 911’s design was actually influenced by the VW Beetle.

Source: Top Speed


1964: Aston Martin DB5 — A classic car from the British luxury carmaker, the Aston Martin DB5 was featured in the 2012 James Bond film “Skyfall” — but Bond first drove it in 1964’s “Goldfinger.”

Source: CNN


1965: Ford Mustang — The Mustang continues to be a very popular car.

Source: Business Insider


1966: Lamborghini Miura — A car that changed the sports-car design game with its mid-engined, two-seat layout, the Miura was originally supposed to be limited to just 30 units.

Source: Top Speed


1967: Chevy Camaro — An old fashioned American muscle car, the Camaro had a powerful V8 engine under its hood.

Source: Business Insider


1968: Dodge Charger — Notice the large front-end hood, which captures the use of Chrysler’s B-body platform, an innovation that Chrysler used on its models from 1966-1978.


1969: Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II — A muscle-era sports car, the Cyclone Spoiler was developed by Mercury, with two NASCAR drivers providing input.

Source: RM Sotheby’s


1970: Ferrari Daytona GTB/4 — Svelte, sleek, and super-fast, the Daytona was Enzo Ferrari’s response to the Lamborghini Miura.

Source: RM Sotheby’s


1971: Jaguar E-Type Series 3 — Introduced in 1971, the E-Type was ranked first in a 2004 “Most Beautiful Cars of All Time” list by the Daily Telegraph, with four times as many votes as any other car.

Source: Daily Telegraph


1972: BMW 02 Series — As a compact executive car, the 02 Series supported BMW’s tagline as “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Source: BMWBlog


1973: Mercedes-Benz 280 — Check out the unique three-headlight configuration on this gorgeous executive sedan.

Source: Mercedes-Benz


1974: Triumph TR7 — A unique blend of European styling and that American power under the hood, the Triumph TR7 was praised for its spacious two-seat interior when it was released.

Source: Motor 1


1975: Ferrari 308 — The 308 made its debut at the 1975 Paris and London Auto Shows and was the first Ferrari to feature fibreglass as body material.

Source: Ferrari


1976: AMC Pacer — American Motor Corporation may have folded 30 years ago, but the ’74 Pacer still captures attention, with its large glass windowpane and round front-end shape.


1977: Pontiac Trans Am — A true American original, the Trans Am “Firebird” became famous for its role in Burt Reynold’s classic film “Smokey and the Bandit.”

Source: Fox News


1978: Porsche 928 — Just look at those pop-up headlights. Classic.


1979: Buick Riviera — This classic sixth edition of the Riviera featured front-wheel drive, which was still rather novel in those days.


1980: Audi Quattro — A car that truly changed the game in both design, as it differed sharply from the previous models on this list, and function—the Quattro pioneered four-wheel drive.

Source: Audi


1981: DeLorean DMC-12 — Made famous by the “Back to the Future” movie series, the DeLorean DMC-12 had no paint, as the body was made from stainless steel.


1982: Lotus Espirit Turbo — With its aerodynamic angles, it’s not surprising the Lotus Espirit Turbo was featured in the James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only.”


1983: Lamborghini Countach LP500S — Countach models are all impressive, but probably the coolest thing about them was the upward-opening “scissor doors” that defined certain 1980s sports cars.

Source: RM Sotheby’s


1984: Corvette C4 — Notice the change of style here as we enter the ’80s. The C4 exemplified this with its sleek, angular look. It was the first Corvette convertible seen in a decade.

Source: Eckler’s Corvette


1985: BMW M3 E30 — A car that helped usher BMW into new prominence, the M3 E30 has affectionately been called “the legend,” by the German automaker.

BMW AG

Source: BMW


1986: Buick Grand National Turbo — Nicknamed the “Darth Vader Car” because of the popularity of the “Star Wars” films, the all-black Grand National is still really cool looking.

General Motors

1987: Ferrari F40 (tie) — Similar in design to the Countach, the F40 is truly legendary. It set a record by shattering the 200-mph mark, becoming the world’s fastest production car at that time.

Source: RMSotheby’s


1987: Porsche 959 (tie) — With adjustable suspension and intelligent four-wheel-drive, the 959 was considered “the most technologically advanced car of its era.”

Source: RM Sotheby’s


1988: Honda CRX — The CRX featured 105 horsepower and fourteen-inch tires.

Honda

Source: Car and Driver


1989: Lancia Delta Integrale — A car specifically designed for rally-cross racing, the ’89 Delta Integrale won the San Remo Rally in Italy that same year.

Source: Bloomberg


1990: Honda/Acura NSX — This Japanese-produced sports car stunned audiences when it first came out with an all-aluminium monocoque body, forged pistons, and titanium connecting rods.

Source: Bloomberg


1991: Dodge Viper SR1 — No car said “Welcome to the ’90s” quite like the Dodge Viper, especially with its powerful V10 engine and five-speed manual transmission.

FCA

Source: American Super Cars


1992: Jaguar XJ220 — The world’s fastest production car at the time, only 281 XJ220s were built between 1992 and 1994.

Source: RM Sotheby’s


1993: McLaren F1 — This is the car that set a world speed record of 231 mph in 1993 and held it for 11 years.

Source:Top Speed and Road and Track


1994: Toyota Supra —A cool and sleek sports car out of Japan, the mid-90s Supra rose to prominence when it was driven by Paul Walker in 2002’s “The Fast and the Furious.”

Source: Top Speed


1995: Mazda RX-7 — A pure sports car, the RX-7 boasted a 1.3-litre twin-turbocharged rotary engine with 255 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque.

Source: Edmunds


1996: Porsche Boxster — A car that captures the ’90s, the Porsche Boxster premiered in 1997 as a two-seater roadster convertible.

Porsche

1997: Acura Integra — Front-wheel drive, high-compression pistons, 195 horsepower, and excellent handing … yeah, the ’97 Integra had it all.

Acura

Source: Yahoo


1998: BMW M5 E39 — Called “the sports sedan by which all others are judged by” the M5 is a favourite of BMW enthusiasts.

BMW AG

Source: Road and Track


1999: Nissan Skyline GT4 R34 — Similar in design and shape to the Supra, the Skyline has been called “one of Japan’s most iconic cars.”

Source: Motor1


2000: BMW Z8 — This flashy roadster arrived in 2000 and was featured in the James Bond film “The World is Not Enough.”

Source: Men’s Journal


2001: Honda S2000 — Featuring an F20C inline 4 engine specifically produced for the S2000, this sports car’s release was targeted to match Honda’s 50th birthday.

Source: Honda and Hagerty


2002: Enzo Ferrari — Named after the company’s eponymous founder, the 2002 Enzo Ferrari was a true luxury sports car, with the 400th Enzo selling for $US1.1 million at an auction.

Source: Autoblog


2003: Aston Martin DB9 — Made for both comfort and speed, the DB9 boasted a 450-horsepower, 6.0-litre V-12 engine.

Source: RM Sotheby’s


2004: Porsche Carrera GT — Originally priced at $US440,000, Porsche claimed this supercar could go from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

Source: Car and Driver


2005: Bugatti Veyron — Not just a supercar that doubled as a luxury vehicle, the Veyron also set a world speed record of 267 mph in 2010.

Alex Davies/Business Insider

Source: Autoblog


2006: Chrysler 300 SRT-8 — The 300C SRT8’s monster V-8 engine boasted 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. It was an old fashioned muscle car in a family sedan era.


2007: Audi R8 — Fast and beautiful, the R8 had an aluminium skin and channeled 420-horsepower through a V-8 engine.

Source: Car and Driver


2008: Nissan GT-R — First produced in 2007, the GT-R was the successor to the Skyline and won EVO’s 2008 “Car of the Year” award.

Source: EVO


2009: Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione — Originally priced at $US250,000, the 8C Competizione featured a retro-styling and could top 180 mph.

Source: Car and Driver


2010: Lexus LFA — Lexus entered the sports car market with the LFA in 2010 and the results were a hit. A Lexus executive recently said, “The LFA is an icon now and possibly always…It is a car we can reference for another 25 years if we choose.”


2011: Chevy Volt — Bringing us into the electric vehicle era, the Volt is a top-selling plug-in hybrid and was named 2011 Green Car of the Year, 2011 Car of the Year, and 2011 World Green Car.

Source: Chevrolet,NY Daily News, and Hybrid Cars


2012: Tesla Model S — A car that truly broke the mould, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk created an all electric car that drove like a luxury sedan and also gained 270 miles per charge.

Source: Business Insider


2013: McLaren P1 — This plug-in, hybrid sports car considered a successor to 1993’s McLaren F1, packed 903 horsepower and could go from 0-60 mpg in 2.8 seconds.

Source: Top Speed


2014: BMW i8 — With its carbon-fibre chassis, BMW’s plug-in hybrid was surely different, as an electric motor powered the front wheels and a gasoline engine drove the rear ones.

Source: Automobile Mag and AutoTrader


2015: Dodge Challenger Hellcat — With 707 horsepower, the Challenger Hellcat was more powerful than all but 10 cars in the entire United States.

Source: Car and Driver


2016: Tesla Model X — Tesla’s second major all-electric car, the Model X was an eye-catching crossover SUV that could be had with a 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack and a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


2017: Chevy Bolt — An all-electric subcompact hatchback, the Bolt won 2017 North American Car of the Year award and 2017 Best Car to Buy Award.

Source: Green Car Reports and


2018: Tesla Model 3 — The car that may make or break Tesla, the Model 3 has been called “completely brilliant” and features “high-calibre semi-self driving.”

Matthew DeBord/BI

Source: Business Insider

NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.