Okay, let's give it a shot: the 50 most beautiful cars ever produced. Not an easy task... and certainly quite subjective (beauty is in the eye of the beholder...). Nevertheless it is an inspiring challenge to compare classic versus contemporary models, bread & butter designs (like the Ferrari F355) versus outrageously over-the-top creations (like the 2019 Bugatti La Voiture Noire), series produced cars versus one-offs, affordable cars versus stellar-priced artworks, etc. In the end, does it matter? We think not. A single (pencil) stroke of slick genius can do the job: creating a timeless piece of artwork ready to hit the history books. Check the links to their designers, coach builders and encyclopedia pages for detailed info. Enjoy, and leave your comments on our Facebook page!
The book shows he was a genius; and the car industry wouldn't be like it is without him...
Review by Wallace Wyss
When they throw around that phrase "pioneer in the auto industry" you can hardly get more pioneering in design than Harley Earl, not only a giant in the industry in America but at 6'6" a giant of a man. America’s car industry developed differently from that in Europe, England and Japan. We got hooked early on the three-year model change, what came to be called “Planned Obsolescence” and this book is about the genius that invented that.
By Wallace Wyss
2018 Chrysler Chronos Concept
The ArtCenter College of design, situated high on a hill overlooking Pasadena, is famous for one thing: training a good proportion of the world’s car designers.
They have changed themes of their annual show (this year it was held on October 28) several times but this year (2018) it was most appropriate that they celebrated the achievements of the car designers who graduated from there by inviting them to come with a car they designed. Of course some of the companies are long gone, like Studebaker, but private owners entered cars to honor those designers.
In some respects the “old car show” was a bit like a new car show because there were several prototypes. But that just shows that Art Center grads are currently on the leading edge of the world’s car designers. The only beef I have is that the new wave of prototypes are electric cars, alas, what happened to heavy breathing rhumba-rhumba exhaust blaring performance?
By our contributing editor Wallace Wyss (text & illustrations)
Automotive artists tend to pick their era. They like ‘50s cars, they don’t like prewar cars, they like hot rods, they don’t like sports cars. But I as a latecomer to the fine art world (for 40 years I was an automotive historian and ad copywriter) have come to greatly admire the body styles that fall into the classification of “Streamline Moderne”; a trend that started in the 1920s and picked up steam, inspired by not the Space Age (which was still decades into the future) but the airplane age, particularly the Schneider cup air races, where planes were becoming notably faster each year by virtue of new aerodynamic fuselage changes.
1936 Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic, designed by Jean Bugatti
One of the first things coachbuilders copied from airplanes was the “blister”-shaped covers for the fixed landing gear (when the wheels were not yet retractable) and so essentially half of a blistering fairing was used to cover the rear fender cutouts to make them more aerodynamic.
Best of Show: 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta
COMPLETE LIST OF 2018 WINNERS CONCOURS D'ELEGANCE PEBBLE BEACH 2018
BEST OF SHOW
1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta
David & Ginny Sydorick, Beverly Hills, California
Best of Show Nominees
1929 Duesenberg J Murphy Town Limousine
Lehrman Collection, Palm Beach, Florida
1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Figoni Fastback Coupé
Robert Kudela, Chropyně, Czech Republic
Many of the iconic vehicles of the second half of the 20th century, from simple, but beautiful Fiats, Citroëns and BMWs, to many astounding Alfa Romeos, Lancias, Maseratis and Lamborghinis, rolled out of the coachbuilding facilities of Carrozzeria Bertone, as well as the design studios of Stile Bertone. A succession of cutting-edge concept machines during the 1960s and the 1970s further cemented the belief that Bertone was not only the most audacious, but also arguably the most progressive and innovative of all the Italian design studios ever.
Several of the important concept cars, as well as the emblematic production models from the Bertone design studio were either retained or later collected by the coachbuilder in a private museum, housed at the studio, Stile Bertone, near Turin. This book is about the many extraordinary cars from the Bertone Collection.
Topics covered include:
- The Bertone Story / The History of Bertone
- Designers, including: Franco Scaglione, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Marcello Gandini, Giuliano Maria Biasio
- Alfa Romeo, including: Giulia Sprint, Giulia Sprint Speciale, 2600 Sprint, Montreal
- Fiat, including: 850 Spider, Dino 2400 Coupé, 128 Coupe Shopping
- Lamborghini, including: Miura P400S, Espada II, Countach 5000 Quattrovalvole
- Others: Chrysler Simca Shake, Citroën GS Camargue, Bertone Suzuki Go, Mini Cooper S Works GP, Jaguar B99 and more.
The Italian coachbuilding industry is something unique in the world. Amazing cars, incredible creativity and construction mastery that are impossible to find elsewhere, combined with an unbelievable number of people and companies that have been working for more than a century. This book, the result of a detailed and huge research that lasted many years, covers for the first time with the due historiographic method all the protagonists of this fascinating story. In fact, behind the most famous names, there are hundreds of other companies, workshops, craftsmen and designers that allowed such a big network to develop. The author and his team have been able to list little less than one thousand different entities, the wide part of which was totally forgotten and is re-discovered for the first time after decades.
The book is introduced by a foreword written by the renowned designer Leonardo Fioravanti and a text by Umberto Eco.
The book is made by 2 large size volumes in slipcase, enriched by more than 3000-period pictures and is the ultimate reference, essential for car styling enthusiasts and automotive historians.
The manufacturing quality is as high as the contents, with a fine printing on heavy matt coated paper and a luxury hardcover in metallic paper.
Carrozzeria Allemano was an automobile coachbuilder in Turin, Italy, founded in 1928 by Serafino Allemano. Allemano made various cars based on their own designs, and in some cases, externally made designs, such as those by Michelotti. Some of the earlier cars were Ferrari 166S, Alfa Romeo 2500 and Lancia Aurelia. For Fiat Allemano created three Fiats 1100 TV, some Fiats 600, 850 and 2200 and a few Abarths 750. For Maserati it made 21 Maseratis A6G 2000/54, prototype designs for Maserati 3500 (1957), and 22 Maseratis 5000 GT (1959-1965), many of these designed by Michelotti. There was also a Jaguar XK140, an Aston Martin DB2/4 (1953) a Panhard Dyna, as well as Renault Dauphine specials.
Thanks to the collaboration with Giovanni Michelotti and the high quality of craftsmanship Allemano's carrozzeria secured as a prestigious atelier a leading position in the history of Italian Style.
Carrozzeria Allemano ceased to exist in 1965.
Rocco Motto was the coachbuilder of several famous cars, often working behind the scenes and due to that was never as famous as he deserved. Specialising in aluminium work, both before and after WWII he coachbuilt countless sports cars which were raced successfully across Europe and America.In the 1950s he also built some wonderful granturismos before finally moving to the emerging touring caravan and motorhome industry.
This book tells the full history, illustrating it with a wide selection of pictures, often never published before.
The years between the two World Wars was an extraordinary period for the French luxury car trade and during this time, Carrosserie Gaston Grümmer was one of the leading coach building houses in Paris.
Descended from a long line of coach builders, Gaston Grümmer was the son of Antoine-Joseph whose company, J. Grümmer formerly V. Morel, produced first, from 1845, exceptional horse-drawn carriages and from the 1890s automotive bodies. Trained in the family business before World War I, Gaston Grümmer, spent the war as a soldier, first on horseback and in the trenches and then in the air as a pilot. At the end of hostilities, he brilliantly re-launched the family business transforming it into the Société Anonyme des Etablissements Grümmer. As the company moved towards the production of series bodywork for various manufacturers, Gaston decided that he wanted to break away to build custom cars and in 1924 he created his own company under the name of Carrosserie Gaston Grümmer. For the next ten years he achieved great success on both aesthetic and technical levels.
Thanks to recently discovered and previously unpublished archives, his son, Philippe Grümmer, in association with one of the best French automotive historians, Laurent Friry, takes us back to this glorious period during the "Roaring Twenties" recalling the major events of the Concours d'Elégance and Les Salons de l'Auto, and describes the bodies that Gaston Grümmer produced for the chassis of around 54 manufacturers and the hundred or so prizes which he won.
The Ferrari Special Projects programme (a.k.a. 'Portfolio Coachbuilding Programme') is an extensive personalization program initiated by Ferrari that allows customers the opportunity to commission established Italian design houses such as Pininfarina, ItalDesign, Zagato, Fioravanti and Touring to create one-off redesigns of their automobiles with full factory support and recognition.
The program was conceived in the wake of millionaire stockbroker James Glickenhaus' commissioning of his P4/5 based on a Ferrari Enzo, and Giorgetto Giugiaro's GG50 to celebrate his 50th anniversary in the design business as well as the Sultan of Brunei's massive and legendary collection of one-off Ferrari Supercars and Shooting Brakes amassed in the 90's and Zagato's rebody of the Ferrari 575, the Ferrari 575 GTZ.
At the same time there was a general revival of public interest in the old coachbuilding tradition employed by exclusive manufacturer's in the 1920's and 1930's. The vision was to allow wealthy customers the ability to utilize existing Ferrari platforms in order to bring their dream Ferraris to life while at the same time extending full support and recognition from Maranello.
The One-Off programme produces a maximum of three cars per year. No one can buy an invitation to participate in the One-Off programme and Ferrari doesn’t promote it. Creating your own Ferrari can take between 18 and 24 months and includes regular consultations with the engineers and designers at Maranello. Ferrari's commercial director Enrico Galliera: “We have a big problem, which is that we are sold out until 2021. It has to remain something extremely limited. So even though we have a long list of clients, we are trying to cap it. And that’s the problem that we have so far: that we still have a lot of requests that we cannot satisfy. The price depends on which chassis you are using and what kind of project you want, but the price can be around three million euros.”
The following is a list of Special Projects cars that have been made public.
Ferrari also released some specials / limited series, which are not considered to be part of the Special Projects commissioning program. They are also listed for reference.
On September 18 2018 Ferrari announced the new "ICONA" limited edition special series, introducing the Monza SP 1 and Monza SP2.
This is the first book devoted exclusively to the Maserati 300S, one of the most beautiful sports racing cars ever built, and the main opponent of the Ferraris in the World Sportscar Championships of 1956 and 1957. Described by Stirling Moss as one of the best race car concepts of the Fifties, the 300S wrote motor sports history. With famous drivers like Juan-Manuel Fangio, Jean Behra, Harry Schell, Carroll Shelby and Stirling Moss, it raced with both great success and disappointing failure. Despite the often confusing and inaccurate records which make it difficult to establish the exact fate of these cars, the history of each of the twenty-eight 300S that were made by Officine Maserati S.p.A. in Modena, is listed chassis by chassis and profusely illustrated with period photographs. A section on the technical specifications of the 300S is also included, and an overview of the sports car racing scene of the time provides historical context.
DE TOMASO - From Buenos Aires to Modena: The History of a Visionary in the Automobile Industry
The first illustrated and complete book on one of the top marques of the Olympus of automotive history, written in collaboration with the de Tomaso family.
The volume traces the sporting and entrepreneurial story of Alejandro de Tomaso, exhaustively illustrating the characteristics of the models that have made the Automobili De Tomaso famous around the world, such as the Pantera, truly a cult object, especially in the United States. Many different dimensions are interwoven in de Tomaso’s story: the world of the gentlemen-sportsmen who animated the motor-racing competitions in the 1950s-1960s, the genuine and somewhat ‘provincial’ charisma of the artist-mechanics of the Modena area, and the story of the great American industrial dynasties and the intricate developments of the Italian automotive industry.
Gordon Murray and Peter Stevens rewrote the books presenting the MCLAREN F1 in 1996. This car may have upped the ante as much as the Ferrari 250 GTO did in 1962. Or beyond.
One smart investor bought an F1 in 1997, stored it in a conditioned environment, offering the car 20 years later in absolute new condition (the factory wraps are still in place). So, how do you value such an icon? They recently went for around $15M, and we won't be surprised if this unique piece of automotive history sells for more than the last Ferrari 250 GTO...
The Kellner Affair tells the fascinating story of some of the most influential people in the French luxury car business before the War and how they came together and fought bravely against the Nazi occupation force in Paris. It tells how they formed a resistance group and gathered intelligence ̶ how they were betrayed by double agents, and how they were executed in 1942.
These people included the famous coachbuilder Jacques Kellner, the designer Georges Paulin, and Walter Sleator, the director of Rolls-Royce France, who survived. The book goes deeply into their talent, their work, their lives, their cars, their loved ones and relies on newly discovered archive material as well as private documents that have never previously been published.
The Kellner Affair is the first factual account of these tragic and gripping events: what happened, how it happened, who was to blame, who was punished, and who was not.
The Talbot-Lago Grand Sport was an automobile destined for the grand cru sportsman and chic Parisian society in equal measure. It was a grand gesture, and the final flowering in France of the great tradition of the truly custom motorcar. The chassis was built to carry coachwork that was the last expression anywhere in the world of grand style and luxury. The Grand Sport was outrageously exclusive and something for the very few. Not just because of its price, which was stratospheric, or its limited practicality, which was irrelevant: this was a car that was chic, ritzy, aristocratic and sharp as a knife all at once.
Born 1906 in London as the son of an English mother and a German father, Rudolf Uhlenhaut was an engineer and designer for Daimler-Benz. He became famous for his achievements regarding the Silver Arrows, the 300 SL with the famous gull wing doors, the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, known as the “Uhlenhaut Coupé” and the various experimental C 111 versions well-known for several speed records.
Uhlenhaut joined Daimler-Benz in 1931 after finishing his studies of mechanical engineering in Munich. In 1936 he took over as head of the racing department and conducted the Silver Arrows and Rudolf Caracciola to their 1937 European championship. Based upon the 300 SL “Gullwing”, initially a thoroughbred racing sports car, he created the road versions W198 and the smaller open-topped W121, both launched at the International Motor Sports Show in New York 1954. Though Uhlenhaut never owned a car of his own, his official company car, a 300 SLR with a top speed of 290 km/h became famous as the Uhlenhaut Coupé – the fastest car of its day authorized for road use!
Ken Okuyama launched his new design at Pebble Beach 2017: the Kode 0. The car is based on the Lamborghini Aventador. The design was received with mixed feelings. Nevertheless Okuyama deserves praise for his audacious projects. See Okuyama in our Encyclopedia.
Prices are rumoured to be:
Zagato Aston Martin Vanquish Coupe 2016: $650.000 (all sold)
Zagato Aston Martin Vanquish Volante 2016: $850.000 (all sold)
Zagato Aston Martin Vanquish Speedster 2018: $1.300.000 (all sold)
Zagato Aston Martin Vanquish Shooting Brake 2018: $850.000 (all sold?)
I am not a natural flatterer, I like to think that I "tell it like it is", politely I hope. So when I tell you that I am very impressed by the contents of your website, it is just not English politeness. I of course love the subject matter but you deal with it in an energetic and respectful manner. I am overwhelmed by the research that has gone into compiling the list of coachbuilders/bodybuilders for Europe and North America. I have never heard of the vast majority of them.
Congratulations on an excellent website.
- N. Maltby of Car Scene International
We use Coachbuild.com almost daily as our main reference source!
- Schloss Dyck Classic Days
We use Coachbuild.com all the time for references!
- Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
We are very impressed by your website!
- Bicester Heritage UK