When people think of art, they tend to think about paintings, music, dance, and other forms of creative ventures. While these are incredible forms of art in their own right, car enthusiasts appreciate the style and look of a well-designed vehicle in much the same way. The cars on this list are some of the world’s most highly stylized vehicles, and could easily be considered pieces of art.
We’ve picked some of the world’s most sleek, stylish and sophisticated cars that would fit in any classy garage of a sworn automobile lover. If you’re interested in getting one yourself, or just want to learn more about these beautiful four-wheelers, this is just the article for you.
1937 Delahaye 145 Chapron Coupe
The 1937 Delahaye 145 Chapron Coupe first began as a challenge that the French automaker decided to embark on. The company wanted to know if it could actually compete with and beat its Italian sports car rivals. They eventually managed to create what’s considered today a revolutionary masterpiece among sports car architecture.
Delahaye was one of the first automakers in the world to figure out that you can supercharge an engine. It managed to fit a 3.5-liter V6 engine into the 145 Chapron Coupe, making it one of the most powerful cars in the world at the time. Only two of these were ever made, and they were ready to race. Unfortunately, come World War II, plans were put on hold and the car never got its chance to compete against its Italian competitors.
1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C Lago Speciale Teardrop Coupe
You would be hard-pressed to find a list of the world’s most beautiful cars that don’t feature the Talbot-Lago T150C SS Teardrop Coupe. This car was built by Parisian Carrosserie Figoni and Falaschi during the late ’30s and quickly became a revered vehicle. It was capable of reaching over 100 miles per hour and had fantastic braking and handling abilities.
The Teardrop was extremely aerodynamic, which actually made it a viable racing car, even though it was not intended as such. The car had an average speed of 76.75 miles per hour and actually managed to place third at the 1938 24 Hours of LeMans. It also won the Spa 24 Hour Race in 1948, a whole 10 years later. It obviously ages very well.
1939 Lancia Astura IV Touring
Speaking of beautiful cars from the ‘30s, the 1939 Lancia Astura IV Touring was the equivalent of today’s Rolls Royce. It was officially the most beautiful and luxurious car of the time, and was sold from 1931 until it was perfected in 1939. During this eight-year run, only about 3,000 of these stunning cars were ever made.
The 1939 Lancia Astura IV Touring featured a 3.0-liter V8 engine and managed to produce up to 82 horsepower. That may not sound like a lot, but the vehicle more than made up for it with its elegance, comfort and beauty. The car was discontinued in 1939 when Lancia ceased production, although units of the Astura IV are still being traded privately today.
1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Touring Flying Star Spider
Alfa Romeo was founded in Italy back in 1910, and continues to make extraordinary vehicles even today. During the late ‘20s and early ‘30s, one of its most dominant vehicles was the powerful Alfa Romeo 6C. This was a very beloved and popular model, which caused the company to upgrade it even further. In 1931, Alfa Romeo came up with the 6C 1750 GS Touring Flying Star Spider, which ultimately became their fastest car of all time.
The 1750 GS managed to reach a top speed of almost one-hundred miles per hour and had a supercharger option which resulted in even more boost. The 6C lineup continued until 1954, and by then its top speed actually peaked at 162 miles per hour. While these numbers don’t sound like much today, it’s hard to forget what an impact Alfa Romeo’s vehicles had on the auto market back then.
1930 Ruxton Model C Raunch and Lang Roadster
Ruxton was one of the world’s first front-wheel-drive vehicles and was produced by the New Era Motors Company of New York during the late ’20s. The main purpose behind the Ruxton was to turn its company into a household name. It was also produced alongside the Lang Roadster, a more family-friendly version of the vehicle.
New Era Motors ended up gaining a bit of fame before disappearing into nothingness, but it also managed to leave its mark with the iconic 1930 Ruxton Model C Rauch and Lang Roadster. The car had almost 100 units produced and is recognized as a Classic Car by the Classic Car Club of America.
1938 Peugeot 402 Pourtout Darl’Mat Roadster
Peugeot has been selling cars since 1986. The company’s roots actually date back to a company that was founded in 1810 by the Peugeot family, but that’s a story for another day. In 1935, Peugeot first launched its 402 model. This was a large family car produced in Sochaux, France.
The 1938’s Peugeot 402 Pourtout Darl’Mat Roadster was a very successful vehicle at the time, and the entire lineup ended up selling around 75,000 units over seven years. Its body is similar to the Chrysler Airflow and has a unique design thanks to its iconic grille and headlights. After World War II, the company shifted its focus into smaller cars, which is one of the reasons why the 402 was eventually discontinued.
1939 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Labourdette Vutotal Cabriolet
Considered the final large pre-war Rolls Royce, the 1939 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Labourdette Vutotal Cabriolet was truly the last remnant of an older generation. It was the last car that Henry Royce ever worked on, and had every bit of love poured into it as you’d expect from a Rolls Royce. The car featured an aluminium-alloy V12 pushrod engine, and had a top speed of 87 miles per hour.
This was the company’s most prestigious car at the time, as just its body alone cost over $44,000. Just to make it clear, this amount of money is worth almost $800,000 when adjusted for today’s inflation. The Phantom III was extremely well received by consumers, who mostly had to admire it from a distance due to its exorbitant price.
1932 Chevy Moonlight Speedster
Chevy produced the 1932 Moonlight Speedster from 1931 to 1932 specifically for Australian markets and built them this 2-door coupe to make them feel like they were riding a dingo or a lovely boat. This was quite far from the company’s all-American type of vehicles and proved to be quite an interesting bet.
The car featured an I6 engine and reached a max speed of just over 60 miles per hour. Its body was based on the 1929 Vauxhall Hurlingham and made entirely out of wood. This gave the vehicle a very unique look and feel, but also made it much easier to break down over time. Just ten units were made of the Moonlight Speedster, and it was eventually discontinued.
Their Airflow model was one of the world’s first full-size American production cars and used streamlining to decrease air resistance. This was completely different from the way most vehicles were built at the time, but Chrysler was hopeful that it would catch on. Eventually, the car turned out to be a commercial failure, but it did bring about a revolution in the car industry.
The car was originally launched in 1934 and died just 13 years later in 1947. Many vehicles took “inspiration” from the Airflow’s design, including the Volkswagen Beetle, the Peugeot 202, and even Toyota’s AA car. All of these went on to become much more commercially successful than the car they were originally inspired by.
Ford Model 40 Special Speedster
The Ford Model 40 Special Speedster was a rare vehicle with only one unit ever produced. It was designed in 1934 by Edsel Bryant Ford, president of the Ford Motor Company and the only child of Henry Ford. Ford’s goal behind the Model 40 Special Speedster was to make it look as European as possible, and they succeeded quite spectacularly at it.
Since being built, the car has traveled far and wide before being sold in 2008 at a Texas auction to a car collector for the high price of $1.76 million. As high a price as this might sound, this car is a true relic of history. It was created at a time when vehicles were just in their infancy and captures the look and feel of the pre-World War II times quite amazingly.
1939 Delage D8 120S Letourneur Et Marchand Aerosport Coupe
The crash of the United States economy back in 1929, also known as the “Wall Street Crash of 1929” or the “Great Crash”, sent stock prices collapsing in the New York Stock Exchange. This led the entire auto market to crash along with it. Delage, the French luxury automaker, was also negatively affected, and the company found itself in dire straits throughout the stock market’s long recovery.
In response, Delage released the 1939 Delage D8 120S Letourneur Et Marchand Aerosport Coupe. The automaker hoped to score a hail Mary with this powerful vehicle and recover from their financial blow. The D8, with its new and curvy structure ultimately boosted the company’s sales, which in turn allowed them to continue operating for at least two more decades.
1928 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo
Back in the late ‘30s, cars weren’t as fast as you might imagine. In fact, they were quite slow, especially when compared to today’s standards. The 1928 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo was a luxury vehicle and was produced for the sole purpose of breaking performance records for your average wealthy consumer. Its powerful engine allowed it to reach up to 93 miles per hour, which was a huge leap at the time.
The Tipo model ended up running for seven years straight, from 1924 to 1931. It was an expensive luxury car and had less than 1,000 units made throughout its lifetime. Less than a third of these models ended up being sold to United States citizens.
1950 GM Futurliner “Parade of Progress” Tour Bus
Back in the early to mid 20th century, General Motors was one of the world’s largest and most successful companies. One of its most artistic creations was this beautiful tour bus, created by Harley Earl, GM’s lead vehicle designer. It might look like a combination between a futuristic diner and a car from Back to the Future, but let’s agree that this bus is absolutely gorgeous.
The Futurliner was 33 feet long, 11 feet tall, and weighed over 12 tons. It was built to celebrate General Motors’ ‘Parade of Progress’, a large, multi-faceted roadshow that began touring across America in 1936. This was a huge investment for the company, but ended up paying off significantly. Only twelve Futurliners were ever built, and just nine of them remain today.
The Toyota AA was the automaker’s first-ever passenger production car. Made in Japan, the AA followed Japanese design trends and became a successful hit when it hit the markets. It was a 4-door sedan and was made entirely of metal. The car’s rear doors opened backward, just like today’s Rolls Royces.
The successful AA model was quickly followed by the Toyota AB, which featured a convertible cloth roof. This trend continued with various other combinations of letters, including the EA, AE and BA Toyotas. Eventually, the company found its way into American and European shores. It is currently raking in more than $272 billion annually in revenue.
1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic
1938’s Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic was based on their 1935 Aerolithe concept model, the one that was made by Jean Bugatti. It was extremely lightweight and fast thanks to using Elektron composite body panels, but was also very flammable when exposed to high temperatures.
Bugatti had to find a quick solution and ended up settling for an external riveting technique that is often used by airplane engineers. This resulted in the signature seam that the 57SC was eventually known for.
1936 Delahaye 135 Competition Court Figoni et Falaschi Coupe
The Delahaye 135 was used primarily for racing from the time it was released in 1935, up until the last unit was made in 1954. Around 2,000 of these were made, as the car became quite famous after winning the 1935 Alpine Rally. It had significantly more horsepower than most other racing vehicles, which set the 135 apart from almost every other car.
The 135 set all-time records in various racing competitions and was upgraded over the years to keep its advantages. In-fact, John Crouch won the 1949 Australian Grand Prix driving a 135MS. What made this car so special was not just having such a powerful engine, but also its long and sporty body, and a wide wheelbase which provided great control.
LaSalle was a popular vehicle made by General Motors’ Cadillac division from 1927 up to 1940. The main goal behind its creation was to fill pricing gaps from the Cadillac, which was a relatively pricier option. The LaSalle’s name was based on the famous French explorer, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who traveled across North America during the 17th century.
This was quite a beautiful car and was considered one of the more prestigious vehicles on the market at the time. The 1935 LaSalle featured a 5.3-liter monobloc V8 engine and sold around 32,000 units that year. Even today, the car looks fantastic, which is why it’s still being sold privately for tens of thousands of dollars.
1934 Voisin C27 Aerosport
Avions Voisin was founded in 1919 by Gabriel Voisin, a European engineer, and quickly became one of France’s most luxurious car brands. It lasted until 1939 but managed to create some incredible vehicles throughout its lifetime. Its most impressive and expensive vehicle to date was the Voisin Type C27 Aerosport Coupe.
What made it so unique was not just the styling, but also the advanced engine that featured revolutionary technological improvements. Inside, the car was decorated with beautiful patterns and a convertible roof which gave it the feel of absolute luxury. It’s quite rare to find one of these in a museum or a car gallery as even today this creation remains one of the world’s most prized and sought after vehicles.
1937 Cord 810/812
The 1937 Cord 810 and 812 were one of the first vehicles in the United States to feature headlights. Like early Porsches and Lamborghinis, these were hidden until they were manually opened. The 810 and 812 had a very unique build, and looked nothing like the cars that we have today. Cord Automobile produced these for just two years between 1936 and 1937.
This car broke many technological barriers and was a pioneer in many features that are considered standard today. It was one of the world’s first front-wheel-drive’s, and had an independent front suspension. Buyers could purchase a much stronger version of the car that featured a V8 engine. The stronger model reached 170 horsepower, which was quite a lot back then.
Mercedes is known as one of the world’s most advanced and luxurious automakers. This reputation dates back a long time, and followed the German automaker even during the ‘20s and ‘30s. The Mercedes-Benz SSK was one of the company’s most famous and prestigious vehicles. It was one of the prides of the German nation and was built from 1928 up to 1932.
The SSK was built on the foundations of the Model K, a similar Mercedes vehicle that was more suitable for racing due to its shorter body. It was a two-door beast, and managed to reach some impressive performance milestones for its time. Mercedes only built about forty of these in the four years it was sold, and only a handful of them are left today.
Volvo PV 36 Carioca
It’s about time that we involve Volvo on the list because this automaker is currently one of the world’s most successful. The Volvo PV 36 Carioca was basically a slightly improved copy of the Chrysler Airflow, which was a revolutionary car that pioneered the luxury vehicle industry.
The PV 36 Carioca was Volvo’s first attempt at a luxury everyday car with an independent front suspension. It was quite expensive and was priced at 8,500 kronor at the time. Only 500 of these were sold from 1935 to 1938, before Volvo quickly continued to other, better-selling vehicles.
1939 ZIS-101 Sport Coupe
Soviet engineers definitely had their way of designing some wacky inventions. One of these creations was the ZIS-101, a 1936 vehicle with a 5.8 liters I8 engine that produced 90 horsepower and a top speed of 71 miles per hour. The car was a two-seat limousine, one of the only ones in the world.
The ZIS-101 quickly became a standard vehicle in Soviet Russia and was produced in many variants, from an upgraded convertible version to a literal ambulance build. The Soviet car was produced from 1936 up to 1941 and even had a sports model, the 1939 ZIS-101 Sport Coupe, but only two of these were ever made.
1954 Buick Wildcat II
Buick originally opened its doors in 1899 as a subsidiary of General Motors. The company was founded by David Buick, and helped establish GM as a major force in the United States during the start of the 20th century. The WildCat was one of Buick’s most successful cars and ended up running from 1963 to 1970.
The WildCat was based on a 1954 concept car called the WildCat II, which was so successful that the company decided to keep a few units to itself. It was described as a dream car and featured a radical new design and a powerful V8 engine that produced 220 horsepower. It’s really no wonder that Buick decided to own a few of these masterpieces.
1952 Maverick Sportster
The 1952 Maverick Sportster was promoted as the “world’s largest fiberglass-bodied car.” It was designed by H. Sterling “Smoke” Gladwin Jr. a retired aeronautical engineer who previously worked at Boeing, NASA, and Lockheed. The car was built using a 1940 LaSalle chassis and was fitted with a flathead Cadillac V8 engine.
The Maverick Sportster’s engine produced 210 horsepower, which made it one of the strongest vehicles of the time.One promotional ad described the car as an “all-Western long-range commuter for Western highways.” Its beautiful build – both inner and outer have been admired more and more over time.
Some of the incredible vehicles produced by Nash were quite affordable at the time. The first-generation Nash Statesman was sold for just two years but gained a loyal fan base of customers. It was a full-size, mid-level sedan that was known for being reliable and safe (that is, according to ‘50s standards).
The Statesman was offered in three different trim levels, the Statesman Super, the Statesman Custom, and the regular model. After 1952, Nash introduced the second generation of this vehicle, which was a lot larger, and packed a 3.2-liter I6 engine.
The Hudson Motor Car Company was founded in 1909 and kept its doors open until 1954. It pioneered various impressive and revolutionary cars, from the 1917 Hudson Phaeton to the 2019 Roadster. The company’s largest and most luxurious model was without a doubt the Commodore, which came out in 1941 and lasted until Hudson’s last years.
More than 50,000 of these cars were produced and sold over the years until eventually, progress and market competition beat the company out of the game. The original Commodore featured two powerful versions differing mainly in engine size and horsepower. It was one of the company’s most versatile cars too and came in either a 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan, or a 2-door convertible body.
The Zephyr was one of Lincoln’s lower-priced midsize car models sold from 1936 to 1942. It was released as a competitor to Ford’s V-8 De Luxe and managed to give it quite a fight. It served a similar purpose to Cadillac’s LaSalle model and was meant to accompany some of their more expensive models. The car was created by Edsel Bryant Ford and featured a V-12 engine that was revolutionary at its time.
One of the Zephyr’s key components was its aerodynamic quality, which was referenced in the car’s name. It was initially created as a response to complaints of the automaker’s cars being too air resistant. Once the series began to die down and Lincoln was looking to replace the Zephyr, the automaker came up with the Lincoln Continental, which ended up becoming its longest-running model.
1935 Bugatti Aerolithe
The 1935 Bugatti Aerolithe was an absolute masterpiece when it came to its design. It was created by Jean Bugatti, a French automotive designer and engineer who was part of the company’s founding family. The Aerolithe’s name was based on the French word for a meteorite, and was meant to symbolize the popular phrase “Rapide comes one aerolite” which meant “Fast as a meteorite”.
The car was first shown at the Paris International Motor Show, but failed to garner much attention and interest from potential clients. Only four of these were ever made, but replicas of the car have been made to preserve its legacy. Famous late-night show host Jay Leno actually owns a 1934 Aerolithe and considers it one of his most beloved possessions.
1935 Stout Scarab
The 1935’s Stout Scarab is considered by many to be the world’s first minivan. It was designed by William Bushnell Stout, a pioneering American inventor and engineer who revolutionized the automotive and aviation fields. The first prototype for this minivan was completed in 1932, and by 1935, the car was fully functional.
Despite getting much press coverage and attention, it had a $5,000 price tag, which was about five times the price of your average car. The vehicles were slowly sold over time, and each was handmade, which meant that no two Scarabs were identical. There are only five remaining Scarabs today, with one being housed in The Detroit Historical Museum.
As far as concept cars go, the 1934 Bendix SWC was truly the first of its kind. Designed by Alfred Ney, of the Bendix Corporation, located in South Bend, Indiana, was truly a work of art. Despite being a concept car, it featured various technological leaps that were way ahead of its time. Only one SWC was ever made, but the engineering behind it was a prediction for much of what came in later decades.
The Bendix SWC had many of the features that you know and love today, such as a front-wheel drive, four-wheel hydraulic brakes, a four-wheel independent suspension, and more. The main reason behind its lack of commercial production was Bendix’s falling stock, which was partly due to its CEO’s negligent, irresponsible and over-indulgent behavior.
1937 Foose Custom Studebaker Convertible
Yes, this car does look like a spaceship. Yes, it does have six exhausts. And yes, it appears to be built upside down. The 1937 Foose Custom Studebaker Convertible was originally created by Studebaker, an automaker which produced vehicles from the ‘20s until the ‘50s.
The 1937 Foose Custom Studebaker Convertible generated up to 345 horsepower and had a 4-speed transmission. This made it one of the most powerful and efficient cars in the world. While it was no spaceship, this car sure did fly when on the road. One of the company’s designers ended up being inducted into the Hot Rod Hall of Fame for this beautiful creation.
1948 Talbot-Lago 26 Grand Sport
Talbot-Lago had various difficulties staying profitable during the ‘40s. In 1948, they attempted a hail Mary with the Talbot-Lago 26 Grand Sport. The car produced 170 horsepower and got much love and attention for its performance. It was eventually adapted to provide 195 horsepower and reached a top speed of 124 miles per hour. Twelve of these were made, and they went on to win the Le Mans 24 Hour Grand Prix Race in 1950.
This successful move got Talbot-Lago afloat again, but it found itself in financial difficulties again just a few years later. The French company tried focusing on sports vehicles but had to close its doors for good in 1959. Sadly, the company’s founder passed away just a year later in 1960. Despite his company’s eventual failure, the 1948 Talbot-Lago 26 Grand Sport will always be his true legacy.
1938 Hispano-Suiza H6
It’s hard to recall just how powerful the 1938 Hispano-Suiza H6 was at the time of its release. This car featured a large 8.0-liter engine, which was later upgraded with the J12 version. The newer model was fitted with a 9.5-liter V12 pushrod engine, making it one of the strongest cars of the late ‘30s. The car was not only strong, but also one of the most futuristic-looking vehicles of the time.
It featured a sleek and curved body with a long and horizontal grill. The car’s wheels were also quite futuristic and looked like something out of The Jetsons show. What was most notable about the Hispano-Suiza H6, were its brakes, which featured technology far beyond what was available to most companies at the time.
1938 Phantom Corsair
The Phantom Corsair was one of the most futuristic vehicles of the ’30s and was so cool-looking – it didn’t even have door handles. Unfortunately, the car turned out to be a flop, as it never actually went into production. This is one case of a vehicle that was perhaps too ahead of its time, coupled with a designer who lacked the ability to deliver projects on deadline.
Everything about the Phantom Corsair was unique and futuristic: Its body was just 57 inches high, the doors would open electronically, and it even had a compass and altimeter inside. The car was featured in a segment of the Popular Science film series in 1938 and remains an iconic remnant of the pre-World War II era. Only one of these was ever fully built and it currently resides in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.
1956 Nash Ambassador
You may recall the 1956 Nash Ambassador from various commercials of the era. It’s a classic American suburban car, and was a sign of prosperity and wealth for the upper-middle class. This was the most luxurious car Nash ever made, and was used as their showcase model. It was manufactured from 1932 up until 1974.
Many royal families owned the 1956 Nash Ambassador and proudly flaunted it even more than their expensive houses. Nash stopped producing the Ambassador in 1957, and another automaker took over the famous car’s production instead.
1953 Kurtis 500S Roadster
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Kurtis Kraft, the American auto designer, and race car company. It mostly focused on building sports cars for racing championships, but ended up closing its doors in the early ’60s. Despite its short run, the company produced the 500S Roadster, one of the most advanced and successful supercars of the mid-20th century.
This supercar was compared to various other vehicles that were made by the top brands, including Jaguar, Mercedes, and even Ferrari. The 500S Roadster raced against these luxury sports cars and often came on top. Only 20 of these were ever made, and they were each hand-built using modified car parts, with a special emphasis on Chrysler engines.
1936 Auburn Boattail Speedster
The Auburn Automobile Company was going through quite a rough patch back in 1924 and needed a hail Mary to turn things around. Luckily, Errett Cord and James Crawford had a lightbulb moment and quickly went on to design the 1925 Auburn Boattail Speedster. The model was an instant success and was known as one of the best performing race cars of its time.
The Speedster went on to sell well into the ‘30s and quickly became a popular consumer vehicle. Sales were picking up quickly for the Auburn Automobile Company, and soon things were back in shape. What really made this racing car stand out was its unique boattail, which ended up becoming its most recognizable features. You may notice that the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Buick Riviera actually copied this unique feature.
1931 Duesenberg Model J Derham Tourster
For our ultimate pick in the “vehicles as art” category, we have the iconic and legendary Duesenberg Model J. Back in 1928, it was one of the world’s most luxurious and powerful cars. The supercar had a sick 7-liter DOHC straight-8 engine that came with an optional supercharger. It was supposed to be an all-time hit but unfortunately, it was introduced just a year before the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression.
The Duesenberg Model J quickly became a status symbol among European and American elite and was driven by some of the world’s most powerful people, including Al Capone, Howard Hughes, Clark Gable and many more. Its production was ceased in 1937, but the car remains traded all across the world. It was recently purchased at an auction for $22 million, making it the most expensive American car ever sold.
1925 Rolls Royce Phantom I Aerodynamic Coupe
The 1925 Rolls Royce Phantom was a wonderful option at the time, if you had money burning a hole in your pocket. Besides looking like a car from Tim Burton’s Batman adaptation, this vehicle was one of the most prized and awarded in its time. The Phantom won numerous awards both because of its design, and thanks to its incredible build and performance.
One of the most legendary features behind this car was its ability to make almost zero noise at speeds of over one-hundred miles per hour. The beautiful curves on the vehicle look better than some of today’s most expensive luxury cars. We’re happy to say that the company maintained its standard, as today’s Rolls Royce Phantom is just as impressive as it was back then.
1929 Vauxhall Hurlingham
In late 1927, Vauxhall decided to undercut the entire market and release a six-cylinder engine car for less than £1000. This caused various media outlets to go crazy, and provided much free press to the automaker. The company doubled down on its decision and gave its vehicle an engine improvement from 2.7 liters to 3 liters the following year.
The car was available in many different configurations, from an open 2-seater and up to a limousine build. Vauxhall’s latest model at the time, the Vauxhall 80, managed to reach 62 horsepower, a 15% increase from previous models. Unfortunately, it failed due to having a much higher price tag than its predecessors.