The Best Vintage Vehicles

America’s love affair with the automobile has existed for over a hundred years, since the very first Ford Model T rolled off the production line in 1908. Since then, each era has brought with it groundbreaking innovations from car makers around the world, exposing the imagination to new adventures on expanding roadways (and race tracks). GAYOT’s list of the Top 10 Classic Cars features a variety of iconic automobiles from brands such as Aston Martin, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce that embody a sense of creativity, excitement and pure luxury. Sure, purchasing one of these classic beauties may set you back millions, but just imagine the priceless experiences that await you on the road ahead.

1908 Ford Model T

Although Tin Lizzie has been a centenarian for a number of years now, this classic beauty seems to become even more attractive with age. Widely regarded as the car that brought the automobile to the masses, the Ford Model T was the first vehicle to be produced on moving assembly lines, quickening production time and lowering costs. Today, the car is still beloved by collectors due to its iconic looks, as well as its storied role in automotive history.

Country of Origin: USA

Years Produced: 1908-1927

1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I

As the first edition of Rolls-Royce’s long-running line of luxury sedans, the Phantom I set the standard for high-end automobiles upon its release in 1925. Famous for its smoothness, speed and reliability, Rolls-Royce’s flagship model boasted a level of craftsmanship and a quality of materials that have helped to maintain the Phantom’s legendary status into the present day. However, as its name implies, a seat behind the wheel of this classic car can be quite elusive — the going rate for a 1925 Phantom I in today’s market is estimated at a cool $1.2 million.

Country of Origin: UK

Years Produced: 1925-1931

1931 Bugatti Type 41 “Royale”

Envisioned by Ettore Bugatti as the most luxurious car ever built, the Bugatti Type 41 (better known as the “Royale”) was originally intended for royalty upon its 1926 production. Measuring in at an astounding 21 feet in length and 7,000 pounds, only six of these regal beauties were ever produced — none of them ending up in palace carports. Given its rarity and imposing elegance, Bugatti’s opulent coupe has rightly become a Holy Grail of sorts among auto enthusiasts, with collectors reportedly paying as much as $20 million to park one in their garage.

Country of Origin: France

Years Produced: 1926-1933

1938 Delahaye 165 Cabriolet

First released at the Paris Motor Show in 1938, only six of these grand cabriolets were ever produced. Based on the production version of the Delahaye 135 race car, the 165 Cabriolet is one of few automobiles to feature the rare Delahaye V12 engine. The coach, which boasts long, extravagant lines and chrome brightwork, was crafted by Figoni et Falaschi.

Country of Origin: France

Years Produced: 1938

1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B

Long, elegant and uniquely Italian, the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B remains a classic today due to its high-performance engineering and distinctive styling. Designed especially for Italy’s Mille Miglia open-road endurance race, the 2900 took home the top three spots in its first showing in 1938 and the top two the following year. With the “B” edition, Alfa Romeo made some concessions for passenger comfort and convenience, winning over drivers just as it did raceways. While Alfa Romeo has continued to use the 8C name intermittently for its high-performance sports cars, few have achieved such a successful combination of speed and grace.

Country of Origin: Italy

Years Produced: 1936-1947

1940 Vauxhall Wyvern Caleche

Not to be confused with the Vauxhall Wyvern that was produced in the UK nearly 10 years later, this “Caleche” model was first built in Australia in 1938. General Motors-Holden began making the vehicle as an H Series, which included sedan, roadster, tourer and “Caleche” models. The “Caleche” on our list was made in 1940 and is essentially a 2-door roadster with a folding windshield screen. According to some sources, the name Wyvern is based on a mythical beast which is closely associated with the griffin on Vauxhall’s emblem.

Country of Origin: Australia

Years Produced: 1938-1957

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

Famous for its iconic gull-wing doors, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL is reminiscent of a bird in flight — and fly it does. Developed as a commercial version of the Mercedes-Benz W194 race car, the 300SL was the first consumer vehicle to incorporate direct injection and also the fastest production car of its time, with a top speed of 161 mph. The spirit of the 300SL lives on today in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, whose elongated body style and characteristic gull-wing doors pay tribute to the classic sports coupe. However, for many, nothing can quite replicate the innovative spirit and excitement of the original.

Country of Origin: Germany

Years Produced: 1954-1957

1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

Identified by many as the most important Prancing Horse in Ferrari’s deep stable, the 250 Testa Rossa dominated the racetrack during its day and set the standard for the future successes of the Italian automaker. Built with both performance and reliability in mind, this sexy if unorthodox roadster was well-suited to endurance races, and even won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1958. This ideal combination of sport and sensibility has helped the Ferrari 250 TR to remain popular with collectors today, many of whom are willing to throw down big bucks for the little two-seater. In fact, one particular 250 TR set a new world record auction price for a car in August 2011, selling for an astounding $16.4 million.

Country of Origin: Italy

Years Produced: 1957-1958

1961 Jaguar E-Type

Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cars to ever grace the road, the Jaguar E-Type, introduced in 1961, is undoubtedly also one of the most fun. Designed and manufactured in the West Midlands town of Coventry, this sleek sports coupe seems custom-built for the backcountry roads of rural England — and in many ways it was. While several of the vehicles on our list were produced with racing in mind, the E-Type was developed for all-around driver satisfaction. From the racetrack to roadways, Jaguar’s much sought-after sports coupe remains a striking example of well-purposed performance engineering.

Country of Origin: UK

Years Produced: 1961-1964

1964 Ford Mustang

Although the first Ford Mustangs were badged as 1965 models, the earliest cars were actually produced between March 9 and July 31, 1964. Often dubbed the 1964 1/2 Mustang, the aggressively styled coupe sparked a pony car revolution, with Chevrolet, Dodge and others scurrying to release their own take on the affordable sports car. Today, the Mustang is rightly revered as an icon of American muscle, and remains a popular entry-level automobile for budding collectors thanks to its relative low price and high availability.

Country of Origin: USA

Years Produced: 1964-present