The 25 Best Vintage Cars of All Time (They Had Us Drooling!)

The best vintage cars to buy include the Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500, Jaguar XJS, and Mercedes-Benz W123. Vintage refers to automobiles that were manufactured between 1919 and 1930. The best vintage cars to restore are coming back in style, and there’s a model out there to admire whether you’re just an everyday commuter or car enthusiast.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Mar 31, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Vintage cars aren’t just a hobby, they’re cool again
  • Classic cars are coming back in style, and there’s a model out there to admire whether you’re just an everyday commuter or car enthusiast
  • If you own a classic car, you might want to invest in a special type of car insurance to add extra protection to your investment

For those who aren’t that into cars, vintage and classic cars seem synonymous. While they’re both old, the term “classic” is used to define cars that are at least 20 years old. The Classic Car Club of America defines a classic car as either American or foreign, built between the years of 1925 to 1948.

Vintage refers to automobiles that were manufactured between 1919 and 1930.

By some definitions, even cars that just aren’t in a showroom anymore are considered “classics”. For this article, we will be showing of the 25 coolest vintage cars of all time that are still worth owning today. Many people think that the older a car is, the less sense there is in driving it, but that isn’t the case.

We’ve come together and chosen this list of the best vintage cars based on their age (at least 20 years old), durability, and cost. There are a few collector cars featured, but we wanted to compile a list that was rooted in practicality so people who might like the look of an old car could find a model that they could realistically own.

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The Ultimate 25 Coolest Vintage Cars

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#25 – 1976 Triumph TR6

A beloved British gem

The old-fashioned TR6 is a perfect example of the British automotive industry’s crown jewel: the roadster. The TR6 is filled with grace and practical charm; the British sports car was wildly successful in America, even more so than in its native country. Out of the 91,850 TR6s produced, only 8,370 were actually sold in the UK.

#24 – 1967 Chevy Impala

A prime example of American car design, now one of TV’s most recognizable rides

The 1967 Chevy Impala isn’t just instantly identifiable as Dean Winchester’s “Baby” — it’s a pristine example of everything a muscle car should be. The ’67 version features enhanced Coke bottle styling, better safety features thanks to new federal regulations, and a powerful 327-cubic-inch V8 engine with a max of 275 hp.

#23 – 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire Convertible

An American classic with refined elegance and muscle car power

The Oldsmobile is one of General Motor’s crowning achievements. The 1960’s iterations featured the world’s first turbocharged engine, the Oldsmobile Jetfire. The Rocket V8 engine was introduced in the 1960s models,

The 1962 Starfire is a consumer favorite as it served as the Oldsmobile’s introduction to the luxury market while still packing power in its 394 CID V8, 345 hp engine.

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#22 – 1963 Corvette Sting Ray

A striking new update 

Chevrolet revamped their iconic Corvette model in 1963 with the lightweight, easy-to-handle Sting Ray. The sleek design wasn’t just for looks; the power brakes and steering turned this model into a reflection of the time and an introduction of the future sports cars that would feature greater accessibility and handling for everyday drivers.

The Sting Ray is one of the collector’s cars that you’ll do better admiring than buying nowadays. Unless you have a very generous budget like Jay Leno in the video above, scoring one of these in 2018 won’t come cheap.

#21 – Datsun 240Z

A Nissan masterpiece reveled for its smart design and affordability 

The Datsun 240Z, also known as the Nissan N30 in some markets, was the company’s first line of Z GT two-seaters from 1969 to 1978. The long nose and sleek, two-door design are reminiscent of popular American sports cars, but there are a distinct sharpness and sophistication to the design that is unmistakably Japanese.

#20 – The Volkswagen GTI MK1

A cheap and trustworthy family car

The GTI models of the 80’s made Volkswagens popular among American families. The MK1 and 2 are both lightweight and compact, and they feature the rounded headlights and quintessential VW boxy shape fans love.

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#19 – 1961 Jaguar E-Type

Smooth, seamless style 

Jaguar is a luxury car brand synonymous with style. Since the British manufacturer debuted its first model in 1935,  it has maintained its classic elegance through a variety of different renditions. The 1961 E-Type is our choice for a preferred vintage model due to its refined, distinctly European flare and well-esteemed place in automotive history.

#18 – 1971 Ford Thunderbird

A competitor who made a name all its own

Ford manufactured 11 models of the Thunderbird from 1955 and 2005. The first generation that debuted in the 50’s was a direct competitor of Chevrolet’s Corvettes. Rather than emphasis sports performance, Ford marketed the Thunderbird as a “personal car”, drawing emphasis to its comfort and useful features.

While the 50’s and 60’s models are marvels, they’re not easily affordable for the average buyer. That’s why we chose to feature the 1971 model. This fifth-generation Thunderbird boasts angular lines and distinctive, aggressive bird beak projecting from the grill.

#17 – 1969 Volkswagen Beetle

One of the world’s favorite cars full of charm and innovative design

This rendition of the VW Beetle doesn’t have the high-tech features of contemporary models, but it’s packed with plenty of charm. Similar to the “personal cars” that swept the American market, the first Volkswagen was conceptualized by Adolf Hitler who believed Germany’s people needed cheap, simple vehicles for the country’s new roads.

The unique style and detailed engineering of the Beetle have earned it a place in history; it is the first car model to ever sell 20 million units and sits at #2 on the list of the world’s best-selling cars of all time.

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#16 – 1970 Chevrolet El Camino SS

Pure American muscle

Originally adapted from a station wagon, the El Camino is a coupé utility vehicle by Chevrolet. Referred to by many as “the world’s most loved car-truck”, this crossover design lasted from 1948 to 1987.

The most famed part of its history is in 1968, when GM introduced the SS model that boasted a 396 V-8 engine. A year later, the 1970 El Camino was able to be purchased with a 54 V-8, 450 horsepower-engine and 500 pound-feet of torque.

The 1970’s model showcases some of the most distinguishable features of America’s muscle car era alongside the size strength of the nation’s beloved pickups.

#15 – 1957 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing

 A glimpse into the future

The 300SL Gullwing was ahead of its time. While most of us still don’t have rising doors, the original 1957 two-door coupe featured impressive gull-wing doors and other advanced tech that made it the fasted car in production as well as one of the earliest automobiles to ever use fuel injection.

#14 – 1969 Dodge Charger

Bo and Duke’s ride still packs a punch

The Dukes of Hazzard immortalized the Charger’s spot in TV history, and it has continued to reside in the hearts of fans for decades. Over 89,000 units were sold, and the option for a 2 or 4-barrel 383 engine that could reach up to 330 hp was exclusive to the ’69 models.

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#13 – 1969 Chevrolet Camaro

Old school and effortless 

The Camaro is one of those names quintessential to the American automotive industry. Anyone who grew up in the 70’s and beyond has heard the name and probably known someone who owned a Camaro at some point.

First-generation Camaros featured a bold racing-inspired exterior design and were available as a two-door hardtop or convertible. There were plenty of customization options that really helped the Camaro stand out against its competitor, the Ford Mustang, and solidified its status as an icon in the American car industry.

#12 – 1962 Ferrari 250 GTE

A Ferrari for the family

Usually, when you hear the name “Ferrari”, you think billionaire car collector or celebrity. But in 1962, Ferrari released the 250 GTE, a model that was designed with commuting and convenience in mind. It was the first four-door Ferrari manufactured and boasted a bigger interior with a backseat suitable for children.

No longer would people have to swap style for function when it came to raising a family. The Ferrari 250 GTE was a model designed for the sports car-lover with an office job and mouths to feed. It was also an affordable option, with the original MRSP at $11,500.

#11 – 1976 Porsche 914

The lovechild of Porsche and Volkswagen

In the late 1960’s, Volkswagen and Porsche were looking to spice up their offerings and dominate the market. Joint design, development and marketing efforts resulted in the Porsche 914, a two-seat roadster that was dubbed Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year” in 1970. 

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#10 – 1957 Chevrolet Nomad

Chevrolet’s take on the family station wagon 

The Nomad was one of Chevrolet’s more unique models. It was based off the station wagons of the time, but changes to the exterior made it resemble a hard-top sedan more than a wagon.

The car wasn’t well-received and went out of production after just three years, but now, it’s remembered fondly for its crossover features and versatility.

#9 – 1957 Chevrolet Corvette

A piece of American history

You can’t talk classic cars without mentioning the Corvette. The model has been in production since 1953 and spans seven generations. The 1957 model is one of the earliest and extremely rare in today’s market. It’s a beautiful car with a powerful engine, and now it serves as a historical marker of the American automotive industry’s golden years.

#8 –1983 DeLorean DMC-12

The original time machine

Just about everyone will recognize the DeLorean from its appearance in the 1980’s Back to the Future movie trilogy. The DeLorean was the only model ever produced by the DeLorean Motor Company. As of 2007, it was believed that around 6,500 DeLoreans still existed.

From its futuristic stainless steel finish to the gull-wing doors and turbo rear-engine design, the DeLorean wasn’t around for long, but it made enough of an impact to still be an automotive icon over 30 years after its debut.

#7 – 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra

A record-breaking, thrill-inducing ride

In 2007, a Cobra made history when a 427 Super Snake sold for a record $5.5 million at auction. The price was the highest an American car ever fetched, and the 800-horsepower sports car was one the two ever produced. This isn’t a model any of us will ever find in our garages, but it’s such a noteworthy ride that we couldn’t leave it off our list.

#6 – 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle

A classic that withstands the test of time

Another one of Chevrolet’s most successful models, the Chevelle ran for three generations from 1964 to 1978. Although it wasn’t manufactured for even an entire decade, the car secured its place in the hearts of auto enthusiasts and is still a popular name at classic car shows and events today.

#5 – 1964 Pontiac GTO Tri-power

Performance and power

The Pontiac GTO is one of the first true American muscle cars. Its name was inspired by the Ferrari 250 GTO, and although it may not actually be a race car, its high-performance-focused engineering makes it one of the fasted models ever produced by Pontiac.

#4 – 1966 Subaru 360

The Japanese Beetle

It might look like a Volkswagen Bug, but the Subaru 360 can hold it own. It was actually the company’s first ever automobile released in 1958 and ran until 1971. Affectionately nicknamed “ladybug” in Japan, this cute, compact car was the Asian market equivalent of the Bettle that was dominating the European and American markets.

#3 – 1984 Mercedes-Benz W123

Well-engineered and reliable 

The Mercedes-Benz name is associated with durability and top engineering. That reputation holds true with the W123; parts of it today are still used in Africa and the Middle East. The car hosts a bright metallic finish, tailored interior and a four-cylinder engine with fuel injection that is made for a smooth ride.

#2 – 1989 Jaguar XJS

In production for over two decades, the XJS is one of Jaguar’s most cherished and recognizable models. The 2019 Jaguar XJ is set to release around the 50th anniversary of the first model. It will be a high-tech electric vehicle that positions innovative design alongside the opulent luxury and style associated with the brand.

The 1989 XJS was chosen for our list thanks to its updated design; it was the first Jaguar model to feature a 6-liter V12 engine. Today, the XJ line is still one of Jaguar’s most popular, and it was thanks to the success of the earlier models like the XJS that the line is still in production today.

#1 – 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500

Made from 1965 to 1973, the first-generation Ford Mustang was (and still is) the embodiment of “cool”

Ford debuted the first Mustang in late 1965 and was available as a coupe or convertible. The “it” car of its time, the Mustang was a marvel of design and grew increasingly powerful over the years.

The 66′ model that sold over 1 million units was enhanced in ’67 with the introduction of the Shelby GT500, which sported a bigger grille, larger nose, triple tail lamps and sported a 428-cubic inch V-8 engine that could reach 355 hp.

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