Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A dark blue 1953 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado is shown in a used car dealership showroom.

5 Classic Luxury Cars You Have to Test Drive

Dozens of classic car shows take place around the country every year. And even unofficial “shows” take place at diners and drive-ins on weekends when owners of gorgeous vintage cars meet up to show off and discuss their rides. Entire social groups are formed around the owners of vintage vehicles. It’s not uncommon for a business like a restaurant or a swap meet lot to buy a vintage car just as decoration. People just love classic cars. They usher in a delicious feeling of nostalgia and memories of a time when families would hop in “the good car” for a night at the movies or just to go out for a spin. And, with sentiments like “they don’t make things like they used to” getting stronger, more and more people are visiting their local used car dealership in search of a retro ride.

If you are a lover of classic luxury cars, there are some that you just have to find a way to test drive in your life. And if you’re really fortunate, you might even get to buy one. Car enthusiasts might debate a bit about which cars belong on this list, but most would agree that every pick of this roundup has earned a spot. They’ve won awards, been driven by some of the top racers and celebrities in the world, and even appeared on the silver screen. Here are five classic luxury cars to take for a spin if you get the chance.

#1 – Aston Martin DB4

The classic Aston Martin DB4 was designed by Carrozzeria Touring in Milan. Its distinctly European look turned heads immediately when it was unveiled at the 1958 London Motor Show. It was the “it” car that everybody wanted. It featured unique protruding headlights, an elegant sloping roof, a statement-making long tail, and a large grille.

It’s not just beautiful, though. This car came out with a 3.7-liter engine pushing out 240 hp, which was quite impressive for its time. Plus, it could reach top speeds of 140 mph. As far as performance vehicles went during this car’s heyday, this one topped the charts.

In 1961, the gorgeous convertible option was released with a rare factory hard top, and consumers clamored to purchase one. That launched this car into the sphere of both a performance car and a luxury car.

As for its claim to fame, the Aston Martin DB4 was used as a test car for special effects designers in the James Bond movie Goldfinger. It also appeared in several popular films throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, including Too Hot to Handle, Saturday Night Fever, and Murder, She Wrote. Where there was opulence, you’d usually find this car.

The rear end of a silver 1963 Chevrolet Corvette is shown from a high angle.

#2 – Chevy Corvette C2 Sting Ray

The second generation Chevy Corvette C2 Sting Ray was made between 1963 and 1967. It had that iconic fastback body, long hood, and raised ridge that ran the full length of the roof to give it a sporty look. The design was so popular that Buick copied it for the third generation Riviera some years later. The Sting Ray also featured hidden headlamps, a signature feature of the Corvette that lasted until 2005. Other distinguishing traits were the doors that cut into the roof for easy entry, as well as the faux vents (Chevy originally intended to make real vents, but it proved too costly.)

This vehicle was known for great handling, impressive road adhesion, and heart-stopping power. In fact, Car Life magazine gave its Award for Engineering Excellence to the 1963 Sting Ray. The Chevy Corvette has a long history and many lovable renditions, so it was hard to pick just one Corvette generation to include on this list, but the C2 Sting Ray really captured the innovation and thrill of the Corvette family.

#3 – Jaguar XK-E Series 1

Many car enthusiasts consider the 1960s Jaguar XK-E (known as the E-Type outside of America) to be one of the most stunning cars ever made. In fact, it is rumored that Enzo Ferrari himself called it “the most beautiful car ever made.” Plus, in 2008, The Daily Telegraph released its “100 most beautiful cars” list, and this car was on it. So, it is, in the professional’s opinion, quite a sight for sore eyes.

Looks aside, the Jaguar XK-E could reach an astonishing 150 mph top speed and go from 0 to 60 mph in seven seconds. Pair that with its impressive performance and relatively affordable pricing, and it quickly became a popular vehicle.

As for unique features, it boasted a unitary construction, meaning its body, floor pan, and chassis were all built as one unit. This allows for better torsional rigidity, which, put simply, results in better ride quality and more efficient suspension. It also featured independent front and rear suspension, which lets the wheels move up and down independently, keeping the axle stable if one wheel hits a pothole.

This stunner appeared in Austin Powers and Mad Men because it was such an automobile icon of the eras those films and movies were based around. The Jaguar XK-E was the car of choice for drivers of means in the 1960s, to be sure.

#4 – Porsche 911 Classic

The classic air-cooled Porsche 911 was only produced from 1964 to 1989, but it is one of the most iconic sports cars of all time. Porsche does have its current 911 model, but it’s entirely different from the original. The first Porsche 911 was made as a larger and more powerful replacement for the Porsche 356.

Interesting fact: Porsche originally wanted to name the car the Porsche 901, but French car brand Peugeot argued that only it had the right to give cars a three-number-name with a zero in the middle.

The original Porsche 911 instantly caught car lovers’ attention thanks to its rear-engine design, which allowed for better traction and acceleration and had a superior center of gravity to front-engine cars. This immediately put it in the category of a race car.

It also boasted an air-cooled engine. Air-cooled engines use the circulation of air to keep the engine from overheating and don’t risk leakage issues the way liquid-cooled engines do. They’re also lighter, which is a perk in a performance vehicle. You don’t see them much today, but they used to be quite popular in performance vehicles.

A maroon classic Porsche 911 is shown from behind.

#5 – 1971 Cadillac Eldorado

The Cadillac Eldorado was produced from 1952 to 2002, and between the years 1957 and 1960, it was the most expensive vehicle offered by Cadillac. It was released as a modern reboot of the pre-war Cadillac V-12 and Cadillac V16.

We included the 1971 model specifically on this list because that’s the year the Eldorado saw a major redesign that earned it an all-new fan base. This model was three inches longer than the previous generation and had a six-inch longer wheelbase along with standard fender skirts. It had a noticeably larger look than the first renditions of the car. This was also the year that Cadillac again offered a convertible version of the Eldorado, which would go on to be a fan favorite.

Some of its unique features included a “lamp monitor” system inside, which displayed the functionality of all lamps, including the headlamps, rear lamps, turn signals, and brake lights. It also had new opera windows––small, fixed windows placed behind the regular side windows.

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