Certain cars just won’t recede into the automotive fossil record. Designers (particularly those from their company of origin) keep going back to the well. And why not? It’s almost impossible to top the cars on this list:
1. 1967 Toyota 2000 GT
The gorgeous Toyota 2000 GT sports car was a giant commercial flop when it was introduced. The status of Japanese cars in the U.S. market at the time was roughly the equivalent of Korean cars about 15 years ago, and a Japanese car that cost more than a Jaguar E-Type, a Corvette or a Porsche 911 found few takers. Just over 300 were built and the model’s failure continues to haunt Toyota. The roofline and greenhouse of the 1967 2000GT show up almost unaltered in the latest Toyota sports car concept, the FT-1. Incidentally, Toyota has probably had the last laugh here as the 2000 GT is now the only Japanese collectible car worth $1 million.
2. 1967 Cadillac Eldorado
The ’67 Eldorado is one of the great overlooked post-war American classics. A Bill Mitchell design triumph, it’s an ageless design that wouldn’t look out of place in a showroom today, particularly since Cadillac continues to revisit the ’67 Eldo rear end, one of the greatest ¾-views of all time.
3. 1954 Jeep CJ-5
The original Jeep CJ may well be the most knocked-off vehicle of all time, inspiring the likes of the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, Suzuki Samurai, etc., not to mention, of course, the current Jeep Wrangler.
4. Jaguar E-Type
The E-Type was one of the prime influences for the above-mentioned Toyota as well as the famous Datsun 240Z. Its extreme long hood, short rear deck design and covered headlight styling cues also continue to show up in Jaguar’s own products like the XK8 and the new F-Type. After all, it was by rival Enzo Ferrari’s own admission the most beautiful car in the world.
5. 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback
Long before Ford went retro with the 2005 Mustang, they knocked off their own design for the original pony car with the European Ford Capri. Toyota went one step further with the 1973 Celica Liftback, a virtual ¾-scale replica of the Mustang Fastback. Even upper-crust Aston Martin with its V8 Vantage model of the 1970s went to the Mustang well. The 2015 Mustang still sports design cues from the original 1965 Mustang fastback.