The adjective “striking” cuts a fine line between gorgeous and simply arresting. While the cars on our list might in some cases be among the most beautiful (in a conventionally pretty way), more often, they combine those good looks with an attention-grabbing and unconventional aspect to their beauty. Here are five jaw-droppers:
1. 1935-36 Cord 810/812
Like the E-Type, the Cord had an otherworldly air; it might as well have come from a “Flash Gordon” comic strip. In the depths of the depression, the Indiana auto-maker launched a front-wheel-drive car with revolutionary styling and an optional supercharger. Alas, in a world of bread lines and 25 percent unemployment, it was not to be. Cord folded along with its stablemates Auburn and Duesenberg, victims of the Great Depression.
2. 1961-67 Ja guar E-Type
Seeing an E-Type in 2015 is still an experience that makes onlookers pause or do a double take. So imagine the response in 1961 at the Geneva Motor Show. The E-type was like a UFO. Almost other-worldly, particularly at its price of just $5,600. Legend has it that the E-type made Enzo Ferrari weep and exclaim that it was the most beautiful car that he’d ever seen.
3. 1966-67 Oldsmobile Toronado
The 1966 Toronado gave us a glimpse of what might have been had Cord survived. The Toro’s designers took many styling cues from the Cord, including hidden headlamps, front-wheel drive and even the wheel and grille designs. Unlike the Cord, the Toronado was at least a moderate sales success and its front-wheel-drive system proved to be rock-solid reliable, more than able to cope with the massive torque of the Olds Rocket V-8.
4. 1974-89 Lamborghini Countach
Lamborghini and designer Macello Gandini knew precisely what they were doing with the Countach. Exactly 10 years after the Jaguar E-Type, they created the same Ferrari-baiting sensation at the Geneva Motor Show. Even the name was striking: In the Piedmontese Northern Italian dialect, it is roughly the equivalent of the exclamation “holy crap!”
5. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray coupe
Although it bowed over a year after the Jaguar E-Type, its rival, the Corvette Sting Ray was just about as arresting. Perfectly proportioned, with hidden headlamps and striking finned knock-off alloy wheels as an option, the one-year-only split rear window of the coupe put the car over the top.