The 50 Most Influential Production Cars — Part 2

top-50

SCM’s editors have put together a list of the 50 cars we think are the most influential ever built. These are the cars that changed the world in one way or another, either through what they accomplished or what they represented.

Last week we listed out our first 25; this week, we present our final 25.

Now, since we only allowed 50 spaces on this list, we’ve almost certainly left things out. Think we’ve overlooked something important? Let us know in the comments below. And after all our cars are listed out next week, we’ll have you, our readers, vote on which one single car you think is the most influential of all time.

These valuations all come from our Pocket Price Guide. The median (the middle value in a series of values arranged from smallest to largest) represents the midpoint of the market, looking at cars sold in the past two years.

Here is the second group, again in no particular order:

26. 1989-97 Mazda Miata

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $5,000

An affordable, capable two-seater with remarkable reliability. Enthusiasts initially gushed over the car’s balance, and that praise hasn’t waned throughout four generations.

 1990-Mazda-MX-5-Miata_000LJ_460x305
27. 1968-70 Plymouth Road Runner

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $27,800

The consummate base-model muscle car. The Road Runner skimped on options but more than made up for it under the hood, with available 383, 440, and 426 Hemi engines.

1968-Plymouth-Road-Runner
28. 1968-73 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona

Current SCM valuation: Median, $770,000

The Daytona was Ferrari’s first modern grand touring berlinetta, with great looks, an addictive V12 exhaust note, and a huge 173 mph top speed. A benchmark collector’s Ferrari.

1971-Ferrari-365_GTB4
29. 1969-74 Ferrari 246 GT Dino

Current SCM valuation: Median, $363,000

The Dino featured a mid-mounted V6 — a first for Ferrari in what would become a long line of mid-engine road cars. It provided superior driving characteristics not seen in the front-engine V12 cars that preceded it.

1971-Ferrari-246-GT_Dino
30. 1968-76 BMW 2002

Current SCM valuation: Median, $13,300 (non tii and Turbos)

Strong horsepower numbers and a solid chassis allowed the 2002 to punch above its weight in the straights and around corners. A cornerstone in BMW history and the start of a line of fantastic driver’s cars.

1972-BMW-2002-tii
31. 1968-73 Datsun 510

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $8,600

The 510 helped pave the way for Nissan’s (initially Datsun in the U.S.) commercial success outside of Japan. Mechanically simple and eminently upgradable, the 510 reached its pinnacle of notoriety with SCCA Trans Am 2.5 championships in 1971 and ’72.

1972-Datsun-510
32. 1955-75 Citroën DS

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $38,723

Futuristic and aerodynamic styling set the DS apart from every other in 1955. The real innovations were underneath the body, featuring one of the first production disc-brake setups and a hydraulic, self-leveling suspension tied to the clutch and transmission.

 1970-Citro-n-DS21_000QI_460x305
33. 1968-70 Dodge Charger

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $59,950

Redesigned with a fuselage body for 1968, the Charger was a near instant icon. It’s been a television and movie staple for years, which keeps the muscle fire burning in a new generation of gearheads.

 1969-Dodge-Charger
34. 1929-37 Duesenberg Model J

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $1,333,750

Born and bred from racing, Duesenberg made the world’s most powerful road cars of the era. Luxurious and stylish, Duesies were the American benchmark of what a car could be.

 1935-Duesenberg-Model-SJ_000EM_460x355
35. 1969-76 Triumph TR6

Current SCM valuation: Median, $14,400

The TR6 switched it up a little by upping both comfort and performance to the basic British roadster. With a silky smooth six cylinder and a softer ride, it was a touring car dream and one of the last classic-looking British sports cars.

 1971-Triumph-TR6
36. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $102,000

With 450 legit horses from a solid-cammed rectangle-port LS6, an available Rock Crusher M22, and some of GM’s best styling of the era, the LS6 is arguably the high point of GM muscle — and perhaps muscle in general.

 1970-Chevrolet-Chevelle_LS6
37. 1970 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $199,800

The Chrysler E-body was late to the muscle car scene, but it more than made up for it in icon status with the Hemi ’Cuda. Low production, big power, and bright colors fuel its market strength.

 1970-Plymouth-Cuda_Hemi
38. 1970-73 Datsun 240Z

Current SCM valuation: Median, $16,654

The 240Z brought style and performance to the masses. It had driving experience similar to European cars of the time and a price that stayed true to its Japanese roots.

 1970-Datsun-240Z
39. 1966-72 Lamborghini Miura

Current SCM valuation: Median, $1,039,500

Arguably the world’s first supercar, the Miura had speed, handling, and style all in one small V12-powered car. Extravagant, and for no other reason than to be extravagant.

 1972-Lamborghini-Miura_000OV_460x306
40. 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $34,650 (replica)

Widely regarded as the first automobile, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen proved the idea of horseless carriages could be a viable transportation option.

 1886-Benz-Patent-Motorwagen_000PL_460x345
41. 1972-79 Honda CVCC

Current SCM valuation: Median, $4,600

An economy car for the new age, the CVCC brought fuel economy, a small size, and usability not previously seen. Although equipped with only the bare necessities, it has everything needed for day-to-day driving.

 1979-Honda-Civic_000NP_460x306
42. 1980-82 Ferrari 308 GTSi

Current SCM valuation: Median, $57,400

With the addition of electronic fuel injection, the 308 GTSi left behind the days of rough idling and plug fouling. It was the start of Ferrari engineering electronics into their cars, which vastly changed reliability and performance for the better.

 1980-Ferrari-308-GTS_000OI_460x345
43. 1985-91 Ferrari Testarossa

Current SCM valuation: Median, $136,900

One of the most recognizable Ferrari models ever produced, the Testarossa was a great performer and is a nex-gen fan favorite. Its body highlighted the start of a more radical design period for Ferrari, stretching into today.

 1985-Ferrari-Testarossa_000DT_459x308
44. 1986-91 BMW M3

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $57,800

The E30 M3 ushered in a new era of BMW and reminded us that they had more to offer than cushy sedans. It has a high-revving engine, exemplary weight distribution, and steering feel that even the most expensive cars of the time were hard pressed to duplicate.

 1987-BMW-M3_000CQ_460x309
45. 1986-88 Porsche 959

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $1,165,000

The 959 introduced technological advancements previously unseen in the automotive world: Multiple suspension heights, multiple dampening settings, and a revolutionary electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system.

 1987-Porsche-959_000JP_460x238
46. 1988-91 Ferrari F40

Current SCM valuation: Median, $1,251,300

The F40 featured outrageous styling, twin turbos, and a barely there interior. Yet in all that madness, it was a beautiful car that could break 200 miles per hour.

 1989-Ferrari-F40_000RY_459x308
47. 1974-89 Lamborghini Countach

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $373,287

A poster car favorite for the next generation of car people, the Countach featured a wedge shape, air inlets placed wherever a body panel allowed, and later, an anything but subtle wing. A benchmark for ’80s exotic car style.

 1989-Lamborghini-Countach_000XE_460x345
48. 1992-98 Toyota Supra Turbo

Current SCM Valuation: Median, $23,500

The last generation Supra brought Toyota performance to new heights. Horsepower peaked at 320 with the twin-turbo 2JZ engine, but braking (70–0 mph in 149 ft) and handling (.98g on skidpad) were equally impressive.

 1998-Toyota-Supra_000KH_460x301
49. 1992-99 McLaren F1

Current SCM valuation: Median, $9,515,000

Holding the record for the world’s fastest production car for a decade, the F1 was a true drivers car. With a central driving position and carbon fiber chassis, it is still a benchmark for supercars today.

 1995-McLaren-F1_000AA_459x306
50. 2002-04 Ferrari Enzo

Current SCM valuation: Median, $1,802,200

Bringing Ferrari hypercars into the 21st century, the Enzo had a state of the art F1 transmission, carbon ceramic brakes, and a screaming, high-horsepower V12. The Enzo introduced a brand new generation to Ferrari.

 2003-Ferrari-Enzo_000KF_459x332
Jim Pickering

SCM Managing Editor

Jim grew up in a small neighborhood of car guys, so the bug bit him early, and rides in his neighbor’s over-powered street rods sealed the deal for good. His first car was a ’66 Caprice with a big-block Chevy—a car which landed him his first job as a mechanic after high school and through college, got him into drag racing, and much to the distress of his wife Kristina, caused his recent home search to take a full year—the Caprice is 19 feet long and gets parked inside. In addition to the Caprice, also maintains a 1972 Chevrolet K10 4x4 and a 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8.

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  1. You have left off one of the most iconic automobiles. The only car to win a Worlds Manufacturing Championship for the United States. The AC 289 Cobra. Also left off is its big brother the 427 Cobra.

  2. This is a very one sided list, sponsored by Ferrari most likely..
    Unacceptable that no Lancia appears in a list that tries to classify the 50 most influential ‘production’ cars in the automobile history.!!! The 15+ Ferraris in your list show the utter ignorance of the real important cars in history. Shame on your editors that concocted this list!!!
    BdHS

  3. Sorry but you guys blew this one….I’m not saying that the cars you chose are influential but there are two that you couldn’t leave off the list.
    In 2013 almost 20% of all production cars sold were AWD. 32% when you count light trucks. The first car that influenced AWD production cars was the Audi Quattro. The same car that won the World Rally Championship – the first with AWD. You know how many Non-AWD cars have won it in the over 30 years after the Audi Quattro won – ZERO.
    Second Car- The Alfa Spider. Do you have any idea how many little foreign roadsters were sold in the US after Dustin Hoffman drove that Duetto in The Graduate? All the Ferrari’s on your list were aspirational cars – only a few were actually influential.

  4. If “influential” and “production” are your criteria, I don’t see how the Lotus Elan isn’t on your list. Without the Elan, there would be no Miata. Likewise, while some of the cars listed such as the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, the ’32 Roadster and a few of the Ferraris are certainly “influential”, but they are hardly “production”.

  5. Always fun to see what cars different editors come up with. As mentioned by others, I agree with many, but disagree with some. I would have included the original Audi TT.

  6. How could you overlook the Austin Healey 100? One of the most beautiful designs in automotive history, not to mention affordability to the masses and performance far beyond its contemporaries. For that matter – how about the Bugeye Sprite?

  7. If this is global point of view – You have left out VW Golf, Porsche Boxster, Fiat Cinquecento, Lotus 7 and Elan (Miata is a direct copy) Citroen Traction Avant – each seminal in its own way

  8. You have used a very loose definition of “production car” and included 13 cars that few people would be likely to put in that category. They are certainly significant cars, but they are cars that few people could have afforded when new and that now fetch on average well over $1M as collector cars that (just a guess) no one ever really drives. Only 3 of those 13 fetch less than a million dollars according to your median value estimates, the Ferrari Testarossa being by far the cheapest at $137K. If the list were restricted to real “production cars”, it could, perhaps, have included cars like the Austin Healey 3000, the Boss 302 and a 1990s era ZR-1 Corvette, all of which were actual cars that were actually driven and that a car enthusiast can still buy and drive today.

  9. Respectfully, I would like the criteria for the term “influential” to be more specific. Design or designer, engineering or engineer, Innovation or innovater, or emotionally stimulating? From a design and engineering perspective, the list should include pre war contributions from notorious engineers and designers such as Ferdinand Porsche, Ettore Bugatti etc. In the big picture, I’m not seeing significant influence from production line muscle cars or 1980’s Ferraris. ’55 Gullwing-yes, ’68 Roadrunner-are you kidding me?

  10. TR-6 “…classic-looking British sports cars…?” You missed April Fool’s day! The SLAB SIDE is now “classic?” Puhleeeeze ! And no Series 6 Jag? The 308 (XJ/XJR) performance saloons ushered in the “Hot Sedan Grocery Getters” that are now EVERYWHERE, in 1997. Their design recognized by Geneva as one of top 10 in the world (I forget the year). GLARING OMISSION !!! (Oh yeah, “roger” the Caprice. I had “last of the model” ’96 Impala SS in green-grey metallic. Rarest of the rare. (Modified…of course !!!)

  11. Boy…I don’t get some of these…
    TR-6?
    Another IK sports car of the 60s. What makes it influential?
    Testarossa? Until the past couple of years, there were about as relevant as Don Johnson’s old white suits. They sold well s in the period, but a lot of writers at the time didn’t have much good to say about their styling.

    Chevelle 454…yes, it was GM’s high water mark, but coming that late in the muscle car game (after all 1970 was after 65-68) I’m not sure it’s terribly “Influential”.

  12. Always hard to please everyone. Thought Morris/Austin 1275 Cooper S and Nissan Skyline R32 GTR should be mentioned though. Very much enjoy your publication here in Oz.

    1. I’m still in a funk about the Lotus Elan not being considered one of the 50 most influencial even though Gordon Murray had it in his sights when designing the McLaren F1 and lamented he couldn’t get the perfect steering of the the Elan in the F1 and even though the Elan was an obvious influence in the ubiguitous Miata both of which are on the list of 50. Even though it was the first with fully integrated bumpers, a pioneer with four wheel disk brakes, fiberglass body shells, backbone chassis, pop up headlights, great power to weight ratio, 0 to 60 in 7.0 seconds in the early 60s, best-handling and best riding sports cars of its generation, 30 mpg, twin cam engine, and generally way ahead of everyone else but failed to influence. You would have thought it could have nudged out a Ferrari or MG, both with multiple representations. Not that it matters to anybody but I just don’t have the same passion and respect when I see Sports Car Market. Strange how that happens.