5 Most Beautiful Cars of All Time

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DETROIT TheStreet) -- Sadly, we know that people, deny as they might, seize the opportunity to read negative news. We know this because our story on the 10 worst cars of all time, published in February, has gotten more than a million hits.

Still, we prefer to view life in a positive way. We think Iran wants a negotiated settlement, Miami will not sink into a rising sea and Carl Furillo will someday be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame, simply because he deserves to be there.

We also like to think that people who flocked to read about the worst cars ever would enjoy a second story, one about the most beautiful cars. Recently, the auto experts at Edmunds.com worked hard to compile a list of the 100 most beautiful cars ever built, and here we want to present the top five. Admittedly, we are hedging our bet, selecting five instead of 10.

The first thing we noticed is that, of the top five cars, three are Italian. In fact, Marcello Gandini designed two of the cars on the list, both in the early 1970s, for Lamborghini. Largely because of Gandini, "Italian design was well ahead of the world as far as sports car design," said Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com editor-in-chief.

The other top two were made in the U.S. The Chevrolet Corvette is a GM product that is still with us. The other might be a little harder to find, because Duesenberg only made a couple of hundred cars. Recently, a 1931 Duesenberg sold for $10.3 million.

We imagine that now some of you may be asking yourselves, "How can I ever drive a beautiful car? I have to spend my $10.3 million to pay down the bills for the kids' braces." This is why our garage contains a 1996 Mercury van, rather than a Duesenberg, although it is worth noting that both vehicles are, in a sense, collector's items manufactured by automakers that no longer exist.

Fortunately, a few beautiful cars are widely available, or will soon be available, and are within everybody's price range. One is the the 2013 Ford Fusion, No. 97 on the list.

"When we started on the list several months ago, we were just back from the Detroit Auto Show (where) we were blown away by the styling of the Fusion," Oldham said. "We think it will redefine styling expectations in the midsized sedan segment."

Other present-day beauties include the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V wagon, ranked No. 79, and the 2012 Fisker Karma, ranked No. 37. Oldham said the CTS "is the best looking station wagon on the market today, and the best execution of Cadillac's 'art and science" design language," and a vehicle that will stand the test of time, while the Fisker Karma hybrid "is a radical-looking car that is sporty, upscale and luxurious.

"If (Fisker) was a mainstream luxury brand, like Lexus or Mercedes, it would be getting more accolades for styling," Oldham said. "Karma is the most beautiful sedan for sale today - forget what it's powered by."

Here Oldham would like to defend one of the choices, the 1959 Chevrolet El Camino, which was ranked No. 73. "We've taken a little heat," he said. "People say, 'An El Camino, are you nuts?'

"But we wanted to highlight cars that people take for granted or see every day, and don't give credit where credit is due for their design. The El Camino was futuristic at the time, and is still radical today: It was long and wide, with horizontal fins, thin pillars, and a wraparound rear window. We made sure it was on the list."

Now, let's look at the top five most beautiful cars ever built.

1971 Lamborghini Miura SV

The fifth most beautiful car is the 1971 Miura, the first high-performance, mid-engine supercar and "the prototype for that type of vehicle ever since," according to Oldham.

"This car was way ahead of its time, and it sent Ferrari back to the drawing board," he said.

The Miura debuted in 1966 and remained in production until 1972. A total of 764 were built, according to Wikipedia. In 1974, Lamborghini began production of the Countach.

Last year, a 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV prototype went for $1.7 million at auction.

1967 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

The 1967 Corvette is the fourth most beautiful car ever.

"We feel the '67 Corvette is the best looking Corvette of all time, the most visually striking model, and one that has only gotten more beautiful with age," Oldham said. "The 1963 to 1967 models are very similar, so we called out the '67, the last of that generation."

According to Edmunds, "the fastback roof is perfectly tapered over ridgeback fenders and flatline wheel wells. The gills in the front fenders are slashes of brilliance, while the (optional) side pipes announce the car's seriousness. Poems could be written about the hood spear alone."

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO

The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO is the third most beautiful car ever. Only 39 were produced.

"This is one of the most breathtaking cars ever, and on a lot of similar lists it is No. 1 one," Oldham said. "To this day, it still influences modern design. But we felt the Countach is now more relevant and more beautiful and has had a stronger impact over the last several decades."

According to Edmunds, "Sergio Scaglietti's voluptuous and brilliant world champion has vents and scoops that only make it seem more serious, while its ducktail rear spoiler inspired hundreds of imitators. It's the GT car all other GT cars want to be."

In a recent auction, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for $32 million. This represents a good return, since the original U.S. purchase price was $18,000.

However, the Web site Topspeed.com said that $32 million is "a little short of the world record bid for a classic car, which the 1936 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic owns after receiving a bid of somewhere around $40 million two years ago."

1931 Duesenberg Model J Long Wheelbase Coupe

The Dusenberg Model J is the most beautiful American car ever.

It is "astonishingly gorgeous, a massive car that set a standard for design and engineering in the early part of the 20th century," Oldham said.

According to Edmunds, "It has a grille that could be a temple, a hood punctured by gracefully curved louvers, and fenders that look like a wave cresting over the tires and an exquisite aluminum roof. "

While the chassis was purchased from Duesenberg, the body had to be purchased separately: Edmunds prefers a model built by a coachbuilder called Murphy. "All are beautiful, but the Murphy model J coupe is astonishingly gorgeous," Oldham said.

The Model J debuted at the New York Car Show of 1928. In retrospect, given that a Depression was in the immediate future, the timing was perhaps not the best. Wikipedia said the chassis cost $8,500 and the completed base model cost between $13,000 and $19,000, at a time when the average U.S. physician earned less than $3,000 a year.

We should add that the car contributed to the language the expression, "It's a Duesy," which today is often written as "It's a doozy."

1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400

The 1974 Lamborghini Countach is "the most visually provocative car of all time," according to Oldham, and Edmunds' choice as the most beautiful car ever.

Edmunds called the Countach: "Marcello Gandini's masterpiece, successor to the Miura, outrageous in every way (and) the most visually provocative car of all time," adding, "The first bedroom wall poster car ever, it has defined automotive lust for three generations.

Today, Oldham said, the Lamborghini Aventador is the "spiritual successor" to the Countach.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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