Road & Track

If you get the magazine this month, then you know it's all about our 51 Coolest Cars of the Last 50 Years special feature. If you're like, "Paper? What?" well, it's all online now.
As with every other list, this went through a lot of debate. Some serious cars missed the cut. You will likely be outraged, if, for example, the Porsche 917 is your favorite.

But that's the thing with this list. We intend to revisit it and keep it alive and evolving. Why'd we do it? I'll let Larry explain:

The barbs didn't get pointy until our third meeting. By then, we'd whittled our list of coolest cars—this month's cover story—from well over 200 candidates to around 80. And what began as a lively and entertaining debate about the stuff we love shifted to heated campaigns to save personal favorites from the red pen.


he continues, later...

The list is a way to contextualize what's happening right now. Cars don't just appear, they evolve, built on the technology and the style of what came before. Every now and then, it's useful to take a step back, appreciate history, and get a glimpse of how today's efforts stand in the pantheon of preceding hardware.

This response is perfectly logical. We're barraged with so many marketing messages, it's only natural that we strive to parse out what matters. List-making is human nature, and the very act forces you to take stock of what's important. As the Internet has shown, that transcends media or delivery method.

His editor's letter on the topic is worth reading in full.

Some of the standouts got their own special attention...


Dan Gurney on the Eagle-Weslake Mk 1:

I was always the one. I had the belief that if we were gonna succeed, it would be good to have the guy who could drive as well as I could. I didn't go around saying that, but in the end, that's what I thought. If we'd seen someone available that could've put that in question, I would've said, "Yeah, let's try him out."

The opportunity to do it came from Goodyear being offended in 1964. At the Indy 500, on race-day morning, they realized no one was going to be on Goodyear tires. Behind closed doors, Firestone convinced most of the field to be on Firestones. This ticked off Goodyear, the world's largest tire company at the time. They asked Carroll Shelby, who was close with them, "Could you build some Indy cars for us? Because we want to be darn sure that we are going to have cars on our tires." And he said, "No, I'm too busy, but maybe Dan can do it." And when they asked Len Terry, the designer, he said, "I'll do it, but the caveat is, I would like to build a Formula 1 car at the same time." And the rules were such that Indy and F1 were very close, and Goodyear said okay.


Read the whole thing.

John Krewson on the Ferrari 288 GTO and GT40:

By the early 1980s, Ferrari had nothing going for it. As the Italians say, the fish stank from the head. The Scuderia was slumping, and the road-car line was kind of pathetic; the marque's most popular model, the 308, could barely get out of its own way. Cool? Cool was out of the question.

Just five years later, everything was right with the world. Ferrari had two dead-bang worldbeaters, the 288 GTO and the F40, cementing its reputation for another few decades and more than earning the two cars a place on this list. The writing—and an infinitude of posters—was on the wall, the cultural imagination safely recaptured.


Read the whole thing.

The other two that get spotlight treatment are the Lancia Stratos and the McLaren F1. It's fun to revisit just how awesome these cars were.


The List

And the list? You can get to it from our 51 Coolest hub. But the link there is a slideshow. (The lot is also broken out into smaller slideshows by decade.)


Because you guys on Kinja have been vocal about this, I also have a big, one-page, long-scroll of the 51 Coolest.


Some of you might notice that there are only 50 photos for the 51 cars. Pay attention. One of the shots has two...

So... Go. Read. Get pissed off and yell at us. Suggest your own picks. Post them here and why they matter.


Enough feedback, and we'll do a Reader's Choice edition. Because that'll be as fun to do as ours was, too.

Thanks, guys.

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