The Classiest Cars Of All Time

Driving a classic car transports you to a world of different sensations and evokes a variety of emotions.

As a complete petrol head and working in the classic car industry, having to choose the three classiest cars of all times was close to impossible and it’s highly subjective. The easy way was to focus on their value; investors have lately focused so greedily on the classic car industry that even the increase in London property prices pales in comparison to that of some classic cars. But the “easy” way is not always the “right” way. It’s known very well that if there is something money cannot buy, it is class. So here is my humble attempt to identify three cars that, despite not being the priciest cars on recent auctions, the quality of their design will last forever.

1926 Bentley 3-4 1/2-Litre Tourer
(est. €0.63M – €0.8M)

1926 Bentley 3-4 1/2-Litre Tourer | Photography Courtesy BENTLEY MOTOR S, INC. 

If you know what British Racing Green means, you will agree this Bentley is its one and only ambassador. It has a beauty in an essential mechanical elegance. It is just robust, machine-like and beautiful in its totality: 4,398 liters, inline four-cylinder engine, 100bhp. One of these cars captured Bentley’s third Le Mans title in 1928, co-driven by the “Bentley Boys,” a group of wealthy British gentlemen who seriously drove Bentley sports cars to victory in the 1920s. If you look at this car, you can still feel the B-Boys spirit: always ready for a challenge, fueled by champagne and fine cigars. This group of playboys and adventurers inspired various generations of car enthusiasts and dominated Le Mans with several wins. Turning on the engine of this car must be close to a lifetime experience.

1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider
(est. €20M)

1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider | Photography Courtesy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Heritage

This car is often described as “the ultimate Italian sports car.” It is believed that only seven of these were ever made, so yes, we are talking about something unique. It is the essence of sporty, youth, exuberance, excitement and practicality. The car, a two-seater Spider (convertible) wears an elegant bodywork by the Milan-based coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring. The previous version of the car won the 1938 Mille Miglia, driven by Clemente Biondetti. Alfa Romeo’s huge racing success imposed a sporting character on the 8C’s engine: supercharged 2.9 liters, eight cylinders, 180bhp and a top speed of 110mph. An astonishing fast car for the period, it probably was the most advanced, modern and compelling sports car that money could buy. Its shape is as aerodynamic as possible and features a disappearing convertible top. The interior, albeit straightforward, is finished in dark blue leather and the quality of the materials wrap the driver in a luxurious atmosphere that is timeless. It is for sure one of the classiest cars ever to see the light of day. Simply put, it is art in its purest state.

1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing”
(est. €0.9M – €1.5M)

1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” | Mercedes-Benz USA 

Fast, beautiful and very expensive, the 300 SL was conceived as a racecar for the street and is probably the most iconic Mercedes Benz. Produced between 1954 and 1963, it features a six-cylinder engine, 215bhp and a top speed of 160mph. Like many legendary machines, the Gullwing’s roots lie in car racing. In the years after World War II, Mercedes-Benz had a little international presence and was known largely as a manufacturer of dull, reliable luxury cars. To recapture some of its prewar competition glory, Mercedes took on the challenge to build a road-going racecar that would beat its stylish Italian rivals and fit the American market. And what a good job they did. The 300SL (300 for 3 liters, and SL for Sport Leicht, or sport light) is sporty and sexy as hell. But it is also very German; the SL was the first production car to use direct fuel injection. This technology is, more than 50 years later, still widely used today by major manufacturers. Starting its brutal engine is nothing short of a martial ritual: Check the oil. Turn the key. Listen to the fuel pump. Fire. A symphony of full, robust and mechanical sound explodes in the cockpit transporting the lucky driver into a sort of trance. The doors are only part of the reason this is one of the classiest cars ever to hit the pavement.

Written by Javier De la Rosa, Founder & CEO of Barcelona Classic Cars