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Photograph of a classic car interior
Book spread of 1950s Ford Thunderbird

5 Iconic Classic Cars of the 20th Century

5 Iconic Classic Cars of the 20th Century

A handful of decade-defining motors, from Fords to Jaguars to Chevrolets. Here are some legendary (and beautiful) cars!

1. MG TC | 1940s

1940s MG TC Classic Car book spread

Produced from 1935-55, the MG T series was a popular range of small, convertible sports cars, mostly steel-bodied on a wooden frame, and capable of around 80 mph (129 km/h). The post-war TC enjoyed particular success with sales of more than 10,000, in large part because of the car’s achievements on the export market. It did especially well in the US, the open-bodied two-seater being widely credited with introducing American drivers to the concept of the small sports car.

2. Ford Thunderbird | 1950s

1950s Ford Thunderbird Classic Car book spread

The Thunderbird made its debut in 1954, initially as a two-seater convertible that Ford hoped would rival Chevrolet’s racy Corvette. With its scooping hood, covered, rear-mounted spare tire, and (somewhat optimistic) 150 mph (241 km/h) speedometer, the car undoubtedly had upmarket credentials, but like the early Corvettes it was never meant to be overly sporting. While striking to look at, it used the same conventional 4.8-litre V8 as several other cars in Ford’s Mercury stable.

3. Jaguar E-type | 1960s

1960s Jaguar E-type Classic Car book spread

With the ground-breaking Mini at the forefront of the 1960s swing, lovers of high-performance cars favoured the Jaguar E-type. Instantly recognizable and enormously desirable, it was never quite as fast as the public imagined. However, with aerodynamic lines clearly derived from the Le Mans-conquering D-type, it was nevertheless frequently voted the most beautiful car ever designed, and with some justification.

4. Lancia Stratos HF | 1970s

1970s Lancia Stratos HF Classic Car book spread

The winner of the Rally World Championships in 1974, 1975 and 1976, the Lancia Stratos was developed from a striking, fluorescent orange, wedge-shaped concept car designed by Bertone and launched at the Turin Motor Show in 1971. Swapping that model’s four-cylinder Lancia engine for Ferrari’s Dino V6 made it one of the decade’s most charismatic stars, and – in the right hands, at least – an authentically potent weapon when it came to top-level motor sport.

5. Chevrolet Corvette | 1980s

1980s Chevrolet Corvette Classic Car book spread

One of the most evocative names in the business, after more than 60 years on the road the Corvette is still very much the definitive American sports car. Originally intended as a rival for the UK’s Jaguar XK120, it cost almost twice as much as the previous Chevrolet’s and sold slowly at first, only really taking off when the V8 engines were added. Since then a process of continual development has kept the Corvette at the very forefront of US motoring.


From the Chevrolet Bel Air to the Ferrari Testarossa, Classic Car showcases the most important and iconic classic cars from every decade since the 1940s. Fully illustrated and packed with stunning photography, it uses specially commissioned photographic tours to put you in the driver's seat of the world's most famous vintage cars, including stylish roadsters and luxury limousines from manufacturers such as Mercedez-Benz, Ferrari, Rover, Jaguar, and Bentley.

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Classic Car Classic Car

A visual guide to the most iconic classic cars of every decade from the 1940s to the 1980s, featuring more Read more

A visual guide to the most Read more

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