Ultimate GT Cars
Which GT cars did we single out from each decade?
I don’t care what anyone says, Grand Tours are the best.
Driving across Europe, taking in the sights and exploring beautiful and exciting parts of our continent is one of the best adventures you can undertake. From the glorious mountains of Scotland to the cobbled streets of Italy’s ancient cities, there’s just no finer way to see Europe than by driving across it. As everyone knows, to do a Grand Tour properly, you need a proper Grand Tourer. These machines are the ultimate combination of power, pace and prestige and they can carry you, a partner and a bit of luggage right the way across a very large portion of the globe. Influx Magazine hasn’t yet approved my blueprints for a Time Machine, but if – I mean ‘when’ – they do, these are the cars that I’ll be taking on Grand Tours all the way from the 1950s into the 2020s.
1950s – Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe
The ‘Gullwing’ is a car you simply can’t ignore, but before we get into why, let’s take one moment to remember that this production car was produced out of Germany just 9-years after the nation was widely devastated by the close of the Second World War. The 300SL Coupe was born from the W194 racing car that took a famous 1-2 at the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans, among many other prestigious events.
If there’s anything more emblematic of the return of Germany after the horrendous conflicts of the ’40s, I haven’t come across it. The 300SL showed the world just what German talent was capable of doing, producing some of the most beautiful and staggeringly quick machines money can buy and this is still – and always will be – one of the most desirable classic cars in motoring history.
With a 3.0-litre fuel-injected engine and a theoretical top speed of around 160mph, this was one of the 1950s very best, a car that could conquer any Grand Tour with as much ease as its racing sibling conquered the circuits, and all while looking as beautiful as a car can be.
1960s – Ferrari 500 Superfast
The 1960s saw Ferrari produce the most beautiful creations in its history and an array of absolutely stunning Grand Tourers. Above them all was the 500 Superfast, the undisputed King of the GTs.
Design and styling are typically Ferrari of the ’60s, pure elegance with subtle hints to the huge power that lies beneath an exterior to melt even the hardest of hearts. Under the long bonnet was a 400-horsepower V12 that could send the Superfast to a top speed of 174mph. 400 horses and 174mph – just imagine the jaws dropping when Ferrari announced that back in 1964.
Just 36 of the 500 Superfast were produced, meaning that even if I did get the time machine project approved, I probably still won’t get a chance to drive what could be the most desirable and beautiful Grand Tourer ever made.
1970s – Ferrari 365 GTB4 ‘Daytona’
Yep, feel free to point the finger at me and call me cheating here because the 365 GTB4 was born in 1968. Anyway, it continued production right up until 1973, so there. Its credentials as a Grand Tourer were best demonstrated in 1971 when Brock Yates and Dan Gurney piloted a borrowed ‘Daytona’ for the first ‘Cannonball run’, completing the 2,863-mile trip in 35 hours and 54 minutes, averaging 80mph and hitting 172mph when Gurney wanted to see how fast the Daytona really could go.
Another deeply beautiful and desirable machine that’s become a car everyone with the wealth to acquire one wants, one of the most widely admired Ferraris ever made.
1980s – Jaguar XJ-S
A luxurious V12 is always the way to go when it comes to GT cars and the Jaguar XJ-S that utilised the sweet 5.3-litre ‘HE’ V12 is my choice for the 1980s. The XJ-S actually came into the world as the successor to the E-Type back in 1975 but remained in production for two decades as demand for this comfortable GT continued.
The XJ-S can best be described as smooth, and that’s exactly what you want your GT car to be. With a 2+2 layout there’s also a bit of extra room for stuff you might want to carry because let’s face it, when has the ‘+2’ in a 2+2 ever been used for carrying people?
1990s – ‘E39’ BMW M5
Is it a GT or is it just a high-performance saloon? Well, it doesn’t bloody matter really does it, because the E39 BMW M5 is one of the great continent-crushing cars of our lifetimes and a symbol of 1990s motoring.
Full of 90’s tech, spacious and comfortable, the E39 is widely regarded as the best M5 made for a variety of reasons, one of which is the absolute gem of an engine that powered it. The 4.9-litre normally-aspirated V8 revved to 7,000rpm and produced 400bhp and the 6-speed manual gearbox got the driver intimately involved with it, something that many GT cars of our current decade simply can’t offer.
Any further questions relating to its capabilities can be addressed to a Mr Alex Roy. Thank you.
2000s – Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
2004 saw the arrival of one of the most divisive Ferraris in modern history. Whether you think the 612 Scaglietti is beautiful or not seems to be a coin-flip, but this particular author absolutely adores it and regardless of the general opinion of its looks, we can all agree there’s real beauty under that metal.
Another Ferrari V12 lies under the long bonnet, making it capable of 199mph. It’s roomy seating arrangement, wide-opening doors and special order 6-piece bespoke luggage set along with surround sound and a fancy electrochromatic roof make this a mighty GT and proof you can have the best of both worlds – power and comfort.
2010s – Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge
The ultimate luxury GT of our times, the Black Badge variation on the standard Wraith only adds a little extra torque to an engine that clearly doesn’t need it, but the embracing of the dark side gives it an extra element of desirability through these eyes.
Until you’ve driven a Rolls-Royce you can’t necessarily comprehend the level of quality that is present. The craftsmanship and style is breath-taking and though it is a large car, it’s very easy to drive. The twin-turbo V12 puts out well over 600bhp but is quieter than a mouse rolling across a felt-lined floor and features a satellite-guided transmission to ensure it’s always in the right gear. Almost certainly the greatest car I’ve ever driven.
2020s – 2029 Porsche Taycan Mk.2
Porsche’s all-electric Taycan is due to launch within the next couple of years with 600bhp and a range of around 300-miles, but that’s not quite enough for me. Thanks to some insight from the blueprints to the time machine, I was able to research a little into the 2029 edition of the Taycan, featuring 700bhp and a 600-mile range, this revolutionary electric GT car is said to be able to drive from Edinburgh to Paris on one charge thanks to a helpful little top-up from the trains on the new Channel Tunnel rapid charger EV cabin.
Augmented-reality navigation, near-full autonomy and noise-cancelling technology installed in the cabin make this the perfect GT. Thank goodness EV-Czar and US President Elon Musk purchased Porsche in 2026…
Grand Tourers all fulfil a certain niche in the automotive world, yet we all have different views on what we want from such a car. Modern vehicles are now so comfortable and capable, that even the new BMW 3-series or Kia Optima is comparable to the top GTs from as recently as the 1980s.
Plenty of cars could have made this list, and I suspect many of you could produce lists that could rival the cars selected here. We’re eager to know your preferences.
Regardless of what you’d like to travel in, journeying across Europe in a car is a privilege and enjoyable in any vehicle, if you’ve never done it, we heartily encourage you to embark on such an adventure.
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