1955 Porsche 550A Spyder
A Porsche landmark, the car James Dean died in, and one of the best-looking sports cars of the 1950s. You, too, can be a little bastard.
1956 Lotus Eleven
Colin Chapman's genius distilled into one of his most beautiful — and dangerous — racing cars. Like most Lotuses, the Eleven's strength lay in its weakness: Its light weight and intelligent suspension design gave it both astounding speed and intimidating fragility.
1959 Aston Martin DBR1
With no less than Carroll Shelby at its helm, the DBR1 helped Aston finish 1-2 at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. It also made every Ferrari sports racer of the time look like a dumpy old grandmother.
1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder
The trick to spinning the Spyder's odometer back to what Cameron's dad memorized? Run the car in reverse with its rear wheels in the air. Just try not to launch it into the ravine, huh?
1965 Ford Mustang Coupe (Fastback)
The sleekest version of the first pony car, and one of the most recognizable cars in history. More attractive than the notchback, and a thousand times cooler than the convertible.
1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
The first Trans Am was $725 option that received no promotion or advertising at its launch. With ram-air induction, blue racing stripes, and 442 lb-ft of torque, it wasn't subtle, and only 697 were built. It was an inauspicious beginning for one of the most legendary muscle-car badges on the planet.
1970 Datsun 240Z
Sure, it's a bit truckish and relatively uninspiring to drive, but it's also one of the most capable sports cars of the 1970s. A torquey six lives under that long snout, and while it's no high-rpm screamer, it's still strong enough to get the job done.
1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda
The third-generation Barracuda was bigger and badder than any 'Cuda before it. When equipped with the 426 Hemi V-8, few cars, muscle or otherwise, could keep up.
1971 De Tomaso Mangusta
Mangusta is Italian for mongoose, an animal that eats cobras, but the Mangusta didn't take down a lot of Shelbys. Its flexible backbone frame and 32/68 front/rear weight distribution added up to notoriously tricky — albeit grin-inducing — handling.
1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
Eastbound and down, Sally Field in the passenger seat, slides around every corner and jumps over every humpbacked bridge. Don't even think about driving one without a cowboy hat and a real man's mustache.
1986 Honda CRX Si
Virtually perfect handling, a sub-2000-pound curb weight, and a cheeky demeanor: The first generation of Honda's manic, front-wheel-drive snotrocket is also the best.
1987 Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500
After winning forty consecutive British touring-car events, the Ford Sierra Cosworth was effectively banned from competition. The RS500 is the barely streetable, Tickford-built homologation version of that car. Gobs of power and a massive spoiler were standard.
1989 Ford Taurus SHO
A cult classic, the 1989 Ford Taurus SHO sports a much-loved, 220-hp, Yamaha-developed V-6 and a manual transmission. It is that rarest of 1980s sedan beasts: one that doesn't stink.
1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evo II
An amped-up version of Mercedes-Benz's 190E 2.3-16, the 2.5-16 Evo II was the ultimate evolution of Mercedes's relatively tame 190E. See that insane wing? This is — you guessed it — another high-strung homologation special.
1990 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST185
Solidifying Toyota's mid-'90s WRC dominance, the ST185 was the first homologation-special Celica to be sold to the public. It was also the first Toyota to compete in Castrol's iconic red, white, and green livery.
1992 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
Forbidden fruit in America, the '92 Escort RS Cosworth is a pocket rocket of the highest order. The 2.0-liter four between the front wheels was rated at 224 hp, but enterprising tuners can easily raise that number. The Cosworth's awesomeness was only supplanted by that of the second-generation Ford Focus RS.
1995 BMW 850CSi
The ultimate ultimate driving machine from the mid-'90s, the 850CSi was stiffer, lower, and crazier than the already loaded 8-series. An M8 in all but name, the CSi sported a 375-hp V-12 and a six-speed manual transmission.
1997 Ford Probe GTS
The final and most decked-out version of Ford's sporting front-drive coupe, the Probe GTS is notable for its dual racing stripes, chrome wheels, and unmarked brake-light insert. Other than that, it's an ordinary Probe GT.
2000 BMW Z8
How's this for a recipe: The Z8 packaged the E39 M5's 400-hp, V-8 driveline into a lighter, more compact shell that aped BMW's famed 507 roadster. Derivative, yes. But also gorgeous.
2002 BMW Z3 M Coupe
One of the few true shooting brakes sold in America, the M Coupe combined the sporty handling of the Z3 M roadster with the utility of a hatchback and a bit more torsional stiffness. Refined hooliganism, and the last truly nutso car to come out of Munich.