The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

Italy is the spiritual home of enthusiastic driving. No other nation has such a deep-seated tradition of producing fast, beautiful, soul-satisfying automobiles. Here are Jalopnik reader's choices of the ten cars that best embody that national heritage of speed and art.

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The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

10.) Ferrari 330 P4

Suggested By: Kiwi_Commander


Why it is so Italian: For a nation that claims racing as something close to religion, the 330 P4 is an icon, probably the best endurance racer Ferrari ever built. Jackie Stewart said it was the only car that ever worked right for him at Brands Hatch. It brings design in spades, as well: Forty-five years after it was made, it still looks like something from Mars.

Photo Credit: carZ !

The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

9.) Lancia Stratos

Suggested By: My X-type is too a real Jaguar

Why it is so Italian: Leonardo da Vinci would appreciate the Stratos. This nervous little arrowhead combined Lancia's traditional borderline-eccentric scientific rationalism and Bertone's modernist art prowess. It revolutionized rallying, moving serious contenders away from prepared production cars to purpose-built weaponry.

Photo Credit: Gloumouf

The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

8.) Fiat Stilo Multi Wagon

Suggested By: Zacarious

Why it is so Italian: While Americans have regrettably cast their family-car lot with enormous SUVs, Italians with multiple bambini still strongly prefer station wagons. We wish more folks here would appreciate the combination of maximum utility with minimally-compromised dynamics.

Photo Credit: MATEUS_27:24&25

The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

7.) Maserati A6G Zagato

Suggested By: Ejvind Andersen

Why it is so Italian: A full course in midcentury Italian design: twincam engine, Borrani wire wheels, and handmade bodywork with proportions and detailing that can only be called art. Equally at home pulling up to La Scala or howling into Brescia at the end of a Mille Miglia.

Photo Credit: Rex Gray

The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

6.) Alfa Romeo 8C 2300

Suggested By: Defender90

Why it is so Italian: Prewar Alfa Romeos were, simply, the best high-performance road machines of their time, designed to dominate races on Italy's rough two-lane roads. Even by today's standards these venerable machines are terrifically capable. 8cs are consistently among the most desired of high-end collector cars, and for very good reason.

Photo Credit: Brian Snelson

The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

5.) Fiat Spider

Suggested By: Frogberg

Why it is so Italian: Representative of a less frantic side of the national character, the 124 Spider is vivaciousness and romance on wheels. Not scorchingly fast, but infused with a lighthearted character which is in desperately short supply today. (Fun fact: That classically Italian bodywork was penned by American Tom Tjaarda.)

Photo Credit: Tony Harrison

The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

4.) Lancia Delate Integrale

Suggested By: Exiled Ex. President Mack41

Why it is so Italian: Combine the pragmatism of a good hatchback with the ferocity of the Stratos and you get one of the all-time great cult cars. Another strong representative of the national tradition of fast, nimble daily drivers.

Photo Credit: Michael Gil

The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

3.) Fiat 500

Suggested By: Crossdrilled

Why it is so Italian: The 1957 Nuova Cinquecento was to Italy as the Beetle was to Germany and prewar Fords to America: the essential car for the nation. The 500 was unbelievably small by any standard but never less than entertaining to drive. A generation of Italians were allegedly (somehow) conceived in those back seats.

Photo Credit: jim

The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

2.) Ferrari 250GTs

Suggested By: BtheD19, taking KDS to the cleaners

Why it is so Italian: A family with more power and operatic drama than the Medicis. Cars powered by the Colombo three-liter V-12 ranged from the patrician GTE 2+2 to the playboy Californias to the 250TdF (Tour de France) and 250GTO racers to the black-sheep Breadvan. In all their iterations they were the definition of high Italian automotive style in the postwar era.

Photo Credit: Carlo

The Ten Most Quintessentially Italian Cars

1.) Alfa Romeo Giulietta/Giulia Sprint/GTV

Suggested By: Tom

Why it is so Italian: All of this – the love of fast driving, the mastery of technical and aesthetic design, the understanding that life is to be lived and enjoyed – finds its ultimate embodiment in Alfa Romeo's long-lived series of Giuliettas and Giulias. The Spiders are sensual and seductive, the sedans are both practical and brilliantly fun, but the Sprint and GTV coupes simply define automotive brio in metal.

Photo Credit: Jack Snell