The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

Ever since Karl Benz registered his patent in 1886, Germany has been the home of high-quality, high-velocity wheeled transportation. Whether for racing, Autobahn travel, or just everyday use, German cars are still in many ways the standard. Here are Jalopnik readers' picks for the ten most quintessentially German cars.

Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Andy

The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

10.) Porsche 911

Suggested By: Ravey Mayvey Slurpee: MANUAL EXTREMIST

Why it's so totally Teutonic: Cue the howls of outrage; yes, the 911 is way up here. Why? Because German-ness is one thing, and the 911 in all its manifestations is something else: perhaps more the eccentric beauty of Ferdinand Porsche's Czech roots instead of stolid Germanness. Still, the obsessive development and sublime degree of product quality in each 911 speak to a very Teutonic attitude.

Photo Credit: Ged Carroll

The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

9.) Audi Quattro Coupe

Suggested By: Cataclysmic Converter

Why it's so totally Teutonic: As much science project as automobile, the Ur-Quattro revolutionized rallying and has immeasurably influenced the entire industry. It's a collection of rational answers to problems — need more power from a small engine? turbocharger! need to put power down on low-grip roads? all-wheel-drive! — that remains a brilliant example of science serving the pursuit of speed.

Photo Credit: Audi USA

The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

8.) Mercedes Unimog

Suggested By: Gamecat235

Why it's so totally Teutonic: No one said that German engineering excellence had to be a strictly roadgoing proposition. Take the profound intellectual capability that Mercedes has sitting in its cafeterias and set it to solving a different sort of vehicular problem, and you get the UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät. The mighty Mog is one of the most capable vehicles ever created. The ability to terrify bros in jacked-up pickups is just a side bonus.

Photo Credit: James Tworow

The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

7.) BMW M1

Suggested By: MaWeiTao

Why it's so totally Teutonic: Italians think of race cars as works of art; Germans think of race cars as weapons. The M1 is as coldly logical as a sniper rifle. The chassis will handle multiples of the stock motor's 273 horsepower without complaint, the cockpit has all the warmth of a fighter plane, and the driving experience is pure precision. Built as a homologation special before rule changes left it outside, it's still one of the most uncompromisingly competent GT cars ever built.

Photo Credit: Matt

The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

6.) Mercedes 300SL

Suggested By: valdaviper1

Why it's so totally Teutonic: Race car as problem-solving tool converted to road car for the ages. As Mercedes regained its footing after the war, Rudolf Uhlenhaut created a space-framed roadracer that proved successful. American Mercedes importer and marketing wizard Max Hoffman insisted that a streetgoing version be made. The 300SL is still one of the great driving machines of all time, and even its eccentricities betray a very German mindset.

Photo Credit: Ed Callow

The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

5.) Volkswagen Typ 1

Suggested By: bearslayer

Why it's so totally Teutonic: Air-cooled rear-mounted engines were not an unusual mechanical arrangement for small European postwar cars, so it's not like the Beetle was completely unique. What was unique was the degree of workmanship and steady improvement that went into that eternally endearing shape. The humble little VW really carried the banner for German mechanical superiority around the world.

Photo Credit: William Murphy

The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

4.) Audi RS6 Avant

Suggested By: _Engineer

Why it's so totally Teutonic: It is incredibly powerful, it is incredibly capable, and it does pretty well as an everyday car, too. The RS6, especially in wagon form, embodies modern German automotive thought in its technical excess and roadgoing dominance. No, you don't normally need a turbocharged V-10 and all-wheel-drive, but why compromise?

Photo Credit: Paulo Keller

The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

3.) BMW Neue Klasse

Suggested By: rawtoast

Why it's so totally Teutonic: These small, functional, intelligently-designed cars accomplished two major feats: They created the essential thematic underpinning for what BMW is today, and they proved that speed and practicality were never to be considered mutually exclusive again. The original small sedans debuted in 1962, but it was the release of the 1602/2002 two-doors in 1966 that really added to the definition of "German car."

Photo Credit: Kevin

The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

2.) Volkswagen Golf/GTI

Suggested By: DannyBN

Why it's so totally Teutonic: Creating a true successor to the Beetle was an essentially impossible task, so VW took the general idea of the high-quality economy car and brought it completely up to date. The Golf was simple, efficient, pragmatic, and remarkably dignified. The GTI, created as an in-house side project, took the basics and added that indispenasable German ingredient: more power. The current cars are far more complicated but still hew to the core idea.

Photo Credit: Duncan

The Ten Most Quintessentially German Cars

1.) Mercedes W124

Suggested By: seangirvan

Why it's so totally Teutonic: The 300E really defined the E-Class for Mercedes, and still defines German automobiles today. It was the Platonic car as set forth by the world's best engineers: immensely strong body structure, complex and very effective mechanical components, a determined effort to find an idealized driving environment. The normal car was a fast tourer; the hot-rod 500E was a standing pick as best car in the world for years. This is, simply, what a German car is.

Photo Credit: JetSetJim