The impossible question: what is the coolest car in the world?

This was shamelessly lifted from our friends over at the fine Black Steelies blog (spoiler alert: their nominee can be found here, and their reasoning is impressive). As for us? We’re probably going to say the Alfa Romeo GTV coupe. Pretty, timeless Bertone design, it’s an old car that retains a youthful appeal, is lighter and fleeter of foot than bigger GT cars, a bit more exclusive than the BMW 2002, more accessible (price-wise) than a 911 of comparable vintage (and perhaps not as polarizing as any car bearing a Porsche crest), they can be dressed up or dressed down (i.e., made into track cars) and be equally at home either way. But above all they are effortlessly cool— they don’t need to try because they just have it.

The early Stepnoses are more desirable than the later non-Stepnose models, but the later cars don’t earn the same demerits as, say, square tail lights on a 2002, or big bumpers on a 911 — in other words, their loveliness remains largely intact.


Our ideal GTV would probably look pretty similar to this, though maybe wearing dark green paint over a tobacco interior.

We’re entitled to change our mind, of course, but we’ve wanted one for the longest time. Still do.

As for the coolest modern car, how about the unattainable (to the US) Alfa Romeo 159 ti Sportwagon?

That one should be pretty self-explanatory, we think. Just look at it!

How about you all: what is the coolest car in the world?

(GTV image credit: Petrolicious)

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~ by motoringconbrio on September 10, 2013.

41 Responses to “The impossible question: what is the coolest car in the world?”

  1. Based on my limited exposure and experience,
    I’ve got to cast my vote for one that’s in my stable,
    the E28 ///M5.

  2. I saw quite a few of the 159 sportwagons when I was in Italy, as well as many other lust-worthy Alfa’s. It made me want one so bad that when I got home I started looking for good condition GTV6′s online. I really hope Alfa’s return to the US really happens, because as it is the closest we can get to buying a new one is the Dodge Dart.

  3. Well imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
    No, seriously, we’re thrilled that our blog post has got the great minds at MCB thinking.
    And, just for the record, we’re firmly sticking to our guns about the Flavia/2000 – at least until our heads get turned by something else.

  4. Having seen both the above cars in the flash I have to say they both look sooo much better in real life. Especially in this case the 159 TI SW. My bro owns a red TI sw 159 (for sale now :(( ) and it simply is the best looking car in any parking lot.
    As for the GTV ….that’s just a whole new league. it’s cool factor is still unobtanium for 99,(9)% of all new cars. It’s simply, literally breathtaking.

  5. While the Alfa is indeed a delectable machine. Not only to Alfisti of course, but to also other gear-heads, not sure it or the other mentions here make universal ‘cool’ though…

    Cool is Josephine Baker, cool is 250GTO, cool is Johnny Cash, cool is 356 Carrera Speedster, cool is Elizabeth Taylor, cool is Alfa Tipo 33, cool is Daido Moriyama, cool is perhaps a Muira… I know these are all perhaps stratosphericly exotic, but in order to be coolest of the cool, surely you need to transcend just gear-head coolness?

    • in order to be coolest of the cool, surely you need to transcend just gear-head coolness?

      I agree, and I believe these two examples do just that— I think they’d be appreciated by car guys and non-car guys, men and women, young and old alike.

      I also think something need not be unobtainable in order to be cool.

      • > I also think something need not be unobtainable in order to be cool.

        Indeedy, suppose if the machine is cool enough, who indeed gives a rat’s how much it cost?

  6. The Coolest – it would have to be some time-capsule ’60s-’70s exotic. Still fast by today’s standards, AC, good brakes, but some glaring idiosyncrasies and things that make it impossible to build today. Extreme rareness a plus…

    As for cars now in production.. I’d exclude the current overstated, heavy exotics… I’d guess the Morgan 3-wheeler or the Caterham..

  7. Depends on how you define “cool” of course, but I’m 110% on board with your choice of the Alfa 159 Sportwagon. Damn, it’s gorgeous! And bonus points for going with the wagon (the sedan is plenty lustworthy too, but the wagon is off the charts).

    Just to pose the question: while it’s strikingly beautiful design is nearly undebatable, would it be as “cool” if it wasn’t firmly in the unobtainium category for us?

  8. I really don’t think I’ve ever commented on anything here…but this is quite the interesting thought to ponder this morning. I’ve got a very broad range of vehicles that interest me, and the stable round the old homestead is just as broad (between Dad and I we range from a C6 Vette, to a couple 68 Dodge B-Bodies, to half a dozen vintage medium duty trucks). But none of them are “cool” in the sense that they could be the “coolest.” I think the coolest car has to be European, has to have survived with timeless lines, and has to be something that Steve McQueen would drive. All dollar values aside, I think something like the NART roadster that just sold fits the bill. Even if you didn’t know what it was, the design is striking, the noise is compelling, and it makes a certain (appropriate) statement in any setting. Plus, Steve McQueen would look right in it.

  9. Mazda 787b, because nothing else makes that noise during a gearshift (or the rest of the time, for that matter). So cool, even a blind man can appreciate it.

    If you’re talking about a real car that can be bought with money, then… I dunno, Cizeta V16T, perhaps? Nothing really holds a candle to Johnny Herbert’s ride. Alfa 155 Procar gets an honorable mention.

    How do you define cool? The least arbitrary definition I can think of is anything Paul Newman liked (or would like) is cool. By that logic, v8 Volvos are cool.

  10. i think the GTV is too ordinary to be ‘the coolest’….but i admit i’m not really sure what “the coolest’ means here…..i think the NSU TTS is miles cooler than a GTV, but also harder to attain. I also think the Lancia Fulvia is a much more desirable car, IMO, as it has a more unique history and engine. Personally you know i’d rate the A310 above all of these—–however then i remember that cars are inherently NOT cool objects….so actually i retract everything i just said and will admit there is no such thing as a ‘cool’ car.

  11. I think a crucial element of coolness is “not trying too hard” – there has to be an element of authenticity to coolness: natural and self-evident, not calculated or cultivated. By that measure I think the Alfa GTV is extremely cool, and a good contender for coolest ever. Same goes for earlier 911s or eighties BMWs, or as other commentators have said: whatever Steve McQueen or Paul Newman liked.

    Consequently I find it very hard to think of modern cars as cool; I can easily think of them as good, but so many of them bear the weight of (and aspire to) past icons and glories, or they bear the all too obvious signature of some ambitious designer or focus group looking for the next trendsetting swish or accent. I think the FT86/FR-S/BRZ, for example, is a brilliant idea and a fine car, but also desperately uncool.

    • always remember that just because things are OLD doesn’t make them “cool”. A lot of the ‘old’ cars that are revered now were just regular cars when they were new….or looked down upon from people of the prior era. The same way you are looking down upon modern cars, someone else is going to revere them 30 years from now. The cycle repeats.

      I personally think MODERN is always cooler than OLD. Live in the now……you are alive now. Experience what is available, IMO.

      • I’m not looking down on moderns. But with increased consumer expectations modern cars have tended to get more complicated, busier, and beholden to what market research believe will “sell”. I can name several cool modern cars and they will tend to be the ones that buck the trend by being pure (an S2000?) or audacious (Tesla S?) in ways that most mass-market automakers won’t risk.

        • believe it or not…people in the 1960s also researched to find out what would ‘sell’…nothing has changed. cars are objects for sale….they’re nothing more, nothing less. it’s a business just like it always was.

  12. Dont even know where to begin, an impossible question it is. My mind will change tomorrow. But in that case, Ill just throw this out there. Totally agree with the GTV. So to add to that, even though Im not a big convertible guy, Ive always had a thing for Austin Healey 100-6′s. If i was going to get a ‘vert, that would be it. With the windshield racked back, it just looks incredible in my opinion.

  13. Come to LA and we will give you ride in the GTV!

  14. I think among modern cars it has to be the Morgan 3-wheeler. It’s bonkers enough to be noticeable but unpretentious enough to be universally lovable. It grabs people’s attention without shouting about it.

    Effortlessly interesting.

  15. I can’t disagree with these. Alfas are, put simply, the *coolest*.

  16. Alfas are great, the E28 M5 is super cool…but my vote goes to the B5 RS4

  17. I’m mid restoration of a Stepnose and my daily drive is a 159 Ti (not a SW though)…..I have to agree with you!!

  18. It was the Mazda Furai up until Top Gear burned it to the ground.

  19. 105 yes
    dark green you say, good choice
    here’s one I prepared earlier
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=433523863431163&set=a.281281085322109.65577.100003206605219&type=1&theater

  20. I,m very lucky as I own a 1750 GTV and a 159 2.4 Sportswagon. Always enabling a truly fantastic drive

  21. BaT just went and bought the coolest car. Coincidence..? ;)

    http://bringatrailer.com/2013/09/16/follow-our-euro-alfa-romeo-purchase-adventure-on-autoweek-com

  22. Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione, all time favorite car, arguably the greatest ever. Def one of the coolest

  23. […] were some of your suggestions to the impossible question we posed last […]

  24. I’d vote for the Z3/M Coupe. Super cool car, rare, and couldn’t be more fun to drive.

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