The cars most likely to be written off

The cars most likely to be written offThe percentage of vehicles checked with at least one serious warning against them increased from 25.6% in 2015 to 28.5% in 2016. That’s the warning from used vehicle checker, which has released write-off, finance and stolen risk data for its 10 most searched-for makes.

The most common serious risk, write-off, increased from 29% of all warnings in 2015 to 33.6% last year. It pays to approach with caution when buying a used car as doing a little pre-purchase research will reduce the risk of buying a pup. The question is: what cars are most likely to be written off?

10. BMW: 17.88The cars most likely to be written off

There are four write-off categories, ranked in order of serious. In summary, these are: Category A – scrap only; Category B – car to be crushed, but parts can be salvaged; Category C – vehicle repairable but costs exceed market value; Category D – vehicle repairable, but repair costs are significant.

Taking this into consideration, a car declared a Category C or D write-off needn’t be a risky purchase, you simply need to do your homework.

9. MINI: 18.28%The cars most likely to be written off

It’s also worth bearing in mind that a Category C or D car will be worth less on the used car market. This should play a part in your negotiations.

MINI finished 9th with 18.28% of vehicles checked returning a write-off warning.

8. Renault: 18.59%The cars most likely to be written off

In June 2001, the Renault Laguna became the first car to be awarded a five-star Euro NCAP rating for occupant protection.

According to, 18.59% of all Renault vehicles checked returned a write-off warning.

7. Nissan: 18.61%The cars most likely to be written off

If you want to keep a car declared as a Category C or D write-off, the insurance company will provide a payout and then sell the vehicle back to you. You must send the complete log book back to your insurance company before applying for a duplicate log book using a V62 form.

Around 18.6% of Nissan vehicles checked returned a write-off warning, according to the figures.

6. SEAT: 18.69%The cars most likely to be written off

Meanwhile, SEAT finished 6th with 18.69% of vehicles checked returning a write-off warning.

5. Peugeot: 18.81%The cars most likely to be written off

In September 2016, the Peugeot 208 Active was revealed to be the most written-off car in the UK, based on data collected between January and June 2016.

Nearly half of all 208 Active models checked were previously written off. Across the entire year, Peugeot finished fifth.

4. Suzuki: 19.09%The cars most likely to be written off

Roger Powell said: “Any previously written off vehicle must be viewed with caution, especially when inspecting the quality of repairs.

“The implications of being involved in a further accident in a car which has not been properly repaired don’t bear thinking about.”

3. Ford: 19.21%The cars most likely to be written off

Powell continued: “In a survey a couple of years ago, 79% of customers said they wouldn’t buy one.

“The flipside is that some buyers are happy to look at Category C or D write-offs and use the data to push for a price reduction.”

2. Vauxhall: 19.99%The cars most likely to be written off

In a previous survey, three of the vehicles in the top 10 had a Vauxhall badge. More specifically, the Corsa Limited Edition, Corsa SRi and Corsa SXi.

Vauxhall finished second in the table of the most searched-for makes.

1. Honda: 21.65%The cars most likely to be written off

For the second year running, Honda was the worst for written-off cars, with 21.65% of all vehicles checked returning a warning.

If in doubt, get a used car check. If you’re still in doubt, walk away and look at something else. There are plenty more cars in the classifieds.

Jaguar F-Pace wins World Car of the Year 2017

The World Car Awards this year had the honour of opening the New York Motor Show, revealing the 2017 winners at a big ceremony.

With the first all-SUV showdown for the overall World Car of the Year Award, plus intriguing big-brand battles in the other categories, it was guaranteed to be standing room only. And so, without further ado, the awards got underway…

World Car of the Year 2017: Jaguar F-PaceWorld Car of the Year Awards

Runners up: Audi Q5, Volkswagen Tiguan

The Jaguar F-Pace has triumphed in the 2017 competition, scooping the overall World Car Awards’ Car of the Year prize. In a resounding victory, Jaguar’s first-ever SUV beat the formidable pairing of the Audi Q5 and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Dr Ralf Speth was on hand to collect the prize – and was absolutely delighted at beating the might of the Volkswagen Group. He made sure to send thanks back to the design and engineering teams back in the UK, and suggested that this success “gives me more energy to go and do more.”

The World Car Awards jury offers prizes for individual categories as well. It celebrates the finest luxury, performance and green cars in the world – plus, new for 2017, the best urban cars. A World Car Design of the Year Award is also given out. Let’s see which other brands triumphed.

World Luxury Car of the Year 2017: Mercedes-Benz E-Class

World Car of the Year AwardsRunners-up: BMW 5 Series, Volvo S90/V90

The World Luxury Car prize is always hotly-fought. This year, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class took the prize – but it didn’t come without a fight…

The all-new BMW 5 Series is brilliantly capable: a driver’s delight and a luxury car star. The trouble is, the latest Mercedes E-Class is fantastic, too. Ultimately, the prize this year went to Stuttgart, not Munich.

Volvo was proud to make the top three with its groundbreaking new S90 saloon and V90 estate. They couldn’t quite beat the BMW or Mercedes-Benz, but going head-to-head with them in the run-off is nothing to be ashamed of.

World Performance Car of the Year 2017: Porsche 718 Boxster/CaymanWorld Car of the Year Awards

Runners up: McLaren 570 GT and Audi R8 Spyder

The latest Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster have proven controversial new additions because of their four-cylinder turbo engines. It seems the WCOTY jurors looked past the shock of the new, though, and discovered just what brilliant performance cars this well-priced duo are.

Porsche beats McLaren – yes indeed! The 570S ‘Sports Series’ is a top-notch supercar, but it’s perhaps not quite the well-rounded package Porsche offers with its 718 range.

The Audi R8 is a former winner of the World Performance Car prize, but its Spyder soft-top sibling couldn’t quite nose over the line ahead this year. A finalist place is still commendable, though.

World Urban Car of the Year 2017: BMW i3 94AhWorld Car of the Year Awards

Runners up: Citroen C3, Suzuki Ignis

This is a new category for 2017. The World Urban Car honours models that are small in size, but not in ability. The inaugural winner is the BMW i3 94Ah, with its extended EV battery finally making it the complete package in the judges’ eyes.

Citroen has rediscovered its mojo. The funky-looking C3 is a supermini that’s jumped from the bottom of the class to the top of its game. A very worthy finalist indeed.

The third World Urban Car finalist was the Suzuki Ignis, a radically-styled budget city car that’s charming and charismatic, but also well-designed and fun to drive. Throw in great-value prices and it’s easy to see why it was a top-three finalist.

World Green Car of the Year 2017: Toyota Prius PrimeWorld Car of the Year Awards

Runners up: Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model X

The World Green Car award celebrates forward-looking green tech. This year, it seems the plug-in hybrid capabilities of the Toyota Prius Prime – known as the Prius Plug-In in the UK – impressed the judges most. All the usability of the best-selling Prius, but with added EV-running capabilities: what’s not to like?

The surprise of the World Car Awards 2017 was the Chevrolet Bolt not scooping the Green Car award. It seems the judges liked the all-round abilities of the Toyota more than they valued the innovative design of the Chevy Bolt. A bolt from the blue for GM?

Sorry, Elon Musk, the World Green Car of the Year prize was denied you. Your Model X is fantastic, but it’s just a bit too expensive and exotic to be a genuine real-world green car contender. Maybe the Model 3 will change things?

World Car Design of the Year 2017: Jaguar F-PaceWorld Car of the Year Awards

Runners up:Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet, Toyota C-HR

There was an added surprise for Jaguar – it also won the World Car Design of the Year, again for the F-Pace. “This one’s for you, Ian Callum,” said Dr Ralf Speth when accepting the prize. A fine tribute to the man who has done so much for Jaguar design, including overseeing the creation of a double World Car Awards-winner.

The fancy, fantastic S-Class Cabriolet is a luscious-looking thing, but the expert design panel felt it wasn’t quite innovative enough to topple the Jaguar.

And the Toyota C-HR is a futuristic design, all lines, creases, angles and slashes. But perhaps it’s just too radical for the 2017 WCOTY judges?

No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

In a world obsessed with downsizing and turbocharging, the romance of fitting a car with the biggest possible engine seems to have been lost. We take a look at 25 of the largest displacement motors ever built for road use – and the cars they were fitted to. This is all about big-block motoring; you need in excess of six litres of displacement to join this club.

1993 McLaren F1 – 6.1-litre V12No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

There probably aren’t many lists where a McLaren F1 is found at the bottom. But when it comes to displacement, the Big Mac isn’t top of the pile. That’s not to say the BMW S70/2 engine isn’t impressive, even if those being unkind might refer to it as two BMW M3 six-cylinder engines bolted together. Yet 627hp is clearly nothing to be sniffed at, and was more than enough to make the F1 the fastest production car in the world, with a top speed of 240mph. It also had an engine bay lined with gold, which automatically makes it cool.

2017 Dodge Challenger T/A – 6.4-litre (392-cubic inch) Hemi V8

No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

American V8 engines are common in this list, and this latest motor from Chrysler proves the USA is still in love with big-block power. The Hemi name is derived from the hemispherical cylinder head design, which Chrysler first started using in 1951. This latest third-generation Hemi has been built since 2003, and is fitted to the Challenger, Charger and even the Jeep Grand Cherokee in 6.4-litre form. An output of 485hp (plus 475lb ft of torque) makes the Challenger T/A rather rapid.

2017 Ferrari 812 Superfast – 6.5-litre V12No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Aside from the V12 found in a rare Can-Am racer, this is the biggest engine Ferrari has ever produced. Which is apt for a car badged ‘Superfast’. The Tipo F140 family of engines has previously appeared in the Ferrari Enzo, Maserati MC12 and LaFerrari. But, at 6.5-litres, the version fitted to the 789hp Superfast displaces the most.

2011 Lamborghini Aventador – 6.5-litre V12

No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Lamborghini doesn’t like to change things much when it comes to engines. This 6.5-litre unit is only the second design of V12 in the history of the company, with the original version in use from 1963 to 2011. Built for the Aventador, it weighs a whopping 235kg alone, and is good for 690hp and 508lb ft of torque. The key question is whether Lamborghini will choose to go even bigger to stay ahead of Ferrari on size…

2008 Bentley Brooklands Coupe – 6.75-litre V8No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Even older than the first Lamborghini V12 is this Bentley V8, which can trace its lineage back to 1959. The 6.75-litre version first appeared in 1968, and has powered a number of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys in the decades since, including this Brooklands Coupe. Here, it produced 530hp and a tyre-shredding 774lb ft of torque. Top tip: be sure to refer to this engine as a six and three-quarter, rather than six-point-seven-five litres. It is British after all.

2003 Rolls-Royce Phantom – 6.75-litre V12No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Don’t be fooled. Although it might share the same displacement, this V12 has nothing to do with the Bentley engine, having been created by BMW. Munich had originally planned to endow the Phantom with a V16, but switched to a smaller V12 for production. With 454hp and 531lb ft of torque, this engine majors on smooth and unflustered progress, rather than racing to its 6,500rpm redline.

2000 Ford Excursion – 6.8-litre V10No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Even by American standards, the Ford Excursion was a vast SUV. Sharing a platform with the F-250 Super Duty pick-up truck means a kerb weight of almost 3,300kg, and seating for nine passengers inside. It therefore needed a suitably huge engine: a 6.8-litre version of Ford’s Triton V10. With average fuel economy in the low teens, the Excursion became a victim of rising fuel prices and a controversial image.

1975 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 – 6.9-litre V8No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

It might look unassuming, but back in 1975 this was the ultimate performance Mercedes-Benz. Based on the long-wheelbase version of the S-Class, the 450SEL 6.9 used an enlarged version of the M100 V8 engine fitted to the earlier 300SEL 6.3. Peak power of 282hp may seem tame today, but it enabled the 6.9 to hit 0-62mph in seven seconds and a top speed of 140mph – even with a three-speed automatic gearbox. It was also the first Mercedes to feature hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, with the driver able to lower the ride height from the cabin.

1968 Dodge Charger R/T – 426-cubic inch (7.0-litre) Hemi V8No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

In muscle car folklore, the 426 Hemi V8 holds a very special place. Essentially a NASCAR race engine sold for street use to meet homologation requirements, the 426 was nicknamed the ‘elephant engine’ for its size and power. Offered as an expensive option for a range of Mopar cars, around 11,000 were produced between 1966 and 1971, including the ’68 Charger R/T drag racer pictured here. As noted on the side, power output was 425hp. Today, original 426 Hemi-equipped cars command substantial sums at auction.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO Z/28 – 427-cubic inch (7.0-litre) V8

No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

When first launched in 1967, General Motors ruled that the first-generation Camaro could not be fitted with an engine larger than 400 cubic inches (6.6-litres). This placed the Camaro at a disadvantage against key rivals. However, certain dealerships – such as that ran by Don Yenko – would install a Chevrolet 427-cubic inch engine from the Corvette. Once Chevrolet became aware of this, it offered a Central Office Production Order option in 1969, allowing Camaros to unofficially come from the factory with the 450hp 427 V8.

1993 Lister Storm – 7.0-litre V12No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

It may be relatively unknown, but the Lister Storm gained a number of accolades when unveiled in 1993. Its Jaguar engine was developed from a Le Mans racer, and was the largest V12 fitted to a road car since World War II. With 546hp and 580lb ft of torque, it also held the record of being the fastest four-seater car in the world, with a top speed of 208mph. Just four road cars were built, with the Storm also taking to the track at Le Mans and in the FIA GT Championship. Curiously, in 1996 the Storm race car was sponsored by Newcastle United FC, although the partnership failed to produce success.

1969 Ford Boss 429 Mustang – 429-cubic inch (7.0-litre) V8

No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

As a combatant in the muscle car wars of the 1960s, the Boss 429 Mustang is one of the rarest and most sought-after examples. The 429 V8 engine was built to challenge Dodge’s 426 Hemi on track in NASCAR, but Ford had to build 500 motors for street use, with the Mustang chosen to host them. Power was officially rated at 375hp, but claims of 500-600hp are commonplace. Just 1,350 were produced between 1969 and 1970, with auction prices today of more than $500,000 (£400,000) not uncommon.

1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda – 440-cubic inch (7.2-litre) V8No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

The 426 Hemi may have been the most powerful, but the 440-cubic inch version was the biggest, and thus ranks higher on our list. It was also far more common, with more than 20 different Chrysler corporation models making use of it between 1965 and 1978. The peak for the 440 was from 1969 to 1971, when a version with six carburettor barrels was offered, resulting in 390hp. Debate still rages between Mopar fans as to whether the 440 or 426 Hemi makes for the best choice.

2003 Pagani Zonda S Roadster – 7.3-litre V12No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Pagani has famously made use of Mercedes-AMG engines from the outset, with the current Huayra using a turbocharged 6.0-litre V12. But the biggest Pagani motor was used in the Zonda S, which gained a 547hp 7.3-litre version of the naturally-aspirated M120 AMG engine in 2002. A roadster version followed in 2003, making it even easier to enjoy the sonorous sound of the V12.

2010 Aston Martin One-77 – 7.3-litre V12No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Billed as the most powerful naturally-aspirated production engine in the world when launched, the 7.3-litre V12 fitted to the One-77 is rather special. With 750hp, the flagship Aston was capable of hitting 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, with a top speed in excess of 220mph. Only 77 examples were built, with prices above £1.1million for the hand-built carbon fibre creation.

1972 Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds – Rocket 455-cubic inch (7.5-litre) V8

No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Wikimedia | 1969ho

With name like ‘Rocket’ there should be no doubting the intentions of the 455-cubic inch engine used by Oldsmobile between 1968 and 1978. Most notable is its use in the 390hp Hurst/Olds, a collaboration between Oldsmobile and Hurst Performance that is often overlooked by muscle car fans. It was at good enough for the Hurst/Olds to be picked as pace car for the 1972 Indianapolis 500.

1968 Lincoln Continental – 462-cubic inch (7.6-litre) V8

No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Wikimedia | Jeremy

The fourth-generation Continental, featuring wondrous ‘suicide’ rear doors for the sedan, is perhaps the most recognisable version of the big Lincoln. But by 1966, with the Continental expanding rapidly in size, power needed to increase. The answer was a 462-cubic inch V8 variant of the Ford MEL engine, tuned to deliver big torque at low revs to shift the giant Lincoln, which weighed in at up to 2,600kg.

1997 Dodge Ram 2500 – 8.0-litre V10No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

If you wanted to tow big things with your new Dodge Ram in 1997, but had an aversion to diesel power, the Magnum V10 engine was for you. Offered only in the higher rated 2500 and 3500 versions of the Ram, the 8.0-litre powerplant delivered 300hp and 450lb ft of torque. Perhaps the answer to today’s dieselphobia could be found in equipping more cars with huge ten-cylinder engines?

2005 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport – 8.0-litre W16No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Four turbochargers, sixteen cylinders, 1,000hp, a price in excess of £1.1million and a top speed of over 265mph. Strangely, despite being a car defined by numbers, the 8.0-litre displacement of the Veyron’s W16 engine is one figure that seems to get left by the wayside. But it manages to be the biggest European-built engine on our list, and is still in use in the new Chiron. Just with even more power, of course.

2001 Chevrolet Suburban 2500 – 8.1-litre V8No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

If you thought the Ford Excursion was the biggest and baddest SUV on our list, think again. Like the Excursion, the Suburban is built on a pick-up truck platform – the Chevy Silverado in this case – and came in heavy-duty variants. Picking the 8.1-litre Vortec option meant 340hp, and the knowledge that your engine was the same as one used in U-Haul trucks, motorboats and even armoured cars. Perfectly suited for the school run, then.

1976 Cadillac Eldorado – 500-cubic inch (8.2-litre) V8No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

With the land yachts of the 1970s expanding exponentially, horsepower needed to rise to shift the extra bulk. For Cadillac, the answer came with a 500 cubic-inch V8, billed as the world’s largest at the time of introduction in 1970. Changes to official horsepower ratings, and the need to meet emissions regulations, meant the power output dropped from 400hp in 1970, to just 190hp by 1976. Not ideal in a car rocking some 2,300kg of weight.

2005 Dodge Ram SRT-10 – 8.3-litre V10No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

There is a definite pattern to Dodge wanting to have the biggest engines in a pick-up truck. Not many good things came from the ill-fated DaimlerChrysler merger, but let the Ram SRT-10 be one positive memory at least. Unlike the earlier Magnum version, the SRT-10 was all about acceleration rather than towing, which meant dropping the 8.3-litre engine from the Dodge Viper under the bonnet. With 500hp and 525lb ft of torque, 0-60mph was just 5.2 seconds away.

2015 Dodge Viper SRT – 8.4-litre V10

No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Seemingly not content with previous efforts, Dodge engineers managed to extract another 100cc from the big V10 in 2008. By its final fifth generation, power from the 8.4-litre motor had risen to 645hp. Performance was equally ridiculous, with 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and a 208mph top speed. With the Viper now consigned to the history books, we have to question whether we’ll ever see a production car with an engine this large again.

1998 Chevrolet ZZ572/620 Crate Motor – 572-cubic inch (9.4-litre) V8No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

If the previous 23 options aren’t big enough for you, how about the choice to simply buy an engine and fit it to whatever car you want? Crate motors are big business in the USA, with hot rodders and tuners being particular fans of Chevy offerings. For $17,225 (£13,700) Chevrolet will deliver you a 572-cubic inch V8 producing 621hp and 645lb ft. If you happen to run on race fuel, that output increases to a ridiculous 720hp. Just make sure you measure your engine bay before ordering…

2003 Cadillac Sixteen Concept – 13.6-litre V16No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines

Ok, so we’ve bent the rules a little with the 1,000hp 13.6-litre Sixteen concept car. But, in our defence, Cadillac did produce a working version that was featured on Top Gear, and also in the films Click and Real Steel. In addition, Cadillac also built regular production V16-powered cars in the 1930s, even if they made do with a displacement of just 7.4 litres. The Sixteen featured ‘displacement-on-demand’ technology, allowing it to run on twelve or eight cylinders to save fuel.

Car insurance premiums set to hit £1,000 average by next year

Car insurance premiums set to hit £1,000 average by next year

Drivers are paying £110 more on average for car insurance than they did just one year ago – and premiums could hit a record high of £1,000 by next year.

That’s according to the latest car insurance price index report from, which reveals that the average fully-comp premium is a staggering £781 – 16% higher than in 2016, and just £77 less than the record highest average premium achieved in 2011.

The comparison website blames “pressures imposed on the insurance industry” for the price rises, and says premiums will continue their upward spiral into 2018. These pressures include a change in the way compensation for life-changing injuries is calculated, along with increases in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT).

“As the industry adapts to additional pressures, such as the drastic Ogden rate cut and the hike in IPT to 12% from June this year, we could be on course to drive past the £858 peak we saw in 2011,” said’s motoring editor, Amanda Stretton. “As car insurance costs continue to climb, average premiums could even break the £1,000 barrier by next year.

“Thankfully, insurers are now required to show drivers their premium from the previous year at point of renewal. So being able to compare the amount they paid in the previous year and armed with the knowledge that prices are rising across the board, motorists should be more inclined to shop around.”

Data from the website reveals that there continues to be a disparity between how much male and female drivers pay for insurance, despite an EU gender directive that states gender cannot be taken into account when calculating car insurance prices.

It found that men spend £824 on average – £96 more than female drivers, who typically pay £728 for their car insurance. The gender gap is most noticeable for younger drivers, with males aged between 17 and 20 paying a hefty £2,363 on average, compared to the £1,746 paid by women.

Techno Classica: Europe’s best classic car show

Techno ClassicaIn 2016, more than 200,000 visitors from around the world visited the Techno Classica car show in Essen, Germany. It’s considered to be Europe’s best classic car show, as demonstrated by these photos taken at this year’s event.

Skoda standTechno Classica

The Skoda Fabia or Octavia parked on your street can their roots back to Václav Laurin and Václav Klement and the founding of a bicycle factory in 1895. Laurin & Klement – as Skoda was formerly known – began building motorised bicycles in 1899 and cars in 1905.

Skoda looked back on 122 years of the history with the help of so-called “impressive milestones”, including the 935 Dynamic aerodynamic prototype, Popular Monte Carlo, Rapid Dalnice and a display of Favorit variants. The Favorit was the last car built by Skoda before it was swallowed by the Volkswagen Group.

Volkswagen Karmann-GhiaTechno Classica

If we were dishing out awards for the coolest car in Essen, the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia would be in with a shout. The Beetle-based coupe may have flattered to deceive when it came to performance, but it oozed West Coast cool.

As the name suggests, the pretty 2+2 was styled by Ghia and built by Karmann, positioned as an affordable – and slower – alternative to the Porsche 356. The Karmann-Ghia was superseded by the Porsche 914, the bodies of which were built at the Karmann factory in Osnabrück.

Volkswagen T1Techno Classica

The Type 2 was unveiled at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show and so-called because it was the German carmaker’s second model. The first generation models – built between 1950 and 1967 – retrospectively became known as the T1.

We suspect this 1950 model has never been stuck in a jam on the A303 or queued to get into a National Trust car park in Cornwall.

Ferrari 225 STechno Classica

The Ferrari 225 S first appeared at the 1952 Giro di Sicilia and was powered by a V12 which was being continually developed at the time. In this race, both open and closed versions were on show, each one bodied by Vignale, as seen here.

The 225 S emerged victorious in the 1952 Monaco Grand Prix, with Italian Vittorio Marzotto at the wheel. In the book, Ferrari 70 Years by Dennis Adler, it is claimed that 20 were built and that all but one had coachwork by Vignale.

Dino 246 GTTechno Classica

Despite looking almost identical to the earlier 206 GT, the Dino 246 GT introduced a number of changes. Eagle-eyed Ferrari fans at the 1969 Turin Motor Show would have noticed a repositioned fuel filler cap, longer engine cover, larger exhausts and new alloy wheels.

The wheelbase was increased by 60mm, while the engine capacity was boosted from 2.0- to 2.4-litres. A total of 2,487 units were built between 1969 and 1974.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR ‘Uhlenhaut Coupe’Techno Classica

The hardtop version of the 300 SLR ‘Uhlenhaut Coupe’ was built to go racing in the 1956 season, but with Mercedes-Benz withdrawing from racing in 1955, it was left without a competition.

Instead, it provided transport for the head of the test department, Rudolf Uhlenhaut. Two were built, but while this one lives in the Mercedes museum, the whereabouts of the other model is unknown. Check your nearest barn…

BMW 328Techno Classica

The BMW 328 was the car that put the Bavarian company on the map and would influence the styling of roadsters for years to come. Indeed, the 328 – introduced in 1936 – inspired elements of the Z3 and Z4.

It was hugely successful on the race track, too, notching up a win whilst still in prototype form at the Nurburgring, averaging 67mph over 70 miles. Only 462 units were built, making it one of the most prized sports cars of the pre-war era.

Cadillac Eldorado BroughamTechno Classica

The Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was one of the finest automobiles of the 1950s, driven exclusively by the rich and famous. None other than Frank Sinatra owned a third generation model, as seen here on display in Essen.

The Brougham cost a staggering $13,074 – more than double the price of a regular Eldorado – a price justified by opulent styling and lavish features. Air suspension, power seats, automatic boot opening, air conditioning and a perfume dispenser were just a few of the trinkets.

Porsche 356 BTechno Classica

The Porsche 356 B arrived in 1960 and introduced a number of styling changes to mark it out from the 356 A. The larger bumpers, increased amount of chrome and the repositioned headlights are just three of the distinguishing features.

Three body styles were available – Cabriolet, Roadster and Speedster – with power ranging from 60hp in the standard 1.6-litre 356 B to 140hp in the 2000 GS-GT Carrera 2.

Maserati 250FTechno Classica

According to Sir Stirling Moss, the Maserati 250F was “probably, of its era, the nicest Formula One, front-engined car to drive”.

Others believe the 250F is the most beautiful single-seater racing car of the post-war era. Is it? One to discuss over dinner…

NSU Prinz 30Techno Classica

The Prinz 30 was launched at the 1957 Frankfurt Motor Show and was the German company’s first post-war vehicle. It was powered by a motorcycle engine and despite its diminutive size, there was enough room for four people. It was a bit of a tight squeeze, mind.

Mercedes-Benz Model STechno Classica

The model S of 1927 was the first in a series of supercharged Mercedes-Benz sports cars nicknamed ‘White Elephants’. The ‘S’ stands for Sport and the Model S was victorious in its very first race at the Nurburgring.

BMW IsettaTechno Classica

Until the Mini arrived, microcars such as the BMW Isetta were all the rage. They provided cheap and reliable transport for many, and were economical enough prove invaluable during the Suez Crisis.

BMW 502Techno Classica

The 501 was the first car be produced by BMW after the Second World War and was nicknamed the ‘Baroque Angel’ by the German public. The 502 – which arrived in 1954 – was powered by a new V8 engine and was, at the time, the fastest saloon car in Germany.

Opel KapitanTechno Classica

This Opel Kapitan rolled off the production line in 1956 and took the honour of being the two-millionth Opel vehicle ever built. Note the gold-plated fittings, which were also a feature of the cabin.

Mercedes-Benz 540 K StreamlinerTechno Classica

The one-off Mercedes-Benz 540 K Streamliner was designed as a vehicle for competition but became a test vehicle for aerodynamics and efficiency. The priceless car was put into storage in 1945 before being restored in time for the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours.

Skoda Popular Monte CarloTechno Classica

Speaking of aerodynamics, the Skoda Popular Monte Carlo was at the forefront of research and development in this field. Only 72 coupe and cabriolet models were built between 1936 and 1938, each one marking the success of Skoda at the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally.

Best of Show: Alfa Romeo 3000 CM Superflow IVTechno Classica

This car was produced in four different body styles and had a clear influence on the original Alfa Romeo Spider. It was awarded ‘Best of Show’ at Techno Classica 2017.

BMWTechno Classica

BMW put on quite a show in its home country, as demonstrated by this stunning line-up of vehicles.

1937 Lagonda LG45 RapideTechno Classica

The Lagonda LG45 Rapide can boast an enviable competition history, including victory at Le Mans in 1935. Designed to rival contemporary Bentley models, the Lagonda was enjoyed by wealthy motorists of the time. Only 25 were built.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe Black SeriesTechno Classica

When new, the 6.2-litre V8 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe Black Series – catchy name – cost around £230,000. Top speed is limited to 196mph and it’ll sprint to 62mph in 3.6 seconds.

Citroen Traction Avant 11CVTechno Classica

The game-changing Citroen Traction Avant is the godfather of the modern motor car. It was the first front-wheel drive production car to boast a steel monocoque body, and also featured fully independent suspension.

Mercedes-Benz E500 LimitedTechno Classica

Given the popularity of the W124 in the early 90s, you’d have been forgiven for not spotting an E500 Limited looming into view. That’s until the Porsche-built, 5.0-litre V8 super-saloon breezed past you without breaking sweat.

Auction specialist names top 6 best-investment cars

Best investment carsWithout the benefit of hindsight and a crystal ball, it’s almost impossible to predict which classic cars will rocket in value in the coming years. However, a little specialist advice can go a long way, which is why we turned to expert Michael Squire for help.

As car specialist at RM Sotheby’s, Michael sees some of the world’s most prestigious vehicles pass through the auction houses of Europe. So he’s well placed to spot the latest trends and emerging classics.

Modern classics are certainly the order of the day, as highlighted by the prices being achieved by certain fast Fords, selected Porsche models and the Peugeot 205 GTI. Michael expects this trend to continue.

“The outlook is generally good, low-production models of the 80s and 90s continue to set world records, while cars of earlier periods have taken a breath. This is very much a continuing trend of the past year or so.

“As buyers have become more informed they’ve also become more astute in terms of buying quality examples and being prepared to pay for them. In contrast to this, average examples have become a little less saleable, and the value gap between the two will continue to grow.”

We asked Michael to name his top six cars for investment potential, with different price brackets to ensure there’s something to suit all pockets.

Up to £25,000: Lotus ElanBest investment cars

The original Lotus Elan of 1962 was a revelation and a revolution. Of all the cars to roll out of the Hethel factory, the Elan is perhaps the one that is most faithful to Colin Chapman’s ‘Simplify, then add lightness’ philosophy.

It was lightweight, meaning Lotus could extract the maximum potential from the Ford-sourced 1,558cc twin-cam engine, while the race-spec wishbone suspension was a huge leap forward in an age of live rear axles.

In so many ways, the Lotus Elan provided the blueprint for all future roadsters, to the extent that Mazda based the original MX-5 on Norfolk’s finest. Even today, few sports cars are as pin-sharp and responsive as the tiny Elan.

The £25k budget won’t stretch to a standard Elan or a Sprint, but you should be able to find the larger, but no less engaging Elan Plus Two.

£25,000 – £50,000: Mitsubishi Evo VI or Subaru Impreza P1 or RB5Best investment cars

Homologation specials have always been in demand, but Michael Squire believes two Japanese icons are set for a surge in value.

Available for just two years at the turn of the millennium, the Mitsubishi Evo VI was powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 276hp, although it was incredibly easy to extract a monster amount of power with the help of aftermarket tuners.

As Michael points out, the key to wise investment is to find an original car, especially if it’s a Tommi Makinen edition, considered by many to be the holy grail of Evo specials.

The Evo’s arch-nemesis is, of course, the Subaru Impreza, with Michael referencing two special editions as being good investments. The P1 was the UK’s first official two-door Impreza, with Subaru turning to Provide to produce 1,000 units.

Alternatively, Michael points to the RB5 as another Impreza with investment potential. A mere 444 models were built to celebrate the return of Richard Burns to Subaru’s rally team. Exclusivity, and the link to a British motorsport legend, should ensure prices start to rise.

£50,000 – £100,000: Sunbeam Tiger (preferably MkII)Best investment cars

More than a few eyebrows were raised when Rootes decided to squeeze a 4.2-litre Ford V8 engine into the Sunbeam Alpine. Even taking into account the success of the AC Cobra, this seemed like an unlikely pairing.

The result was the Sunbeam Tiger, which looked like a standard Alpine, aside from the wider wheels and Tiger badges. Although the suspension and steering were modified, this wasn’t enough to create a razor-sharp sports car.

An improved MkII version arrived in 1967, complete with a larger 4.7-litre engine, by which time Chrysler had taken control of the Rootes Group. The writing was on the wall for the Tiger, with Chrysler unable to replace the Ford engine.

Only 12 right-hand-drive MkIIs were ever built, which is why the investment potential for this model is so strong.

£100,000 – £250,000: Porsche 996 GT3 RSBest investment cars

“Porsche is the most discussed of all the marques at the moment. RM Sotheby’s in particular has produced some extraordinary results for the marque recently, especially for rare and very original examples of the 90s,” said Michael.

The 996 GT3 RS arrived in 2003 with a price tag of £84,230. It used the same 3.6-litre flat-six engine as the 911 GT3, but while the power output was the same, the difference between the two was kreide und käse.

It was 50kg lighter – 70kg if you opted for ceramic brakes – while a host of homologation touches and a white-tube rollcage meant that it felt every inch the track-day car for the road. Only 682 were ever built, making it one of the most sought-after and rarest 911s in the world.

£250,000 – £500,000: Ex-Le Mans Ferrari GTsBest investment cars

We’re entering deep pocket territory here, with Michael Squire suggesting that ex-Le Mans Ferrari GT cars are likely to go up in value.

This includes cars such as the Ferrari F430 GT2, which was based on the road car and designed to compete in international GT2 class competition, such as Le Mans, American Le Mans and the FIA GT Championship.

Alternatively, assuming you have the funds, you might wish to consider the 360 GTC. It was developed in collaboration with Michelotto Automobili, with composite bodywork helping the it tip the scales at just 1,100kg. Power was sourced from a 3.6-litre V8 developing 450hp.

£500,000+: Pagani Zonda – any of them, if you can find oneBest investment cars

The Pagani Zonda doesn’t appear in too many auction catalogues, hence Michael’s remark about finding one. Annoyingly, when a Zonda is for sale via a dealer, it’s usually accompanied by a ‘POA’ notice. If you have to ask the price…

But what advice does Michael have for anyone hoping to attend a classic car auction for the first time? Whether you’re after an Elan or a Zonda, the same principles apply.

“If you’re interested in buying at an auction and you’re unsure as to the process then contact the auction house, especially if you have questions about a car. In order for you to bid, you will need to register beforehand so give yourself plenty of time to do this, and most of all read the terms and conditions,” advises Michael.

RM Sotheby’s next auction is Villa Erba on 27th May, held in association with the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como. So far, none of the cars listed by Michael appear in the catalogue, although a 2014 LaFerrari is set to go under the hammer.

Classic Mini makes a £50,000 comeback

Mini Remastered by David Brown AutomotiveForget BMW’s retro-remake, the classic Mini is back. The British icon has been re-engineered by David Brown Automotive, with bespoke features, more power and modern tech. However, with a starting price of ‘around £50,000’, you need a big budget for this small car.

Coachbuilt coolMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

This isn’t the first car from David Brown. The firm, which describes itself as a ‘21st-century coachbuilder’, already builds the Speedback GT: a Jaguar XKR-based sports coupe styled like an Aston Martin DB5.

The Mini should sell in larger numbers; David Brown hopes up to two cars per week will leave its new factory near Silverstone.

All in the detailsMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

Once a donor Mini is found, it’s taken apart and then painstakingly rebuilt – a process that takes around 1,000 man-hours. The bodywork seams are removed and a four-week paint process ensures a flawless finish. The front grille is custom-made from aluminium.

Speedback signatureMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

At the rear, you’ll find upswept exhaust tailpipes and arguably the DB Mini’s most controversial detail: jewel-like LED tail lamps that echo those on the Speedback GT. The Mini’s tailgate handle is removed, too – replaced by a button between the number plate lights.

Little luxuriesMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

Inside is where the Mini justifies its premium price tag. There are bespoke seats hand-trimmed – along with dashboard and door panels – in British-sourced leather, plus a gorgeous wood-rimmed Moto-Lita steering wheel. And it’s still a marvel of packaging perfection, of course.

Smiths styleMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

White-on-black Smiths gauges are a period touch, albeit with the addition of a modern LCD display. The dashboard is colour-coded to match the exterior – or can be painted any colour of your choice.

Mini mediaMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

The Pioneer infotainment system offers sat nav and a four-speaker stereo, plus a USB port for Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity. Just us, or does a Mini with a media system seem a bit ‘Austin Powers’?

Coffee to goMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

You also get keyless entry, push-button start and remote central locking. There’s even that most modern of accessories: a cupholder.

Stiff propositionMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

This looks fun. David Brown welds in additional beams and support struts to stiffen the chassis for better handling (not that the Mini ever felt lacking in that regard). It also modifies the suspension and beefs up the brakes.

Remastered refinementMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

Each Remastered also undergoes a ‘laborious sound-proofing process’ to improve refinement. Let’s hope you can still hear the characterful whine of that four-speed manual gearbox….

50 percent more powerMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

That said, with a sports exhaust and ‘50 per cent more power’ (an exact figure hasn’t been confirmed), the DB Mini may be slightly noisier than standard. Nearly 60 years on, the A-series engine is still a tight fit.

Silverstone showroomMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

Production of the Mini and Speedback GT will shortly move from Coventry to a new factory near Silverstone. There will also be a sales suite with cars on display.

Top Marques debutMini Remastered by David Brown Automotive

Mini Remastered is launched to the public at the Top Marques show in Monaco on 20 April. As well as the standard car, there will be two limited-run special editions available: ‘Inspired by Café Racers’ (cream and white) and ‘Inspired by Monte Carlo’ (red and black). Where do we sign?

21 great 21st century car designs

21 great 21st century car designsWe might be less than two decades into the new millennium, but automotive design has already moved on apace. We’ve picked out 21 cars that demonstrate truly great design since the year 2000. Not every car here is conventionally beautiful, but each showcases innovation, creativity, or the ability to tap into what buyers really desire. Of course, some are also here because they look too good to ignore.

2000 MINI Cooper21 great 21st century car designs

Remember the year 2000? The future was here, everything seemed to be painted silver and BMW had rid itself of the Rover brand. But it kept hold of the jewel in the crown: MINI. Setting the scene for design trends to follow, the R50 MINI Cooper was unashamedly retro, taking elements of the Alec Issigonis original to create a bigger, more modern machine.

Frank Stephenson was responsible for the design, and used classic Mini features such as the chrome grille, white wheels and contrasting roof to make the new car instantly recognisable. A central speedometer, combined with toggle switches, ensured the interior was equally retro-influenced. Although it didn’t push packaging boundaries like the original, it did prove to be hugely successful (and profitable) for BMW.

2001 Renault Avantime21 great 21st century car designs

At the turn of the millennium, Renault was in a buoyant mood, pushing its brand towards cutting-edge modernism. Along with the slightly more conventional Vel Satis, the Avantime was Patrick Le Quément’s vision of where Renault should go. But buyers weren’t really interested in making that journey, and only 8,500 were willing to buy one.

With a name that means ‘ahead of time’ the Avantime was just too leftfield, and lasted less than three years in production. Yet its pillarless one-box construction was ingenious, with special double hinges for the giant doors and a button that would retract all the windows and sunroof at once. Good design pushes boundaries, and there is no denying the Avantime did that.

2002 Ford GT40 concept car21 great 21st century car designs

Current focus is on the new Ford GT, but travel back 15 years and the 2002 Detroit Auto Show saw the launch of a special GT40 concept car. Intended to celebrate Ford’s centenary, the design was slavish in recreating the GT40 racer from the 1960s, albeit taller than the 40-inch height of the original. Public reaction was overwhelming, and a production version was prepared virtually unaltered.

Ford was unable to agree terms with the owner of the GT40 name, meaning finished versions would simply be titled ‘GT’. Other changes for the production cars included the addition of a rear bumper to meet impact tests, plus only one fuel filler cap instead of two. While it may have borrowed wholesale from the original GT40, the 2002 concept was unquestionably beautiful.

2003 BMW E60 5 Series21 great 21st century car designs

It might seem a little hard to believe, but maybe we were all wrong about Chris Bangle and his tenure as BMW’s chief of design. The E60 5 Series was met with scorn and derision by many, appearing far too radical in looks compared to the previous E39 version. Sharp creases, wraparound headlights and that tailgate all seemed to be very un-BMW like.

But look at the E60 now. This design is almost 15 years old, yet still manages to look modern and, whisper it, actually quite handsome. Over 1.3 million examples were sold between 2003 and 2009, suggesting buyers couldn’t have hated it as much as we were led to believe. Chris Bangle, we’re sorry – you got this one right.

2003 Porsche Carrera GT21 great 21st century car designs

The Carrera GT was the fortunate by-product of Porsche finding itself with a race-spec V10 engine, but no suitable home for it. The motor made its way into the Carrera GT concept car, shown at the 2000 Paris Motor Show. Following a positive reception, Porsche planned a limited production run for the Carrera GT, featuring a 612hp version of the 5.7-litre V10.

With a monocoque chassis built from pure carbon fibre, carbon ceramic brake discs and carbon fibre body panels, the Carrera GT was primarily a lesson in lightweight construction. Styling was dictated by the need to resemble the rest of the Porsche model range, but also incorporate the cooling needs of the V10, along with aerodynamic stability and performance. The result was a hypercar that looks relatively subtle compared to more recent creations, but it was brutally effective.

2004 Alfa Romeo 15921 great 21st century car designs

Everyone remembers the Alfa 156. It won European Car of the Year in 1998, gained praise for the clever hidden rear door handle, and featured a distinctive off-centre number plate. This made life hard for the 159 that had to follow it in 2004. Famed Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro was the man tasked with the styling job, and he was clearly undaunted by the task at hand.

With direct influences from the Brera concept car of 2002, the 159 retained the central V-shaped grille and off-centre number plate from the 156. Giugiaro produced a cohesive and distinctly Alfa design, while also incorporating the need to make the car larger. Platform development squabbles between Fiat and General Motors would hamper the finished product, but the 159 remained an elegant saloon – on the outside at least.

2004 Aston Martin DB921 great 21st century car designs

If you have ever complained that all new Aston Martins look the same, then the DB9 is the genesis of that design philosophy. Henrik Fisker’s work would go on to also inspire the V8 Vantage, Rapide, and various other cars also derived from the DB9. That the design was able to continue virtually unaltered until 2016 testament to how right Fisker was in the first place.

The DB9 did without aggressive spoilers and wings, reflecting its GT car nature. Classic Aston Martin elements like the front grille were incorporated into an elegant body. The car gained a unique ‘Sub Zero’ spot on the Top Gear ‘cool wall’, helping cement its place as a design icon.

2004 Chrysler 300C21 great 21st century car designs

Channelling the ‘Forward Look’ styling language of the Chrysler 300 range from the 1950s, the 300C was another unashamed retro recreation. A huge grille, shallow glasshouse and slab sides endowed the 300C with imposing street presence. More impressive was that it managed to be accepted on both sides of the Atlantic – something American cars have rarely achieved.

So popular was the 300C when launched that it racked up a range of celebrity endorsements. Famous 300C owners included Barack Obama, Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre and Ice Cube, and the car became a staple of hip-hop music videos. We’ll gloss over the trend for owners to replace the regular grille with a Bentley-badged one, however.

2004 Volkswagen Mk5 Golf GTI21 great 21st century car designs

After the criticism of the Mk3 and Mk4 versions of the Golf GTI, Wolfsburg hit back in 2004 with a car that truly lived up to the legacy of the original hot hatch. A comprehensive mechanical overhaul underneath the bodywork helped the Mk5 GTI drive as it should, but the intelligent design changes made it look like it belonged. Honeycomb mesh filled the bumper inserts, while a red stripe paid homage to the grille of the iconic Mk1.

Standard fit 17-inch Monza alloy wheels, along with black plastic side skirts, sharpened up the side profile, while the rear bumper featured twin exhaust tailpipes and a subtle spoiler. Inside, the return of tartan cloth trim made certain there was no confusing the GTI for a lesser Golf.

2006 Audi R821 great 21st century car designs

What makes the Audi R8 an iconic design? The fact it shows the confidence of the brand to produce a mid-engined supercar, capable of taking the fight to established rivals like Ferrari and Porsche. The R8 borrowed heavily from the Audi RSQ concept, featured in the 2004 film I, Robot, although obviously it lacked the spherical wheels used in the movie…

Most notable in the design of the R8 were the ‘side blades’ fitted behind the trailing edge of the doors. Offered in a number of finishes, they broke up the flank of the supercar and stopped it appearing like a generic mid-engined machine. They also served a functional role as air intakes for the V8 or V10 engines. Now into its second-generation, the R8 cemented the premium market position of the Audi brand.

2006 Dodge Challenger concept21 great 21st century car designs

Many cars since the turn of the millennium have used retro touches and influences. However, for the Challenger concept, Dodge went all-out, recreating the classic 1970 R/T model in an almost exact likeness. From the overall shape of the body to details like the quad headlights and front indicators, this was a slavish reproduction. Yet reconstructing one of the most iconic muscle cars can hardly be considered a bad idea.

After being shown at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show, Dodge released the production Challenger in 2008, with minimal alterations from the concept machine. The Challenger Concept was also important for playing a part in the muscle car revival of the late 2000s. With Ford and Chevrolet releasing ‘retro-futuristic’ interpretations of classic muscle cars, a previously dormant segment was recreated for those who could previously only dream of owning an original from the 1960s.

2007 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione21 great 21st century car designs

This may well be the most achingly beautiful car on our list. Long of nose, short of tail, and wearing a classic Alfa V-shaped grille, we’ll forgive you if you linger over images of the 8C Competizione for a little longer than most. Originally shown at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show, it took until 2007 for the 500 lucky customers to start receiving their completed cars.

Despite the Italian style, the 8C Competizione was actually created by a German designer – Wolfgang Egger. Under its lengthy bonnet was a Ferrari/Maserati 4.7-litre V8 engine, producing 450hp and an incredible sound. In all honesty, it could have been powered by a 1.0-litre diesel with 50hp and we’d still be begging to have one.

2007 Fiat 50021 great 21st century car designs

More than 1.5 million Fiat 500s have been sold globally, 250,000 of them in the UK alone. Yet dismissing the new 500 as an obvious choice ignores the fact it has been significantly responsible for propping up the Fiat brand, through faithfully copying the original 1957 car. It’s worth noting that Frank Stephenson, he of MINI Cooper fame, was responsible for creating the finished production version.

The design of the new 500 is not without merit, picking up the city car prize for the World’s Most Beautiful Automobile in 2007, along with the European Car of the Year award in 2008 and World Car Design of the Year in 2009. Whatever your opinion on the 500, that is a substantial set of awards for a car that shares underpinnings with the humble Fiat Panda. It does mean owners should probably stop adding eyelashes to the headlights, though.

2007 Maserati GranTurismo21 great 21st century car designs

The mid-2000s clearly experienced something of an Italian design renaissance, as we notch up another car from bel paese. Styled by American Jason Castriota while he was working for that most Italian of design houses, Pininfarina, the GranTurismo melded modern and classic styling features. Most notable is the gaping front grille, which wears the Maserati trident emblem.

Beneath a curvaceous design that hides the sheer size of the GranTurismo, the four-seater coupe shares many of its mechanical parts with the fifth-generation Quattroporte saloon. That includes its V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission, helping the GranTurismo tip the scales at nearly 1,900kg.

2009 Ferrari 458 Italia21 great 21st century car designs

Following on from the F430, which looked a little soft, the 458 Italia was Ferrari at full modern aggression. With design elements like the extended headlights that appeared to take influence from Japanese machinery, the 458 Italia brought the mid-engined supercar bang up to date.

That said, features like the exhaust system with three tailpipes paid homage to the F40, while round taillights continued a mid-engined Ferrari styling feature present since the 1975 308 GTB. Unlike its historic predecessors, the 458 Italia also had to contend with the need for advanced aerodynamics. Deformable winglets inside the front bumper would reduce in size to cut drag at high speed, helping the 458 achieve more than 200mph.

2010 Lexus LFA21 great 21st century car designs

Created by a single-minded desire to produce a halo model to demonstrate the abilities of the Lexus brand, the LFA had free reign to achieve iconic status. Performance was the key factor in shaping it, but the devotion to speed created a car with uniquely stunning looks. Carbon fibre was used extensively, allowing shapes that would not have been possible with metal construction.

Like the Ferrari 458, the LFA also featured three exhaust tailpipes, but stacked vertically. Hidden door handles kept the sides smooth, while even the wing mirrors were designed for aerodynamic optimisation. Lexus admits that a replacement for the LFA is unlikely in the near future, cementing the uniqueness of it as a 21st century design.

2011 Range Rover Evoque21 great 21st century car designs

As the smallest model in the Range Rover line-up, the Evoque had a tough brief. It needed to appear a premium product, but be accessible and affordable for urban buyers. A clamshell bonnet and floating roof were key styling elements borrowed from the bigger Range Rover. The use of lightweight aluminium and composite construction helped the Evoque retain a respectable kerb weight for a crossover SUV.

Even before going on sale, Land Rover had attracted some 18,000 pre-orders for the Evoque. Being crowned ‘Best Production Car’ at the 2010 Car Design News awards, along with the 2012 World Car Design of the Year prize, demonstrates how the Evoque was loved by industry critics as well as customers. Despite being some six years old, the Evoque still looks cutting-edge. Although let’s not talk about the convertible version…

2011 Volkswagen Up21 great 21st century car designs

Volkswagen learned a hard lesson after replacing the much-loved Lupo with the Brazilian-built Fox. Whilst buyers might want a VW city car to be affordable, they also want it to at least look expensive. The Up achieved that, with strong lines and a tailgate made from a single piece of glass – a feature borrowed from the Up concept first shown in 2007. This would also mark the Up out against its badge-engineered SEAT and Skoda brethren.

In fact, the Up’s styling replicated the concept car almost unchanged. Underneath, however, it ditched the rear-mounted flat-four engine for a conventional front-wheel-drive setup. The finished Up would take the 2012 World Car of the Year prize, beating both the BMW 3 Series and Porsche 911 in the final round of voting.

2014 Citroen C4 Cactus21 great 21st century car designs

Ferdinand Alexander Porsche is quoted as saying that “design is not simply art, it is elegance of function” and as the man responsible for the shape of the 911, he knew a thing or two about styling. Such a notion also justifies the inclusion of the C4 Cactus on this list. No, it may not be the most conventionally attractive car here, but a devotion to practicality means it stands out in a crowded crossover market.

Cactus buyers are rewarded with clever features like the Airbumps found on the side panels, which not only look cool, but also absorb impacts from shopping trolleys and other car doors. Citroen has also built the Cactus with low weight in mind, making it more fun to drive than you might expect from a utilitarian family machine. It might upset your neighbours in some colour choices, but it lives up to the idea of being elegantly functional.

2015 Jaguar F-Pace21 great 21st century car designs

The lure of the SUV is inescapable for contemporary car manufacturers, but there is still a need to ensure it looks like it’s part of the family. Many have tried, but it isn’t an easy task. Just try recalling the first-generation Porsche Cayenne… Thankfully, Jaguar possesses a truly talented designer in Ian Callum, meaning the F-Pace had the best possible start in life. So not only does it look like a Jaguar, but it looks good full-stop.

Ian Callum has led the transition of Jaguar from stuffy traditionalism to contemporary modernism, being responsible for cars such as the XF, XE and the F-Type. The F-Pace borrows features from those three models, with rear lights inspired by the F-Type being the most obvious element used. Becoming the fastest selling car in the history of the Jaguar brand suggests Mr Callum got it right with this one.

2016 Volvo V9021 great 21st century car designs

In a world where everything seems to be an SUV or crossover, there is something reassuring about a big estate car. Combine that with ideas of Scandinavian cool and Volvo safety, and the V90 becomes really rather desirable. Having it on your drive means you can pretend to have watched Scandi-noir dramas like The Bridge and Wallander without suffering hours of subtitles.

The S90 saloon version came first, but that somehow isn’t as chic or stylish as the big wagon. The V90 isn’t, admittedly, as practical as previous giant Volvo estates, trading boot space for style. But that’s hardly a Scandinavian crime, and means the V90 can rightfully take its place here as truly great 21st century design.

Exclusive: we drive a Volvo V90 police car

Volvo police carVolvo has form with police cars. Sure, your local bobby probably runs around in an Astra, while an unmarked BMW 5 Series is able to put the frights up any daring company car driver pounding up a motorway at 90mph. But the Swedish car firm has been making police cars since 1929 – and selling them to the British police since the 1960s.

Today, there are around 400 Volvo police cars on UK roads. The vast majority of these are V70 armed response vehicles or traffic cars. But, as the V70 is no longer produced, that could be about to change…

Volvo V90 police carVolvo V90 police car

Yes, say hello to the Volvo V90 police car. Here it is in Swedish livery, being tested on a frozen lake somewhere in the Northern Circle at a top secret military base. We say ‘tested’, that’s actually our man living out a childhood dream of driving a police car. On a frozen lake. Mostly sideways.

What’s the point of that?Volvo V90 police car

It’s not all in the name of fun and frolics. Honestly. Volvo’s test drivers spend at least 500 hours putting the latest police cars through their paces in hot and cold climates. The logic goes that if it can survive being driven hard in temperatures way below zero degrees, a pursuit through Bradford’s housing estates won’t phase it.

What’s under the bonnet?Volvo V90 police car

Under the bonnet of this V90 – and, indeed, all V90 police cars for now – is a standard four-cylinder D5 diesel engine. The twin-turbo unit produces 235hp and, before all the extra weight of the police equipment is added, propels the V90 to 62mph in 6.9 seconds.

What’s different, then?Volvo V90 police car

All Volvo V90 police cars are start off as standard cars, taken from the production line at the same point ordinary models are shipped off to dealers. But, rather than being loaded onto a transporter, police-cars-to-be are taken around the back of Volvo’s factory in Torslanda, near Gothenburg, and modified by the special vehicles division.

And what happens next?Volvo V90 police car

Here, a special team of converters spend around six days turning it into a cop car. A special boot frame is fitted to cope with all the gear carried by traffic officers (and prevent it flying forwards in the case of a rear-end shunt), while brakes are upgraded to help bring the heavyweight V90 to a stop. The suspension also gets upgraded, with a 300mm lift and firmer dampers. The wheels are replaced by XC90 alloys.

Is anything done in the UK?Volvo V90 police car

Once police cars arrive in the UK, they’re sent to one of a small number of specialist converters where the finishing touches are put in place. The correct radio is fitted, for example, while British ‘battenburg’ livery is applied to make it stand out.

Why are they so close to standard?Volvo V90 police car

Police cars are generally bought outright rather than leased, so police forces want to be able to get as much of their investment as possible back when it comes to resale time. As such, once you remove the kit fitted by Volvo’s special vehicles workshop, the V90 looks like pretty much any other model.

It looks rather luxurious insideVolvo V90 police car

Inside, it’s exactly as you’d expect a high-spec V90 to be. Leather seats are fitted (they wear better than cloth and are easy to wipe down), while the standard infotainment system is left in place (the aftermarket computer system that controls the blues and twos, as well as having its own sat-nav feature, is hinged to cover the standard system but can easily be lifted up).

Does it have holes in the roof?Volvo V90 police car

You used to be able to spot an ex-police car by holes in its roof where the lights were fitted. That’s not the case any more… everything is flush mounted, and cabling for the LED roof lights runs through the roof bars. All this helps when the police car has to be sold after retirement.

How long do forces keep police cars?Volvo V90 police car

Traditionally, forces would keep traffic cars for a maximum of three years and 100,000-150,000 miles. Now, budget cuts dictate that forces must keep hold of them for longer – as much as five years and several hundred thousand miles – so they need to be pretty robust.

How often are police cars serviced?Volvo V90 police car

Most police forces have their own workshop for routine servicing, which is carried out regularly, while some even invest in diagnostic equipment to enable more serious work to be carried out. Obviously, under routine police work the cars can be damaged fairly regularly – and for bodywork they’re usually returned to a local Volvo dealer.

What other challenges do forces face?Volvo V90 police car

Over the last eight or so years, all traffic cars have been diesel, with police forces keen to save money on fuel. As diesel becomes a naughty word and police need to be seen to be doing their bit, we could see a shift towards petrol or hybrid police cars. Indeed, with a plug-in hybrid T8 V90 on its way, it’d be fair to assume these might be pressed into police duty.

What about driverless tech?Volvo V90 police car

Volvo is big on autonomous technology, and safety systems such the firm’s City Safety automatic emergency braking could prove to be problematic. If a car will do everything in its power to prevent a collision, how do police carry out tactical stops that involve making contact with other vehicles? Fortunately, for now, the technology can be turned off…

And in the future?Volvo V90 police car

Who knows? Police cars are a tiny part of what Volvo does, so it won’t hold back on developing its driverless features for those rare occasions when traffic officers need to take control. Will we see driverless police cars? “Cars will outskill even police drivers,” Volvo’s special vehicles chief, Ulf Rydne, told us.

Will we see Volvo V90 police cars on UK roads?Volvo V90 police car

There are a few hoops Volvo has to jump through before we’ll see V90 police cars on the roads. It needs to be added to the Home Office framework, which means it’s approved for UK police forces. But as Swedish police have already tested the V90 and given it a 9.2/10 rating – higher than any other car ever – it’s unlikely that it won’t be approved in the UK. We ought to see V90 police cars patrolling our motorways by the end of 2017.