25 Cars You Need to Drive Before You Die

Published On 05/13/2015 Published On 05/13/2015
Cars you absolutely have to drive
 Erik Fuller ©2015 

For the consummate car guy, life would be incomplete without driving some of the finest pieces of machinery ever created. Sadly, for the lot of us, there's little to no chance of ever driving an original Shelby Cobra Daytona, Ferrari 250 GTO, or Formula One car.

However, there are myriad rides that you do stand a chance of piloting, and the 25 that follow should absolutely be requisites on your driving bucket list.  

Roadside Pictures

1. 1963 Split Window Corvette

There have been faster Corvettes, but the second-generation Corvette beginning in 1963 was what took the performance to the general public. It also featured a gorgeous split rear window that never saw the light of day after getting deleted in 1964.


2. BMW 2002

The 02 was more than just the forerunner of the 3-Series; it almost single-handedly introduced America to the concept of the European sport sedan.


3. Ferrari Testarossa

12 cylinders, two seats, and just enough comfort to make a jaunt up the coast something more than an endurance test is what makes the Testarossa so great.

Chad Bee ©2013 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

4. Volkswagen Bus

It doesn't have to be a gorgeous 23-window example from 1961 like this one. Find one for a couple grand that has a little life left in it, and hit the highway.


5. Rolls-Royce Wraith

Suicide doors and a V12 at your right foot's whim are just the beginning. Hit the road and you'll learn what the Brits mean when they start waxing poetically about "waftiness."


6. Reliant Robin

Just one wheel in front doesn't give the Robin much support for cornering, which is a large part of why it's so frequently mocked. It might be dangerous if you're not careful, but just once, you've gotta try it.

Shawn Sanders

7. Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep kinda started everything for people off-roading their own vehicles. It was virtually cloned for both the first Land Rover and the first Land Cruiser, and there aren't many vehicles you'd rather have on a beach.


8. An Original Mini

You're not emulating Mr. Bean; you're driving the comically microscopic economy car that beat up more than its share of giants on race courses around the world.


9. McLaren MP4-12C

It should go without saying that if you have a chance to drive a McLaren F1 or P1, you should take it. More than likely you never will, but that's ok, because you still get a pretty nice shot of adrenaline just starting an MP4-12C.


10. Citroen DS

Chances are, you've never given French car culture much of a thought outside of video games and spy movies, but a Citroen DS (shown) was a technological marvel in the 1950s.

Jean-Jacques M

11. An Air-Cooled Porsche 911

The 911 is about as classic a sports car you can get, but the cognoscenti all know that the purest 911s were back when all the cooling was done with air, instead of water.


12. A Winnebago

Driving cross-country in a shag carpet-lined brick is epic Americana, and not having to stay in some of those roach motels lining the interstate is a fantastic bonus.

Brian Snelson

13. Lamborghini Countach

The Countach is somehow different from other Lambos, a rock star even among wild supercars. Why do you think they're called Lambo doors?

Brian Snelson

14. A Classic Replica

The odds are stacked against anyone who owns an original GT40 or Shelby Cobra ever tossing you the keys, but you can get 90% of the experience for 10% of the cost if you hop in a replica.


15. Tesla Model S P85D

The Tesla's a paradox: A heavy, five-door family car that can annihilate nearly anything in a straight line. That's worth experiencing once.

Wikimedia Commons

16. Hummer H1

The term "military spec" gets tossed around frequently, but it's wholly appropriate for the Hummer, which started as the go-to vehicle for U.S. troops.

Georg Sander

17. Jaguar XK-E Roadster

Not only was the XK-E called "the most beautiful car in the world" by none other than Enzo Ferrari, the blisteringly fast (by 1961 standards) E-Type remains the gold standard for top-down motoring.

Chad Horwedel

18. Shelby Mustang GT350

The GT350's the track-ready Mustang that sparked the original pony car as a viable performance vehicle, and is as integral to the Carroll Shelby legend as the Cobra or GT40.


19. BMW E30 M3

When BMW's M division took a hopped up and lightweight four cylinder and stuffed it into the second generation 3-Series, it created a monster that could out-corner cars costing several times more.


20. Land Rover Defender

In a move vaguely reminiscent of the Porsche 911, the soon-to-be retired Defender changed only in minor evolutionary steps over the years. It's still classic, and still more than capable of going nearly anywhere.


21. The Amphicar

Does it look weird driving down the road? Yep. Does it scare the crap out of unknowing passengers when you scream "the brakes don't work!" while driving straight into a lake? Yep. Just ask President Johnson.


22. Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser

It's one of the single most utility-driven vehicles ever made, which is why you'll still find even 40-year-old versions of these trucks used in some of the world's most remote environments.

Greg Myers

23. 1955-1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

For many, this is the definitive hot-rod. Case in point: the car above almost looks naked without flames on the side, doesn't it?

Stephen Hennessey

24. Ford Bronco

When Ford developed the Bronco, several executives had visions in their heads of creating the off-road equivalent of the then-young Mustang. Nearly five decades later, the early models still maintain a cult-like following.

Aston Martin

25. Aston Martin DB9

Yes, I can hear your screams about picking this over the DB5 loud and clear. That’s the wrong choice, because the modus operandi of Aston Martin has always been to produce devastatingly quick cars that are so refined you want nothing more than to settle into an hours-long drive. The DB9 is that currently. The DB5 was that…50 years ago.



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