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Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s treasure is another’s trash.
Venturing into “best ever” lists based on looks is always an exercise in personal taste. However, when it comes to automotive designs, there is no disputing that some are far more influential than others, both from their place in time and their everlasting appeal.
For me, these are the top three greatest—from an aesthetic point of view—automobile designs of all time, and represent three distinct eras.
935 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic Coupe
The design brainchild of Jean Bugatti, the son of Ettore, who founded the legendary French automaker in 1909, this Grand Tourer came to epitomize the elegant design language of the marque. Its unique styling continues to inspire car designers and engineers. Just over 700 Type 57s were built between 1934 and 1940. A number of variants were produced during that 16-year period, through the cream of that limited crop is the 57SC Atlantic, of which just four were produced. Based on the “Aerolithe” concept, the Atlantic was fabricated with aluminum and its unique “dorsal fin” running from the bottom of the windshield to the rear end was riveted together as welding aluminum was not possible until 1944. Three of the four Atlantics are still with us, and all restored to their original glory. Two of them claimed coveted Best of Show honours at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1990 and 2003. That last one to change hands sold for US$40 million in 2010.