Top Sports Cars Of The Last 50 Years


There are certain sports cars that will go down in history as the best of all time. Personal opinions don’t matter when it comes to the most popular models ever produced. Some of the vehicles on this list helped to push the motoring industry forward and pave the way for sports cars today. Best of all? You can still purchase some of the older models at specialist auctions. They might be expensive, but they’re still out there for anyone to enjoy. We’ll give you some information about each vehicle and highlight why they’ve made it onto our list. At the end of the day, sports cars are not suitable for daily commutes or constant use. However, everyone should own one at some point in their lives.

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  • Mazda Cosmo – 1967

The Mazda Cosmo design first reached the markets in 1967. It’s a grand touring coupe that remained in production until 1995. The first edition of this car became the most popular vehicle Mazda ever sold in Japan. However, sales were also encouraging in other countries around the world. It will never become one of the top dream cars, but you can’t ignore the impact it had on racing. The name Cosmo is said to reflect the global fascination with the Space Race. The company released a four-door sedan version of the car in 1981, but sales were low. Someone managed to buy an original Cosmo at auction last year for no less than $264,000. It’s probably not the most comfortable car in the world these days, but it sure looks cool.

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  • Ferrari 330 – 1967

The design team at Ferrari has long been at the forefront of sports car manufacturing. So, it should come as no surprise they made serious waves in 1967 with their 330 model. The original editions were released a few years earlier, but they failed to impress. That is why the team worked hard to make improvements and meet the demands of their customers. The first 330 model was simply a 230 with a larger engine. However, later editions saw the design change until the car became a unique product. It remained in production until 1968 when Ferrari decided to focus on more economical sports cars. The 330 had a four-liter engine, and that meant it used a lot of gas.

  • Lola T70 – 1969

The Lola T70 was built in the 1960s for sports car racing. It’s not the type of vehicle you can drive on the road in most instances. However, some racing enthusiasts have made the necessary adjustments required by law. So, you might see one of these once in a blue moon. Developed by Lola Cars in the UK, this model saw amazing success on the circuits. Walt Hansgen won the Monterey Grand Prix while driving one of these machines in the mid-sixties. The model went on to stay in production for many years. In 2005, Lola Cars announced they would release limited edition models of the original design.

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  • Citroen SM – 1970

The Citroen SM was a high-performance coupe that was produced from 1970 until 1975. It came third in the European Car of the Year competition and won many awards in the US. The SM model was on of the first sports cars ever produced by the French manufacturer. With a two or three liter engine, this car could reach speeds of almost 220 km/h. Best of all? Citroen made sure the model was cheaper than alternative vehicles in the same class. That is the main reason more than 40,000 SM models were sold in only a couple of years. With sharp handling and braking, it performed better than many other cars on the market.

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  • Chaparral 2J – 1970

Some sports cars were never designed for use on the open road. That is especially the case when you look at models produced by Chaparral. The 2J first appeared on the market in 1970, and it contained technology that would later be used in formula one vehicles. The fans used to cool the engine come from military tanks, and the car’s skirt extended all the way to the ground. That is what gave the 2J model such a unique appearance. During the Can-Am series, a driver in the 2J managed to qualify two seconds faster than any other competitor. It was a car designed for speed rather than comfort, and results on the racing circuit show that to be true.

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  • De Tomaso Pantera – 1972

The 1972 De Tomaso Pantera model remained in production until 1991. During that time, it was the manufacturer’s most popular design, and they sold more than seven-thousand units. The car came in a coupe style with a very large engine. Consumers could purchase different editions, but the smallest version came with a 4.9 liter beast under the hood. Some of the more expensive versions saw that engine size increase to 5.8 liters. Power-assisted disc brakes and rack and pinion steering all came as standard with the first Pantera models. It was a road car designed for people who wanted to make an impression.

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  • Lotus 78 – 1977

The guys at Lotus produced this “wing car” for their racing team during the 1977 and 1978 seasons. Designed by Peter Wright, the car is famed for starting the ground effect revolution that changed the face of motorsport. It soon became one of the fastest models on the circuit, and other racing teams struggled to compete. With a five-speed manual transmission, it handled much better than most of its counterparts. Racing experts claim that is why it made such an impact on the scene. At the time, nobody knew what made the car so special. They just knew it was a sure-fire race winner.

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  • Audi Sport Quattro – 1985

First unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1980, the Quattro design underwent many alterations before its 1985 heyday. The designers wanted to make a car that would perform well one the rally circuit, and they soon achieved that goal. The Audi Sport Quattro stayed in production until 1991, and it won many awards and titles during that time. With a 2.2 liter engine, it certainly wasn’t the most powerful car around. However, the handling was so precise that it was perfect for rural racing. Indeed, Michele Mouton became the first female driver to win the World Rally Championship using this model in 1981.

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  • McLaren F1 – 1992

The McLaren F1 model was hailed as being the world’s first supercar. Designers were working on the project from 1990 when they determined the racing world could do with something new. The car stayed in production and won many races until it was retired in 1999. With a staggering 6.1 liter engine, it’s unsurprising this model made waves in the industry. In 2005, UK TV station Channel 4 listed the model at the top of their 100 best cars of all time list. That was followed by the auction of an original chassis that fetched more than $8.47 million.

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  • Lotus Elise – 2005

In 2005, Lotus released a two-seat sports car that became exceptionally popular in only a couple of months. The main selling point of the Elise related to the price. Compared to other small roadworthy sports cars on the market, it offered much better value for money. The car could reach speeds of up to 240 km/h, so it wasn’t the fasted model around. However, it looked the part, and consumers headed out to buy them in their droves. The finished fiberglass body meant the Elise was much lighter than most other vehicles. That resulted in faster speeds without having to increase power.

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  • Porsche 911 Carrera – 2015

Porsche designers first released their 991 model way back in 1963. However, the design has undergone many changes and improvements since that time. It’s one of the most iconic models ever produced, and that’s why the latest edition makes it onto our list. There is a waiting list for more than two years to get on of these at the moment. Indeed, that’s why so many people choose to buy them second-hand. Browse Travers Auto Group for more information on the value of these vehicles. New models go for more than $100,000, so they’re too expensive for most people. Even so, it’s easy to understand the price when you consider the history of this amazing machine.

Those were some of the best sports cars produced and sold during the last fifty years. We put them in chronological order to make things easier for you. However, there are many other models that are worthy of your attention. Anyone who plans to become a classic car hobbyist when they retire should use this article for reference.

Racing enthusiasts could learn a lot more about the sport by taking a look at some of the sports cars that shaped the industry. We apologize for not mentioning anything created by Aston Martin because they have always been a major player. It’s just that the models on this list are considered to be more desirable. Also, they’ve won far more awards and races.

Can you think of any sports cars we’ve forgotten to mention? Have we overlooked something so fantastic your jaw has dropped to the floor? Let us know.


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About Sean Mackay

Sean writes about cars, golf and events going on in British Columbia, Canada. He is also the editor for The Automotive Review - an automotive publication bringing a West Coast flavour to its editorials.
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