We often wonder whether the auto visionaries of the past, men like Carroll Shelby or Enzo Ferrari, would have believed that their quests to create some of the most iconic vehicles the world has ever seen would result in the cherished classics we painstakingly restore, meticulously maintain and shell out millions for in auto houses across the globe.
While the term “classic car” has long been associated with historic legacy vehicles such as Corvettes, Mustangs and Camaros, among others, there will come a time where the cars of today will be looked back on fondly for their unique designs, striking concepts and gloriously powerful engines.
We took a jump into the future to check out a selection of speedsters from the past 20 years that might be among the collectors’ lists of tomorrow.
From its humble beginnings at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989, this two-door Japanese roadster has become almost an emblem for the past 20-plus years as a fun, fast, affordable toy for the general public and racing community at large. Sporting a standard 1.6-liter engine, the 1992 Miata can hit 60 mph in about eight seconds and reach a top speed of about 126 mph. Known for its distinctively quirky pop-up headlights, this first-generation MX-5 set the standard for the brand into its third decade of production and hasn’t looked back since.
It was no secret that the corporate marriage between Mercedes-Benz and famed race car manufacturer McLaren would yield a one-of-a-kind supercar; the resulting run of the 722, Roadster and GT variants was received by collectors as one of the most notable collaborations in automotive history. With this street-legal grand tourer topping out at almost $500K for each limited-run unit, the SLR easily became the vehicle to be seen in. The rare Stirling Moss — 75 units sans roof and windows — is a special exception to the brand, with 640 horses under the hood and a edgy top speed of 220 mph.
A celebrated classic right off the production line, Porsche’s 5.7-liter V10 supercar, the Carrera GT, is a callback to its LMP racing division cars of the early ’90s. With stunning design lines and gargantuan side air intakes, the GT is not only a gorgeous car to revel in but has a magical presence of sheer power, refined performance and supreme class. Utilizing carbon fiber elements for weight and design, including a speed-deployable rear spoiler above 70 mph, the GT’s engine has the ability to produce over 550 horses of power and hit speeds of over 200 mph.
The most important title garnered by Jaguar’s fastest production car ever was that of Playboy’s 2012 Car of the Year. The slick Jaguar XKR-S featured an AJ-V8 Gen III R direct-injection engine that gave it the power of 542 horses and a lofty 461 lb.-ft. of pure torque. With a top speed in the neighborhood of 186 mph, few could go wrong with taking out this classic sports car in either its Coupe or Convertible variant.
Only surviving for a decade before its demise with the staggering economy in 2009, this roadster from Honda was rarely seen in dealerships; the Japanese market was all too eager to snap them up before they made their way to America. Launched to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary, this RWD hot rod featured a modest four-cylinder which still managed around 240 horses and 162 lb.-ft. of torque. Engrained in the legacy of the company, this is one car we still watch fondly on the freeway.
The spiritual successor to the famed 507 from the ’50s, the BMW Z8 made waves as an instant classic at a time when cars were taking the leap into new technologies and concept styles that would become the standard of today’s automobiles. The two-seater roadster was a design collaboration between a young Henrik Fisker (prior to becoming an electric car mogul) and BMW’s senior designer Scott Lempert. This one-of-a-kind classic with a 4.9-liter V8 held 400 horses and could hit 0-60 in just over four seconds.