Motoring beauty comes in many forms. It may be accidental: the result of a rigorous form-follows-function design. Or it may be in the pen of a great stylist, adding just the right flourish to produce a car that's truly special. Or, again, it may be in the eyes of a gawking by-stander as you drive past in your achingly lovely machine. Because these motor cars are far more than mere transport: they’re works of art in their own right. Here, then, are our picks for the top 10 most beautiful cars of all time. Are they yours, too?

10 most beautiful cars in the world

Bugatti Type 57C Atalante

A sensation at the 1939 New York World's Fair, the Type 57C Atalante is art deco on four wheels, a perfect piece of automotive jewellery that may just form the high point of Bugatti's contribution to art, let alone to motor cars. More advanced than any of its rivals, the Atalante boasted arched wings embracing the famous Bugatti grille, and a powerful eight-cylinder engine under the bonnet. Just 33 Atalantes were built. Ralph Lauren has one, so perhaps - if you can afford the stratospheric price - ask if he'll sell his.

Jaguar E-Type

Enzo Ferrari is reputed to have called the E-Type the most beautiful car in the world on its launch at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961, and who are we to disagree? The E-Type was designed as the road-going equivalent of the all-conquering D-Type racer, its famous - or notorious - long bonnet essential for housing the potent race-bred straight six engine. Jaguar's development team was world-leading as a result of Second World War aircraft work and under Sir William Lyons produced a pin-up sports car to define a decade.

Lamborghini Miura

The greatest Lamborghini? There are many who say so. The Miura benefitted from the work of two design geniuses: Giorgetto Guigiaro set out the supercar-defining mid-engined design, while Marcello Gandini, succeeding Guigiaro at legendary Italian stylists Bertone, penned the subtly menacing front and rear haunches as well as the signature rearview-limiting louvres. Lamborghini's V12 ensured performance was more than adequate. Launched in 1965, the Miura's svelte looks remain somehow futuristic.

Porsche 911

Today's 911s are bastions of complexity. The 1964 original was a masterpiece of simplicity. Ferdinand Porsche personally took charge of the design, as a simpler, more elegant version of the luxury marque's 356. Flat-six air-cooled engine is slung out to the rear allowing for surprising cabin space and a super-low aerodynamic nose. Weight balance dictates that the fuel tank is to the front, while the slinky roof means rear passengers might lack a little headroom. A supremely functional piece of auto-art to delight eye, heart and driver.

Citroën DS

"It looks like it fell from the sky," said French philosopher Roland Barthes of the DS, designed to a brief from Citroën boss Pierre Boulanger to be "the world's best, most beautiful, most comfortable and most advanced". The DS has a profile like no other, with windows arranged like none before. Rear indicators emerge from roof gutters. Hydropneumatic suspension gave it a magic carpet ride. At the 1955 Paris Motor Show, 743 orders were taken in the first 15 minutes after its unveiling. Still looks like a spaceship.

Ferrari 250 GTO

Pioneering aerodynamics shaped the GTO for the track, and what a shape those experiments produced. Exterior design by Giotto Bizzarrini focussed on getting the Ferrari through the air with the least resistance, hence that long, low nose and the flipped up spoiler to the rear. If this Ferrari is minimalist - the interior, too, speaking of everything that's necessary and nothing more - it's because it had to be. Construction is of aluminium, desirability today is sky-high, and the GTO is still best seen driven in anger, the Goodwood Revival being one stellar habitat.

Aston Martin DB5

First task here is to put aside the James Bond connection. Because beyond Sean Connery and the rest lies a svelte beauty of a British sports car, a true grand tourer whose lines are surely unimprovable. Design is distinctly non-British, by the Italian lightweight obsessives at Touring of Milan, an evolution of the company's design for the DB4. Discreet frontal curves become sharp wings to the rear, while the brilliantly achieved cooling vents to each front wing remain hallmarks of Aston Martins to this day. A million pounds will never be better spent.

Ford GT40

Beauty was in precisely no-one's mind when the Ford GT40 was conceived in the 1960s by the American motor brand. This was a racing car with one aim: to beat Ferrari at the Le Mans 24-hour race after Enzo Ferrari snubbed Henry Ford's offer to buy him out. Remarkably the GT40, so-named because 40 inches was the minimum height racing regulations allowed, famously triumphed at Le Mans several times over. The GT40's subliminal appeal comes precisely from its no-nonsense functionalism. Nothing here is extraneous to its job of winning on-track. That single-minded determination results in the GT40’s unsought, but undeniable, beauty.

Mercedes-Benz 300SL

GullwingIt's those gullwing doors that draw the attention: as beautifully engineered as the rest of the remarkable 300SL, capable of speeds of up to 180 mph, remarkable now, unthinkable for a 1954 production car. Detailing is intricate with an arresting grille of daring simplicity and surprisingly delicate bodywork blisters over each wheel. Aerodynamics dictated the low-slung styling. The gullwing doors were deemed essential because of the low tubular structure derived from the Mercedes W194 racing car, and are somehow even more attractive for that.  

BMW 507 Roadster

An abject failure on every measure of sales in period, this delectable 1950s BMW now regularly sets auction sales alight, achieving prices of £2-million and more. The 507 was aimed squarely at the American market, the brainchild of importer Max Hoffman, who even dictated its stylist, the German engineer Albrecht von Goertz. Elvis Presley ordered two, but the price was too high for the less well-heeled and a mere 252 were made. Now high on every collector's must-have list.

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