In sports, it’s common to talk about the GOAT – that is, the Greatest of All Time. This leads to spirited debates among fans and analysts.
Is Michael Jordan the GOAT, or should that title belong to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus? Babe Ruth or Willie Mays?
The list of luxury cars brings out the same type of discussion. Endless debates can be had about whether the ’57 Chevy outclasses a mid-60’s Mustang.
But if you really want to look at the best, you have to consider the list of luxury cars that set new standards.
Here, in no particular order, is a list of luxury cars that completely revolutionized the auto industry.
Mercer 35R Raceabout
One of the very first luxury cars was the Mercer 35R Raceabout. Produced between 1910 and 1914, this vehicle was almost unbeatable at local raceways.
What made this car so revolutionary was that it was designed to be safely operated at consistent speeds of 70 mph, which was extremely fast for that time. It had an inline 4 cylinder T-head engine and was highly coveted for its quality construction and excellent handling.
On the list of luxury cars, the Mercer 35R Raceabout was the first to revolutionize the industry.
Aston Martin Lagonda
Both loved and hated, the original Aston Martin Lagonda was incredibly cutting edge for its sharp-edged design, powerful V8 engine, and digital dashboard. Manufactured between 1974-1990, the car was in high demand.
The problem, of course, was that the digital dashboard frequently failed. However, this innovation is now standard on new vehicles, so clearly the Aston Martin Lagonda belongs on this list of luxury cars.
Although this entrant on our list of luxury cars wasn’t offered in North America, the Tatra 77 was an important vehicle that almost coined the phrase “ahead of its time”.
In the 1930’s, manufacturers weren’t worried about drag and aerodynamics, but that didn’t stop Tatra from experimenting. The Tatra 77 had a drag coefficient of just 0.212. For comparison, consider that the Toyota Prius has a drag coefficient of 0.24.
While the Tatra 77 wasn’t wildly popular, it paved the way for efficiency and also boasted independent suspension at all four corners and a rear-mounted V8 engine with hemispherical combustion chambers.
1960’s Ford Mustang
A car that became an icon and spawned a whole new sub-segment of pony cars, the Ford Mustang was the most successful muscle car of the 60’s.
Believe it or not, the Mustang was originally a two-seater concept vehicle based on the Ford Falcon. In 1965, however, it became Ford’s most successful release since the Model A.
Ford sold over 1 million Mustangs in just two years, between 1965 and 1966. The Ford Mustang was an incredible iconic success story that continues today, and its triumph caused it to influence the design of several major competitors.
This is a newer vehicle on our list of luxury cars but is nonetheless revolutionary. The idea of electric cars was part of the initial car revolution of the early 1900’s, but gasoline powered vehicles became the standard.
The idea of going back to electric power was tricky since manufacturers had to find ways to make batteries that were light enough and affordable enough for average Americans.
Enter the Toyota Prius. By creating a hybrid design, Toyota has revolutionized car manufacturing and given consumers eager to save on fuel a great option.
Even better, the Toyota Prius has pushed other manufacturers to find alternatives to gasoline power, including Lamborghini, who may be working on their own electric supercar.
Maserati Quattroporte III
The importance of this Maserati on our list of luxury cars is two-fold. First, it was incredibly popular with everyone from the Italian Prime Minister to Rocky Balboa.
Secondly, it had a lavish interior, V-8 engine, and sporty rear-wheel drive, which helped it be wildly successful and pull Maserati out of debt.
This popular luxury car helped define what people around the world looked for in a luxury vehicle.
Lincoln Continental Mark V
The Lincoln Continental Mark V is a coveted collector’s item. It marked the beginning of a trend in the auto industry, where automakers would collaborate with fashion designers to release special edition cars.
The Continental Mark V boasts unique paint colors, along with vinyl roofs, trim, and interiors. Despite being large, it also took steps toward fuel efficiency, which would become a must-have in future vehicles.
Maybach 57 and 62
Like the Tatra of the 30’s, this vehicle on our list of luxury cars seems doomed to be under appreciated.
The cars were assembled over a four-month timeframe with a heavy focus on handcrafting and customization and were advertised as a “private luxury jet” for the road.
Unfortunately, despite being some of the finest luxury sedans available, sales didn’t meet expectations and the division was closed in 2013.
Regardless, they still represent the lengths to which luxury can go in the 21st century.
The Phantom continues to drive luxury cars forward by incorporating unique features into an ultra-luxurious design. Demand for these beautiful vehicles is high, and it’s the anchor model of the Rolls-Royce brand.
Featuring elements like a retractable hood ornament, suicide doors, hidden umbrella compartments, and endless customization options, the Phantom allows you to drive a true one-of-a-kind luxury car.
A 4-door Porsche? What is this world coming to?
Although panned by purists, the Panamera from Porsche helps incorporate the high-performance chops you expect from a luxury car with a vehicle that caters to both drivers and passengers.
The Panamera paved the way for other four-door Porsche vehicles that were big hits, showing that a performance sports car can have four doors and still be cool.
The 2017 Panamera comes in 13 different variants, so there’s truly something for everyone in this luxury vehicle.
The list of luxury cars that revolutionized the industry is much longer than 10, of course…
There will doubtless be debates about what should and shouldn’t be included. What do you think?
Regardless, it’s clear that luxury cars have influenced how future cars are made, and will continue to do so!