Top 3 Designs

Not mine, this time, but those of a guy named Frank Stephenson who, it must be said, is a bona fide  car designer and not just some guy on the Internet with an opinion — that would be me, among so many others.

Like me, though, Stephenson seems to favor cars designed in the pre-wind tunnel era — and certainly his design of, for example, the Ferrari 430 bears that out, even though he never actually admits it as such.

Anyway, our Frank opines on several brands’ designs — designs which he feel are statement cars and ones which either set, or reshaped the manufacturers’ designs for years to come.

Amazingly, though, I am in agreement with a lot of his selections despite my being a total amateur in this field.  His take on BMW’s three best designs are spot on, for example — the M1, 507 (which are my top pair, as you may recall) and the E9 / 3.0l CSi (which would be my number 3 choice, by the way).

I don’t agree with all his Ferrari choices, though.  Of course I agree with his selection of the Dino 246 GT and the 1960s-era 250 GT Lusso, but not so much with the 1970s 365 GT BB (which was really just a knock-off of the Lambo Miura P400 — as Stephenson himself acknowledges).  From a pure design standard, I would have picked one of the Scuderia’s other offerings, although which one I’m not quite sure.

Anyway, here are the episodes I think are interesting:

So kiss your Saturday goodbye, and if yer Missus yells at you, blame me.  I’ll be talking more about this topic tomorrow.


  1. I have always been an aficionado of the 1953 Studebaker penned in an afternoon by Bob Bourke of the Raymond Lowey stidio.

  2. This might take some time………
    As most ……. some people are aware the Commenditori only reluctantly built road cars so he could concentrate on race cars. ….. and he only was dragged ( kicking and screaming ) into mid -engine car design when Ford and Porsche showed him they were a faster, better design. He would be delighted with the new Roma. So with that in mind, my choice tends toward Race cars for the street.

    250 GTO
    the original 1957 Testa Rosa
    275 LM – Yeah, I know — Mid engine….. but I can’t help it. I should have bought one available in Boston in 1970 but @ $ 10,000 at the time, it was a little outside my budget.

  3. Porsche…..
    I’m in agreement with the choices of the 550 and the 904, but how can you leave out the 911? Butzi’s iconic design shape is still with us today. ( although when you see a long hood early 911 next to a 997 …. they look like completely different cars ) but a 928 over a 911 ????

  4. Jaguar…….

    I’ll agree with the D Type. Fantastic for the era. !!!!!

    But the open version of the XK 120 …. Nope, I much prefer the hardtop version. But my top three list would have to include the XK-SS

    ……and how can you possibly not include the E-Type, if you say Jaguar to any non car person over the age of 30 , they are going to envison an XKE.

  5. Lambo…….

    I have to agree with the choice of the Miura and the Countach .

    But growing up as a farm Boy , I also need to add Jeremy Clarkson’s choice of a new Lambo as well…

  6. It might get me banished from polite company, but I’ve always been very partial to the BMW M-Coupe “Clownshoe”. I agree with most of the other cars mentioned, but had I the money for a 2nd car of any price, I’d think long and hard about an M-Coupe along with some models of Ferraris.

  7. Aston Martin …..

    1959 DBR 1 — Now this is how a British race car should look…

    DB 5 — Maybe I’ve just watched Goldfinger too many times, but if you say Aston Martin to most people this version is what they think of.

    ….. and all the more recent Aston’s all blend together for me so so I guess I can only come up with two….. although the one design element that I do have to single out is the shape of the grill opening. even if all you see is that one cone in the raw aluminum as it is being shaped on an English wheel there is no mistaking that opening for being anything other than an Aston Martin.

  8. Well Mr. Stephenson and I must agree to disagree on some choices (i.e. Jaguar E-Type) But he is the designer, not I, so I think the perspective may be what makes the difference. I drove an XK-120 and the exhaust note was glorious. For Alfas, I liked the Canguro as well as the Alfa Montreal, for Ferraris, the 250 Lusso and the GTO would top my list, with maybe a GTB/4 a close second or third. I liked the BMW M1 when it came out, and the lesser known BMW GT by Frua looks pretty good, too. I drove a BMW 3.0CS one day, and it was a very nice car too, but not one I would covet. As to Aston Martins, my friend’s DB-9 is a lovely car, much more contemporary than Mr. Bond’s DB-5. As to most Porsches, I have not had one really appeal to me aesthetically, I drove friend’s 930 Turbo, and it was not for me, either, despite its remarkable performance. The Gullwing is about the only Mercedes besides the 500K that would appeal, but that is a pipe dream to own either one.

    Anyway, Mr. Stephenson seems to like his Scotch and other whiskies as you see them in the background, so he can’t be all bad, eh?

  9. The 928?!!!!!
    Plumps when you cook it.
    How does anything he said about the 550 design aesthetics apply to the 928?
    In Germany they had V6’s. In America they had V8’s. I don’t understand how the Germans sat still for the faster cars going to America.
    Did I say, “Plumps when you cook it”?

Comments are closed.