When it comes to art, most of the time we reserve it for museums and prestigious libraries and universities, but the cars on this list were designed by people who thought different. The cars on this list are some of the most decorative cars that you have ever seen.
These decorative cars are the culmination of what it means to ride in style. Some of these cars are classy, sleek and sophisticated and others are outlandish and loud and full of color and personality. Either way, if you appreciate art, you will appreciate the cars on this list.
1956 Nash Ambassador
The Nash Ambassador, the first car on this list was manufactured from Nash and later American Motors from 1932 to 1974. The car was one of the most prestigious cars in the Nash lineup and was even used as the showcase model.
In addition to being one of the most expensive sedans in the Nash lineup, the Ambassador was bought and driven by royal families. If you were buying a car in 1957, the last year that they were produced under Nash Motors then you even had the option to create a custom model.
1937 Cord 810/812
A luxury 2-door coupe, the Cord 810 and 812 were American manufactured from Cord Automobile for 2 years between 1936 and 1937.
It was the first American designed and built car that with front-wheel drive that had an independent front suspension and was also the first cars to offer hidden headlights. In 1937, buyers had the option to get a supercharged model with a V8 engine that had a horsepower of 170.
1950 GM Futurliner “Parade of Progress” Tour Bus
The Futurliner was part of General Motors custom vehicle designed by Harley Earl during the company’s Parade to Progress. The Futurliner was 33 feet long, 11 feet tall, and weighed over 12 tons.
One of their unique features was the built-in stage that could pop out of the side and be used to showcase an event or impress onlookers. There were 12 built in total in 1939, and each one represented a different style and looked different. Only 9 remain in the world today.
1937 Delahaye 145 Chapron Coupe
Delahaye first designed the Chapron Coupe as part of a countrywide challenge to come up with a French manufactured vehicle that could race and compete with Italian sports cars.
During its creation, Delahaye came up with the idea for a supercharged engine which was a 3.5-L 6-cylinder engine at that time. Produced by Chapron, there were only 2 of the 145 vehicles made in 1937. Due to conflict and war in the late 1930s and 1940s, Delahaye was never able to race the Chapron Coupe.
1939 Lancia Astura IV Touring
The Lancia Asura was an Italian car made from 1931-1939 from the manufacturer Lancia. Over the course of its 8-year cycle, there would be 4 series built and made available to the public with differing trim level options for the buyer.
Overall there were just over 3,000 units built and sold and in 1939 before Lancia ceased production. At its peak, during its third and fourth series, the Astura had a 3.0-L V8 engine that produced 82 horsepower.
Designed by Ferdinand Porsche during his time at Mercedes-Benz before going to start his own manufacturing company. The SSK, which stood for “Super Sport Kurz,” was a 2-door roadster built in Germany from 1928 to 1932.
The body of the SSK was based on the Model K which had a shorter body length that allowed it to be more agile for racing and handling. Only 40 SSKs were built during its 4-year production span. Out of those roughly only 4 or 5 exist still today.
Developed and produced by Nash Automobile from 1950 to 1951, the Statesman was a full-size, mid-level automobile that was designed to be both sturdy and reliable.
From the front, the Statesman was shorter and therefore lighter and easier to handle. Buyers had the option to buy the Statesman at three different trim levels; the Statesman Super, a top of the line Statesman Custom, as well as a fleet-only model, built and designed only for commercial and institutional use.
The Bendix SWC was a hand-built 4-door sedan designed and built by Alfred Ney in 1934 by the Bendix Corporation. During it’s time it, the SWC was considered innovative because of its unique features such as front-wheel drive and four-wheel independent suspension.
The SWC was never mass-produced or marketed due to the company’s feigning stock market value and the expensive and wasteful lifestyle of Bendix’s CEO and the project was eventually scrapped altogether.
The LaSalle was an American brand that was part of the luxury automobiles division of General Motors Cadillac and was produced from 1927 to 1940.
The idea behind the LaSalle was that it was a companion to the Cadillac that came at a lower price point to make it more appealing to buyers. Eventually, General Motors decided that they would combine the LaSalle models into the Cadillac lineup and the LaSalle name was discontinued in 1941 to fully become Cadillac.
1935 Bugatti Aerolithe
Built and designed by Jean Bugatti, the Aerolithe was a lightweight 2-door car produced for only one year in 1936. Aerolithe, meaning “meteorite” came from the French phrase “Rapide come one aerolithe” which meant “Fast as a meteorite” and it debuted at the Paris International Motor Show.
Due to its odd shape it initially lacked audience attention and interest and only four were built. The Guide, a Canadian car restoration team, created an exact replica from 2008 to 2013 that they keep on display for visitors.
1925 Rolls Royce Phantom I Aerodynamic Coupe
The Rolls Royce Phantom was a beautiful limited model addition to the Rolls Royce lineup. The Phantom won numerous awards because of its unique styling including the Le Prix de Cannes where it handily came in first place.
Under the hood, the Phantom was fitted with a 6-cylinder engine and four-speed transmission. It had round doors, half-moon windows, and twin sunroofs. And it was notoriously quiet and made little road noise while still being able to travel at 100 mph.
1939 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Labourdette Vutotal Cabriolet
One of the most expensive cars of its time with the body alone costing over $44,000, the Phantom III was one of the most daring models to ever come out of a Rolls Royce factory.
The car first premiered at the Brussels, Geneva, London and eventually came to the New York Fair in 1939 and was well received by the public. The last car was designed and produced by Labourdette of Paris in 1947 on commission from Louis Ritter.
1938 Hispano-Suiza H6
The H6 was a luxury car produced by Hispano-Suiza in France whose design was based on Marc Birkigt’s aircraft engine designs. One of the H6’s most notable features includes its brakes which were the first of their kind and were driven with a special shaft from the transmission with a power assist.
Buyers had the option of purchasing the H6B which had a more powerful 8.0-liter engine and later Hispano-Suiza would release the J12 which came with a 9.5-litre V12 pushrod engine.
1936 Auburn Boattail Speedster
As part of the redemption the Auburn Automobile Company after its sales took a nosedive in 1924, Errett Cord and James Crawford came up with the design for the Auburn Speedster. It was released in 1925 and got its name from the engine that was being used in it.
It was advertised in the late 1920s and into the 1930s as a racing car with the comfort of a closed car and quickly became popular among the public as sales increased overall for the company. Its iconic feature, the boattail, would soon be copied by other manufacturers and put on models including the 1963-1967 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the 1971-1973 Buick Riviera.
1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Touring Flying Star Spider
The Alfa Romeo 6C was the name of the road, race and sport models produced by Alfa Romeo from 1927-1954. The name 6C comes from the size of the engine which is a standard 6-cylinder on all of the models.
The 1750 GS Touring was specially made from 1929 to 1933 and was the fastest of all the base models with a top speed of 95 mph though buyers had the option to add a supercharger for more of a boost.
Ford Model 40 Special Speedster
The Ford Model 40 Special Speedster, designed by Ford Edsel in 1934 was intended to look like other European racing cars at that time with a low and dramatic design.
Since being built in 1934, the 40 Special Speedster has only rarely resurfaced. It was seen in 1954 in Florida after being sold for $603 and was last seen in 2008 at a Texas car auction where it sold for $1.76 million to a car collector.
Considered extremely modern when it was introduced to the public in 1935, the Lincoln Zephyr was the lower-priced mid-size entry to the Lincoln lineup. The name “Zephyr” came from the Greek word zephyrus, meaning “god of the west wind” and the car was named after it due to its steamboat aerodynamic presence which differentiated it from Lincoln’s previous models that were criticized for being too wind resistant.
Car production came to a screeching halt following the war. Once Lincoln started producing cars again in 1942, they decided to drop the name “Zephyr” and just stuck with Lincoln.
1929 Vauxhall Hurlingham
Manufactured by the Vauxhall division of General Motors from 1927 to 1930, the Vauxhall was a lower-end luxury car sold as a coupe, sedan or limousine.
A car for almost every buyer at any price point, the Vauxhall was easily customizable and whether you wanted a family car or a coupe, the Vauxhall had a model and style just for you. The last model, the Vauxhall 80 gave buyers the option to buy more speed with 62 bhp, a 15% increase from the Vauxhall 20-60 models.
1948 Talbot-Lago 26 Grand Sport
The Talbot-Lago 26 Grand Sport was the brainchild design that was produced as one of the last hopes for a company failing financially. In the year 1948 when the Grand Sport was introduced, only 12 units were made in total.
The engine produced 170 horsepower which garnered the vehicle much praise and attention for its speed. With great horsepower and design came the ability to win races as drivers frequently raced the car in Grands Prix. It even went on to win the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in 1950.
1928 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo
The 1928 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo was a luxury sports car made by the manufacturer Isotta-Fraschini from 1924-1931. It was the fastest mass-produced vehicle in the world at the time and every model came with a powerful straight engine and the promise from Isotta Fraschini that it could do 93 mph.
Being a luxury car, it was expensive and while 950 units were produced in total, only around 1/3 of them made it to the United States.
1953 Kurtis 500S Roadster
With only 20 units produced in total, the Kurtis 500S Roadster was the culmination of eight other successful models that were designed and raced by Frank Kurtis during the 1950s.
The 500S Roadster was compared to other 1950 models made by notable manufacturers including Jaguar, Mercedes, and Ferrari and was raced alongside some of their best models at the time. Kurtis built the 500S completely from scratch in his body shop using modified car parts.
1939 Delage D8 120S Letourneur Et Marchand Aerosport Coupe
Intended as a replacement for the Delage GLS, the D8 was a response to an economy in recovery after the 1929 stock market crash that decimated the auto industry.
It was never designed to sell well and was only used to provide small boosts of sales and momentum for other Delage models to come in later years. The Delage D8-120 got its names from the horsepower that it could produce and eventually stopped being made due to war.
1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic
The Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic was a streamlined coupe based on the 1935 Aerolithe design by Jean Bugatti. Because most of the car was made with Elektron, an extremely lightweight and durable material, it was also very heat resistant and could become flammable.
To combat this, Bugatti engineers used a technique discovered by plane pilots and designers and put the rivets on the car externally thereby creating a seam that the car eventually became known for.
1954 Buick Wildcat II
One of the more radical trim levels of the Buick Wildcat, the Buick Wildcat II was a futuristic model designed under Harley Earl.
The body of the Wildcat II was mostly made out of carbon-fiber and a vinyl-ester resin and was fitted with woodgrain on the interior for a more luxurious feel. The Wildcat II was equipped with a V6 engine and Buick kept a few operational models for themselves that they still own today.
1930 Ruxton Model C Raunch and Lang Roadster
The 1930 Ruxton Model C Raunch and Lang Roadster was a custom body model that was sold form the late 1920’s into the 1930s.
Originally starting out as an immigrant blacksmith, Jacob J. Rauch wanted to design a car that was not only unique but was also something that he could mass produce. Together, Rauch and Charles E.J. Lang made carriages and ice wagons until they decided to make a commercial model to reach a larger market.
The Toyota AA served as Toyota’s first passenger production car and was built in 1935 in Japan. The AA was a 4-door sedan whose body was made primarily out of metal on metal with the rear doors opening backward.
It originally had the body design of the DeSoto Airflow with only a few minor tweaks made so Toyota could make it their own. Following the AA model was the AB model which had a convertible cloth roof and rear doors that opened conventionally.
Hudson Commodore’s were the largest models in the Hudson Motor Car Company in 1941 during the Commodore’s production run from 1941 to 1952.
Buyers interested in the Commodore had the option of buying it in a convertible, sedan or coupe model and eventually a 2-door pickup model was introduced in the second generation in 1946. Over the course of its production time, over 50,000 units were produced before sales dropped due to competition.
1939 ZIS-101 Sport Coupe
A limousine produced and manufactured by Zavod Imeni Stalina, the ZIS-101 Sport Coupe was the sporty two-door model designed by Valentin Nikolaevich Rostkov.
The ZIS-101 was capable of producing 141 horsepower and the engine was a 5.8-liter with a top speed of 101 mph. The ZIS-101 Sport Coupe was an extremely limited model with only 2 units made in total during the cars runtime from 1936 to 1941 with the last model being a convertible.
1934 Voisin C27 Aerosport
Built in Paris in the 1930s, the Voisin C27 was one of the finest and most expensive cars in France at the time. The designer, Voisin spent years working on aircrafts before he began designing vehicles and took some of his best practices with him.
The C27 was incredibly distinct because of its metallic features and body which was mostly made out of durable lightweight metal. It was made only as a limited production and few still exist today.
1932 Chevy Moonlight Speedster
Produced for the Australian market, this 2-door speedster coupe was designed to look and feel like a luxurious spacious boat ride.
Its body was made out of wood and sold between 1931 and 1932 and only 10 models were made in between that time. Its key design was based off the 1929 Vauxhall Hurlingham and further constructed with hand-formed aluminum. The Chevy Moonlight had an in-line 6-cylinder engine that produced a little over 60 mph.
1952 Maverick Sportster
Marketed as the “world’s first fiberglass-bodied car,” the 1952 Maverick Sportster was a majestic streamline sports car designed by H. Sterling “Smoke” Gladwin Jr. who was not only a retired aeronautical engineer but who had also worked at Boeing, NASA, and Lockheed throughout his career.
Gladwin initially built the Sportster for himself when using fiberglass to build car bodies began to pick up in popularity. Gladwin sold the Sportster as either a kit that could be put together by the buyer or fully assembled.
1935 Stout Scarab
An American minivan, the Stout Scarab was one of the world’s first production minivans and one of the world’s first cars with a fiberglass body shell and air suspension.
Designed by William B. Stout who was an engineer and journalist himself, the idea of the Scarab was for it be an office on wheels. Sold in small batches, the Scarab started at $5,000 which made it out of reach for most buyers as the average car price at the time was roughly $1,345.
1936 Delahaye 135 Competition Court Figoni et Falaschi Coupe
Also known as the “Coupe des Alpes”, the Delahaye was a luxury car manufactured by Delahaye from 1935-1954 with just over 2,000 units built in total under designer Jean Francois. The 135 Competition Court had significantly more horsepower and was used predominantly for racing and show.
The body was long and sporty with a wider wheelbase for better handling and control. At the race track, the Delahaye 135 was a successful racer winning both the Monte Carlo Rally as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1938.
1938 Peugeot 402 Pourtout Darl’Mat Roadster
With a bold body style reminiscent of the Chrysler Airflow and a standout headlight and grille that set it apart, the Peugeot 402 was a popular 4-door sedan produced from 1935-1942 under Peugeot SA.
The 402 was a large car and included new tempting features including electric twin windshield wipers, a clock on the instrument panel, and two sun visors which only boosted its popularity among buyers. Even with having sold over 75,000 units, Peugeot SA shifted its focus to smaller cars following WWII.
1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C Lago Speciale Teardrop Coupe
Considered one of the world’s most beautiful cars, the Teardrop Coupe was a limited production entry made especially for the richest car buyers in the market. The Teardrop Coupe was capable of coming to an abrupt stop from 100 mph and was highly competitive on the racetrack.
It had a 6-cylinder engine that produced 140 bhp, won the Spa 24 Hour Race in 1948, and is considered one of the most valuable cars in the world because it combines both on the road performance and art-deco elegance.
Volvo PV 36 Carioca
The Volvo PV 36 Carioca was a 4-door saloon luxury car manufactured by Volvo Cars from 1935 to 1938. Built in Sweden, the car’s design was heavily influenced by North American body style trends such as the Chrysler Airflow.
An expensive car, only 500 units were produced over its 3-year production run starting at 8,500 kronor. While it wasn’t one of the fastest cars on the road, the Carioca had a modest 3.7-L engine and a 3-speed manual and was ideal for the everyday driver looking for a luxury experience.
Ultimately an overall commercial failure, the Chrysler Airflow was the first full-size American production car to use streamlining in its body design. It would go on to disrupt the car industry and forever change the trajectory of how cars were built from then on out.
Engineers Carl Breer, Fred Zader, and Owen Skelton wanted to find the most efficient shape for a car that would also allow it to be aerodynamic as well. The Airflow was what they came up with.
1937 Foose Custom Studebaker Convertible
Studebaker was known for making luxury full-size vehicles from the 1920s to the 1950s. Chip Foose, the designer of the convertible was one of the youngest people ever to get inducted into the Hot Rod Hall of Fame because of his inspiring and quintessential custom car builds.
Under the hood of the car, the Studebaker engine based off of the Chevy Corvettes produced 345 horsepower with a 4-speed transmission. It was considered revolutionary at the time.
1938 Phantom Corsair
The Phantom Corsair was a 2-door sedan manufactured in Pasadena, California under Rust Heinz and Maurice Schwartz. Despite having only two doors, the Corsair could hold up to 6 passengers and even had on-board beverage cabinets.
On the outside, the car had unique features such as flush fenders and running boards, doors that lacked handles and were instead opened electrically using push buttons, and skirted wheels. Due to the accidental death of Rust Heinz in 1939, the car never made it to full production and only one exists.
1931 Duesenberg Model J Derham Tourster
Designed to compete with some of the most luxurious and powerful cars in the world, the Duesenberg Model J was a full-size luxury car manufactured by Duesenberg in the US from 1928 to 1937.
In addition to the straight-8 DOHC 7-liter engine, the buyer was able to custom design their own body style as each was personally made. Duesenberg ceased production in 1937 due to the financial collapse of the company but surviving models were still sold with the most recent sold at a private in 2018 for $22 million dollars.