1978 mercedes benz 280ce
Most people look pretty good when they’re young, but, alas, beauty fades with age. And so it goes with cars—coupes especially. What was hot when new can pretty quickly look used and dated.
In rare cases, however, not only does that beauty not fade, it deepens. Truly beautiful women—I mean, honestly, naturally beautiful women—pretty much stay beautiful all their lives. I’m talking Grace Kelly beautiful here. And so it goes with a very rare collection of cars.
I have three examples here, all of which I saw on the road this past weekend. In each case, I thought these cars were fabulous new, and in each case I still find them gorgeous. Enough time has passed on each of these cars that it would be impolite to discuss their age. Let’s just call them “Coupes of a Certain Age.”
Note: While I was penning this blog post, managing editor Rick noted that any list of agelessly beautiful coupes would be flawed if it didn’t include the first-generation BMW 6-Series. Obviously, we’ll need to do a Part 2.
Ferrari 456 GT (1992–2003)
The 456GT is what modern Ferraris should look like: simple, clean, fast, and undeniably Italian. Compared to its Maranello stable mate, the GT’s longer wheelbase and simpler front-fender air intakes combine for a classier, more elegant profile without softening the car’s sporty pretense. Sadly, it seems as if Ferrari found these cars too simple, as subsequent models from the maker focused more on looking badass than beautiful.
Lexus SC 300 and SC 400 (1992–2000)
In my opinion, the rear-deck spoiler on the V8-powered 400 versions of these Lexus coupes somewhat messes up the car’s otherwise strong and simple lines. Solid is the first word that pops into my mind when I see an SC on the road; fast is the next word. Very few designs before or after this generation SC were better at melding rigidly straight lines with almost aggressively blunted end caps.
Mercedes-Benz 280CE and 300CD (1978–1985)
Only Mercedes-Benz could somehow make this sort of architectural stoicism sexy. Somehow, this blocky, cinderblock-strong looking coupe appears both bomb-proof and sophisticated. Not exactly sexy, these classic coupes are the Barbara Stanwycks of personal luxury—defiantly solid yet some how classy and feminine. Unlike Stanwyck, these classic two-doors also look unmistakably German.