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Best Automotive Designs of the Past 25 Years
To compile the following list, our panel provided AOL with an un-ranked list of their favorite designs. Most designers offered up 10 selections. Results were tabulated and the vehicles with the most votes appears in this gallery.
To a person, designers told us that their personal "current top picks" have changed many times over the years. Different things influence their present favorites including emerging design trends and new personal discoveries of past design icons. With that caveat, here are the top picks of the five best automotive designs of the last 25 years.
When the 1999 Audi TT debuted in the US market, the overall package stopped designers in their tracks. Not only was the exterior fresh and interesting, but the interior shattered all current conventions with its exquisite attention to detail. Interestingly, Jay Mays (currently Ford's group vice president of design and chief creative officer) is credited with the design of the influential Audi TT Concept (1995) that directly foreshadowed the production car.
BMW 3-Series (E46 Series From 1998-2006)
Any designer will tell you that proportion is the most important characteristic when determining whether a design pleases the eye. The fourth-generation BMW 3-Series, especially in the coupe body style, embodies a design with spot-on proportions.
When one compares the numbers of would-be automotive designers to those who are actually in the field of automotive design, it's actually a more competitive business to break into than being a pro athlete. You can imagine the literal handful of designers who get to work on a supercar the likes of the Bugatti EB110 SS and its successor, the 250-mph Veyron. Hartmut Warkus and Juzef Kaban are associated with the design.
The McLaren F-1 is the product of a racecar company who wanted to build a performance car for the street. Their design succeeded, dominated at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans and stood as the ultimate in supercars for years with a top speed of over 240 mph. The F-1's unique shape seats three, with the driver positioned forward and in the center of the cockpit. Gordon Murray is credited with the design of the McLaren F-1.
Honorable Mentions: Dodge Viper GTS Coupe (1999)
Stunningly American in its bold approach to performance, the first-generation Dodge Viper GTS Coupe looks like exactly the type of car that it is: one that will gladly do a burn out on your face. Tom Gale and his team at Chrysler are behind this aggressive design that found inspiration in the Peter Brock designed Shelby Cobra Daytona (1964-65).
Honorable Mentions: Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer 365 GT4 BB
As much as any performance car ever has, the Ferrari Boxer (specifically European models from 1973-76) looks like a land-locked missile. The body design came from Pininfarina and epitomizes the best of Italian design for this era.
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