The Grand Touring Car has been designed as a luxurious, comfortable and powerful vehicle for crossing long distances of the road – all without making the passengers tired, uncomfortable or irritating them in any way.
The GT car’s origins date back to the 1920s, when automakers – mainly European ones – decided to put their biggest and most powerful engines in their most luxurious vehicles. By the 1930s, this had given way to an entire industry – led by the likes of Duesenberg, Bugatti and Rolls-Royce. The GT car had a brief ‘time out’ in the 1940s due to war and economic recession, but recovered in the 1950s and exploded in the 1960s. Ferrari’s road cars at this time were almost exclusively GT sports carswith many car manufacturers joining in on the extravagant fun. Jaguar joined the fray and unleashed one of the most beautiful cars ever made: the E-Type.
There have been a few more economic recessions and crises since then, but the GT car has triumphed and is selling better than ever. Here are 10 of the greatest European Grand Tourers ever made, ranked.
10 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC
The Mercedes-Benz 560SEC was the top class S-Class Coupé for the second generation of the company’s flagship. It had a 5.6-liter V8 that produced 300 horsepower and 336 lb-ft of torque. AMG then got their hands on the model and created the 560 SEC 6.0 AMG, which had an upgrade M117 6.0-liter V8 with 385 horsepower.
Along with the engine upgrades, the model was also further modified with a wide-body kit, new wheels and better tires. The interior was slightly modified with a new steering wheel and a few AMG badges scattered around. The 560SEC 6.0 AMG is one of the coolest AMG models of the past and looks more like a German muscle car than a comfortable executive GT.
9 Ferrari GTC4Lusso
The Ferrari GTCLusso was the second generation of Ferrari’s four-wheel drive, family oriented shooting brake. The car was available with either a 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 in the smaller GTC4Lusso T, or a great big 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V12. The V8 produced 602 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque, while the V12 produced 681 hp and 516 lb.ft of torque.
The GTC4Lusso featured an intricate four-wheel drive system specially designed by Ferrari itself, as they believed conventional systems ruined the look of their cars. The system involved two output shafts and two gearboxes, and the whole thing would stop in any gear above 4th. Interestingly enough, the GTC4Lusso T was a rear-wheel drive only car.
8 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera is the biggest and chicest of the current range of the British brand. It is equipped with a specially designed 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12, which produces a massive 715 horsepower and 664 lb of torque. ft produces. All this power is only sent to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission with torque converter.
The DBS Superleggera is the replacement for the old Vanquish and will most likely be the last of the Aston Martin V12s. The design of the DBS follows Aston’s new language and is one of the most beautiful cars on the market, regardless of the choice of exterior color choice.
7 Porsche 911 GTS
The Porsche 911 is without a doubt the best sports car in the world, but it also makes for a good GT car. The lower trim 911s are great, but it’s the GTS trims that bring the 911 into play† The GTS models are available with rear-wheel or four-wheel drive and the latter is also available as a Targa.
The GTS is equipped with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-6, which produces 473 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. Best of all? The GTS can be equipped with an 8-speed PDK or a 7-speed manual transmission – adding to the driving experience.
6 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
The smallest of the current Aston Martin range, the Vantage, is a brilliant Porsche 911 rival – both on the road and on the track. But where the 911 is a great GT car, the Vantage is a great one. The Vantage is equipped with a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, borrowed from AMG, and produces 503 horsepower and 505 lb.ft of torque.
The Vantage comes standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission, but can optionally come with a 7-speed manual on the lowest trim level – albeit only until model year 2022. The Vantage is a beautiful car with great visual upgrades available and the Vantage Volante even has a redesigned front bumper, making the car more elegant.
5 Aston Martin DB5
The Aston Martin DB5 is one of the best cars ever made. Built like a true 1960s GT car, it quickly became the iconic pick for the greatest secret agent in the movie – James Bond. Making his appearance in goldfinger (1964), starred in an additional eight Bond films, as well as 1981’s Cannonball Runpiloted by Bond himself – Sir Roger Moore, in this case.
The DB5 was equipped with a 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produced 280 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, mated to a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission, with power going to the rear wheels only. The DB5 accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in just 8 seconds and reached a top speed of 145 mph. Not bad for a 1960s spy car.
4 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SW
The Ferrari 250 range is almost endless, thanks to Ferrari who have their amazing Colombo V12 in everything it could. There were many 250 GT cars, but the one that stood out the most was the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB. Originally designed as a road racer, it was redesigned for commercial sale and transformed into a comfortable GT car.
The 3.0-litre V12 produced about 270 hp and, thanks to its relatively low weight, won many racing competitions, both in race car and road car versions. The 250 GT Berlinetta is one of the best Ferraris ever made for its styling, driving feel and that glorious V12.
3 Aston Martin Vanquish SA
The Aston Martin Vanquish S was the last hurray for the big Grand Tourer before being replaced by the even more powerful DBS Superleggera. The Vanquish S was the last model to be equipped with Aston Martin’s amazing AM29 5.9-liter naturally aspirated V12, which produced 595 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque in this car.
In addition to subtle styling tweaks and changes, the car also received a reworked transmission, a new aerodynamic package and a revised ECU. All these changes resulted in a large, comfortable GT car with a top speed of 201 mph, while accelerating from 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. It was the swan song for one of the greatest engines ever made, even though it was two Ford V6s bolted together.
2 Bentley Continental GT
The Bentley Continental GT is the king of the GT car† It has the perfect blend of luxury, comfort, sportiness and beauty to make the car highly desirable. The Continental GT is available with two engine choices: either a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 or a 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12. Bentley has announced that a hybrid is in the works, with a pair of electric motors on a 2.9-liter V6 with two turbos.
The Continental GT has been massively overhauled and rebuilt from the previous generation and is now a beautiful car. Beautiful not only with its crystal headlights and leather-clad cabin, but also a capable sports car that can embarrass many other sports cars – even with the huge weight disadvantage.
1 Jaguar E-Type Roadster
The Jaguar E-Type Roadster is simply one of the best cars ever made. When it was launched in 1961, the world took notice right away. Even the man himself, Enzo Ferrari, called the E-Type “the most beautiful car ever made” – a bold statement from such a person. The E-Type was equipped with a 3.8-litre or 4.2-litre inline six-cylinder engine, or a 5.3-litre V12, depending on when it was produced.
Few cars produce such hype as the E-type. In the years following the unveiling, many famous people bought E-Types, which only increased their popularity. The funny thing was that the E-Type looked better, went faster and was superior to every other car in its class, while loads of cheaper to buy. Truly one of the greatest European Grand Touring cars ever made.
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