10 Classic European Convertibles With Timeless Appeal
These classic European convertibles had impressive performance and stunning design, making them great milestones in the automobile history.
Europe is home to some of the most iconic and beautiful sports cars ever made, like the Jaguar E-Type and Mercedes-Benz SL W113. These classic European convertibles had impressive performance and stunning design, making them great milestones in the history of the automobile.
They offered an immersive open-air motoring experience that only a few modern roadsters can match. While these classic cars no longer have the best performance nowadays, they’re still the benchmark for uncompromising quality and aesthetic appeal.
The Alfa Romeo Spider was a distinctive Italian roadster, thanks to its elegant curves and round tail lights. Also known as “Duetto,” the Alfa Romeo Spider had a convertible soft top that captured the essence of the ‘60s European style while offering enthusiasts a memorable open-air motoring experience.
The Alfa Romeo Spider was available as a two-door convertible and had a spacious 2+2 interior. Under its hood sat a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 109 hp. The engine paired with a 5-speed manual transmission, sending power to the rear wheels.
The Austin-Healey Sprite Mark I stands out for its distinctive and charming front-end styling. Also known as the “Bugeye Sprite,” the Austin-Healey Sprite Mark I wasn’t the most powerful two-seater convertible. It had a 948 cc A-Series 4-cylinder engine with around 43 ponies.
Its engine sent power to the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission. With a length of only 137.0 inches, the Austin-Healey Sprite Mark I was among the smallest two-seaters of its time. However, its pop-up headlights and “smiling” front grille made it one of the most memorable British roadsters of its time.
Related: 8 Reasons Why We Want A 1965 Austin-Healey Sprite Mk III
The BMW 328 is an iconic pre-war sports car that boasted a streamlined design, advanced engineering, and exceptional performance. This brilliant sports car had a lightweight body and chassis, which coupled with the reasonably potent 2.0-liter 6-cylinder engine, helped launch BMW’s racing legacy.
Like with most BMW engines, the 2.0-liter unit had clever valvetrain technology, making it ideal for tuning. The engine paired with a 4-speed manual transmission, sending power to the rear wheels. The 328 also had an aerodynamic form that helped make it a massive success.
The BMW 507 was an impressive two-seater convertible with a beautiful design. Despite its shocking value today, the 507 was a luxurious convertible with a feature-packed interior and a potent engine. The 507 got inspiration from the 503 and featured a stunning design by Count Albrecht von Goertz.
BMW introduced this magnificent grand tourer at the 1955 Frankfurt Motor Show as a competitor to high-end roadsters of the time. Under its hood sat a potent 3.2-liter V8 motor, helping it traverse long distances with poise.
Related: Legendary Tuners Gunther Werks Will Remaster The E30 BMW M3
While Ferrari has given enthusiasts a wide selection of convertibles, only a few aged gracefully, like the 250 GT Spyder LWB. Despite being highly sought after by collectors, the 250 GT LWB is a rare piece of automotive history thanks to its breathtaking design. Its elongated hood and flowing lines give it a perfect timeless aesthetic.
Unlike most sports cars of its era, the 250 GT LWB has a 3.0-liter V12 motor with over 200 ponies. It also boasts an opulent two-seat interior adorned with premium materials. Thanks to its iconic design and potent engine, the 250 GT LWB still remains a cherished symbol of motoring passion.
Often referred to as the XKE, the E-Type is an iconic sports car that redefined automotive elegance. Jaguar offered the E-Type in two configurations, a coupe or convertible. While both models captured the allure of the nameplate, the convertible offered a superior open-air experience. The E-Type showcased Jaguar’s commitment to aesthetic excellence with its long hood, flowing lines, and iconic oval grille.
When unveiled in 1961, the E-Type stunned the world with its breathtaking design. It also had remarkable performance, thanks to the two available engine options, a 3.8-liter or 4.2-liter, both with six cylinders.
Related: Jaguar E-Type: 10 Facts That Make It A Timeless Classic
Jaguar is among the few European brands with a knack for creating iconic sports cars. While the XJ-S convertible didn’t get the instant classic design of the E-Type, it was a stunning modern convertible for open-air enthusiasts.
It was a refined vehicle, boasting a host of modern amenities like a passenger airbag and CFC-free air conditioning. Over the years, the XJ-S convertible used different engines, including a V12 and a more refined inline-6 in the newer variants.
The 1960s Lotus Elan was the first model to debut the brand’s backbone chassis. Its fiberglass body had a weight of around 1,500 pounds, making it a lightweight two-seat roadster. The Lotus Elan also used a reasonably potent 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produced between 108 and 126 hp.
While the Lotus Elan wasn’t the fastest of the time, its engine could help it achieve an 8.0 second 0 to 60 mph sprint and get to a top speed of 120 mph. The Lotus Elan is among the few cars that can still help showcase the engineering prowess of Collin Chapman.
Related: Why The Lotus Emira Marks The End Of The Traditional ICE Sports Car
The design was one of the best things about the Porsche Speedster. It had a folding fabric roof, slot-in windows, and lightweight bucket seats. It also combined an open-top experience with its lightweight structure. In fact, it was lighter than the coupe and could easily manage a top speed of 111 mph.
Unlike most vehicles of its era, the Speedster offered less equipment and had a steeply raked windscreen. Porsche introduced this model in 1953, giving enthusiasts a taste of open-air motoring from a prestigious German machine.
Like the BMW 507, the Mercedes-Benz W113 wasn’t a hardcore sports car. It was a stylish and stately convertible with enough performance and glamour. Also referred to as the “Pagoda,” thanks to its curved hardtop roof, the W113 helped Mercedes-Benz penetrate the American market.
The W113 also had a beautiful design that would rival that of the iconic Jaguar E-Type. However, unlike the Jaguar, which was often criticized for its lack of reliability, the W113 was reliable and well-engineered. Mercedes used a straight six-cylinder engine to power the W113, helping deliver a balance between refinement and performance.
Brian is a husband, father and freelance writer. He's also a tech and automotive junkie passionate about cars and motorcycles. Brian is also an F1 fan - team Mercedes (LH). When he's not writing, Brian goes for impromptu drives and walks.sports carsclassic cars