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Top 10 Head-Turning Cars

Top 10 Head-Turning Cars


Motoring journalist and ex-racing driver, John Swift, gives his top 10 head-turning cars, from beauty to the beast, these cars will definitely turn heads.

Top 10 Head-Turning Cars

Here are the top 10 head-turning cars, whether they’re a beauty or the beast:

  • Lamborghini Countach
  • Aerial Atom
  • Austin Allegro All-Ego
  • Ultima
  • Mini
  • BAC Mono
  • Nissan Cube
  • Bentley R-Type Continental
  • Ferrari P4
  • AMC Pacer

10 Cars That Make You Stop and Stare

Any of these stop-and-stare cars have the capacity to bring traffic to a standstill, some because of their beauty, some for their outlandish styling and a couple, well, you can probably see why for yourself.

Some I’ve picked are beautiful (or at least they are in the eyes of this ex-racing driver) and some, not so, but one thing you can be sure of, all of them are head turners, the good the bad and the ugly!

What follows are purely my opinions and I’d definitely be interested to know if you agree or disagree and what you’d choose for your head-turners, good or bad!

See what you think.

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Lamborghini Countach

Perhaps not a pretty or subtle car and a good example of the 1970’s obsession with straight lines instead of curves; the Lamborghini Countach was the pin-up car of that decade and beloved of rock stars.  There’s a clue as to why it’s such a head turner. Translated from its Italian origin, the English equivalent of the Lamborghini Countach would be something like the Lamborghini Wow. Lambo set out to shock and they certainly achieved that.

Bright yellow Lamborghini Countach parked two thirds side on

Aerial Atom

At first glance you would think someone has forgotten to fix on the bodywork because all you see are the bare chassis tubes. The Atom is motoring minimalism defined and perhaps only motorbikes offer less weather protection.

But that’s precisely what the Aerial Atom is, a four wheeled motorbike; it won’t fall over and you can’t fall off, but you do get the rawness, the deep visceral thrill and sense of being at one with the machine and the road which is at the heart if any true sports car.

Red, black and silver, Aerial Atom close up driving towards you

Austin Allegro All-Ego

The Austin Allegro was not one of British Leyland’s finest hours with its plump, bug-shaped dimensions but the optimistically named All-Ego was (mercifully) a one off done for a TV show called `Juice My Lemon’. No, I don’t know what it means either, but neither do I know quite what designer, Andy Saunders, hoped to achieve with this car. Nothing had been seen like it before and it’s a cause for celebration that nothing has been seen like it since.

Still, respect to someone who could start with an Allegro like this..

Milk chocolate coloured Austin Allegro parked two thirds side on

and in just three days manage to make it even uglier...

Gold and silver coloured Austin Allegro All-ego


If you see this approaching, probably quickly, in your mirror you could be forgiven for thinking that a race car had somehow escaped its normal environment. The Ultima looks like nothing else with a number plate and it’s hard to think of many cars which fuel as much excitement in both occupants and onlookers as this.

Ultimas are rare beasts and in comparison make the likes of Ferraris seem commonplace. If you do see one it won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

I must admit to a degree of bias here because back in 1986 I bought one of the first road going versions from company founder, Lee Noble.

Black Ultima with gold wheels seen from side on being driven

Austin Mini

Some say it was the Jaguar E Type, but I say it was the original Mini which best captured the free spirit of the swinging ‘60s and in that sense it was a true zeitgeist car. The Mini was a great piece of engineering design, but above all it was fun, fun, fun and if you see one today it’s a safe bet that’s what springs to mind. Some 60 years on from the first one, the Mini just looks right. What else brings a smile to your face like one of these little beauties?

Black and white photo of a racing Austin Mini

BAC Mono

The `Mono’ bit refers to monoposto, or single seat, which is precisely what this car is. It goes like a rocket, handles like a dream but only the driver can enjoy that. Selfish? Sure, but I’d have one and even in this list of cars, not many can make heads swivel as it goes past as this one can. Takes its place here with the Aerial Atom.

Shiny black BAC Mono racing towards you head on

Nissan Cube

Oh dear, this is one of those strange Japanese cars which underline the motoring cultural divide which sometimes exists between different parts of the world. A basic rule of car design is that they should look balanced, what one side has, so does the other, but someone thought it a good idea to have this odd wrap-around rear window...

White Nissan cube parked and seen from the rear

...just on the one side. It is not exactly an artistic triumph at the front with a protruding front bumper which reminds one of nothing so much as a boxer’s thick lip after losing a fight...

White Nissan Cube seen from the front

Unbalanced, ungainly, downright ugly, the Cube will stop the traffic wherever it goes. You could find a second hand one for less than £4,000 and you’d certainly turn heads.

Bentley R-Type Continental

The absolute embodiment of graceful motoring, the R-Type Continental has the classic flow of lines which hint at speed, the higher front tapering gently down to a low back, putting you in mind of what Bentley would say of a (much) later car, a speedboat going past with the prow up and the stern down. It’s big but not many cars make their proportions as harmonious as the 1950s Bentley.

Cream Bentley R-Type Continental seen from the side

Ferrari P4

Slightly indulgent this, but if I was allowed only one car in my fantasy garage this would be it. Ferrari made but a handful of these racers in the 1960s and I have only ever seen one in the metal, but for me it will always be the ultimate expression of art on wheels, a car engineered for the function of going as fast as possible and the body gets its looks primarily from the demands of aerodynamics; but don’t tell me that there isn’t an element of artistry for its own sake in the sensuous curves of that hand-made aluminium body.

Sadly a P4 will forever remain only a fantasy; one was sold not long ago for around $54 million.

Red Ferrari P4 racing and seen from front and side on

AMC Pacer

This car which I think I can fairly describe as, US junk, always features in lists of car horrors and deservedly so. It’s the classic case of something looking like the product of a design committee which never met and one wonders whether the design brief somehow got mixed up with that from a garden centre wanting some greenhouses.

Hard to believe that someone who thought this car was a good idea was in paid employment at the time. The only good thing about it is that with American build quality at that time, the 1970s, being on a par with British Leyland on a bad day, most of these things have rusted away.

If you do happen to see a survivor though, I bet you turn your head!

Cream and dark red AMC Pacer seen from two thirds side on

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