Updated: Nov 9, 2019
What the DS, a 5-Series, a Jag, an Alfa and a forgotten NSU have in common?
They are my favorite four door saloon designs... Welcome!
This week on my YouTube channel I've decided to play with the time-honored "Top 5" format, as a way to share with you my own personal tastes and spark an interesting conversation through the comments. Relax and enjoy:
1 - The DS, what else?
Were you really expect something else, at the top of such list?
The DS will always be my favorite design, it would top every chart: André Lefebvre and Flaminio Bertoni took whatever was the "automotive rulebook" of the 50s and threw it away, creating a project like we will never see again.
Everything was done differently: from the body construction to the interior design, from the materials to the steering, braking and suspension systems... All clothed in a shape to die for. Think this was 1955: the DS had no imposing shiny grille up front, had no fancy tailfins, there was little in exterior decor, actually. The interior had a plastic dashboard that was actually designed, not just a series of "clocks" stuck into metal or wood... I could go on!
And, on top of it all... A boat anchor of an engine!
Well, you can't have everything...
2 - AlfaRomeo 156
I'm Italian, after all...
How could this list do without an Italian car? I was torn between this absolute masterstroke and the elegant, more restrained 164 from Pininfarina.
But the sheer sexiness of the 156 won through: it made a sensation at the time and it's still a delight to lay eyes on its perfectly curated surfaces.
Alfa Romeo has yet to better this one!
3 - The one you've all forgotten about: NSU Ro80 (1967)
The NSU Ro80 is a car that, had it been a lasting success like the DS, it would be held in similar high regard. It was a truly innovative design, if you think about how cars normally looked in 1967. Fiat presented the 125 that same year, to give you an idea.
The NSU Ro80 was an 80s car built 15 years in advance, with its sleek aerodynamic lines, very subtle "wedge" shape, "designed" headlights and minimal chrome ornamentation.
4 - Jaguar XJ (1968-1992)
I love Jaguars.
And the Jaguar I love most is the Series III XJ... William Lyons meets Pininfarina, and the result is truly special.
No car since has been so effortlessly elegant, so tasteful...
The Series III was a heavy restyling of the original XJ, originally meant as a stopgap until the XJ40 could be ready... And boy what a successful "stopgap" turned out to be!
Pininfarina grafted a new roof (for the first time the XJ got curved side windows) onto the existing shell, polished a bit the details and... Voilà! The XJ was ready for the 80s.
In reality, I love all XJs, it's hard for me to pick between the three original series. I adore their perfect proportions, super-sleek profile and foxy curves...
5 - BMW 5 Series "E34"
This decision has also been a tough one: do i prefer the stunning "E32" 7 Series or the equally great, but a tad more svelte, "E34" 5 Series?
In the end I set my heart on the 5, simply because it's the one I'd love most to personally own. These cars were the ones who truly built BMW's success, cementing its position as a top premium brand. The "E34" is just perfect: proportions, detailing... Among the finest "sports-saloon" design ever, no doubt.