Seven Iconic 1950s European Cars for Open-Air Driving

In the 1950s, while many U.S. carmakers focused on family-friendly vehicles—and as such eyesores as those from Ford’s Edsel marque came off the assembly line—these topless European beauties presented racier alternatives. Such superior performers as the Ferrari 212 and Lotus Type 15 were clearly built for life in the fast lane (and the spotlight), some of them making fine showings from Mille Miglia to 24 Hours of Le Mans. And while high speeds with the top down can send the heart racing, these iconic cars inspire equal palpitations for their sensual curves and sweeping lines. Top-down driving has perhaps never aroused such impassioned driving as it did in the 1950s—an automotive era which we are honoring with these seven sultry open-air cars from Europe’s top marques of the day. All of them are sure to stir a flurry of emotions. —Compiled by Viju Mathew

The 212 cemented Ferrari’s reputation as the sports-car maker for affluent driving enthusiasts and...
1952 Siata 208S Spyder The 208S represented a reversal of roles for two Turin, Italy, automakers:...
1954 Ferrari 250 Monza Although the 12-cylinder engine is a Ferrari signature, the marque achieved...
1952 Jaguar C-Type Roadster For the competition-bred XK120C, also known as the C-Type, Jaguar took...
1956 Porsche 356 Carrera 1500 GS Speedster When automobile importer Max Hoffman urged Porsche to...
1957 Jaguar XKSS Jaguar racecars of the 1950s remain among that era’s most stirring, valued today...
1958 Lotus Type 15 Lotus founder Colin Chapman established the company’s legacy by building cars...