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20 Classic European Fastbacks That Ruled The Roads

Vukasin HerbezJuly 17, 2020

The definition of a fastback is a vehicle with a rear that slopes continuously down to the bumper. Ever since fastbacks were released, car designers have introduced sporty and elegant cars with sloping rear ends. This trend became immensely popular in the ’60s and ’70s, but originated back in the ’30s. During the heyday of fastbacks, most American manufacturers introduced them in the muscle car or personal luxury class.

The fastback body style is synonymous with the gorgeous 1967-68 Ford Mustang Fastback or early Plymouth Barracuda, but the list of cars is much longer. Although American car manufacturers promoted and defined the fastbacks, they weren’t the only ones. Many European fastbacks also promoted this style. Unlike muscle cars that failed to deliver, these fastbacks proved solid. From those obscure Eastern European fastbacks to Italian exotics, here’s a list of 20 stunning European fastbacks.

20. Lamborghini Espada

Even though the Espada wasn’t the first Lamborghini GT car, it was by far the most successful and controversial. Debuting in 1968, the Espada succeeded the 400 GT and served for 10 years. The Espada caused a lot of attention and even some criticism for its unusual styling and almost flat roofline.

Four adults and their luggage could easily travel long distances, and that’s exactly what Ferrucio Lamborghini wanted. The power came from the legendary Lamborghini 4.0-liter V12 engine, which was and still is a piece of mechanical art producing up to 350 HP. Lamborghini made over 1,200 of these cool four-seat coupe. Prices are still somewhat affordable considering the rarity and heritage of this car.

19. Jaguar F-Type

Decades after Jaguar produced a proper sports coupe, they unveiled the F-Type. It was a crazy and brutally-fast muscle car from England with a powerful supercharged V8. It was also one of the most powerful fastbacks.

Despite being somewhat heavy for a sports car and rough around the edges, the F-Type is a properly fast machine. Future generations will appreciate those characteristics, so this Jag will have a solid fan base in the future. While the top-of-the-line SVR version is costly at over $100,000, there are less expensive models. However, depreciation is quite strong with these vehicles.

18. De Tomaso Mangusta

Although the Pantera proved to be much more successful and popular, the Mangusta is arguably the more interesting DeTomaso model. They introduced the Mangusta to the car world in 1967. It featured a special racing chassis and a high-performance engine from the Ford Mustang. It also had interesting Gullwing-style rear openings for easier access to the engine.

The Mangusta was a somewhat expensive proposition in 1967 with tricky handling and questionable build quality. That’s why DeTomaso only built 400 of these coupes until 1971 when they replaced it with the Pantera, which was less expensive to build.

17. Maserati Khamsin

Even though most fastbacks are sports models, there are also a few Gran Turismo coupes with this specific design. One of the most memorable is the Maserati Khamsin produced from 1974 to 1982. The Khamsin was a cool-looking cruiser with a powerful V8 engine and respectable performance.

Under the hood was a 4.9-liter V8 engine delivering close to 300 HP. The Khamsin came with either a five-speed manual or a three-speed automatic. Unfortunately, the U.S.-spec version had big five-mph bumpers, which ruined the clean, original design of the car.

16. Aston Martin DB9

With 5.9-liter naturally-aspirated V12 engine, gorgeous looks, and swift performance, the Aston Martin DB9 is one of those legendary GT models people will always miss.

Even though today’s Astons are faster, the DB9 is still the pinnacle of classic Aston engineering and European fastbacks. You can also find one at a relatively affordable price. By all means, you should buy it before prices soar.

15. Triumph GT6

The GT6 project began in the mid-’60s when Triumph realized they needed a coupe version of their popular roadster. However, just putting a roof on a Spitfire wouldn’t do the trick. They needed to re-engineer the car and add a more powerful engine so the chassis could cope with the added weight. So Triumph engineers installed a 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine producing 106 HP. It provided the GT6 with more power and performance than the Spitfire.

Triumph officially presented the GT6 in 1966 and discontinued it in 1973 after producing approximately 45,000. The GT6 was never as popular as the Spitfire, but it was arguably a better car. It was also a cool-looking alternative to the other sport coupes on the market.

14. Jensen Interceptor FF

One of the best British Gran Turismo cars ever built was the Jensen Interceptor. It had Italian styling by Vignale and provided great comfort. Thanks to the powerful Chrysler 383 or 440 V8 engine in the front, this four-seater coupe was one of the fastest, most comfortable cars for crossing continents in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

All Interceptors featured Chrysler engines, but the best and most influential version was the Interceptor FF. The “FF” part of the name came from the Ferguson Formula. They equipped this model with all-wheel drive and an early form of ABS brakes. In 1966, this was space-age technology.

They sourced the power from a 383 V8 engine, although there were coupe prototypes with a 426 Hemi. But because the Interceptor FF was too expensive, Jensen only managed to sell 320 fastbacks. However, the regular Interceptors in coupe and convertible form were much more successful. Jenson built over 6,400 until 1976, selling many in America.

13. Alfa Romeo Montreal

Despite the fact they never officially sold the Montreal in Canada, this sports car from Alfa had a big impact on the early ’70s sports car market. They built it on a Giulia chassis with a timeless Bertone body and high-revving V8 engine in front. The Montreal was fast, stylish, and exclusive. Production was low at just over 4,000 fastbacks, making it highly sought after today.

Although the Montreal was not as good as it could be because they rushed it into production, it was still a great-looking and driving coupe. Its design was largely influenced by the Lamborghini Miura. The sloping rear end is what makes it a true European fastback.

12. Jaguar E-Type

When presented in 1961, the Jaguar E-Type was a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite Jaguar’s long-lasting tradition of building fine sports cars, the E-Type was years ahead of its time. It came with a superb design, four-wheel disk brakes, independent rear suspension, and powerful straight-six engines. With its long hood and the interesting design of the rear-end, you could call the E-Type a fastback. It featured a third door and had a decent trunk as well.

But the best thing was the price. The E Type had the looks, power, and performance of those high-priced Italian exotics, but it cost just a fraction of the price. It stayed in production for 15 years until 1976. Jaguar sold over 74,000, mostly in the USA.

11. Ford Capri

The success of the Mustang made it highly influential, inspiring American car brands to offer a pony car of their own. Even in Europe, the Mustang was popular and common. However, Ford wanted to explore the market further with a smaller European version. That’s how the Ford Capri came to be in 1969.

Designed in the UK, the Capri was a European Mustang in every way. Using the “long hood-short deck” formula and semi-fastback styling, the Capri looked great. Although they based it on the standard Cortina and used the same engine, the Capri looked like a thoroughbred muscle car. In fact, most people thought it was a U.S.-built Ford. However, most Capris were powered by diminutive four-cylinder engines. Even the six-cylinder versions were not that powerful, even for fastbacks.

10. Fiat Dino Coupe

Back in 1967, Fiat introduced the Dino, a coupe and convertible sports car that featured a Ferrari V6 engine from the 246 GT Dino. The coupe was designed by Bertone while the convertible was styled by Pininfarina. The two cars shared mechanics, engine, and performance, but the design was totally different. The coupe featured an elegant fastback profile.

Fiat officially sold the Dino Coupe in America. If you look at the classified ads, you could find one for as little as $15,000. That is definitely the most affordable way to own a piece of Ferrari magic at Ford Fiesta prices. If you’re a budget-minded enthusiast, look for the Dino Coupe since it’s more common and affordable than the convertible. The later 2.4-liter V6 version is better and faster than the early 2.0-liter model.

9. Opel GT

In the late ’60s, Opel, the German brand, was one of the most popular economy car manufacturers in Europe. Since General Motors owned the company, its design department approved and even styled all of the Opel models. That meant that most Opels looked like scaled-down versions of Chevrolets or Buicks. That was exactly the case with the GT, a sporty-yet-affordable coupe Opel presented in 1968.

Opel needed a sports car to base on the Kadett, its entry-level model. So in the mid-’60s, Opel got approval from GM to introduce such a vehicle. The design was heavily influenced by the Corvette and the GM concepts from the mid-’60s. Of course, with its 1.3 and 1.9-liter four-cylinder engines, the Opel GT lacked the power and performance of the Corvette, but it had the looks with its fastback rear end.

8. Maserati Ghibli

No, this is not the BMW 5 Series competitor Maserati revealed in 2013. It’s the original Ghibli, a gorgeous two-door coupe Maserati introduced in 1966. They discontinued the Ghibli in 1973 after building approximately 1,300 in fastback/coupe and convertible form. After much racing success in the 1950s, Maserati turned to luxury road cars in the ’60s.

Always more restrained in appearance than Ferrari or Lamborghini, Maserati was the favorite of the more conservative wing of Europe’s high class for its style, elegance, and comfort. Maserati presented the Ghibli as an all-around model that offered enough space for four occupants.

Under the hood was a 4.7 or 4.9-liter V8 with 300 to 330 HP mated to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. The Ghibli could go from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.8 seconds with a top speed of 174 mph, making it one of the fastest cruisers of the era. With its leather interior and luxury equipment, the Ghibli was one of the most attractive fastbacks ever built.

7. Citroen SM

One of the coolest looking, most exclusive Citroens ever produced was the gorgeous SM, debuting in 1970. This elegant coupe had some interesting features. When Citroen presented it to the public, it made the competition look and feel outdated. Through various stock market transactions, the company became the owner of Maserati. Citroen thought it would be great if they could somehow use Maserati’s powerful engines and sports car know-how to produce a luxurious coupe with signature Citroen design and style.

The aesthetics were clearly French with its self-leveling suspension and front-wheel drive. But, instead of the underpowered four-cylinder engine, they added the 2.7-liter V6 Maserati developed, which provided the power.

Citroen marketed the SM in the USA, selling more examples than in Europe. In America, the SM competed against the Mercedes SLC or Cadillac Eldorado in the personal luxury segment. Soon, car buyers praised its ride quality, smooth engine, and style. Unfortunately, the oil crisis and economic recession killed the model. Citroen ceased production in 1974 after producing more than 12,000.

6. Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona

Colloquially called the Daytona, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 was an immensely important model for the factory. It’s one of the most memorable Pininfarina designs from the ’60s. The car featured a race-bred 4.4-liter V12 engine with four camshafts and a multiple-carburetor set up, delivering 352 HP. It also had an independent rear suspension and rear-mounted transaxle gearbox.

The combination of Ferrari technology and Pininfarina styling resulted in the bestselling Ferrari to date. They sold over 1,400 examples in the five-year production run. They build most as fastbacks as well as a small number of convertibles.

5. Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic

The most successful road-going Bugatti model was arguably the Type 57. It was powered by a straight eight-cylinder engine with or without a supercharger. It also had a nicely-balanced chassis and they covered it in various bodies. The Type 57 was the definitive Bugatti from the late ’30s. However, its most valuable version is the sublime Type 57 Atlantic.

Bugatti only made four of those fantastic cars; three of which are accounted for today. The Atlantic had a streamlined design, innovative materials, and unusual styling. Along with the Phantom Corsair, the Type 57 Atlantic is one of the best examples of Batman-inspired fastback design of the late ’30s.

4. Aston Martin DB5

The DB5 debuted in 1963 with a design provided by famed Italian Carozzeria Touring company. The heart of the car was a 4.0-liter straight-six engine delivering 282 to 315 HP depending on the trim and model. They produced the DB5 as a coupe or gorgeous convertible. Despite being powerful by the standards of the day, the DB5 was more of a luxury cruiser than a sports car. It could go from 0 to 60 mph in approximately eight seconds.

The DB5 proved quite popular. Aston made over 1,000 of them until 1965. The car was considered to be a big success for a small boutique manufacturer. But what this car is the most famous for is being James Bond’s car of choice, appearing in quite a few Bond movies. Some say this is an early case of product placement, but in reality, it’s a match made in heaven.

3. Tatra 603

Most of the automotive historians agree that if they built the Tatra in France, Germany, or England, it would have become one of the most influential names in car history. However, because they made it in Czechoslovakia, the Tatra 603 never got the respect it deserved. As a company, Tatra was one of the most distinguished manufacturers in car history. It was also an extremely interesting factory, creating the 603 with a specific technical layout, design, and features.

Before World War II, Tatra started experimenting with streamlined, fastback designs and rear-mounted, air-cooled Hemi V8 engines. After the war, Tatra returned to car and truck production, using modernized, updated pre-war designs.

The most popular and characteristic one was the T603 model they introduced in 1956. It featured a strange egg-shaped design with a fastback rear end that was quite aerodynamic. Behind the passenger compartment, there was a 2.5-liter V8 engine producing around 100 HP, enough for respectable performance numbers and solid cruising speeds. The Tatra T603 was a luxury car they exported in limited numbers to other communist countries on selected Western markets. They stopped production in 1975 after building more than 20,000 cars.

2. Audi 100 Coupe

Virtually unknown to U.S. car enthusiasts, the Audi 100 Coupe was an elegant, front-wheel-drive model. Audi produced it from 1969, selling it throughout 1976. Audi based it on its biggest model, adding a totally different fastback coupe body. Since they left the mechanics unchanged, the 100 Coupe didn’t have much performance. The power came from a rather anemic 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine.

However, the main thing about this car was its appearance, because the 100 Coupe looked much more upscale and expensive than it really was. With four headlights, a sporty silhouette, and chrome trim, buyers considered the Audi 100 Coupe to be an upscale proposition on the European market.

1. AMG GT

After the success of the SLS AMG, Mercedes decided to attack Porsche. Knowing that Porsche’s main sports car was the everlasting 911, Mercedes thought a smaller, lighter, and more conventional version of the SLS would be able to keep up with the venerable 911.

That is why AMG presented the GT, a 4.0-liter turbocharged V8 powered coupe or roadster. It delivered better performance, more power, and higher top speeds than most 911 versions. With fantastic driving dynamics and several versions, the AMG GT is not only a successful sports car, but it’s also a championship-winning race car with an AMG GT3 version.

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