Home Cars 20 Classic European Fastbacks That Ruled The Roads

20 Classic European Fastbacks That Ruled The Roads

Vukasin Herbez July 17, 2020

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 When Citroen presented it to the public, it made the competition look and feel outdated.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.


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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