From the Jaguar F-Type to the Cadillac CTC and the the SRT Viper, we've driven some cars this year that could live in our garages with pride for decades to come. These vehicles are on the short list for the best of 2014, but what will push them over the edge into collector's items — coveted enough to be parked in the garages of aficionados like Jay Leno? We looked back at the undisputed classics — the iconic Corvette, the sleek Lamborghini, and the art deco style of the Bugatti 57sc — to get a sense of what it takes for a car to look even better at the ripe age of 50 than it did in the new car lot.
Shelby Cobra [1964-65]
Number made: 655 289s, 348 427s (est.)
What one will cost you: $125,000- $150,000 (289), $190,000-$245,000 (427)
Engine: 7.0 liter, overhead-valve V-8
Top Speed: 160 mph
0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds
History: "Suddenly, I saw the light," said racer/carbuilder/former chicken farmer Carroll Shelby. "The light, strong, tubular AC [a British carmaker] chassis was the ideal medium for an American V-8." Thus inspired, the big Texan shoehorned a Ford V-8 (first a 289-cubic-incher, then a 427) into the AC roadster, and the Shelby Cobra was born. The Cobra hit the international sports-car scene like buckshot from a 12-gauge, sending European manufacturers scrambling to build more powerful racing cars. Shelby eventually took his cars to contest the Ferraris at Le Mans, giving these Texas mongrels credibility to spare.
Design: Shelby inherited the Cobra's shape from AC, and the body was itself derived from the European barchettas, or "little boats," of the fifties. What made the Shelby Cobra so appealing was its detail – the crooked shift lever, the just-visible steel hoses in its mouth, the fat fenders, the gumball rear tires, and barely there chrome roll hoop. The car also spawned the drop-dead-gorgeous Cobra Daytona endurance-racing coupes, which in turn inspired the Dodge Viper.
Credit: Getty Images