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The Most Stunning Post-War European Sedans

Today, I briefly talk about each of the twelve most stunning post-war European sedans judged by me.
Published by Dr Jiulin Teng on 08 May 2024 · Updated on 08 May 2024
Keywords: alfa-romeobentleybmwjaguarmaseratimercedesrolls-royce
Hero Image for The Most Stunning Post-War European Sedans
Today, I briefly talk about each of the twelve most stunning post-war European sedans judged by me.

Bentley Arnage Phase 2 SWB

The first is the facelifted Bentley Arnage in SWB guise. It is easily distinguished from pre-facelift cars in the introduction of quad headlights.
The Arnage was arguably the last real Rolls-Royce motor car, designed and hand-built in Crewe. It has a stately shape reminiscent of a more reserved, understated era, when its contemporaries have gone full nouveau riche with bling. The car’s tasteful, selective use of chrome is another expression of the elegance and confidence of its owner.
In my view, the best examples of the Arnage are the Final Series from 2008, especially when equipped with stainless steel radiator surround.

Alpina E38 LCI B12 SWB

Second is the Alpina B12 based on the facelifted BMW E38 750i in SWB guise. In other words, this is the 6.0L version.
In my view, the E38 is the most beautiful German sedan of all time. Alpina’s body kit and alloy wheels add the cherry on top. Perhaps this is not to the taste of old money, but the Alpina B12 is certainly not as shouty as luxury cars on sale today. It suits a hardworking man in his forties or fifties who want something timeless.

Maserati M139 Quattroporte Sport GT-S

The fifth-generation Maserati Quattroporte was one of the last sedans designed by Pininfarina. The Sport GT-S was easily distinguished from others by the red pinstripes in the Maserati tridents, dual oblong exhaust tips, and a concave radiator grille.
This concave radiator grille addressed what in my view was the only cosmetic flaw of the M139 Quattroporte, the trout frontend. Thanks to its front-mid-engine layout, the car has a very low hood that flows all the way to the rear deck of the trunk. This rising line is uniquely Italian and makes the car appear rushing down a racetrack when standing still.

Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I / II

The Silver Cloud Mark 2 was about the same on the outside as the Mark 1, with the introduction of the now-classic Rolls-Royce L-series V8 engine as the main distinguisher. Both Mark 1 and Mark 2 are cleaner in styling compared to the Mark 3, especially with the quad headlight setup.
Being the only body-on-frame vehicle on this list, the Silver Cloud is appreciably taller, more so than many SUVs today. This lends the car its pre-war flare that shouts wealth and taste, even though the car was considered vulgar in the 1960s for being too pompous.

Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII Series I SWB

In fifth place, I have the pre-facelift Phantom 8 in SWB guise. While overall similar to the original design of the Phantom 7 launched two decades ago, the Phantom 8 brought a cleaner exterior that, despite being conspicuous, is statelier.
Whereas Volkswagen’s Bentley has completely lost this balance between opulence and elegance, becoming fancy versions of Audi and Porsche vehicles, BMW has managed to keep what made these cars so majestic before. In my view, the facelifted Series II took some of the balance away with shoutier wheels.

Jaguar X358 XJR

Then I have Jaguar’s X358 XJR. This is essentially the facelifted version of the X350 XJ in SWB and supercharged form. It is considerably sportier than most cars on this list, probably the least expensive to acquire today, and almost certainly the most reliable. While reliability is not what ranks this list, the other two factors do come into play, with the XJR blending a sporty styling with classic British elegance.
In this SWB form, the car has no bad angles, though the frontend is probably what grabs its followers: The beautiful flowing lines from the quad headlights over the hood is more than today’s forced “styling lines” can ever compete. The car’s flat rear deck is also a breath of fresh air compared to today’s sloping rooflines.

Mercedes AMG Hammer W124

The AMG Hammer based on the W124 Mercedes E-Class is a classic built on a classic. Many consider the W124 the best Mercedes sedan ever, and everyone can agree that the ultimate W124 is the AMG Hammer with the DOHC 5.7 or 6.0L engine.
Unlike other elegant vehicles on this list, the W124 stands out as the expression of functional Teutonic design. The subtle styling elements added by AMG, notably the wheels, brought an extra layer of timelessness to the vehicle. It is now definitely a collector’s item.

BMW E34 M5

Another collector’s car is the E34 BMW M5. As has frequently been the case between BMW and Mercedes, the E34 was a more feminine take on the Teutonic design compared to the W124. Still, the M5 has no wasted lines or needless cosmetic elements; all its sportiness is expressed with the M-System alloy wheels and the M badge, which used to mean something special.
In my view, the E34 M5 was a better design than the W124 Mercedes, but the text flows better with it behind the AMG. Interestingly, one could say that the E38 7 Series is just a larger version of the E34 5 Series.

Mercedes W100 600 SWB

The Mercedes 600 was the car favored by Communists, celebrities, drug lords, and despots. Many like the LWB and Pullman versions, but I find the SWB variant more interesting.
The car’s stacked headlights and prominent radiator grille say something to the outside world that other cars on the road do not. Perhaps it is purely by association with the vehicle’s exclusive clientele, but the car has become something that reminds most of power and force.

Maserati AM107 Quattroporte Series II

Then, I have the facelifted version of the original Maserati Quattroporte. In production between 1966 and 1969, the car’s thin roof pillars and large greenhouse is a dramatic contrast to the British and German cars on this list from the same era.
In fact, the AM107 Quattroporte reminds us of the Lamborghini Espada and the Ferrari 330 of the day, only more practical with four doors and arguably more elegant.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

In the 11th place is Alfa Romeo’s current Giulia Quadrifoglio. The Giulia carries a superb blend of sportiness and elegance that the Italians master, if only occasionally. Its unmistakable Alfa Romeo frontend is backed by simple lines that flow into a smooth rear deck.
The Quadrifoglio adds a more aggressive body kit and exclusive alloy wheels to complete the look. The enlarged bottom grilles, the headlights, and the styling lines on the hood resemble the face of a very fast animal.

BMW G70 7 Series

Lastly, the G70 BMW 7 Series brings a divisive design that, in my view, is a big step forward from the uninspiring styling its predecessors had. In fact, I consider it the best in its class and probably will influence many vehicles from other manufacturers for years to come, not immediately, but when the public has enough time to digest it.
One advantage of this vehicle is that BMW no longer makes two different wheelbases. Hence, the car’s profile looks more coherent than previous LWB models. To me, the best angle of this car is the front quarter view, where the aggressive frontend flows into smooth lines. While the direction of the design is great, however, I do find the car’s profile unfinished. I hope a future facelift will solve this issue and make the G70 truly one of the future classics.

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