What exactly is a cult car? The examples of cult cars will certainly vary, depending on the person you ask. Younger car fanatics may consider the latest Bugatti Chiron to be a cult car, while older petrolheads would likely think of the Pontiac Trans Am or the original Mini Cooper.
One thing is for sure- nearly every car out there has some kind of a cult following around it. Nonetheless, these are 40 of the most iconic cars that have the biggest cult following.
The Mustang needs no introduction. Not only is it America’s favorite pony car, but the Mustang may also very well be the most iconic American car of all time! The sporty coupe has come a long from its beginnings in the mid-1960s.
The vehicle was first unveiled for the 1965 model year and was an instant hit. The car rose to fame after being driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt. Back in ’65, a brand new Mustang would start at $2,427, or around $20,000 adjusted for inflation.
The Camaro has been in production for more than five decades, with six different generations introduced throughout the years. All of the different generations and trim levels to choose from only make the Camaro more appealing to car buyers and enthusiasts alike.
Whether you’re a fan of the original first-gen Camaro, the stylish second-gen from the 1970s, or one of the latest models, Chevrolet has ensured to have the right Camaro to suit your needs. The car had continuously been produced from 1966 up until 2002, and then again from 2008 onwards.
The Dodge Challenger is the car that completes the American holy trinity, together with the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang. The Challenger is a monstrous muscle car that first hit the market for the 1970 model year. Just like the Camaro and the Mustang, the Challenger has a massive fanbase around the globe.
In its most powerful variant, the Challenger packed a gigantic 426 cubic inch 7.2L V8 HEMI under the hood. In this configuration, the Challenger R/T was rated at a whopping 425 horsepower delivered to the rear wheels. No traction control, ABS, or any other safety features were fitted on the car.
Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
The second-generation Pontiac Firebird was a dream car for practically anyone who had seen Smokey And The Bandit. The black second-gen Trans Am driven by Burt Reynolds arguably stole the show. Following the release of the movie back in 1977, everyone wanted the same muscle car.
The Pontiac Firebird shared the same platform as the Chevrolet Camaro, though the two cars received minor changes inside and out. The optional Trans Am package featured more power under the hood and better handling thanks to an upgraded suspension system.
Much like the Pontiac Trans Am, the Delorean rose to fame after being featured in a Blockbuster. Back To The Future featured a Delorean that had been transformed into a time machine by Doc Brown. Unlike the movie car, a real-life Delorean DMC-12 turned out to be rather disappointing.
Don’t let the extravagant styling and butterfly doors fool you, the Delorean only makes 130 horsepower from its underpowered V6 motor. Despite the car’s awful performance, the Delorean continues to have a large fan club around the world.
The Miata is the go-to tiny Japanese sports car for countless petrolheads. The car first hit the market for the 1990 model year and became an instant hit. To this day, fans of the MX5 adore this tiny roadster for its cute styling complete with pop-up headlights, exceptional handling, and a great base for modifications.
At first, the MX5 was offered with a 1.6L flat-four. In 1994, the engine was upgraded to a more powerful 1.6L rated at 129 horsepower. Although the car handled like a proper sports car, it did feel tremendously underpowered. Nonetheless, the Miata is an amazing car in its price range.
Carroll Shelby has got to be one of the most influential people in the automotive world. Back in the 1960s, the racing driver approached AC, one of Great Britain’s oldest automakers, to build him a V8-powered race car. The company agreed, and Shelby sourced a Windsor motor from Ford that would power the new creation. A few months later, the iconic Shelby Cobra was born.
Without a doubt, the 427-powered variant of the Cobra is the ultimate version of this monstrous roadster. Under the hood, the 2-seater packed a 485-horsepower 7.0L V8 sourced from Ford.
Buick Grand National
The Buick GNX is one of the craziest American vehicles of the 1980s. Back in 1987, McLaren Technologies (an American-based company founded by Bruce McLaren, not to be confused with McLaren Automotive) took a regular Buick Regal and turned it into one of the greatest V6-powered muscle cars of all time.
Some 500 units were built in total. At the time of the car’s release, Star Wars had been a major hit. The Grand National GNX was quickly nicknamed the Darth Vader of muscle cars. The GNX could reach 60mph in just 4.6 seconds!
The Datsun 240Z first hit the US market for the 1970 model year. The car was a direct successor of the Fairlady Z. Overtime, this gorgeous 2-door coupe has become one of the most sought-after cars made by Nissan.
The 240Z packed a 2.4L flat-six under the hood, paired with a rear-wheel-drive drivetrain. Both manual and automatic transmission variants were available. The 240Z could reach 60 miles per hour in just 8 seconds, which was rather impressive back in the early 1970s.
The Countach is an absolute icon among vintage supercars or even automobiles as a whole. This gorgeous Italian supercar first debuted back in the mid-1970s and its futuristic exterior styling became a hit among both fans and potential buyers. Over the following decades, the Countach has earned a spot as one of the most influential supercars of all time.
The LP5000QV variant of the Countach was the most popular version, with a production run of around 600 units. The LP5000QV is powered by a screaming 450-horsepower V12 mounted behind the driver.
While the Bel Air is adored by hotrodders, its successor is often transformed into custom lowriders. Though the Impala first debuted for the 1958 model year as a redesigned Bel Air, the third-gen from 1961-1964 is the most iconic version of the Chevy Impala.
In 1961, Chevrolet unveiled the all-new third generation of the Impala. Gone were the features that resembled the Bel Air, in favor of a cleaner, modern look. Chevrolet offered the third-gen Impala in both 2 and 4-door body styles, and even as a station wagon and convertible. Without a doubt, the Impala is one of the coolest American cars of the 1960s.
Chevrolet Bel Air
Practically any fan of hot rodding can appreciate a Bel Air. Although this stylish vehicle started out in the mid-1950s as the top-of-the-line Chevrolet available up until the release of the Impala, countless units are brought back to their former glory every year. The Bel Air is favored among classic car fanatics, as well as custom car enthusiasts and hotrodders.
Without a doubt, the second generation of the Bel Air is the most iconic one. Produced for just three years starting in 1955, these cars have become incredibly sought after.
The F40 has a lot in common with the previously mentioned Lamborghini Countach. Both cars feature spectacular styling, a rear-mounted engine, and absolutely extraordinary performance. The F40 is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic vehicles to ever come out of the factory in Maranello.
Aside from the car’s impressive performance and state-of-the-art design, there is another reason why many petrolheads consider the F40 to be the ultimate Ferrari. This was the last supercar signed off by Enzo Ferrari himself, just a year prior to his passing.
The 911 could be the most iconic German car of all time, right alongside the Volkswagen Beetle. You may be surprised to hear that the two vehicles have a lot in common. In fact, both of them were originally designed by Ferdinand Porsche. The car first went on sale in the 1960s and had been in production ever since.
At first, the 911 featured a rear-mounted boxer engine that was cooled by air. Over six decades later, the heart of the 911 can still be found behind the driver’s seat, although it is no longer cooled by air. Nonetheless, the modern Porsche 911 is just as popular as its stylish predecessors.
When talking about cars with an enormous fanbase, you cannot skip the fourth-gen Toyota Supra. This Japanese sports car debuted in the early 1990s and quickly became one of the most sought-after JDM cars. Much of the car’s popularity can be linked to the car’s continuous appearances in the Fast & Furious franchise.
The base model fourth-gen Supra produces 220 horsepower from its iconic naturally-aspirated 2JZ motor. A turbocharged variant was available too, rated at 276 horses. Toyota’s 2JZ engine became a favorite among car tuners, as the engine could be upgraded to become unbelievably powerful.
Nissan Skyline GTR
The Skyline GTR was a series of high-performance variants of the regular Skyline coupe, developed by Nissan to rival cars like the Toyota Supra. Just like the fourth-gen Supra, the Nissan Skyline GTR (R34) was featured in the Fast And Furious movies. The supercar-like performance of the cars certainly helped to increase their popularity, too.
The Nissan GTR R32 packs a twin-turbocharged RB26DET flat-six under the hood, rated at 276 horsepower. Back in the 1990s, Japanese automakers agreed not to surpass 276 horsepower when developing their sports cars.
The third generation of the Mazda RX7 forms the Japanese Big Three, together with the Toyota Supra and the Nissan Skyline. The RX7 FD is one of the most iconic JDM cars of the 1990s. The car has a large fanbase around the globe.
The third-gen RX7 first hit the Japanese market in 1992. The car saw a 10-year long production run, with nearly 70,000 units sold in total. Under the hood, the RX7 FD packs Mazda’s iconic 1.3L twin-turbocharged rotary Wankel motor rated at 252 horsepower.
Who doesn’t love a good ol’ Chevrolet Corvette? The sports car first appeared on the market back in the 1950s. The original exterior styling was inspired by the craze for a spaceship-like design caused by the Space Race. The Corvette has remained an icon and is widely considered one of the best American sports cars of all time.
The latest, eighth-generation of the Corvette is in a completely different league. Unlike its predecessors, the C8 does not resemble any of the previous generations of the Corvette. The all-new design looks better than ever, and a mid-mounted powerplant promises exceptional handling.
Nissan GTR (R35)
The all-new Nissan GT-R R35 first debuted for the 2008 model year. The supercar was a successor to the iconic R34 Skyline from the early 2000s. Unsurprisingly, the vehicle quickly stole the hearts of JDM fans and automotive journalists alike.
Back in late 2007, the R35 was absolutely revolutionary. This two-door sports car came powered by a 3.8L twin-turbo V6 rated at nearly 500 horsepower! In effect, the supercar could reach 60 miles per hour in just 3.2 seconds. The GTR offered proper supercar performance for a relatively low price. The base model was available for around $60,000.
Wherever you go in the world, you’ll be bound to see at least one Volkswagen Beetle. The original one and not its hideous successor, of course. The Beetle was originally designed by Ferdinand Porsche, who had been asked to create a practical and budget-friendly vehicle by Adolf Hitler. The People’s Car went on sale in the late 1930s. The Beetle saw a production run of over 21 and a half million units.
The Beetle went on to become one of the most iconic vehicles of all time. The lightweight body proved ideal for modifications and even motorsport, while the rear-mounted air-cooled engine gave the driver a glimpse of the Porsche experience for a fraction of the price.
Unlike the 911 or the Beetle, Ferdinand Porsche had nothing to do with the Golf. Nonetheless, this compact car produced by Volkswagen is a fantastic vehicle. It is no surprise that the Golf has an enormous fanbase around the world, ranging from people who use one as a daily driver all the way to crazy modifying fanatics.
Though the base model Golf is arguably not too exciting, Volkswagen released the souped-up Golf R in 2014. The performance-oriented variant of the Golf can reach 60 miles per hour from a standstill in less than 5 seconds!
To this day, many car enthusiasts remain completely unaware that this car was a joint project between Audi and Porsche. The cooperation between the two German automakers resulted in the birth of one of the coolest wagons of all time, the Audi RS2.
The RS2 was the first RS-badged vehicle made by Audi. This souped-up estate featured a 311-horsepower flat-five under the hood, mated with a 6-speed manual and a four-wheel-drive drivetrain. The RS2 paved the way for high-performance wagons that would become popular for decades to come.
The 1980s saw a wave of souped-up, street-legal versions of rally cars. All thanks to the FIA and the homologation regulations for the infamous Group B rally class. This required automakers to release street-legal variants of their race cars to partake in the championship. The Quattro acquired a gigantic cult following, similarly to other vehicles that raced in Group B.
The base variant of the street-legal Audi Quattro is renowned for its impressive 4-wheel-drive system and exceptional off-road performance. The German automaker has been using the Quattro moniker on all of its all-wheel-drive cars ever since.
Subaru WRX STI
Similar to the previously mentioned Audi Quattro, the Subaru WRX STI is essentially a street-legal version of a souped-up rally car. The high-performance sedan based on a regular Subaru Impreza first hit the market back in 1994 and quickly became a known model in the world of motorsport.
The original WRX STI produced 247-horsepower from its high-revving boxer motor, though the power output was quickly upgraded to 276 horses. The STI also featured an updated suspension, alongside an array of mechanical and cosmetic upgrades.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
The Lancer Evolution was a direct rival of the souped-up WRX STI. Just like its competitor, the Lancer Evolution was based on a regular sedan. Just like Subaru, the Lancer Evo quickly became famous in the world of motorsport. The fans were divided between the two brands, though both of them have just as much of a cult following.
The Lancer Evo first appeared on the market in 1992, two years before the first WRX STI. The Evolution I, based on the fifth-gen Lancer, came powered by a 244-horsepower turbocharged flat-four. The Evo I could reach up to 142 miles per hour.
Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG
Back when the G-Class was first unveiled in the late 1970s, it was a spartan off-roader that would be able to get just about anywhere. Over the next decades, Mercedes-Benz began refreshing the vehicle to boost sales. Today, the G Class has become a symbol of status that can be seen near any lavish designer store.
The world got a glimpse of the modern G63 all the way back in 1993, when Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 500 GE 6.0 AMG powered by a 326-horsepower motor. Only 6 units were built. The regular production AMG version of the G wagon hadn’t been introduced until 2002.
Mercedes-Benz made international news with the release of the original S-Class back in 1972. The sedan came equipped with some of the latest comfort and safety features out of any automobile at the time. It was, quite simply, the ultimate Mercedes-Benz money could buy. The car has been around ever since and has remained the epitome of luxury.
The latest, seventh-generation of the upscale S-Class was unveiled for the 2020 model year. The car features a wide array of impressive features, such as an augmented-reality head-up display system, or the latest version of the Mercedes-Benz MBUX software, complete with voice control.
Honda Civic Type R
The performance-oriented Type R trim of the Honda Civic was a precursor of today’s hot hatches that first went on sale in 1997. The original Type R offered rather impressive performance, especially considering the car’s price tag and engine size. What’s more, the lightweight body and low center of gravity dramatically improved the handling of the car.
The Type R is adored by JDM fans and is widely considered to be one of the best-performing front-wheel-drive cars of all time. The original Type R from 1997, based on the 6th gen Civic, can accelerate to 60mph in just 6.7 seconds.
Before the Civic Type R first hit the market in the late 1990s, the Honda CRX was the go-to fun to drive, performance-oriented vehicle built by this Japanese automaker. The car’s exceptional performance, affordable price tag, and quirky styling all contributed to accumulating a large fanbase for years to come.
Under the hood, the CRX packed a 1.6L motor rated at 135 horsepower in its most powerful variant, while the base model peaked at 58 horsepower from its fuel-efficient 1.3L flat-four. What’s more, the CRX only weighed 1800 pounds!
The original Mini Cooper is as British as a vehicle could get, perhaps except for red double-decker buses. The original Mini debuted in the late 1950s and saw over 5 million units sold up until its discontinuation in 2000. You may remember this cute vehicle from an episode of Mr. Bean, where Rowan Atkinson can be seen driving a green Mini Cooper.
As the Mini was aimed to be a low-budget, fuel-efficient car, the automaker equipped this tiny compact with a selection of different flat-four motors. Motorsport experts quickly realized the potential of the Mini. Modified versions of the Mini were dominating the rally scene throughout the 1960s.
BMW 3-Series (E30)
The E30 was BMW’s second generation of the 3-Series, which first went on sale back in 1982. What’s more, the first-ever high-performance BMW M3 was based on the E30 generation of the 3-Series. Unsurprisingly, the E30 accumulated a large following over time that only seems to grow every year.
While the souped-up M3 was a 200-horsepower monstrosity, the base model packed an economical 1.6L flat-four under the hood. The car is renowned for its stylish exterior design. The rear-wheel-drive drivetrain makes the E30 an incredibly fun car to drive, too.
BMW M3 (E46)
The E46 was the fourth generation of the BMW 3-Series, which debuted back for the 1998 model year. Two years later, the German automaker unveiled the performance-oriented M3 variant based on the two-door E46 3-Series. The car was an instant hit and shared much of the success of the iconic E30 M3.
Under the hood, the standard E46 M3 packed a naturally-aspirated 3.2L flat-six that peaked at 338 horsepower. BMW took the E46 M3 a step further though and released the limited M3 CSL variant in 2004. The CSL weighed nearly 250 less than the standard M3 and made 17 horses more. Only 1383 units of the CSL were sold.
The Jeep Cherokee was a direct successor to the Jeep Wagoneer, which is widely considered to be the precursor of modern SUVs. Like its predecessor, the Jeep Cherokee focused on combining remarkable off-road capabilities paired with everyday comfort, practicality, and even a touch of luxury. No wonder it has become one of the most loved SUVs of all time.
At first, the original Cherokee was actually a rebadged two-door Jeep Wagoneer. In 1984, however, the American automaker unveiled the second generation of the SUV. The Cherokee XJ is renowned for its exceptional performance off the beaten path. The Cherokee has lived on ever since, the fifth-gen is sold to this day.
The Wrangler has a massive cult following among 4×4 enthusiasts for a great reason. This extremely capable compact off-roader first debuted in the 1980s as a successor to the iconic Willys Army Jeep. It was also the first vehicle that went on sale after Jeep had been acquired by Chrysler. Add in the boxy exterior design, and you end up with one of the most iconic 4x4s ever made.
The Wrangler is still around today. The latest generation internally referred to as the JL, has been on sale since 2018. Though the car has received an array of updates throughout the last 4 decades, the new Wrangler still resembles its original form.
Land Rover Defender
The Defender looks as if it were a long-lost British cousin of the Jeep Wrangler. After all, this British offroader first debuted around the same time as the Wrangler. Just like the Wrangler, the Land Rover Defender is still in production to this day.
At first, the Defender was simply sold as the Land Rover. In 1993, however, the British marque introduced the Land Rover Discovery and had to name their flagship model. Land Rover celebrated its 2 millionth produced unit back in 2015. After a four-year absence on the market, the all-new Defender was introduced for the 2020 model year.
Toyota Land Cruiser
The Land Cruiser isn’t exactly a Japanese alternative to the Land Rover Defender, nor is it inspired by the American Wrangler. In fact, the original Land Cruiser debuted decades before. This Japanese off-roader was first unveiled back in the 1950s and has gained popularity across the globe ever since.
Like the Wrangler and the Defender, the Toyota Land Cruiser is a roadgoing version derived from a military vehicle. The first-gen Land Cruiser was developed for the American government using the same specification as the Willys Jeep. The project was referred to as the “Toyota Jeep BJ”, and packed Toyota’s 3.4L flat-six under the hood.
Tesla Model S
Tesla revolutionized the electric car market, ever since the debut of the Model S sedan back in 2012. Elon Musk, the extravagant founder and CEO of the company, could very well be one of the most interesting businessmen in the modern world. Unsurprisingly, Tesla has accumulated a massive following over the past decade, that only seems to grow year by year.
The Model S was Tesla’s original flagship sedan. As of 2020, the Model S had a single-charge range of 402 miles, the most out of any production electric car on the market. In its most powerful variant, the Model S can produce a whopping 825 horsepower and 960 pound-feet of torque.
The second-generation of the Nissan Silvia, sold in the United States as the second-gen 240SX, remains a dream car for countless JDM fans. After all, this rear-wheel-drive coupe can serve as a great base for all kinds of modifications, especially drifting and motorsport use.
Sadly, only one engine variant was available in the US. The North American version of the S14 came powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.4L flat-four motor. Buyers in other parts of the world, on the other hand, could opt for the legendary SR20DET 2.0L turbocharged flat-four motor.
Nissan unveiled the S15 following the success of its direct predecessor, the previously mentioned S14. Just like the previous generation, the S15 was a rear-wheel-drive coupe that could be turned into an exceptional drift car. The S15 remains a popular choice for drifters around the world.
Under the hood, the regular S15 packed a naturally-aspirated 2.0L flat-four motor, although a turbocharged variant of the same engine was available too. The souped-up Spec-R variant of the S15 featured a reinforced chassis and suspension, as well as a limited-slip differential.
Lotus represents a dying breed of automakers. The British-based manufacturer was first founded in the late 1940s and was always focused on creating race cars, as well as exciting roadgoing sports cars. Their flagship model, the Elise, is a tiny 2-door sports car that can outperform vehicles way out of its price range.
The Elise first hit the market in the mid-1990s. The car featured a lightweight body that only weighed around 1,600 pounds and a 118-horsepower flat-four that powered this tiny sports car. Don’t let the seemingly low power output fool you, the original Elise could reach 60 miles per hour in just 5.8 seconds!