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What’s your choice for World’s Greatest Sports Coupe?

Petersen museum showcases celebrity-selected sports coupes | Petersen Museum photos

Petersen museum showcases celebrity-selected sports coupes | Petersen Museum photos

Yesterday, the Petersen Automotive Museum opened its newest exhibition: The World’s Greatest Sports Coupes.

“Rarely does one genre of car so broadly resonate with people, but sports coupes, with sensuous designs and inspiring capability, generate excitement everywhere they are seen,” the museum said in announcing the showcase.”

But what makes this special exhibition even more special is that it was curated not by the museum staff but by 12 CELEBRITY CURATORS each of whom was allowed to define his — or their — image of just what constitutes the world’s greatest sports coupe.

Here are the celebrities and their selections:

  • Nick Mason of Pink Floyd — 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
  • Patrick Dempsey, actor — 1964 Porsche 356SC
  • James Hetfield of Metallica — 1948 Jaguar Custom “Black Pearl”
  • Film director and producer Francis Ford Coppola — 1954 Plymouth Explorer concept car
  • Brian Johnson of AC/DC — 1974 Iso Grifo
  • Bobby Rahal, Indy 500 winner — 1967 Jaguar E-type
  • John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Pixar 1968 Ford GT40 Mark III
  • Ian Callum, Jaguar director of design — 1961 Aston Maritn DB4 Zagato
  • Top Gear USA hosts Tanner Foust, Adam Ferrara and Rutledge Wood — 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
  • Adam Carolla, comedian — 1963 Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso
  • Bruce Meyer, car collector — 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing
  • Angus MacKenzie, magazine editor — 1991 Acura NSX

“For its newest exhibit, The World’s Greatest Sports Coupes, the Petersen Automotive Museum invited twelve celebrities—ranging from rock ‘n roll legends, critically acclaimed film directors, actors and world renown car collectors—to guest curate one sports coupe each,” the museum explained. “The exhibit, which is now open, showcases some of the most beautiful sports coupes known to man.”

We’re glad the museum included the word “some” in that last sentence, because, obviously, the celebrity curators got it wrong. Obviously, there are other coupes that should have been included in a display of “world’s greatest,” and in just a minute or so we’re going to give you an opportunity to pick your own nominee for the World’s Greatest Sports Coupe.

First, however, we need to note that this exhibition at the Petersen, located on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, runs through October 18, and is being underwritten by Jaguar, which is launching its new F-type coupe.

“Sports coupes are the reason most of us fell in love with the automobile in the first place,” said Terry Karges, the museum’s executive director.

“These vehicles represent the pinnacle of art, design, engineering and performance and have been built all over the world. Choosing a dozen sports coupes to represent the finest of the breed was no easy task, which is why we invited the world’s most prominent car collectors to guest curate this exhibit.”

In an acknowledgement that the dozen vehicles selected are not an all-inclusive list, the museum also is displaying photography by Scott Williamson to show “important sports coupes that were not included by any of the celebrity curators.”

“This new approach of curating diverse opinions from a range of automotive enthusiasts brings a real energy to the exhibit and fits the Petersen perfectly,” said Jaguar brand vice president Jeff Curry. “One of the great things about being a car lover is that we can all have our own point of view on what makes a sports coupe deserving to be part of the ‘World’s Greatest.’”

Well said, Jeff. We agree. And we’re now offering the “Share your comments” box below for you to nominate your choice for World’s Greatest Sports Coupe. First, however, we’re offering our own.

Here’s mine: 1993 Porsche 911. “Ferrari collector and chief engineer for the development of a rival super car told me that the sports car that came closest to being perfect was the Porsche 911. He explained that while everyone else tried to reinvent their cars every few years, Porsche simply worked to move its 911 closer and closer to perfection. The 911 known within Porsche as the 993 was the last of the air-cooled cars and thus as close to perfection as it got for the Porsche purist.

Here’s Bob Golfen’s: 1965 Shelby GT350.  “After considering various Lancia and Alfa-Romeo coupes, some of which are achingly beautiful, I opted for something a little closer to home,” Golfen says. “Carroll Shelby’s mastery of performance tuning was in full bloom when he and his team took the stylish but low-tech 1965 Ford Mustang fastback coupe and transformed it into the Shelby GT350, vastly improving handling, power and drivability.   The addition of scoops and stripes, and its hunkered-down profile over Kelsey-Hayes wheels, made the GT350 look like a full-on racecar for the street, but in a very good way.  The great Stirling Moss owned and used a 1965 Shelby GT350 for historic racing in the 1990s. Whenever I see a real GT350 (and there are many fakes) at a classic car show or auction, I always stop for a moment of reverie. “

O.K., now it’s your turn. Sound off in the comments!

Posted in: Features

About the Author:

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to writing for ClassicCars.com, Larry oversees automotive enthusiast website iZoom.com, writes a weekly feature for The Detroit News, writes occasional articles for the The New York Times, and teaches as an adjunct member of the faculty at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

8 Comments on "What’s your choice for World’s Greatest Sports Coupe?"

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  1. ron says:

    Ferrari “Daytona” and 67 Mustang fastback!

  2. Nick Tallos says:

    I’m glad I owned the ’67 E-Type that one of the celebrities chose and especially since he (Bobby Rahal) is a racecar driver. I now own a ’95 S Toyota Supra, “mildly” modified, ~700hp, and I would have this car on my list of best sports coupes.

  3. Jim Resnick says:

    What? No Cisitalia? Nothing for the car that defined the post-WWII sports coupe form? Nothing for the car that influenced all enclosed post-war sports cars? Nothing for the car that, for years, was the only automobile in the Museum of Modern Art? A case of Rodney Dangerfield, I tell ya. Short-sighted by the Petersen and by some very knowledgeable “curators.”

  4. George Hess says:

    Love them all but got to pick those 911 Porsche’s.

  5. Bob Golfen says:

    Jim, the 1947 Cisitalia 202 was indeed one of the most beautiful and significant cars of all time, Here’s a link to Italian designer Pininfarina’s posting about the Cisitalia, with lots of pictures: http://www.pininfarina.com/en/cisitalia_202/

  6. John Priddy says:

    Any Lamborghini!

  7. Lenny Waddel says:

    Mercedes SL 600 1999 or 2002 SL 500 Silver Arrow Special Edition.
    These, cars are truly examples of MB ” the best or nothing” philosophy.
    Over engineered, rock solid,, every comfort & option came standard. As, did a top speed limited in US to 156 mph. Just the sound of a 12 cylinder puts the SL 600 at the top of my list.

  8. Jack Parl says:

    I have to agree with Lenny .Any MB SL 500 or SL 600 from 1999 to 2002. These were the last of the R 129 chassis , and several Special Editions really stand out. Classic design with soft top and a removable hard top standard.And a V/12 is a mans car. Non of this 2 liter turbo charged nonsense. The fat torque band available between 2 & 3 thousand RPM will rocket you past any one . Enough torque and horse power on demand in a bullet proof engine and a comfortable cockpit with every option known to man as standard equipment. Whats not to like?)

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