10 of the coolest cars with pop-up headlights

Automotive design is constantly evolving. For most gearheads, it’s easy to tell when a car was built just by looking at its design. For example, any wedge-shaped sports car you see on the road was probably built between 1970 and 1990. As technology advances, manufacturers are eliminating certain design features while introducing new ones that meet the needs current and market preferences.

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Although we love modern cars with modern design features, we can’t help but be sad when automakers get rid of a design feature we once loved, even though it’s outdated today. One design feature that every gearhead lacks is pop-up headlights. Introduced in the 60s to hide the headlights when not in use, pop-up headlights were used in some of the coolest cars until the early 2000s when they were banned. This article explores ten of the best sports cars with retractable headlights.

ten Ferrari F40


ferrari f40 front
via itl.cat

The F40 is an important part of Ferrari history for a variety of reasons. On the one hand, the F40 was a celebration of Ferrari’s 40th anniversary and was imagined and produced under the supervision of Enzo Ferrari. Unfortunately, the F40 is also the last car the company built under the management of Enzo Ferrari before his death a few months later.


1992 Ferrari F40 - Rear
via Mecum Auctions

Ferrari wanted the F40 to smash the Porsche 959’s top speed record, so they fitted it with a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V8 making 471bhp. With a top speed of 201 mph, the F40 was among the fastest sports cars of the 80s.

9 Honda NSX


Honda NSX-Type S
Via BH Auction

At the time, Honda was best known for building cheap, economical cars that weren’t all that fun to drive. However, that changed in the 90s when Honda teamed up with the legendary Ayrton Senna and developed a sports car that could rival anything from Europe – the legendary NSX.


Honda NSX - Side view
Via Mecum Auctions

The NSX had many positive features – a sleek design, lightweight all-aluminum body, fantastic driving dynamics and tons of power coming from its all-aluminum 3.0-liter V6 engine. The NSX still has a significant cult following to this day.


8 Lamborghini Diablo


1998 Lamborghini Diablo SV 2 cropped
via mecum.com

The 1990s were terrible years for Lamborghini – several ownership changes, poor sales and poor management almost killed the company. However, despite its difficulties, Lamborghini still managed to build a fantastic sports car – the Diablo.​​​​​​​


Via Mecum Auctions

The Diablo was originally designed by the famous Marcello Gandini, but Chrysler – which owned Lamborghini at the time – was unhappy and made some changes. However, they kept the retractable headlights.​​​​​​​

7 Toyota 2000 GT


Toyota 2000GT Auction Front quarter view
via bring a trailer

Toyota isn’t the first brand that comes to mind when you think of a great sports car. However, in the 60s, the Japanese company built a car that could rival the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 250 GTO and 1963 Chevy Corvette Sting Ray in the design department. Nicknamed the 2000GT, this car is still considered the most beautiful Japanese car of all time.​​​​​​​

RELATED: These Are The Most Beautiful Japanese Cars Ever Made


1967 Toyota 2000GT Expensive JDM Classic Sports Car
Via: Mecum

The only reason the 2000GT doesn’t get the respect it deserves is its weak engine. Powered by a tiny straight-six engine producing 138 hp, the 2000GT was quite slow. With only 351 examples built, the 2000GT is one of the rarest Japanese cars.​​​​​​​

6 BMW M1


BMW M1 1979
throughBMW

The sports car market in the 70s was dominated by Lambos and wedge-shaped Ferraris. BMW wanted a piece of the action too, so they hired Giorgetto Giugiaro design a sports car for them. This is how the M1 was born.​​​​​​​


BMW M1 1979
throughBMW

Everyone loved the M1. It’s still one of the best-looking BMWs ever and was great fun to drive, thanks to a mid-mounted 3.6-litre inline-six producing 273bhp.​​​​​​​


5 DeTomaso Pantera


DeTomaso Pantera
Auction Via Vicari

Growing up, Argentine racer and entrepreneur Alejandro de Tomaso always dreamed of building a world-class sports car. This dream came true in 1971 when its automaker introduced the Pantera.​​​​​​​


DeTomaso Pantera
via mecum.com

Although it was built by a small company, the Pantera was a beauty and had the power to match it too. To cut costs, DeTomaso fitted the Pantera with a Ford-built 5.8-liter V8 engine producing 330 hp, making it super fast.

4 Lancia Stratos


Jay Leno Lancia Stratos
via Jay Leno

Lancia is barely mentioned today, but it was one of Europe’s top car manufacturers at the time. Lancia was particularly successful in rallying, one of its best rally cars being the Stratos.​​​​​​​

RELATED: The 10 Best WRC Rally Cars Of All Time


Lancia Stratos - Front Quarter
Via bring a trailer

The Stratos was incredibly popular, largely due to its stunning wedge-shaped design penned by Marcello Gandini. It also featured a mid-mounted Ferrari-built V6 engine producing around 200 bhp, making it a joy to drive.​​​​​​​

3 Lotus Spirit


The 1978 Lotus Esprit S1
Via: Mecum Auctions

The Esprit won over gearheads when it debuted in the late 70s. Although it’s the product of British engineering, the Esprit’s futuristic wedge-shaped design makes it look more Italian than British. , which is not surprising since it is another product of the brilliant mind of Giorgetto Giugiaro.​​​​​​​


Lotus Spirit Turbo
Via Mecum

The Esprit’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine didn’t have much power, but its lightness allowed it to keep pace with larger-engined cars. The icing on the Spirit cake is that it is a Bond car.​​​​​​​

2 Cizeta V16T


Cizeta V16T
Via Cizeta

Most gearheads have never heard of the Cizeta V16T, even though it was one of the best sports cars of the 90s. The V16T was developed by a group of former Lamborghini employees who wanted to create the ultimate supercar – a better than any Lamborghini of the time.​​​​​​​


Cizeta V16T
Via en.wikipedia.org

The V16T had a few advantages. For one, it was designed by Marcello Gandini – the same guy who created some of Lamborghini’s best designs. The V16T also had a huge 6.0 liter V16 engine under the hood. With a top speed of 204 mph, the V16T is one of the fastest naturally aspirated sports cars of the 90s.​​​​​​​


1 Porsche 944


via ArnoldClassic

The 944 was a hit for Porsche in the 80s, selling over 150,000 units. Looking at the 944, it’s easy to see why so many loved it. It was elegant, well designed, reliable and more affordable than most European sports cars of the time.​​​​​​​


1983 Porsche 944 in black sports car
Via: Mecum

The base 944 was powered by a 2.5-liter inline-four engine producing 205 hp, which gave it decent performance. Those who wanted more could buy the turbocharged version, which produced up to 250 hp.


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