When did F1 cars look their best? (Poll)

Have you got used to the unusual 2009 F1 cars?

Have you got used to the unusual 2009 F1 cars?

At the start of the year there was a lot of discussion about whether we’d ever get used to the peculiar 2009-specification cars with their bizarre front and rear wings.

So, has time made us more fond of the new-look F1 cars? How do they compare to the designs of previous generations? Have a look at them and vote below.

Which era produced the best-looking F1 cars?

  • 1950s (3%)
  • 1960s (12%)
  • 1970s (7%)
  • 1980s (11%)
  • 1990s (27%)
  • 2000s (35%)
  • 2009 (5%)

Total Voters: 2,354

Loading ... Loading ...

1950s: Front-engined brutes

1954: Two Mercedes-Benz W196s and a Maserati 250F (click to enlarge)

1954: Two Mercedes-Benz W196s and a Maserati 250F (click to enlarge)

In the 1950s drivers sat behind thundering great engines to which wheels were attached. The pilots then tried to trick these brutal beasts into going around corners, mainly by approaching them sideways.

1960s: Rear-engined cigar tubes

1965: BRM P261, Lotus 33 and Honda RA 272 (click to enlarge)

1965: BRM P261, Lotus 33 and Honda RA 272 (click to enlarge)

Those who think the coming of wings in 1968 destroyed F1 often point to the early-to-mid sixties as the time when the cars looked their best. With beauties like the Lotus 49 (below), it’s hard to argue, although these look so unlike modern F1 cars it’s hard to find points of comparison.

1967: Lotus 49 (click to enlarge)

1967: Lotus 49 (click to enlarge)

1970s: All things weird and wonderful

1973: Lotus 72E (click to enlarge)

1973: Lotus 72E (click to enlarge)

The 1970s was the final decade of great freedom in the regulations, and the designers dreamt up all manner of radical things: six-wheeled cars, ground effects and more. Cars appeared on slicks for the first time and soon they were sporting monster rear wheels too. This was F1’s gawky, awkward, pubescent phase.

1977: Renault RS01 (click to enlarge)

1977: Renault RS01 (click to enlarge)

1980s: Turbo muscle

1984: Williams FW09B, McLaren MP4/2 (click to enlarge)

1984: Williams FW09B, McLaren MP4/2 (click to enlarge)

Awesome power, huge wings, and not too much in the way of sophistication. That defined the turbo monsters of the 1980s.

1985: Arrows A8 (click to enlarge)

1985: Arrows A8 (click to enlarge)

1990s: Lean and low

1990: McLaren MP4/5B (click to enlarge)

1990: McLaren MP4/5B (click to enlarge)

The decade that’s probably going to get my vote, as much because of rose-tinted specs as anything else. Low, wide cars with slick tyres, but without the ungainly bulk of their 1980s predecessors. Lots of good liveries too – this generation produced the fantastic Jordan 191.

1997: Ferrari F310B (click to enlarge)

1997: Ferrari F310B (click to enlarge)

2000s: The aerodynamic age

2002: Williams FW24, Ferrari F2002 (click to enlarge)

2002: Williams FW24, Ferrari F2002 (click to enlarge)

For those who love clean lines, the winglet-infested cars of this decade were hideous creations. I never warmed to the narrow-track, grooved-tyre look, but the 2007 Monza-spec McLaren MP4-22s (below) were among my favourites from this time.

2007: McLaren MP4-22 (click to enlarge)

2007: McLaren MP4-22 (click to enlarge)

2009: Snowploughs and smooth sides

2009: Red Bull RB5 (click to enlarge)

2009: Red Bull RB5 (click to enlarge)

When the first of the 2009 cars started to appear we all gasped in horror. Half a year later, some of us have grown used to them and some haven’t.

And I’m definitely in the latter group. I appreciate the winglet-free sidepods (although more and more of them are coming back as teams find ways around the rules) but the fundamental problem remains that the front and rear wings are massively out of proportion.

2009: Renault R29 (click to enlarge)

2009: Renault R29 (click to enlarge)

Which decade do you think had the best F1 cars? Post examples of your favourites – and least favourites – below…

Images (C) Mercedes, Ford, Ferrari spa, BMW ag, Renault/LAT, Sutton

Read more

Advert | Go Ad-free

123 comments on When did F1 cars look their best? (Poll)

  1. HounslowBusGarage said on 29th June 2009, 9:30

    Great to read about other people’s choices of ‘best looking car’. Problem is though, that you’re all wrong. The best looking F1 car was the Brabham BT49D from 1982.
    This was the Parmalat blue and white beast that ran in several races without a front wing – such was the power of the ground effect. The car was designed with one long, continuous curve from the tip of the nose to the end of the engine cover. Simply superb.
    Actually, the Leyton House March was pretty sexy, too.

    • Jasper said on 3rd July 2009, 22:36

      HBG: I really agree, the BT49D was a stunning car. The other car I really loved was the 65?? Ferrari white exhausts coming out over the engine, gold star wheels – gorgeous.

  2. ranpante said on 29th June 2009, 9:49

    just for the simplicity it has to be the late 88/89 through to 91. But was there ever a better looking car than this???

    http://www.motorauthority.com/ferrari-pontoon-fender-testarossa-could-set-new-world-auction-record.html

  3. KarolMcD said on 29th June 2009, 9:59

    I’ve had to vote for the 90’s due to the talents of Gary Anderson and John Barnard.

  4. SYM said on 29th June 2009, 10:09

    1975-1979 ((((boootiful)))

  5. Michael said on 29th June 2009, 10:23

    I voted 60’s. The cars are so beautiful without wings; pointy, sleek and narrow. The lotus 49 is indeed a lovely car but my favourite (from a purely aesthetic point of view) is the 1968 Honda RA301. The white with red stripes is so great, its a pity the honda of recent years didn’t copy it

    worst looking car ever? Earthdream

  6. Kevin Q said on 29th June 2009, 10:43

    I think the Jordan 191 was the best looking F1 car ever followed by the 1985 lotus. Here’s a curveball, i really liked the 1996 Arrows, not sure why just something about it, Any thoughts?

  7. human said on 29th June 2009, 10:56

    i salute for those people who created the F1 car. can u imagine, they stat from nothing until we can see now.. i think we should follow them, do it until u win..

  8. Steve said on 29th June 2009, 11:13

    88-94 were the best looking. Although I love the the 60’s cars too.

    I Started watching F1 in 94, only watching regularily in ’96 so I should prefer the late 90’s cards, but the older ones are best!

  9. Alex Bkk said on 29th June 2009, 11:17

    This is so cruel… I couldn’t decide! A JPS liveried Lotus…a Camel Liveried Lotus…a Lotus 49 and that’s just Lotus! Oh…There is that Canon Williams, an MP4…

    But I voted 70’s…Before wind tunnels and all that, and to be honest…I think they just look cool.

  10. PJA said on 29th June 2009, 11:30

    I went with 1990s. I think I am biased as I started following F1 in 1991. If I had to pick others it would be between the 1960s and 2000s.

    It is probably due to what I am used to, but a modern F1 car painted all one colour just doesn’t look right to me, whereas when F1 cars were usually all one colour, before wings in the 1950s and 1960s, I think it works and it suits the cars.

    If it wasn’t for all the extra winglets I probably would have said 2000s, having said that on some cars I thought they looked quite good. For example I thought the Viking horns and chimney exhausts really worked on the MP4-20, one of my personal favourite cars, but when the Viking horns were used by BMW and Honda they didn’t look as good to me, probably due to the different liveries.

    Another thing that counts against cars from the last decade or so is grooved tyres, one thing the 2009 cars have going for them is the return to slicks. I remember at Monaco this year there was an onboard shot with a McLaren and I thought it looked great with the silver livery, the nose free of any winglets, the slick tyres and of course on board shots are usually better at Monaco because of the closeness of the walls.

    As for the 2009 cars if it wasn’t for the front and rear wings looking so out of proportion I would say the McLaren MP4-24 when it was launched, before it got those sidepod airflow conditioners, would have been up there as one of my all time favourite looking cars, shame it is so slow.

  11. persempre said on 29th June 2009, 11:39

    A beautiful car is a car that wins ;)
    Superficially, I have always preferred the look of cars before sponsorship began.

    • scunnyman said on 29th June 2009, 18:59

      You should be a politician persempre lol what a very political answer

      I agree about sponsorship, but that i’m afraid is here to stay.

  12. ajokay said on 29th June 2009, 11:42

    I went for 90’s, most likely because it’s the era I grew up watching, more than anything. The mid-90’s more specifically. The early 90’s seasons still had essence of 80’s in them, and the late 90’s were subject to the narrow width and grooved tyres.

    The 2000’s were too busy, the 80’s cars just look strange, much like everything else in the 80’s. The 70’s cars just look plain wrong, and before that don’t even look like F1 cars, and I’m not a fan of retro automotive designs.

    Here’s to the twenty-tenty decade’s crop!

    • scunnyman said on 29th June 2009, 19:02

      “twenty-tenty”???????? you trying to add to the english language with a new saying there Ajokay? lol

  13. Alastair said on 29th June 2009, 12:16

    Lotus ’79… a Thing of Beauty and totally unbeatable!

    Anything penned by Colin Chapman, in fact.

  14. Adrian said on 29th June 2009, 13:18

    I voted for 2000’s, but I can be more specific. As a complete field I don’t think there was a year with as aethetically pleasing (to me at least) field as 2006.

    In particular, the Honda, McLaren and Williams’ that year I thought had the right balance between beauty and technical interest (through the various aerodynamic appendages). In 2007 they started to get a bit too many winglets, bridge wings etc and don’t even get me started on 2008’s cars. Way too many flip-ups etc on most of them..!!

  15. Vindication!

    Most people voted for 2000s and I’m one of them.

    Why? Well the cars were beautiful to my eyes. Comparing an early 1990s car to a 2008 car is like comparing a walkman to an iPod. The aerodynamic pieces added dynamics and intrigue to a design and gave more for techies like myself who would love to think and wonder what that little flick here does, or that little sharp edge there.

    The racing was naff as a result of all the aero, but the cars themselves were fantastic.

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 29th June 2009, 22:21

      I disagree Mouse Nightshirt!
      All the aerodynamic bits and bobs masked the overall design – a bit like adding a fluffy velour coating to your beloved iPod.
      After all, we are discussing when the cars looked their best here; not when they were fastest or most efficient.
      I like my women svelte and smooth and uncompromised by sticky-up bits here or sticky-out flaps there. They might not run as fast as other women, but they are easier on the eye.
      Please don’t forward this to my wife .

    • Steve said on 30th June 2009, 11:13

      Comparing an early 1990s car to a 2008 car is like comparing a walkman to an iPod

      I’d take the walkman over an Ipod :)

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.