Car enthusiasts love speed, and they love the way a car performs. Vehicle manufacturers are constantly finding new ways to set themselves apart from the others by finding new ways to go faster, handle better around turns, tow more weight, or carry more people. As much as buyers are looking for these attributes, humans are also visual creatures, and if a vehicle doesn’t look good, they won’t buy it. Marketers spend millions of dollars trying to figure out what customers want, but the designers make the difference.
For many years, the most successful design firms developed new concepts and imagined new ways to lure buyers. Two of these design groups, Zagato and Pininfarina, have been recruited by some of the biggest names in the car industry to develop new concepts that will appeal to the buyers. Some of their designs are found on cars you may see daily, but others are so unique that customers and collectors will spend thousands, if not millions, of dollars to collect these limited art pieces.
These are 10 of the most desirable of those cars.
10 Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Aston Martin and Zagato have been working together for over 60 years, and in 2011 they reunited to build a beautiful car known as The V12 Zagato. Based on the Vanquish and powered by the V12 from the DBS, the V12 Zagato was redesigned with new hand-built body panels, including the roof and rear end. The 6.0L V12 produced 510 hp and went from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds.
Only 64 of those cars were built and cost $519,000 in 2012. Their owners are holding onto most of them, but one example was sold at auction in 2017 for over $800,000 and would undoubtedly be worth north of $1m today.
9 Maserati Mostro
Maserati commissioned Zagato to help them build a unique model to celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2015. The new coupe had a similar style to the 450S but was built on the chassis of the Gillette Vertigo with transmission and V8, the engine from Maserati’s GranTurismo. With only five made, only a few were able to purchase one.
In 2022 Maserati and Zagato brought that design back but will be removing the roof to make the Mostro Barchetta. For this version, buyers can choose either the 4.2L V8 or the twin-turbo 3.0L V6 also used in the MC20 that produces 630 hp. Once again, that choice will only be made by five happy customers. No price has been announced, but it will certainly be expensive.
8 Iso Rivolta GTZ
Iso Rivolta is not a name many people are familiar with, but they’ve been around since 1938. In 2017 Zagato designed a concept car that could only be driven in PlayStation’s Gran Turismo under the name Vision Concept. Doing that created so much excitement that they chose to build a version in 2020 known as the GTZ.
The actual car was powered by the Chevrolet 6.2L LT4 supercharged V8 found in the C7 Corvette Z06 that makes 641 hp. The rest of the car is hand-built in Milan, taking 2,500 hours to complete. Because it is so labor-intensive, only 19 were made. Only one made it to North America, and the owner decided to resell it at auction in 2021 for a price starting at $1.35 million.
7 Zagato Raptor
Back in 1996, Alain Wicki, a Swiss Skeleton Racer along with Lamborghini, asked Zagato to create a special car based on the Diablo VT. They used a double-bubble shape built on top of Diablo VT. You lift the entire roof and hood to expose the seating inside to get into the car.
Zagato and Lamborghini removed the traction control and anti-lock brake system to save weight and added carbon fiber parts to increase its speed. Once built, the V12 engine produced 485 hp and rocketed Zagato’s Raptor to over 205 mph. Only one was built and went to Wicki. Who put it up for auction in 2000, and it sold for $216,371, less than you would pay for a used Diablo VT on which it’s based.
6 BMW Z4 Zagato Coupe
The BMW Z3 coupe had a disappointing reception and was nicknamed “the clown shoe” It has become a cult classic since then, but when it came time to build a Z4 coupe, BMW knew they needed to be careful. The first version of the coupe came out in 2008, and when it was time for a facelift in 2012, BMW asked Zagato to give it a go and see what they could come up with.
The Zagato Z4 Coupe had a much more muscular look with more prominent side panels and a Kammback rear, and they would also give their take on the roadster. There were rumors that the modified version would go on sale, and while it was a fully functional concept car, BMW decided not to make it.
5 Alfa Romeo Spider
For any car lover, driving an Alfa Romeo Spider is a remarkable thing. The first generation was built in 1966 and was the last car designed by founder Battista Pininfarina. Its sense of style made it a hit for its looks alone and was featured in the 1967 classic The Graduate. It has a classic Alfa face with a small grille and a short hood and slopes gently from front to back, with the back referred to as a boat tail.
Finding a Spider isn’t particularly hard as it was built for nearly 30 years, but finding a first generation isn’t quite as easy. Unfortunately, the best versions of a vehicle designed to be seen are often locked away in a garage somewhere out of sight these days. At the same time, it shows the level of respect that car lovers have for it.
4 Ferrari Daytona
Pininfarina has designed cars for many manufacturers, but its soulmate is Ferrari. It’s said that designer Lionardi Fioavanti worked on it for a week without a break. It was initially called the 365 GTB, but because of its success in the 1967 Daytona 24-Hour Race, it’s more commonly known by the name of the race.
It often comes up during conversations about the most fantastic Ferrari because of its power and incredible looks. To buy one today depends on the condition, but the average price is around $600,000.
3 Ferrari P4/5
Occasionally Pininfarina will design a car for a private individual. In 2006 they took on a project for James Glickenhaus. Its body was a modified version of the Enzo supercar, and its performance was better, beating the Enzo in 0-60 mph and its top speed.
While 400 Enzos were built and sold for $659,000, the only P4/5 they made Glickenhaus cost the hefty sum of $4,000,000. They took on a similar project for Eric Clapton, which cost him $4.7m. If you want a personalized car, they’ll build you one, but they won’t do it for cheap.
2 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
The F12 Berlinetta is easily one of the most beautiful cars built in the last ten years, and the thanks go to Pininfarina. It was much sleeker than the 599 it replaced and so good that it’s nearly identical to the 812 Superfast that came after it.
The long, thin front-end slopes fluidly over the roof to the modern-looking splitter below the rear bumper. Its aerodynamic body perfectly makes it muscular and elegant at the same time and eliminates extra parts like a rear spoiler by creating enough downforce with just its shape.
1 Pininfarina Battista
Pininfarina doesn’t just design cars for others, however. They also build their own high-performance machines. In 2022 they began selling the Battista, an elegant electric vehicle powered by a battery pack provided by Rimac.
The monocoque and body panels are built from the same carbon fiber that keeps weight low. It has a suspension tuned for comfort and an interior customizable for each of the 150 people who can buy one. Performance is incredible, with a 0-60 mph time in only 1.8 seconds and a top speed of 217 mph.