Influential Autos: 5 Of The Most Iconic Cars Of All Time

If you look back at automotive history there are several standout vehicles that have helped shape the industry and the world we live in today. Here Ape runs through some of the most influential cars ever made.

Mini Cooper

A Cult Icon

If you haven’t owned one, you’ll have certainly been inside one – the Mini Cooper is a British icon and revolutionised the whole concept of affordable transportation. It was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and was developed in response to the oil crisis during WWII, where fuel was in scant supply and cheap, affordable transportation was needed. The Mini was eventually born and went on to create a cult following that still exists today.


The Hottest Hot Hatch

The GTI is considered by many to be the first hot hatch – the car that kicked started the genre. The project got under way by a small team of VW engineers who just wanted to build a faster Golf – VW bosses had no intention to make such a model. The idea impressed the VW chairman so much he gave the project the green light for production. And now, 45 years later, the GTI is in its eight-generation and considered one of the most successful and imitated performance cars ever made.

Audi Quattro

Four Wheels Are Better Than Two

You’ll have seen the Quattro name plastered on the back of Audi’s four wheel-drive cars, but the name itself actually refers to the original Quattro car. It launched back in the 1980s and was the car that proved that four-wheel drive could be used to create fast, road-going performance cars. Previously the system had only been used in rallying, but Audi was the first to prove it on the road – its legacy still stands today.

Toyota Prius

The Original Hybrid

Most people have probably experienced a Prius from the back seat – usually after a long night and a few too many drinks. The Toyota is so popular with taxi drivers because of its low CO2 emission and fuel-sipping hybrid technology; the Prius actually launched back in 1997 so Toyota has had decades to improve and refine its petrol-electric powertrain to be as efficient as possible. It’s not the most glamorous car in this list but it laid the foundations for the development of hybrid vehicles.

Tesla Model S

Driving The Electric Revolution

Twenty years ago Tesla didn’t even exist, now it’s one of the most valuable companies on the planet. Its founder, Elon Musk, floored the automotive world back in 2012 when he launched the Model S saloon. This small California-based start up proved that there was a huge appetite for premium, fully electric vehicles – and that there was serious money to be made.

Only today, 10 years on, are the competition from Audi, BMW and Mercedes arriving on the market. Elon Musk caught them all off guard.

Jonathan Burn

Jonathan Burn is a world renowned automotive journalist, and Ape's resident car expert with a deep appreciation for anything that drives fast.