The 1950s were an exciting time in the automotive industry. The recovery from World War II was in full swing and hot cars were coming out of the woodwork. This is a list of the fastest road legal production sportscars/grand tourers based on their power to weight ratio. Of course there's tons of iconic race cars from this period, but that's a list for another day.
BMW 507- This gorgeous roadster was a rare example of a non-Porsche German sportscar.
Nash-Healy - These cars were a common sight at the 24 hours of Le Mans
AC Ace - This is what the Cobra was before Carrol got his Texas mits on it.
Lotus Elite - Despite having only 100hp the Elite's feathery weight puts it into the company of much more powerful cars. It also has the distinction of being the first Lotus to resemble a proper car.
Jaguar XK140 - The middle child of the pre-E Type Jag sportscars.
Maserait A6 - Some very pretty Italian body work from the early 1950s.
Maserati 3500 - It's big, handsome, and has a powerful inline six. The 3500 is like an Italian Aston Martin.
Mercedes 300SL Gullwing - Perhaps the most iconic of all sportscars of the 1950s, or any era the 300SL is a design masterpiece. Though this car also came in four cylinder (190SL) and roadster versions it's the 300SL with it's big six cylinder and cool gullwing doors that is the car to have.
Jaguar XK150 - The XK150 was the last and best of Jag's pre-E Type sports cars. Jaguar, like Triumph motorcycles, had a thing for naming vehicles after their top speed (which they mostly couldn't reach).
Ford Thunderbird Supercharged - For three brief years Ford actually had a true sportscar. It was it was big and luxurious and after just three years Ford decided to add a second row of seats effectively making it like all the other cars of the day, but it was still the most honest attempt Ford had at the sportscar business. For 1957 there was even a supercharge model that made the T bird one of the most powerful cars of it's day.
Aston Martin DB4 - Thanks to James Bond the DB4 is often overshadowed by it's offspring the DB5, but this is the car that introduced the iconic shape.
Chevrolet Corvette 283 fuel injected - In 1955 the Corvette revived the small block V8 which transformed the pleasant cruiser into a performance machine. In 1957 Chevrolet fitted the small block with one of the first fuel injections systems (Mercedes beating them by a few years). The resulting engine had one horsepower per cubic inch, which was a big deal at the time. The following 1959-60 'Vettes had slightly more power (290hp) but even more weight, leaving the 1957 model the king of the 50s.
Ferrari 410 Superamerica - In Ferrari's early years they had not one, but two V12 engines. The big V12 found their way into the "America" cars, the pinnacle of which was the 410 Superamerica. At five liters and 300 horsepower it was one of the biggest and most powerful engines of it's day.
Ferrari 250 GT - If the Superamerica was the F12 of it's day then the 250 GT was certainly the 458 Italia of it's day. The relatively tiny three liter V12 made a lot power in a car that didn't weigh very much at all. The styling was way ahead it's time and the car is considered one of the most beautiful cars of all time. A fact that is reflected in it's price, given the 250 is one of the most expensive cars of all time.
Jaguar XK-SS - It's not too surprising seeing the XK-SS at the top of this list when you know it was simply a Le Mans Winning D Type dressed up as a production car in the name of racing.
Here's the data
|1958-61||Austin-Healy Sprite||48||1477||30.77||0.9 I4|
|1954||Kaiser Darrin||90||2360||26.22||2.6 I6|
|1955-62||MG MGA Twin Cam||100||2185||21.85||1.6 I4|
|1948-64||Porsche 356||95||2061||21.69||1.5 I4|
|1953-59||Austin-Healy 100-6||117||2480||21.20||2.6 I6|
|1955-62||Triumph TR3||100||2105||21.05||2.1 I4|
|1952-54||Fiat 8V||105||2200||20.95||2.0 V8|
|1956-59||BMW 507||148||2930||19.80||3.2 V8|
|1953-54||Chevrolet Corvette||150||2840||18.93||3.9 I6|
|1955-57||Ford Thunderbird||200||3350||16.75||4.8 V8|
|1953-63||AC Ace||120||1920||16.00||2.0 I4|
|1958-63||Lotus Elite||75||1110||14.80||1.2 I4|
|1954-57||Jaguar XK140||210||3024||14.40||3.4 I6|
|1947-56||Maserati A6G||150||2090||13.93||2.0 I6|
|1957-64||Maserati 3500||235||3170||13.49||3.5 I6|
|1954-57||Mercedes 300SL Gullwing||240||2855||11.90||3.0 I6|
|1957-61||Jaguar XK150||250||2968||11.87||3.4 I6|
|1957||Ford Thunderbird SC||300||3510||11.70||5.1 V8S|
|1958-63||Aston Martin DB4||240||2734||11.39||3.7 I6|
|1958-60||Chevrolet Corvette F.I.||290||3040||10.48||4.6 V8|
|1956-57||Chevrolet Corvette F.I.||283||2910||10.28||4.6 V8|
|1955-59||Ferrari 410 Super America||335||3150||9.40||5.0 V12|
|1955-64||Ferrari 250 GT swb||256||2359||9.21||3.0 V12|
|1957||Jaguar XK-SS||262||2030||7.75||3.4 I6|