Our Favorite Beach Cars: Timeless Vintage Beach Rides

Our three favorite vintage beach cars offer three particularly unique ways to get to the beach this summer.

mercedes 450sl r107, ford bronco, and fiat 500 jolly ghia
Editor's Note: The beach. She beckons. Heed the call this summer, but first make sure your vehicle of choice is beach-approved. In this limited series, we'll reveal our favorite beach cars; in this edition, vintage gold to scratch your retro itch.

Considering the boom in the second-hand car market over the last year and the countless Instagram feeds dedicated to curating glam shots of retro cars on the streets of New York and LA, this summer might finally be the time to pull the trigger on the vintage car you’ve been eyeing. Not your grandparents’ beige minivan or the Griswold family station wagon – we mean the tough, glitzy stars of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, AKA the days before planned obsolescence. They were built to last, and to look good doing it. Driving one of these to the beach means you’ll almost certainly have people stopping to take photos. And who knows, it might just end up on one of those Instagram feeds.

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Mercedes 450SL (R107)

The 450SL is the car that brought vintage cars back into the zeitgeist. It’s the convertible of convertibles and looks as good in the movies (think Richard Gere’s car in American Gigolo), as it does in Malibu. This showstopper screams vintage luxury, especially when you’ve got the top down. Right now, prices seem to have hit a low point – a good opportunity to grab an example for a good value.

Also consider: Porsche 914, Pontiac GTO convertible (Gen 1)

Further reading: The 50 Most Influential Cars

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Ford Bronco (first generation)
ford bronco first generation

If you’re heading for the dunes at Ditch Plains, the Ford Bronco should be your car of choice. Spiritually, it’s part Jeep, part Range Rover. Because Ford stopped making these in the 90s for a stretch, you’re unlikely to see others on the road and will be even harder finding one. Broncos are known for being easy to work on, and for turning heads. The O.G. Bronco was conceived by the same guy responsible for the first Mustang and approved by Lee Iacocca himself to compete with similar vehicles from Jeep and Toyota. The new Bronco rocks, but it can't compete with old-school cool.

Also consider: International Harvester Scout, Toyota Land Cruiser

Further reading: Here's How the Ford Bronco Has Changed Over the Decades

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Fiat 500 Jolly Ghia
1959 fiat 500 jolly by ghia
RM Sotheby's

If there is ONE car that is actually made for getting to and from the beach, it’s the Fiat 500 Jolly. With no doors, wicker seats and an engine only slightly larger than a lawnmower’s, this is the car for short trips to the beach with, perhaps, a brief stop for gelato on the way home. The perfect beach for these perfect cars? Somewhere in Italy of course. Portofino? Amalfi? Isola Elba? You decide. Or, maybe you don't need a beach at all – legend has it that when the Jolly was commissioned, the then head of Fiat asked for something he could drive to and onto his personal yacht.

Also consider: Volkswagen Thing, Mini Moke

Further reading: Hertz Is Giving Old-School Fiats a New Lease on Life in Italy

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