Mega-Poll: German Automotive Icons


I’m re-posting this to the top so we can get the final votes needed to conclude this poll.

Here is the poll. Once again, the cars are listed in alphabetical order.

Remember – you’re voting for the most iconic German car ever made. It’s the one that you see and instantly know that it’s a German car whether it be design, engineering, whatever.

Vote away!

[poll id=”8″]

This time, I thought we’d do things a little bit different.

Normally I’d go through people’s nominations and add just one or two of the most famous vehicles nominated in comments to my own previous nominations. This time, the German Automotive Icon poll includes nearly all of the cars people nominated in comments. Not quite all of them, but almost.

Here’s the gallery. Click to enlarge.


You may also like


  1. As much as I love many of the other cars on this list, (BMW 3.0, Gull-wing MB), I have to vote for the Beetle as ‘most iconic’. A unique shape, unique design, unique history.

  2. The Beetle gets my vote as most iconic. Not the one one I’d most like to have in my garage (Oh wait. There are two in there. But they belong to my wife.). I’d have to give that nod to any number of other cars on the list. But the Beetle just has such a special spot in the global reach of German motoring that it is a no brainer IMHO.

  3. Funny how I started looking at the cars and didn’t think of Mercedes-Benz until I came to their pictures. That’s probably not good for someone who works at a Benz dealership!

  4. Now this makes it all too tempting to vote with the heart (a ‘like’), rather than the head – most iconic. However given that we’re talking about the Germans, we cannot afford to be sentimental – it’s just not their way of going about things is it? So I’ll steal myself to the Teutons..probably best not to spend too much time gazing at those images.

  5. To me, it’s about the two ends of the spectrum. On one hand, the Beetle is “das Auto” and the dream about a car for every family. On the other hand, I think “a Mercedes” (like the W110 – W114/115 – W123) was synonymous to German engineering for most of the world during the decades after WWII. Have to think about it..

  6. As we’re only voting for one, in the end it had to be the Mercedes 300SL. To me, this car sums up German engineering and style the most. It was after all the first “supercar” as such and is still IMO, the best looking car ever (well, close with the E-type..) . A close second is the 911… 🙂

  7. I think it’s pretty much certain that the Beetle will win this poll and it probably is the one to pick, but I just can’t choose any other car than the Audi Quattro! When it first came out I was just getting to the age where I could start driving and although I lusted after cars before the Audi I have lusted after this car all my driving life! It was truly inspiring when it came out. It was technically out of this world and looked amazing. I still want this car as much today as I did when I first saw one back in 1980.
    AS for the rest in the list, well there are some truly great cars there although I don’t think the Golf should be listed twice and the Trabant should not be listed at all! Iconic my bottom!

  8. The Beetle will probably win, but I voted for the Mercedes 600 (a.k.a. Grosser Benz). To me, that car represents the pinnacle of a certain notion of German over-engineering. It’s a car that could only have been conceived and built in Germany.

    Beetle production lasted a long time, but the last 30 years of that happened in developing countries where VW had exported their manufacturing equipment. It became obsolete the day the first Golf rolled off the line (arguably many years before, if you read old road tests).

  9. I voted for VW type 1. It is a true icon.
    As much as I love other cars on the list – 540K, 300SL, 911 – the VW type 1 is my choice.

  10. Voted for 911. I suppose, in a sense, where it originated from the beetle, that’s a vote for the beetle. However, I suppose it comes down to one’s definition of “icon”. Is it purely the shape? popularity? Surely the beetle is recognized world wide for it’s shape + popularity. But there must be more to it than that… the term “German engineering” for cars surely didn’t originate from the beetle (new or old). When people think “German engineering”, they think Porsche. The precision + fussiness that makes them great. That the 911 has an iconic shape that has been subtly updated for decades without (significant) derailment is also an important factor. The old beetle stayed more or less the same for 30 years, mostly disappeared in many markets, then came back as a caracature. Iconic, yes, but what matters more?

    I only wish Saab had been allowed to bring the c900 along through the years like Porsche did with the 911. The og9-3 carried some of that forward, but by the 9-3ss, there was precious little connection to the past. The grainy photos of a possible new 900 were very exciting!

    1. “When people think “German engineering”, they think Porsche….”
      ……….I think Mercedes / BMW.

      Porsche = Performance

  11. So many cars, so little time.

    Hey, wait a minute there Hox! This is the selection of an icon, not a bucket list!

    It should be the Bettle, aka Type 1.

    I have memories of driving/speeding around the town where I lived in my sister’s ’67 Beetle. Nice snick-snick-snick of the transmission and revs of the engine, tight handling from this little car. Slow it was and could never be much more than a fun car, it is iconic.

    The Beetle was loved by many and hated by more than few. Simple to repair and keep on the road it could easily be Germany’s version of the Ford Model T.

    Mark my vote for the Beetle!

  12. The type 2 minibus is a funny one. Arguably it is as iconic and world-changing as the Beetle. I hesitated before voting Beetle because of this. I am pleased to see the type 2 doing well, but I think if you think about it it probably should be a close second to the Beetle. I mean, it spawned an entire genre of vehicles, not to mention its huge cultural impact. It is as much loved and recognised as a Beetle, or a Mini, or a 50s Cadillac, I would argue.

    1. I agree on the surface. However, the Type 2 was such a niche play in comparison to the Beetle which spawned an entire genre of its own.

      There are many iconic vehicles in all of the lists, and you have to choose only one, and so it’s the Beetle.

  13. I’m now going through in my head the countries/regions left to consider.

    Japan (are any of them truly ‘iconic’?)
    Sweden (I have one of the winner, just sayin’)
    Italy (thatsa gonna be-a tougha one)
    Australia (there are two front runners there….)

    Eastern Europe? Czechs build cars, and Russians, too. Does Russia get its own poll?
    Spain? Does SEAT deserve an ‘iconic’ anything?
    Korea? Hyundai vs. Kia? Can I sit that one out?

  14. Japan – the Mazda RX-7 is pretty iconic, even if only for the rotary engine. As is the Datsun 240z. So is the Subaru Impreza. And the Mitsubishi Shogun. Not forgetting the Mitsubishi Evo, Nissan Skyline, And, look, I know it’s boring but the Toyota Corolla is probably iconic in a VW Golf kind of way … blah blah. Oh yeah and the MX-5 obviously was a throwback to classic 60s/70s sports cars but it did it with such style and flair – and in the process spawned all the retro copycats, eg new Beetle, new MINI etc – that it could well be a contender.

    1. Japanese and iconic….something of an anathema really. I could only come up with the 70’s Corolla to begin with. But there’s also the Datsun 1600 which became popular as an amateur rally car. The Honda S600 and the Nissan Fairlady, neither of which I’d heard of before coming to Australia, seem to have been popular though not in Europe as far as I know.. The Skyline GTR and Subaru Impreza certainly need to be mentioned as classics in the making as does the toyota MR2.. The only others which springs to mind would have to be th Toyota Landcruiser and Honda NSX. Rotary engined Mazda’s have their following but I couldn’t consider them iconic. My hunch for a winner? The Corolla