Five standout supercars with pop-up headlights
The humble pop-up headlight, a telltale sign that you are immersed in late 20th-century motoring and, for the purposes of this list, some of the finest classic supercar machinery out there. Many of these examples are undisputed automotive icons of their respective decades, but it is undoubtedly the subtle opening flick of their distinctive headlights that will evoke the strongest feelings of nostalgia.
The retro aesthetic is arguably the most captivating aspect of this particular breed of car, but the soundtrack is not to be forgotten either; the gentle hum of the motor, followed by that oh-so-satisfying clunk as the headlight reaches its natural stopping point.
Whilst there has been many a compendium recording the most celebrated models to boast pop-up headlights, supercar-specific lists have remained few and far between. That being said, here is our list of the five best supercars with pop-up headlights.
First up, we have a true icon of the eighties. The Testarossa instantly became the archetypal example of a supercar with pop-up headlights following a spate of pop-culture references that stretched from four decades past right the way through to the modern-day, most notable of which being Miami Vice. A potent combination of its signature 'cheese grater' strakes, flat-12 engine and of course, those unmistakable headlights are indicative of the ultimate retro look that supercar investors are now scrabbling to get their hands on.
Speaking of iconic, retro supercars, they don’t come much more recognisable than the Lamborghini Countach. Similarly to the Testarossa, this also features in mainstream media with an appearance in the Canonball Run looming large in the minds of the model’s most fastidious of fans. The amalgam of the Countach's jet fighter aesthetic and pop-up headlights yielded styling that has transcended its 16-year production run.
Cars rarely come with higher plaudits than the NSX. Endorsed by the late, great Ayrton Senna himself, the original NSX was touted as a pure supercar for the driving enthusiast. The first-ever mass-produced car with an all-aluminium body, combined with completely unassisted, unadulterated steering ensures that sentiment rings true whilst the mix of angular, supercar styling and commonplace Honda badge still serve as a refreshing counterintuitive novelty.
As BMW’s foray into the world of supercars and, to date, its only significant effort in that space, the M1 is a car better known for its on-track appearances rather than on the roads. This 3.5-litre, mid-engined monster was built as a collaborative project with Lamborghini, with the German marque enlisting help from the Italians to manufacture sufficient numbers for homologation, enabling them to compete in the World Sportscar Championship. A single-make M1 series served as a Formula 1 support series with many of the era's Grand Prix drivers racing in identical machinery.
In the 55 years since its inception, the 2000GT has been elevated to near-legendary status. Proclaimed as Japan’s first-ever supercar, it has become synonymous with investing and collectability. In part, this reputation is due to its apparent classic 911-esque driving sensation but also because of its unique styling, despite the pop-up headlights looking somewhat out of place on the stunning, sinuous bodywork.
Although the XJ220’s lights aren’t technically of the ‘pop-up’ persuasion, we couldn’t leave it out of this list. These particular headlights miraculously appear via a distinctive pop-down shutter, adding to the one-of-a-kind perception of the XJ220.
As discussed in our ‘bonkers but brilliant’ article, the Diablo perfectly encapsulates both late twentieth century Lamborghini eccentricities and the unmistakable retro supercar feel. Those features – both aesthetic and functional – exist in harmony with the pop-up headlights to transport those in its presence, let alone those behind the wheel, back to the nineties.
Naturally, we’re a little bit biased with this one. Not only is the F40 one of the Ferrari big five, but it was also the fastest car on earth upon release, it was the last car to be commissioned by Enzo Ferrari himself and to top it all off, it's now a lucrative investment opportunity owing to its exponential market growth. The fact that this particular supercar has pop-up headlights is merely a footnote on its long list of accolades, but that doesn’t stop it from looking the business!