Here are some of the most fantastic front-wheel-drive classic cars

Long before the advent of motor vehicles, road cars were pulled rather than pushed – the horse always came before the car. When automobiles finally arrived, the plan was to let the rear wheels push while the front took care of the turns. But there was one dramatic exception, front-wheel-drive cars which became wildly popular, eventually dominating most vehicle segments.

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The FWD layout had a wild ride in the 20th century. Many of the best sports cars of the 2000s were front-wheel drive. And in this article, we take a look at some of the best, most memorable, essential, or just plain interesting FWDs. classic cars until the year 2000.

12 Honda Integra Type R

1995 1998_Honda_Integra_Type_R
By TTTNIS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Integra Type R is one of the most popular sports cars of the 1990s – renowned car magazines have declared it the best and most practical front-wheel-drive car of all time. Honda built this car on a strong chassis, beautiful design, double wishbone suspension and a top level 1.8 liter VTEC engine. In an effort to create a super friendly car, Honda used a lot of racing knowledge.

Honda Integra Type R.
By TTTNIS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The 1.8-liter DOHC VTEC engine was an engineering marvel. It was largely hand-built and applied many racing components, including forged aluminum pistons, lightweight connecting rods and a stiffer crankshaft, among other features.

11 Alfa Romeo Alfasud

Alfa Romeo Alfasud

Alfa Romeo started thinking about a front-wheel-drive car in the 1950s, but their first model with this layout arrived in 1971. The vehicle was called Alfasud because it was made in southern Italy – Alfa Romeo wanted to generate sales in this region.

Powered by a powerful flat-four engine, the Alfasud had a low center of gravity which contributed significantly to its exemplary road holding, making it one of the best cars of the 1970s. , Alfa Romeo followed in Jowett’s footsteps and paved the way for future sports car brands like the Subaru.

ten Berkeley Sports

Berkeley Sports
by Mick from England

Almost all models built by Berkeley Cars between 1956 and 1960 were front-wheel drive with a small two- or three-cylinder engine. The layout was exceptional with British sports cars, whose bodies were constructed from fiberglass. It was an unimaginable combination, but it worked perfectly.

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Although the tiny motors produced modest horsepower and torque, their light weight meant that the Berkeley Sports performed excellent at the time. Few cars had excessive performance stats, so lightweight sports cars had a special place on the top list.

9 Cadillac El Dorado

1976 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe Trailer Rack
Via: Bring a Trailer

Although they looked alike in more ways than one, the only feature shared by the Berkeley Sports and the Cadillac Eldorado was the front-wheel-drive layout. And before the car arrived with FWD in 1967, Cadillac had already produced seven generations of Eldorado.

Red 1970 Cadillac Eldorado
Via: Wikimedia

Oldsmobile had used front-wheel drive a year before with the Toronado. But it did not have an engine with a displacement greater than 7.5 liters. That was enough to get the car going, but Cadillac went further – the biggest V8 engine used on a front-drive Eldorado model was a beefy 8.2-liter.

8 Citroen 2CV

Citroen 2CV.
By Mic from Reading – Berkshire, United Kingdom – Mondial de l’Automobile 2012, Paris – France, CC BY 2.0,

Citroën was already familiar with front-wheel drive long before the development of the 2CV in the 1930s. The official launch of the car was delayed due to World War II until 1948. Thanks to its excellent components, the 2CV quickly became the most popular and perhaps the most adored Citroën car of all time.

By Alexander Migl – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Following the love the 2CV received from the automotive community, Citroën had to keep the car in production until 1990. All Citroën 2CVs were front-wheel drive except the Sahara.

7 Cord L-29

L-29 cord.

The Cord L-29 is widely known as the first production car to feature what the brand’s founder called the “pronounced proprietary benefits” of front-wheel drive. It featured a gearbox similar to the Miller 122 race car, which was unsurprising as the L-29 was designed by Cornelius van Ranst, a famous Miller man.

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Cord L-29

Although the Cord L-29 quickly developed a reputation for excellent handling, it also had its fair share of problems. Its steering was low-speed, and the 125-hp 5.0-liter Lycoming engine was barely powerful enough to push the two-ton car. And despite this, the L-29 was an excellent car.

6 DKW F1

By Matěj Baťha – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

The DKW brand began manufacturing cars in 1928 after achieving enormous success as a motorcycle manufacturer. The brand’s first model, the Type P, was equipped with rear-wheel drive. However, the company soon abandoned the configuration, adopted front-wheel drive in 1931, and used it until the late 1960s. The 1931 model was the DKW F1. And like all other cars of the brand, the F1 was equipped with a two-stroke engine.

By Lothar Spurzem – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 from,

The F1 remained a reliable FWD car until the arrival of the four-stroke engine. These came with a horrible reputation which led its owner to abandon the brand and remarket it as Audi. DKW F1 four-stroke models were associated with noise and blue smoke.

5 Fiat 128

Fiat 128
By Ligabo – Own work, Public Domain,

The first front-wheel-drive Fiat car had a feature that had become standard in the automotive industry. The 128 came with a gearbox mounted next to the engine rather than above it. The latter knew many FWD cars like the Mini and other BMC models.

Although Fiat had quietly tried this in the past with the Autobianchi Primula, it was the 128 that caught the attention of other automakers and convinced them to adopt the system.

4 Lotus Elan

Lotus Elan represents two distinct vehicle lines, both with different configurations – the first was between 1962 and 1975 with a rear-wheel-drive configuration, and the second came between 1989 and 1995 with a front-wheel-drive system.

The Elan was the first road-going model produced by Lotus with a steel frame with fiberglass bodywork, a style of construction that was to be repeated in other Lotus models for nearly 30 years. The car was a technological marvel that featured a DOHC engine, four-wheel disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension, and rack and pinion steering. Famed car designer Gordon Murray said his only disappointment with the McLaren F1 was that it couldn’t make its steering as perfect as the Lotus Elan.

3 mini

By Lokal_Profil, CC BY-SA 2.5,

In the two decades following World War II, many European small car manufacturers such as Fiat and Hillman preferred to place their engines and transmissions in the rear of the vehicle. Following in the footsteps of DKW and Saab, BMC went the other way and put them ahead. This arrangement worked perfectly with the Mini as BMC decided to use the arrangement on larger models including ADO16, Maxi and 1800.

By dave_7 from Lethbridge, Canada – 1969 Austin Mini – South American built with fiberglass body, CC BY 2.0,

These cars were great, but none of them had the endurance of the Mini. The Mini was launched in 1959 and continued to be produced with minor updates. However, it was not completely redesigned until after the 2000s.

2 Oldsmobile Toronado

Oldsmobile Toronado
By Karrmann – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The next North American automaker to use front-wheel drive after Cord was Oldsmobile on the Toronado, and it featured its four-generation layout. Although many of these cars had small engines, the first generation Toronado featured the Rocket V8 engine in 7.0 liter and 7.5 liter formats.

Oldsmobile Toronado
By Marcin Zieliński – Own work, CC BY 2.5,

Toronados became more compact over the four generations until the third generation, when the company fitted them with its disastrous diesel engine, the most unreliable engine ever built by a mainstream automaker. And it almost ruined the perfect reputation of the FWD Toronado.

1 volkswagen golf

Golf 2
via Voomeran

Although the Golf was in its fifth generation as the Beetle rolled off the market, Volkswagen’s intention with the rear-drive Golf was to be the ultimate replacement for the rear-engined Beetle. The Golf was officially launched in 1974, and two years later its high-performance version, the GTI, arrived.

Golf R32
through Pinterest

While many diehards believe the Golf was the world’s first hot sedan, it wasn’t. What he did was he held the market pretty well that nobody remembered another hot hatch from the past. And now in its eighth generation, the Golf is still in production and has shown no signs of stopping.

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