Showstoppers: The five most striking classic cars ever built

The 1935-36 Cord 810/812 tops the list.

The adjective "striking" cuts a fine line between gorgeous and simply arresting. While the cars on our list might in some cases be among the most beautiful (in a conventionally pretty way), more often, they combine those good looks with an attention-grabbing and unconventional aspect to their beauty.

Here are five jaw-droppers:

1. 1935-36 Cord 810/812

Like the Jaguar E-Type, the Cord had an otherworldly air; it might as well have come from a "Flash Gordon" comic strip. In the depths of the depression, the Indiana automaker launched a front-wheel-drive car with revolutionary styling and an optional supercharger. Alas, in a world of bread lines and 25 percent unemployment, it was not to be. Cord folded along with its stablemates Auburn and Duesenberg, victims of the Great Depression.

2. 1961-67 Jaguar E-Type

Seeing an E-Type in 2015 is still an experience that makes onlookers pause or do a double take. So imagine the response in 1961 at the Geneva Motor Show. The E-type was like a UFO. Almost other-worldly, particularly at its price of just $5,600. Legend has it that the E-type made Enzo Ferrari weep and exclaim that it was the most beautiful car that he’d ever seen.

[Video: Jaguar E-Type buyers guide]

3. 1966-67 Oldsmobile Toronado

The 1966 Toronado gave us a glimpse of what might have been had Cord survived. The Toro’s designers took many styling cues from the Cord, including hidden headlamps, front-wheel drive and even the wheel and grille designs. Unlike the Cord, the Toronado was at least a moderate sales success and its front-wheel-drive system proved to be rock-solid reliable, more than able to cope with the massive torque of the Olds Rocket V8.

4. 1974-89 Lamborghini Countach

Lamborghini and designer Macello Gandini knew precisely what they were doing with the Countach. Exactly 10 years after the Jaguar E-Type, they created the same Ferrari-baiting sensation at the Geneva Motor Show. Even the name was striking. In the Piedmontese Northern Italian dialect, it is roughly the equivalent of the exclamation "holy crap!"

5. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Coupe

Although it bowed over a year after the Jaguar E-Type, its rival, the Corvette Sting Ray was just about as arresting. Perfectly proportioned, with hidden headlamps and striking finned knock-off alloy wheels as an option, the one-year-only split rear window of the coupe put the car over the top.

Click here for more from Hagerty or sign up for their classic car newsletter.