CAR magazine’s favourite photos of 2023

Published: 28 December 2023 Updated: 28 December 2023

► It’s CAR’s favourite photos of 2023
► 12 months, 16 terrific pictures
► Cars and cameras, people and places

CAR magazine has developed an enviable reputation for superlative photography and we hope we maintain the standards set over the past six decades. Read on for our pick of the best pics that’ve graced our pages in 2023.

We’re lucky to work with some of the hottest talents in the automotive photography world and each issue our design desk, under the watchful eye of art director Mal Bailey, works painstakingly on the visuals to accompany writers’ words.

Read on to see our editors’ selections – and be sure to sound off in the comments to share your favourites, and any stand-out photos we’ve missed from the list.

1) Where it all began: Porsche 911s old and new (December 2023)

Porsche 911 S/T meets the 901, shot for CAR magazine by Olgun Kordal

Photographer Olgun Kordal recorded our keynote feature celebrating 60 years of the Porsche 911, confirming the uninterrupted DNA of the world’s most famous sports car. The 992 S/T birthday special is united in the Alps with the car that sired it: the delectable, dainty 901, weighing a featherweight 1080kg and powered by a humble 2.0-litre air-cooled flat six. Olgun’s Nikon Z9 captures the family reunion, lit by an ethereal, misty sky with an otherworldly glow.

2) By the short and curlies: Maserati MC20 Cielo and Ferrari 296 GTS twin test (November 2023)

Maserati MC20 Cielo and Ferrari 296 GTS, shot for CAR magazine by John Wycherley

New deputy editor Piers Ward gathered two of 2023’s hottest roadsters, the very Italian pairing of the Maserati MC20 Cielo and Ferrari 296 GTS in late summer, and photographer John Wycherley was on hand to weave his magic. In a feature peppered with warm, wish-you-were-here imagery, this aerial drone shot taken on his Hasselblad lens stands out. You just want to wrestle the keys from Piers’ grasp and enjoy the Futa Pass for yourself.

3) Dodge Challenger: in search of the blues (September 2023)

Dodge Challenger in its homeland, photographed for CAR magazine by Tom Salt

Snapper Tom Salt and European correspondent Georg Kacher have a long history of epic travel journalism and 2023 was no different. With the Dodge Challenger heading towards retirement, the duo booked one last flight to the US and held an elegiac tour of Mississippi, birthplace of the blues. The menacing R/T Scat Pack Widebody looks brooding in the Deep South and Salt’s handiwork captures the hustle and bustle and creative buzz perfectly.

4) Super Cinq! Renault 5 Turbo 2 (March 2023)

Renault 5 Turbo, photographed for CAR magazine by John Wycherley

When we first tested the Honda Civic Type R in 2023, we accompanied the Giant Test with a trip down memory lane to explore Genus Hot Hatch past masters. We packed John Wycherley off to the studio with a brace of pocket rocket greats – from Integrale to Escort Cosworth, Subaru WRX to this brutal Renault 5 Turbo 2, blistered with a wider track to accommodate a punchy 160bhp 1.4-litre turbo mounted amidships. Wycherley’s Sony catches the thuggish 1980s stance perfectly. Those hips…

5) Air Force Won: Aston Martin’s DB12 (August 2023)

Aston Martin DB12, photographed for CAR magazine by Andy Morgan

Aston Martin’s DB12 represents a modest makeover of the DB11 that went before and CAR flew to the south of France to drive it this summer. Photographer Andy Morgan and road tester Alan Taylor-Jones stumbled upon a pair of old jets on their travels, leading to this memorable image. ‘Boom times ahead for Aston if DB12 gets the success it deserves,’ noted the caption writer. Which kind of sums up Aston’s nearly status on the global stage.

6) Ferrari Purosangue in a winter wonderland (April 2023)

Ferrari Purosangue, photographed for CAR magazine by Jordan Butters

We’d have shied away from testing most Ferraris in the Dolomites in winter. But the Purosangue is different. Ferrari’s first SUV is designed to thrive at family duties, in the mountains or around the city, and so we packed writer James Dennison and snapper Jordan Butters off to Italy for our first drive. It snowed heavily, yet the four-wheel drive Purosangue didn’t put a foot wrong, its rosso paintwork glimmering in the hushed monochrome of the Italian winter. This shot summarises perfectly what Maranello has achieved with its newcomer: a super-sports crossover at home in the snow, on family errands, yet still shot through with that Ferrari V12 magic.

7) Dusting down our camel skills (April 2023)

Dacia Duster in Morocco, photographed for CAR magazine by Olgun Kordal

Olgun Kordal at it again, capturing the adventurous spirit inherent in much of CAR’s storytelling. This time it’s your author on the hunt for what makes Dacia tick – during a road trip across Morocco, from the bustle of Marrakech gripped by football World Cup fever to the stony emptiness of the Agafay Desert, en route to the Tangiers factory where they make cars for global export. We plucked up our best schoolboy French, slipped a few dirham to the camel minders and borrowed Fatima for a few short minutes, just enough for Olgun’s Nikon to record the moment. The Dacia Duster was unharmed in the making of this photo.

8) Ferrari Roma Spider vs local pizzeria (November 2023)

Ferrari Roma Spider, photographed for CAR magazine by Alex Tapley

There’s a time-honoured tradition when testing a new Ferrari, that involves shooting it alongside local restaurants and hostelries. You might have noticed it over the years. When James Dennison was dispatched to Italy to drive the new Ferrari Roma Spider for the first time, photographer Alex Tapley duly obliged. The pizza was good, too.

9) The greatest Hondas of all time (October 2023)

The greatest Hondas on two wheels and four, photographed for CAR magazine by Charlie Magee

Who better than Colin Goodwin to probe the appeal of Honda, on four wheels and two? Our November issue gathered the company’s finest back catalogue for a feature memorable for the sheer variety of vehicles on show. Charlie Magee’s Canon EOS R5 was practically scraping the tarmac when this photo was taken, the seminal Cub and RC213V-S bikes framing the latest Honda Civic Type R and original NSX on the roads around Rutland. Keen biker and driver Goodwin names his favourite Honda: ‘It’s the NSX that takes the laurels. It’s the first car with which Honda put as much effort, thought and ingenuity into the chassis as it had the engine. It’s packed with Hondaness.’

10) Stranger Things: a US road trip by Peugeot (June 2023)

A Peugeot 408 road trip across America, photographed for CAR magazine by Alex Tapley

You can’t buy a Peugeot in America, but that didn’t stop group editor Phil McNamara arranging a road trip to the set of Stranger Things. Alex Tapley chronicled the adventure, as the Peugeot 408 travelled from Sebring in the south through Jacksonville, Atlanta and up to Indianapolis, via the set of the cult TV show. Cue memorable trips to Hawkins public library and some weird juxtapositions, as the Stateside public reacted to the alien Peugeot.

11) Le Mans heroes: Bentley Speed Six (July 2023)

Le Mans hero the Bentley Blower, photographed for CAR magazine by John Wycherley

To mark the centenary of Le Mans, CAR selected the greatest winners from each era and commissioned John Wycherley to chronicle each generation. The oldest was one of the most bewildering: the Bentley Speed Six from 1929 provides a fascinating insight into the exploits of the Bentley Boys, the most successful pre-war team at La Sarthe. Old Number Three was powered by a 6.6-litre straight six mustering some 200bhp through an unsynchronised four-speed manual transmission – enough to set the fastest laptime of 7min 21sec in the 1929 24-hour race. John’s pictures leave you pondering how much wind protection those baby screens would provide at over 100mph…

12) Tough mudder with Jeep (January 2024)

Mark Walton shivers in an old Jeep, photographed for CAR magazine by Jordan Butters

Jeep is at the same crossroads as most car manufacturers: can its old baggage be ported across to the electric age? To find out, we dispatched ace feature writer and off-road enthusiast Mark Walton to test the new Jeep Avenger EV and compare it to an old Cherokee and an original Willys Jeep. Happily, Jordan Butters was on hand to record the moment, capturing perfectly the dank, damp reality of driving a classic 4×4 in the depths of a British winter. We think Mark has just about dried out now…

13) Lamborghini veers off-road (July 2023)

Lamborghini Sterrato, photographed for CAR magazine by Charlie Magee

Yes, Lamborghini has ventured off the tarmac once before, with its outrageous LM002, the feted ‘Rambo Lambo.’ But it’s never taken its sports cars off road before, at least not intentionally. The Sterraro changes all that, fusing its run-out Huracan with some serious go-anywhere, rally-raid hardware. Writer Ben Barry clearly got to grips with this quickly, and was soon chucking the sports car into huge drifts across the Californian desert. Photographer Charlie Magee nailed it with this shot, huge roosters of dust trailing the hurtling Sterrato, as £232,820 of supercar finds traction where any normal Huracan would be shaken to bits.

14) Two Jags calling (February 2023)

Jaguars old and new, photographed for CAR magazine by Jordan Butters

Another Jordan Butters shot, as writer James Taylor donned his race overalls to sample sports prototype royalty, the Jaguar XJR-9. We took along Jag’s latest roadgoing weapon, the F-Pace SVR, and pondered how this great British marque could rise again as it prepares to reinvent itself for the electric age. ‘Hopefully there are still more sporting fairytales to be written in future decades,’ James noted wistfully.

15) It’s a marathon, not a sprint (May 2023)

Ferrari returns to Sebring, photographed for CAR magazine by Alex Tapley

Ferrari returned to top-flight endurance racing in 2023, just in time for the centenary race at Le Mans in June. To rate its chances, we headed to Sebring for the season opener to join the World Endurance Championship (WEC) newbies, 50 years after they last competed with the 312P. Camera wizard Alex Tapley went backstage with the scarlet Le Mans Hypercar, its paint seemingly dying the sky red at its debut race. The Ferrari pair bagged third and seventh.

16) A Lucid moment (August 2023)

Electric limos in formation, photographed for CAR magazine by Steffen Jahn

Car photography is a funny old thing. Getting the subjects arranged on the road in a particular order is no mean feat, but our pros are used to the complications of choreography, of bending the road to your will, of harnessing the light just so… Which is why our Lucid Air Giant Test this summer warrants a mention: a four-car tracking shot is devilishly hard to execute at the best of times, but when you’ve four lumbering electric limousines, none of them especially pretty, and yet you can make them sizzle on the page… well, that’s great photography, that is. Thank you Steffen Jahn.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our favourite car photographs of 2023. Be sure to sound off in the comments below!

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words