Happy 4th of July from The Driving Life!
To complement your celebrations, we’ve provided a list of the 11 most American cars to have ever dominated the roadways.
So, buckle up, light a sparkler or two and enjoy the list:
Ford Model T
No list would be complete without the car that launched America’s auto industry. The Model T was Genesis for the automotive world. It was the first car to be fully mass-produced, it catapulted Ford to the forefront of the industrial world and it established Detroit as the automotive center of the world.
Chrysler Town & Country
Sexy? Fast? Collectible? No. Not really. However, the Town & Country is one of the most popular vehicles in America and has been consistently since its launch. While minivans exist all around the world, no nation has adopted them to the degree of America.
Originally developed as a competitor for the Chevrolet Corvette (more on that one later), the Thunderbird achieved incredible success. It’s blend of gorgeous styling and performance has given it an incredibly dedicated following. The car has been continuously rebooted over the years, with the last generation ending exactly seven years ago. About time for a reboot, wouldn’t you say?
Cadillac Coupe de Ville
In recent years, Cadillac has made a return to its bombastic and wholly ridiculous origins. This is worthy of note because the last car to bear the Coupe de Ville name was an impossibly bland sedan that, upon cursory inspection, seemed to have been designed to ferry around elderly customers in the least exciting way possible, so as to potentially prolong their lifespans by preventing heart attacks. It’s a real shame that the name is still associated with that monstrosity because the original Coupe de Ville was nothing short of absolutely spectacular. The 1959 model, in particular, deserves mention for its enormous tailfins and bullet-shaped taillights. It was a staggering 18.75 feet long. The combination of size and truly ridiculous design allowed the Cadillac to absolutely dominate the road. Although the design may not have aged particularly well, the ’59 Caddy will always be remembered as one of the most iconic sights ever seen on America’s roadways.
The most popular vehicle sold in the USA for the better part of three decades. That says all you need to know.
While Ford and Chevy were locked in the Mustang vs. Camaro battle for supremacy, Pontiac decided simply to forge its own path in the muscle car wars. The GTO never rose to the prominence of the Mustang or Camaro, but it was an incredibly innovative and evocative car nonetheless. With features like a hood-mounted tachometer, the GTO established a completely unique identity from its competitors, while still retaining its legendary performance.
If we’re going to get technical, it can be argued that this is a British car with an American engine. Indeed, this is how it initially began. The AC Cobra was not American in any way apart from the Ford V8 that sat under its hood. However, when Carrol Shelby got his hands on it and brought it stateside, he essentially created a new car. It just happened to bear a very strong resemblance to the original AC. The Cobra established a performance benchmark that is still relevant today. Capable of blistering speeds and tight cornering, the Cobra devoured racetracks around the world. However, its true value is in its unbridled savagery. One did not simply drive a Cobra. Seasoned racers had trouble keeping it in check. The Cobra was as vicious as its namesake and has stood the test of time as one of the best sports cars ever made.
The rugged, go-anywhere Jeep is used all around the world. It’s dependable, capable, and well made. It’s also effortlessly cool. This Swiss Army Knife of cars is sought in all corners of the world and is surely one of America’s greatest cars.
Love it or hate it, the Corvette is one of the most classically American cars that has ever been created. It’s brash, bold, and takes no prisoners. Although prices have crept up in recent years for top of the line models, it’s always stayed true to its working class roots and delivered the best bang for the buck in terms of the supercar experience.
The definitive classic American car. Goes well with Springsteen, cold beer and grilled red meat. This car actually received much of its popularity from racing. Initially, its sales were quite underwhelming. However, it, and the stock cars based on it, quickly began to dominate all areas of motor racing, and its popularity surged. These days, a ’57 Chevy convertible in excellent condition will fetch more than $100,000 at auction.
While the best Mustangs were unquestionably those from the 1960s, the Golden Age of the muscle car, the badge has survived for just shy of 50 years. Whether you love or hate the Mustang’s traditional, boxy, muscle car stature, there’s no denying that it simply has presence. It’s not even close to the most sophisticated thing on the road. But that’s not really the point. It’s a hardworking, red-blooded, anthem to America. And that’s why it’s the most iconic American car.
Happy Independence Day!