Top 10 Greatest American Cars Ever Built
While Americans weren’t the ones to create the automobile, they quickly became a force to be reckoned with in the automobile industry. By 1913 about 80 percent of cars made worldwide were made in the United States. Over the last 100 years, American auto makers have had many innovative vehicles, so let’s look at the best 10 of these groundbreaking cars.
Ford Model T
The Ford Model T, also known as the Tin Lizzie, first began production on August 12, 1908. Voted as the most influential car of the 20th century in the Car of the Century competition in 1999, Henry Ford intended the car to be large enough to seat a family yet small enough for one person to maintain. Within days of the first car leaving the assembly line, 15,000 people had ordered their own Model T.
1932 Ford V-8 (Model 18)
The Model 18 was Henry Ford’s attempt to retake the top spot in American car sales in the face of The Great Depression. For the previous several years, Chevy had overtaken Ford as the most sold vehicle of the time. The Ford Model 18 moved directly into a V8 from the earlier V4 car models. This was done because Chevy was currently producing a V6 engine at the top spot. This vehicle was the first mass-produced V8 to be offered to the public at a reasonable cost.
Duesenberg Model SJ
Duesenberg Motor Company was an American manufacturer of luxury and race cars, founded by the Duesenberg Brothers in 1913 in Minnesota. The Duesenberg Model SJ was a supercharged version of the Model J and began to be available in 1932. It is said that the top speed of the Model SJ was up to 140 mph in third gear. Duesenberg Model SJ’s have sold recently at auction for between $1.8 million to $4.5 million dollars.
Manufactured during World War II, the Jeep MB was one of the primary transport vehicles of the Allied Troops during the war. This Jeep was the first four-wheel drive vehicle to be mass produced in the world. The design of the Jeep MB was a collaborative effort between the military and civilian engineers to meet the needs of a light duty active combat vehicle. First gaining popularity by military use, the Jeep MB was later produced for the civilian market.
The Oldsmobile 88 was first produced in 1949 and continued to be made until 1999. For the time, this was the first car to place a powerful V8 engine in a lighter weight body, allowing for a higher top speed of almost 100 mph. Although not very well remembered, this was America’s first real muscle car.
The first Chevrolet Corvette was a concept car produced in 1953. There was enough interest in the concept car that it began regular production later that same year. There were 300 hand build Corvettes by the end of 1953. Within the first generation of production, 1953-1962, many adjustments were made to the external body of the car, while the engine remained mostly the same. The Chevrolet Corvette is still produced to this day, although today’s model is certainly faster and sleeker than the version rolled out in 1953.
The most recognizable muscle car of American history is the Ford Mustang and was the first of the “pony class” of cars. Created as a concept car in 1962, the Mustang was an evolution of the Ford Falcon. Entering full production in 1965, the Ford Mustang was the most popular Ford offering since the Model A. Currently in the sixth generation of production, the Ford Mustang is still one of the most identifiable cars being driven today.
Being produced in 1984, the Chrysler Minivan was the first vehicle with the minivan body style. The same body style has been produced and rebadged under Dodge, Ram, Plymouth, Chrysler, Volkswagen and Lancia brands. While maybe not universally thought of as a great American vehicle, it was the first of its kind and is a type of vehicle still widely sold today.
The Ford GT is the one of the more recent sports car offerings from Ford Motor Company. Developed in 2005 as a concept car, production began that same year. The first generation was produced from 2005 to 2006, with the second generation showing up in 2017. This car won’t be available for the public to purchase until 2020, as the first few years of second-generation production are already spoken for. Forty years after the Ford GT40 won Le Mans in 1966, the Ford GT won the LMGTE Pro Class race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Tesla Model S
The Tesla Motor Company produces only electric vehicles. First produced in 2012, the Tesla Model S travelled over 3 million miles in the first three years, the first electric vehicle to reach that milestone. The current year Model S (second generation) has a top range of 335 miles, up from 208 miles for the first-generation version. The Tesla Model S was the first car built and designed solely to be an electric car, rather than having an electric motor placed into a gas-driven style. As charging stations become more prevalent, electric cars like the Model S are a more realistic choice.