Ask anybody what the most iconic cars of all time are and you’ll get a different list every time. There are certain cars that make most people’s list, but you’ll usually find them full of all sorts. What you often find a lack of, is American cars. Ferrari and Lamborghini always make sure that Italy features high on the list, and Germany always has Porsche and BMW to fall back on, but the United States often gets forgotten. It’s surprising because some of the greatest car companies in the world, producing models that pushed the boundaries of the automotive industry have come from America. These classics have gone under appreciated for too long and it’s time they got the credit that they deserved. So, with that in mind, here is a list of American classics that changed driving forever.
Ford Model T
It’s a crime that the Ford Model-T gets overlooked because, without it, the face of the automotive industry could be very different today. Before Henry Ford came along, cars were something that was exclusively reserved for the rich and there wasn’t many on the road at all. But in 1908, that all changed. Ford’s new automated assembly line completely revamped the car industry and changed things forever. That shift from hand crafted to automated assembly line massively reduced the cost of producing the car, and those savings were passed on to customers. For the first time ever, cars were widely available, and more importantly, they were affordable to the average citizen. Within days, there were over 15,000 orders placed and the idea of the everyday family car was born. The Model-T was built to be large enough for the family, and the introduction of interchangeable parts meant that it was easy to maintain and repair. A few years down the line, the Model-T was being manufactured and sold all over Europe, and we haven’t looked back since.
Over 100 years later, dealerships like rebel ford are still selling great cars that carry on the engineering tradition that Henry Ford started all of those years ago. You won’t catch many people driving a Model-T these days but it deserves a mention because it single-handedly kick started a driving revolution that changed the car from a luxury item for the rich, into the indispensable part of life that we know it as today.
Ford didn’t stop at the Model-T, and they went on to create the most recognisable American car in the world. The Mustang is one of the only American made cars that gets the credit it deserves, but it still needs a mention. The original 1956 model is still the most iconic and they haven’t managed to match it since, but the newer versions are still incredibly popular. So much so that in 2013, Ford developed a right-hand drive model for sale in Britain. People often mistakenly call the Mustang a muscle car, but is in fact credited with being the first ‘Pony Car’. The term was coined by the magazine Car Life to describe an affordable car with a long hood that was marketed specifically at the younger generation. Since then, the style has become very popular and plenty of companies like Chevrolet and Pontiac have released their own versions.
When people are choosing the best sports cars of all time, they usually go for the big Italian companies, but some of the US companies can easily compete. The Chevrolet Corvette is one of the original and the best affordable sports cars. A Porsche or a Lamborghini is going to set you back a lot of money, but the Corvette is a slightly more realistic ambition. The first model was released in 1953 and it’s always been incredibly cheap compared to its rivals. You might think that you’re going to have to compromise on performance when you’re buying a cheaper sports car, but that’s not the case with the Corvette. The Stingray model, released in 2014 is by far the best performing car in its price range.
Modern 4×4’s are more about style and less about functionality. They might look nice but if you take them off-road, most of them won’t get that far. But it wasn’t always that way. The Land Rover is the most popular British 4×4 but its American counterpart, the Jeep Wrangler, started it all. The commercial model was based on the original Jeep that was used by the US army during the Second World War, so you know it’s tough. When Jeep released the Wrangler, they started a new trend in off-road vehicles for the general public that has continued to this day. The no-nonsense angular designs and the robust engine made it a classic that people are still driving to this day.
The Tesla Model-S is the newest car on the list. It isn’t on here because it has the kind of legacy that the Ford Model-T or the Mustang has. It’s on the list because, one day, it will change the face of driving in the same way that those old classics did. Electric cars are improving all of the time and it looks as though they’ll be the future of the automotive industry. Tesla is a massive company these days but when they released the Model-S, they were a relatively small startup company. That only makes their achievements even more impressive. Early electric cars were hugely inefficient and, although the idea was good, they weren’t actually practical. You wouldn’t have enough charge to do anything near a long journey. The Model-S was the first electric car that was actually a viable alternative to petrol and diesel engines, which is why it’s so important. Since then, Tesla has been pushing the boundaries even further by developing driverless cars. Just as current driving trends can be traced back to the Ford Model-T, the drivers of the future will look to the Tesla Model-S as patient zero of the new age of driving.
Without these cars, there’s no telling what driving would look like now.