A Brief History
On June 30, 1953, the first Chevrolet Corvette rolled off the assembly line and ever since speed demons, preppies, spoiled rich kids, and every American male with insecurity has wanted one. Last year on June 30 we ran a list of the 10 Most Iconic American Cars which covered our entire history of building the automobile, but this time we list those made today that we (okay, that I) think you would most like to have. (Practicality may or may not have anything to do with it.)
10. Jeep Wrangler.
Starting with the World War II variety and the post war Jeep CJ (civilian jeep, get it?), Jeep is owned by Chrysler now and produces a variety of vehicles. It is the Wrangler, however, that evokes the origins of what Jeep means to off road mobility, and is America’s premier entry in that field. (Please do not put the Huumer H-1 in this category, they are as rare as hens’ teeth.) Impractical for most people, this off road champ is of course great for those who need that ability, but for men and women who drive one whether they need it or not, they are making a statement about their own independence and carefree nature. Now that you can get one with 4 doors, the practicality value has skyrocketed. All other 4X4’s are pretenders to the throne. Its heritage goes back to the military Jeep and evokes a sort of martial image as well as a modern cowboy persona. Flannel shirts and jeans are the required uniform.
9. Cutie Pie.
The Cutie Pie is the car that America does not build. The Mini Cooper, VW Beetle, Mazda Miata, Nissan Cube, we just do not make a car for people who want to drive “cute.” Of course, I do not mind at all, as I would never drive such a car, but there must be a lot of people that would because those foreign little cute models sell plenty. Do not be fooled by cars such as the Chevrolet Aveo, which is not really an American car at all. After the adorable Nash Metropolitan went the way of the Dodo back in 1957 (sold as a Rambler until 1962), other cute little American cars such as the Pinto, Vega, Solstice (lasted only 4 years), Gremlin and others have just not filled the ongoing need for cute, and most of them just sucked. Here is your challenge, you American car makers (that are still left), build a cute little car in the US that girls just have to have. Or someone else will.
8. Dodge Charger R/T.
Brought back from limbo after a 19 year break, the new Charger comes as a RWD or AWD 4 door sedan with plenty of room for the family and junk in the trunk, but still with the sportiness and performance mom and dad might not feel in a Taurus or Impala. Plus it starts at $36,295 (R/T). Fire up the V-8 Hemi engine (from your choice of 3 different V-8’s) and put up to 707 horsepower to work! (Not a typo, that is over 700 hp.) Even that monster engine delivers 22 HWY mpg. If you always wanted to be a NASCAR driver, this is the car for you, and it looks good, too. Got a family and just will not be caught dead in a minivan? Buy this car.
7. Cadillac XTS.
For many people the full size Caddy sedan remains the icon of success, the bold statement that they have “made it.” Although not as flashy as a 1959 Eldorado or as enormous as a 1969 Fleetwood Brougham, the XTS is the largest of the Cadillac sedans and is still the standard bearer for full size luxury. Of course, the car has changed somewhat with the times, and is laid out in front wheel or all wheel drive and comes with a 304 or 410 horsepower engine. Starting at only $44,600 (top end model starts at $72,000 plus options). Better performance and gas mileage than your father’s Cadillac, that’s for sure. Let your friends drive cramped BMW’s and Audi’s, or even a Lexus (seriously, that is NOT a Cadillac!), you know what you want and that is secure comfort and room for friends and golf clubs.
6. Ford Mustang GT.
The original pony car and still powered by an American V-8 this car provides bang for the buck, namely 435 horse power for a base msrp of $41,800 (GT Premium Convertible, the regular GT starts at $32,300). Of course, you can get a tuner car souped up by the likes of Shelby, Roush or Saleen (and others) hiking the horsepower and the price into supercar range. (If your friends sneer at your V-6 powered Mustang, remind them it has 300 horsepower!) This is a realistic alternative to those who may be priced out of a Viper or Vette.
5. Ford Taurus SHO.
First appearing in 1989, this family performance car is now in its 6th generation and features all wheel drive, meaning you can have your high performance and low profile tires and still drive in the snow and rain. With a 365 horsepower twin turbo V-6, you can have your family along as you road race your way across the country to Wally World while getting 25 mpg (Hwy) and for only $40,220 starting price at that.
4. Dodge Viper.
Now in its 5th generation, this 640 horsepower speed demon has a top speed of 205 mph and a 0-60 mph time of just 2.96 seconds! At “only” $84,995 starting price, this car is a tremendous bargain compared to foreign supercars that have this type of performance. Of course, you could opt for customizing and double your price. If you want. Race car versions give this car track cred as well as street cred. The fact that it is made of over 75% American manufactured parts makes it one of the most “American” cars made.
3. Cadillac Escalade.
Especially the longer version with more room for the 3rd row of seats, this big flashy luxury SUV tells all envious spectators that you have money and do not care about gas mileage, parking spaces, or 6 empty seats. Starting at $72,900 the price can go up quickly, and of course you would want after market customizing to stand out from all the rest. Powerful (420 horsepower) and extremely comfortable, you can tow your luxury boat, go through snow, and enjoy the scenery from your perch above regular cars. Hey all you pimps, buy American! Sure, the Lincoln Navigator is just as good, but the Caddy has the cachet.
2. Chevrolet Corvette.
Despite jokes about the phonies that drive them, these cars are lusted after by a huge chunk of the (especially) male population. Women love the convertible models as well. The car has evolved from a sporty little coupe to a massively powerful supercar that can compete with foreign cars costing double or triple the Corvette’s price. Made in Kentucky instead of Michigan, the “vette” has become General Motor’s flagship car. Choose the C7 Z06 (2015 model year) model with the supercharged LT-4 engine and get 650 horsepower. Median age of buyers of new Vettes is 53 years old, indicative of the rock bottom starting price of $55,000 ($80K starting for the Z06).
Named after the quirky electrical genius, these electric powered supercars have redefined both the electric car class and the supercar segment. First producing the Roadster in 2008, Tesla went on to manufacture the luxurious S model and now make the Model X and Model 3. The Roadster took the world by storm when it featured a range of 245 miles, acceleration of 0-60mph in under 4 seconds and a top speed of 125mph! There was nothing like it, and its price of only $109,000 (base model) was a bargain for such a prestigious supercar. The S hit the market in 2012 and has sold over 42,000 in North America since, pretty good sales for a car out of reach of the common person. With blazing 3.1 second time 0-60 mph and a top speed of 155 mph, this $57,000 to $87,000 (base prices without options, factoring in incentives and gas savings) luxury car was the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year and the top selling full size luxury car in the US. Obviously, you lust after the model that features all wheel drive and the “Supercharged” package. It can seat up to 7 people, so show it off!
Question for students (and subscribers): Let us know which cars you would really love to drive for yourself. Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
GM CHEVY CHEVROLET. 1953 CHEVROLET ACCESSORIES INSTALLATION MANUAL – INCLUDES 150, 210, Bel Air, Corvette. Pickups & Trucks. 53 CHEVY. GM CHEVY CHEVROLET, 2016.
Mueller, Mike. The Complete Book of Corvette – Revised & Updated: Every Model Since 1953 (Complete Book Series). Motorbooks, 2014.