When it comes to cars, America gets kind of a bad rap. Italian sports cars are considered far cooler and more luxurious. German cars are known for their superior engineering. Japanese and South Korean cars are innovative. But American automobiles? Bland. However, that’s nothing more than a stereotype. American manufacturers are every bit as creative, and the luxury models are just as high quality, and at lower prices to boot. Here is a look at 9 American cars that changed everything.
Ford Model T
While not the first car manufactured for the public (the Benz Patent-Motorwagen holds that honor), the Model T is to thank for the creation of the modern car industry. It was the first to bring the automobile to the masses thanks to Henry Ford’s introducing the concept of the assembly line. Its introduction in 1908 through 1927, when it was discontinued in favor of more advanced cars, more than 15 million Model Ts were sold, forever changing the way in which people traveled.
Cadillac Model 51
The Model T wasn’t flashy or expensive, which is why it was so accessible to the average person. The Cadillac Type 51, on the other hand, was the first true luxury car the rich. It cost more than $5,000 when it was introduced in 1915, or the average annual income of around 10 people at that time! There’s no doubt that the pretty lasses of the time were willing to bare the lower end of their calves for a chance to be driven around town in one of these bad boys!
Duesenberg Model J
Introduced in 1928, the Model J was truly ahead of its time. For instance, it could go from 0 to 60mph in 8 seconds flat, and accelerate to as high as 130mph. Think about it: even the typical car of today would struggle to reach such speeds! It didn’t come cheap though. The price tag was $30,000 in 1928 currency, or more than what most people today would be able to pay for a car. When factoring for inflation, that comes out to $400,000 in 2020 dollars. Unfortunately for Duesenberg, the Great Depression soon reared its ugly head, which naturally meant that any rich folk insensitive enough to drive around in something so opulent would have been immediately called out for being the Grade A Duesenberg (i.e., Douche).
1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88
Sometimes there are cars so powerful that the manufacturer feels guilty about it. That was evidently the case with the Corvette L88. Not merely a lovely sports car to go out cruising in, it’s rumored that the engine contained 550hp, not the 430hp officially listed in the specs. In other words, back in 1967 this probably could have gotten the astronauts to the moon two years early. It cost around $6,000 or $48,000 in 2020 dollars; a price not too outlandish, but nonetheless they only sold 20 of them. If you managed to buy one and hold onto it, it’s worth a little bit more today. At an auction in 2014, the lucky bidder shelled out $3.85 million for an original.
War sucks, but they do often lead to impressive innovations. For instance, the Jeep that you cruise around on the beach with helped save democracy around 75 years ago. By the end of WWII, more than 700,000 had been built to fight against the Germans and Japanese. These vehicles – the original SUV – were tough, but also quick and able to traverse a variety of terrains, providing superiority of movement on the ground. Because they are so functional and stylish, people still hold them near and dear even in peacetime.
Ford F-Series Pickup
The pickup has been around for more than a century, and is essential because it allows individuals and businesses a practice way to lug things around. While Ford wasn’t the inventor, no other car manufacturer can hold a candle to the F-Series. It’s strong, durable, rich in tradition and a symbol of rugged manliness. On a personal note, being allowed to borrow my grandpa’s Ford pickup to move my things to a city 8 hours away made my life so much easier.
Ford Mustang Shelby
Back in the mid-60s when Baby Boomers were first starting to get their driver’s licenses, Ford president Lee Iacocca – who would go on to save Chrysler from bankrupcy in the 1980s – had struck upon a genius idea. Nobody wanted to drive around in the uncool, boat-like cars that their parents were driving. They wanted something sleek and sporty. Enter the Mustang, first introduced in 1964. More than a million were sold within the first 18 months. Then the Shelby GT5 came out a year later, demonstrating the full power of this brand. More than 55 years later, it remains the centerpiece of Ford’s car lines.
The station wagon was the iconic car that families used when going out on summer road trips. But in 1983, Lee Iacocca – that guy again – created the modern minivan, a vehicle that combined size, seating and drivability in ways that the station wagon couldn’t. Volkswagon had tried something similar when it introduced the minibus in the 1960s, but it was really the Chrysler Minivan that perfected the concept. In fact, by the 1990s, every manufacturer was making minivans, spelling the end of the station wagon altogether.
Tesla Model S
Once upon a time, the concept of the electric car was perceived as something so impractical that it wasn’t even worth trying. But the Tesla has changed the course of automobile history, proving that not only is the electric car doable, it can be totally badass. In fact, the Tesla Model S is the fastest American sedan ever created, able to go from 0 to 60 in a mere 3.2 seconds. Save the environment and look awesome doing it? Yep.