While American cars are often thought of as plasticky, badly made boxes with saggy seats, the Land of the Free and the home of the big has produced some real winners over the years. We’ve picked eight cars that we think are America’s best. Let us know what you think.
You couldn’t get far into a ‘Greatest American Car list’ without the Ford GT. That’s why we’ve put it at the start. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying its slick looks and racing sporting ancestry.
Ford’s GT supercar drew inspiration from the infamous GT40 racing car of the 1960’s, which came to life after a deal between Ford and Ferrari went sour. On July 4 1963 Ford was meant to be signing a $10 million dollar deal with Mr. Enzo Ferrari himself, but the legend behind Ferrari walked out after not liking their terms apparently. Henry Ford II then authorized the development of the Ford GT 40 and in the 2000’s we got a road going version.
The first generation was produced from 2005-2006 and featured a 5.4-litre V8 engine producing 550 hp. The new generation from 2017 has a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 making an impressive 647 hp. While we’ll have to see how the new GT goes, the first generation was an instant classic and will remain one of the greatest supercars ever built.
As Jeremy Clarkson said “Made from the same plastic they use to make news readers over here”, the Corvette may be made from the same stuff as your toaster, but it’s still one of the coolest cars to ever come from the land of the Stars and Stripes. While the old Corvette’s may be the favourites to some (especially the incredible C2 Sting Ray) , we think that it’s the modern ones that have really propelled the Corvette to stardom.
American cars aren’t exactly known for their cornering ability, having said that, the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 managed to get around the Nurburgring 7:19.63. That’s faster than a Ferrari 488GTB and approaching the incredible Nissan GTR. With a new one on the horizon, the Corvette brand could be going even faster. With that much speed and a big V8 for such a low cost, we don’t mind ignoring the news reader plastic bodywork.
My childhood favourite car, only the American’s could put a massive 8.0-litre V10 engine into a sports car, because ‘there’s no replacement for displacement’. The enormous V10 engine was based off a Chrysler LA V8 engine and was designed by the Lamborghini company (owned by the Chrysler corporation at the time). In its original state, the V10 in the Viper produced 400 hp, a fair amount for an early 90’s American car.
Like the early Corvette’s, the Viper didn’t exactly have the most refined handling. Power was the replacement for cornering ability, but the latest models have been some real screamers. The Viper SRT-10 ACR has a blistering Nurburgring time of 7:12.13 and there’s not much faster than that. This is partly due to the monstrous 600 hp 8.4-litre V10 engine and the fact they finally put some thought into how it goes around corners.
Tesla Model S
Electric cars have come along way and they’ve still got much further to go before they will really catch on, but if they are anything like Tesla’s Model S, we’re excited. Many car enthusiasts turned their noses up to electric cars before the Model S. All what we got was mostly boring, eco-boxes with a light sprinkling of a somewhat exciting car that couldn’t quite pull it off. Tesla’s Model S then came along and showed the world how a electric car should be done.
With a 0-60 mph time of just a shade over 3 seconds originally, Tesla has released increasingly powerful versions and even software updates for original models to bring that time to the mid to low 2 second mark. The company also released an Auto-pilot mode that gives us a glimpse of what a driverless car world might look like (although we think driving is much more pleasurable than being a passenger). A real technological marvel piece.
Ford created not only one of the most iconic motor vehicles of all time, but they also created one of the most iconic American made machines ever, that falls into the same iconic category as the SR-71 blackbird, the B2 Bomber and the Harley Davidson. Lee Lacocca realized that the baby boomers would want something different to their parent’s big, spongy aircraft carriers. Together with product planner, Hal Sperlich, they came up with an overnight hit. The Ford Mustang sold over 1 million units in 18 months and the car is still going strong today (although updated now). It wasn’t until the Shelby GT350 in 1965 that the Mustang really turned into a motoring icon. While there was a period where the Mustang lost its form, the new ones are back on Form and we love it. A true American hero.
Ford Model T
With three out of our eight cars being Ford’s, anyone would think we’re being payed to write this, but in reality Ford’s just made some incredible cars. Ford produced the Model T from October 1, 1908 to May 26, 1927 and in that time they created one of the all time motoring greats. The Model T changed the way the world viewed and used cars. It is generally considered to be the world’s first affordable car and opened the American middle class up to car ownership. It was named the most influential car of the 20th century in the 1999 Car of the Century competition.
All up, nearly 15 million Model T’s were produced with prices falling from $825 to $260 as Ford refined the manufacturing process. With a 20 hp inline four-cylinder engine, the Model T isn’t exactly fast by today’s standards, however the 45 mph top speed was more than adequate for the period. It had three gears all up, including reverse and as Ford himself wrote “Any customer can have a car painted in any colour that he wants so long as it is black.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (Allied Supreme Commander) claimed “The Jeep, the Dakota aeroplane, and the landing craft were the three tools that won the war”. Over 700,000 Jeeps were created during the war, giving the allies a real helping hand on the ground. The Jeep is such a success that the company is still going strong, although they’ve branched out with new cars now. After the war, the Jeep served as a more recreational machine that combined off-road capability with unique styling and functionality. It’s really the car that started the modern SUV trend and is about as cool as you can get.
After Elvis Presley famously bought a pink Cadillac, the car company has become synonymous with American luxury. We think there’s no better Cadillac to represent this luxury than the stunning Eldorado. It featured rocket shaped tail lights to match the era and huge tail-fins that were useless in reality, but made the Eldorado that much cooler. With its huge 6.4-litre V8 engine and its aircraft carrier size, it’s exactly what we love about American cars.
Four doors were standard, but a convertible two door option was also available. Despite its impressive engine, there was no performance version of the Eldorado. Weighing in at nearly two tons, the car was never going to set blistering lap times, however it is exactly what you want as a great American cruiser.