American manufacturers have been behind some of the most innovative automotive technologies and have created some of the world’s favorite hot rods. And while the criteria for greatness is debatable, there are a few cars that just can’t be ignored. For their cultural impact and engineering genius, these are the top five American cars.
Ford Model 18
In 1932, five years after the release of the groundbreaking Model T, Ford unveiled the Model 18. The Model 18 has the distinction of being the world’s first mass-produced car with a V8 engine. With its powerful performance, easy modifiability, and cheap price, people were clamoring to get behind the wheel of this car.
It even received praise from the infamous mobster, John Dillinger, who was impressed by its speed and durability. After winning the hearts of the public and remaining popular for more than 80 years, the Model 18 came to be regarded one of the most iconic American cars ever built.
With a Rocket V8 engine and 135 horsepower, the Oldsmobile 88 was the fastest car of its time. After its release in 1949, the 88 became popular among stock car racers for its nigh unbeatable speed. It also gained the attention of one of the most popular musicians of the 50s, Ike Turner.
In 1951, Turner recorded an ode to this hot rod, entitled “Rocket 88”. The song was a smash hit that, combined with the car’s incredible speed, solidified the Oldsmobile “Rocket” 88’s place among the best American-made cars.
The Chevy Corvette first hit the roads in 1953 and has remained one of the most popular American cars.
For the first few years after its release, the performance of the Corvette wasn’t all that reliable. However, things started to look up after the launch of the second-generation Corvettes in 1963. Corvettes have only gotten better since then, to the point that the speed and performance of modern generations surpasses that of some of the world’s top luxury sports cars.
Few American cars are as iconic as the Ford Mustang.
With a compact frame that featured a long hood and short trunk, the 1964 launch of the Mustang saw the birth of a new type of sports car: the pony car. Although pony cars were small, they had all the performance capabilities of their larger cousin, the American muscle car.
Early Mustangs had V8 engine and 210 horsepower, which made them attractive to young drivers who wanted a vehicle with more pep than the oversized sedans of the previous generation. The 1965 Shelby GT350 saw improvements to the performance of the car, and featured design elements that are still used in today’s Mustangs.
Tesla Model S
In addition to an appealing design and stellar performance, the Tesla Model S deserves praise for being the car that redefined public perception of electric vehicles.
Prior to the launch of the Model S in 2012, electric cars didn’t have a good rep because most models were less sporty and more expensive than traditional gas-powered vehicles. Driving range and the availability of charging stations were concerns for consumers, and many people were worried about electric cars running out power and leaving them stranded.
Tesla shifted that negative perception with the long driving range, impressive performance, and luxurious design of the Model S. Since its initial launch, the Model S has skyrocketed in popularity and earned its place as one of the best American-made cars.