I thought I’d have a little fun with a new series – national automotive icons. Which car is the best representative from that country’s manufacturers?
I was going to start the series right here in Australia, but I have to resolve some inner personal conflicts as to what’s eligible. Eg. the Camry is manufactured here and in big numbers, but it’s hardly an Australian car (even if it’s driven by heaps of Australians).
Anyway, to the USA we go…..
I’ve done absolutely no research. This is purely a (significantly large) gut exercise based on my own views as to what are the five most iconic American cars. Which cars best represent the most memorable and the best aspects of US car-making in my mind?
There will be a poll tomorrow. Feel free to disagree with me and add your own suggestions in comments and I can add the most robustly defended candidates into the poll.
This is probably my #1 choice for Americana and I’ve chosen the Stingray for the photo as that’s the Corvette that first comes into my mind.
First, you have the curves. They’re a timeless bit of sculpture that speak of a more decadent, less politically correct time. You’ve also got the rather loud suite of V8s fitted to these cars, painfully inefficient by today’s standards but supremely emotive. The car screams exoticism and drama from every angle, even if the chassis underneath can’t necessarily cash the cheques the body is writing.
It’s a fair way down my automotive bucket list, but at least it’s there, and there are very few American cars I’d bother with other than this one.
I don’t think I had a choice about this one, did I?
The Mustang looks fantastic and Steve McQueen’s Bullitt is about as iconic as Mustangs get, hence the picture.
Actually, I have to admit that of all the cars featured here, this is the one where the original appeals to me the least, but the modern-day version of it appeals to me the most. I reckon Ford have done an outstanding job with the modern Mustang. I hope they don’t do what most companies do and change it for change’s sake. Refine, yes. Fundamentally change? Better to kill it off.
When you think of North America, you have to think Trucks. And when you think Trucks, you have to think Ford F-Series.
The F-series is STILL the #1 vehicle sold in the US by an overwhelming margin. In July 2012 there were 49,000 of them sold in the US, nearly 20,000 more than the #2 vehicle (Toyota Camry). The F-Series is a sales juggernaut because it does what it says on the box – it’s big, it’s tough and the 2012 version is even relatively fuel efficient with it’s turbocharged six cylinder ecoboost engine.
Dodge Charger and every other famous vehicle from TV and movies.
I almost went with the Bandit Trans-Am here, but I had to fit a Dodge in and who can resist the General Lee?
American entertainment has given us plenty of car chases to marvel at, featuring a who’s-who of manufacturers and models. There’s the Bluesmobile, Starsky and Hutch’s Gran Torino, the 1948 Ford Custom from Grease and a million others.
But I love the Charger (and the Challenger) so let’s go with that one. These, to me, are the muscle car era at their muscliest and the muscle car era was one of the best times in US automotive history IMHO.
1957 Chevy Bel-Air
Growing up here in Australia, the garden variety performance cars that my mates all desired were Holdens and Fords. But the holy grail of Street Machines was the ’57 Chevy.
The shape, the chrome, and of course, the fins.
We’ll never get cars that look like this again. Modern design rules mean that all cars are basically the same shape. To a very large extent, it’s only the face that manufacturers draw on the shape that differentiates one car from another.
In many ways, that’s a good thing. Those design rules have saved a lot of lives over the years. In other ways, the romantic car guy in me regrets that the most expressive car designs of the future will be restricted to those who have the money to pay for them.
That the 1950’s and early 1960’s are remembered as ‘Happy Days’ is not without reason. The automobile was really hitting its stride as an affordable, desirable form of personal transportation. People dreamed of hitting the open road and designs like the ’57 Bel Air brought those dreams to life.
So there’s my list of five iconic Americans.
If you’ve got any to add to the list, comments are open. I’ll add the most vigorously defended options to the poll tomorrow.