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Friday, 6 May 2011

108 Years Of American Cars [1901-2009]


Introduction

In the last 100 years, humans lives have sped up exponentially. 100 years ago, 100 miles an hour seemed a long way off. Yet in the last 100 years, we've seen trains, planes and automobiles smash past that!
Below are 50 cars from the last 108 years of American auto manufacturing. You might expect to know all of them, but there may be some surprises in there for you.

1901 Oldsmobile Curved Dash

1901 Oldsmobile Curved Dashs
1901 Oldsmobile Curved Dash

1901 Oldsmobile Curved Dash

This car was the beginning for mass production. Ford mastered it, but it was Eli Olds that invented it. Within 2 years of the Oldsmobile "Curved Dash" launch, Oldsmobile had increased production to almost 20000 car in a year. That level of production was unheard of in the early 20Th Century. 

1908 Ford Model T

1908 Ford Model T
1908 Ford Model T

1908 Ford Model T

5 Years after the Oldsmobile, came the Ford Model T. This was such a huge car in it's day. At one point, over half the cars in America were Model T's, what would Ford do for that market share in 2009?Ford produced a staggering 15million Model T's.

1928 Auburn Speedster

1928 Auburn Speedster
1928 Auburn Speedster

1928 Auburn Speedster

One of the most glamorous car's of the 20's - 30's period. It's design inspired car designers for the next 30 years. The car was first introduced with a 4.5li straight 8, but in the early 30's was also available with a 6.4li V12!

1928 Duesenberg Model J

1928 Duesenberg Model J
1928 Duesenberg Model J

1928 Duesenberg Model J

One of the fastest cars available in the late 20's (and for a long time afterwards too) The J was the "basic" model with a 265 Straight 8 which propelled it to 119mph. It's bigger brother had a supercharger bolted to the side and was capable of 140mph!

1934 Plymouth Woody

1934 Plymouth Woody
1934 Plymouth Woody

1934 Plymouth Woody

A very sought after car in it's day, the Woody had a run in the 30's, and became a very popular car after WW2. By the 50's though, steel bodied car's were powering past the Woody and it died. In the 80's there was a retro fashion in America for wooden panels on cars, taken as inspiration from this car. 

1936 Buick Roadmaster

1936 Buick Roadmaster
1936 Buick Roadmaster

1936 Buick Roadmaster

Buick is one fo the most Iconic brands in the automotive business. In the 30's the "Roadmaster" was the top of the range Buick avaliable in a range of shapes, from this convertible, to a saloon and even an estate. The brand died in 1958 and was revived in 1991. It is currently owned by Ford. 

1939 Studebaker Champion

1939 Studebaker Champion
1939 Studebaker Champion

1939 Studebaker Champion

Studebaker's were and still are regarded as some of the most advanced designed cars the world had ever seen. This "Champion" was one of their best selling thanks to a low price, great reliable engine and those amazing lines. A Classic.

1941 Willys Jeep

1941 Willys Jeep
1941 Willys Jeep

1941 Willys Jeep

If you've ever seen a WW2 movie, then you've seen a Willys Jeep. Built by Willys and Ford for the army, these strong and cheap jeeps are an icon around the world. It's worth noting that the Willys and Ford Jeeps varied very little from each other. 

1948 Tucker Torpedo

1948 Tucker Torpedo
1948 Tucker Torpedo

1948 Tucker Torpedo

Preston Tucker, the man behind the Tucker Torpedo wanted to take a small car company and build a car to rival the big 3 (Ford, Chrysler and Chevrolet). The stunning Torpedo was introduced in the late 40's. Sadly the car did not sell as well as Tucker had hoped, and only 50 models were ever produced. 

1953 Buick Skylark

1953 Buick Skylark
1953 Buick Skylark

1953 Buick Skylark

The "Skylark" was introduced in 1953 and survived with an on/off production and regular updates until 1998. In post war America the Buick went down very well. The style and lines suited the emerging Rock and Roll image. By the late 90's when the "Skylark" was cancelled, it had gone horribly wrong. 

1953 Cadillac Eldorado

1953 Cadillac Eldorado
1953 Cadillac Eldorado

1953 Cadillac Eldorado

The "Eldorado" was the longest running luxury car. Cadillac built the Eldorado to sit near (but not at) the top of it's range. The Mark lasted until Cadillac canned it in 2002. 

1953 Chevrolet Corvette

1953 Chevrolet Corvette
1953 Chevrolet Corvette

1953 Chevrolet Corvette

The "Corvette" is the American version of the Porsche 911. This car is still in production today! 55 years ago, the charming Corvette won over Americans with it's soft lines and formidable engine. 

1953 Nash Metropolitan

1953 Nash Metropolitan
1953 Nash Metropolitan

1953 Nash Metropolitan

During the 50's, car makers were making bigger and bigger cars. Nash bucked that trend by making a small but cheap car using the Austin 1200 engine. The car was also sold in England Under the Austin Marque. 

1955 Chevrolet Tri-Chevys

1955 Chevrolet Tri-Chevys
1955 Chevrolet Tri-Chevys

1955 Chevrolet Tri-Chevys

The 2 base models of the "Tri-Chevys" were the 150 and 210. You've probably never heard of them. But this is the top of the range "Bel Air" model which is a well know collectors car these days. Classic lines and loads of space made it a top seller in it's day. 

1955 Chrysler 300 Series

1955 Chrysler 300 Series
1955 Chrysler 300 Series

1955 Chrysler 300 Series

What a design! Looking at it now, you would think that this might have come from a 50's SciFi film. This car was the inspiration to one of the Chrysler's modern day triumph's, the Chrysler 300C. 

1957 Ford Thunderbird

1957 Ford Thunderbird
1957 Ford Thunderbird

1957 Ford Thunderbird

The 57 "Thunderbird" will forever be know as one of Ford's greatest little sportscars. Yet on it's release in 1955, the "Thunderbird"! was actually a grand tourer. The car lasted until 2005 when the last "retro" model was sold. 

1959 Buick Electra

1959 Buick Electra
1959 Buick Electra

1959 Buick Electra

Another long running name, the "Electra" name lasted all the way to the 90's. Yet like so many others, it had gone horribly wrong in the later models. The Buick was known for it's amazing design and that front nose!

1959 Cadillac DeVille

1959 Cadillac DeVille
1959 Cadillac DeVille

1959 Cadillac DeVille

The "DeVille" was a mid level car for Cadillac. Yet the styling was right there with the "Eldorado". It's another huge 50's car. Just look at the rear fins to really see how big it was!

1959 Chevrolet Corvair

1959 Chevrolet Corvair
1959 Chevrolet Corvair

1959 Chevrolet Corvair

A controversial rear engine (similar to the Porsche and Volkswagen Beetle) was ignored by many who loved the versatile nature of this car. Offered in a full range of styles, from 2 door coupe, to 5 estate and everything in between. 

1960 Dodge Dart

1960 Dodge Dart
1960 Dodge Dart

1960 Dodge Dart

The car that shrank. The "Dart" was introduced as a low price (and slightly shorter) Dodge. In 62 it shrank to a mid-size car and the following year it shrank again to a compact where it stayed until 1976. 

1961 Lincoln Continental

1961 Lincoln Continental
1961 Lincoln Continental

1961 Lincoln Continental

In the 30's, Lincoln use the Continental name for a concept. By the mid 50's it was a production car, yet the early 60's Continentals are regarded as the best. The convertible version was of course the car President J. F Kennedy was assassinated in during November of 63. 

1961 Oldsmobile Cutlass

1961 Oldsmobile Cutlass
1961 Oldsmobile Cutlass

1961 Oldsmobile Cutlass

Oldsmobile launched the Cutlass in 61 and it proved successful for them by selling well. They made a mistake later on though, launching Cutlass as it's own Marque rather than model which confused buyers and sales plummeted. 

1962 Studebaker Avanti

1962 Studebaker Avanti
1962 Studebaker Avanti

1962 Studebaker Avanti

Another amazing design by Raymond Loewy (see 1939 Studebaker Champion) Some say it was not a beautiful car, yet still had a distinctive style. The Avanti was only made for 2 years. 

1963 Corvette Stingray

1963 Corvette Stingray
1963 Corvette Stingray

1963 Corvette Stingray

The original Stingray was an experimental race car for Chevrolet. By the early 60's however, production began on the original "Sting Ray" (deliberately spelt with a space.)

1964 Excalibur SSK

1964 Excalibur SSK
1964 Excalibur SSK

1964 Excalibur SSK

The SSkK was designed around the Studebaker Lark Daytona chassis and used a 290bhp supercharged V8 to power it down the road. It referenced it's lines from the Mercedes Benz's of the time. 

1964 Ford GT40

1964 Ford GT40
1964 Ford GT40

1964 Ford GT40

After a failed bid to buy Ferrari. Ford was so mad that it designed one of, if not it's best car ever. The Ford GT40 was built to win the Le Mans beating Ferrari. This it did with some success winning it 4 time in a row from 1966 - 1969. It's one of the most iconic 60's race cars in the world. 

1964 Ford Mustang

1964 Ford Mustang
1964 Ford Mustang

1964 Ford Mustang

Another huge success for Ford was the introduction of the Mustang. The car was originally suppose to sell about 100,000 units in its first year. However this was massively under estimated as within 18 months of the cars launch, the 1 millionth car rolled off the production line. The car is still in production today after many full redesigns, the most modern being the most popular for Ford and helping to usher in a wave of 60's retro muscle cars. 

1964 Pontiac GTO

1964 Pontiac GTO
1964 Pontiac GTO

1964 Pontiac GTO

Regarded by many as the first true "Muscle Car". The GTO didn;t start life as it's own car. It was originally a 325bhp power upgrade for the Le Mans Model before being upgraded to a full car. 

1966 Chevrolet Camaro

1966 Chevrolet Camaro
1966 Chevrolet Camaro

1966 Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet's answer to the Ford Mustang and Pontiac GTO was the 1964 Chevrolet Camaro. It wasn't that successful for Chevy until the revised 1966 version and later with the RS and SS marques. Chevrolet have a new model of the Camaro due out this year as a result of Ford's success with it's latest Mustang. 

1966 Dodge Charger

1966 Dodge Charger
1966 Dodge Charger

1966 Dodge Charger

Another manufacturer who jumped on the muscle car band wagon was Dodge. The "Charge" was originally, (like the GTO) a power pack for the Dodge Dart. In 66 it was released as a full blown muscle car. It was uprated to iconic status by being General Lee from Dukes Of Hazard. More recently, Dodge has reintroduced the Charger (and the Challenger) in the modern Retro muscle car wars with Ford and Chevrolet. 

1966 Jeep Jeepster

1966 Jeep Jeepster
1966 Jeep Jeepster

1966 Jeep Jeepster

The 66 "Jeepster" was a rear wheel driver version of the 4 wheel drive Jeep. Due to the rear wheel drive nature, on road tires and suspension, the Jeep Jeepster flopped and was only sold for a few years. These days we see a whole range of front and wheel rear drive "jeeps" on the roads which makes this little 2 wheel jeep before it's time.

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

A Saab Mechanic once claimed that 200bhp through the front wheels of a car was dangerous and foolish. Yet the 66 Toronado had an eye watering 385bhp! That's similar to the soon to be release Ford Focus RS!

1967 Pontiac Firebird

1967 Pontiac Firebird
1967 Pontiac Firebird

1967 Pontiac Firebird

General Motors wanted more of the Muscle Car action, so using the Camaro chassis, the Pontiac Firebird was launched in 67 to great success. It is instantly recognized a classic American Muscle car. 

1974 Jeep Cherokee

1974 Jeep Cherokee
1974 Jeep Cherokee

1974 Jeep Cherokee

This is arguably the first of the modern day SUV (Sports Utility Vehicles) The monocoque design by Jeep sold very well and has spawned so many versions and copies of the last 3 years. So now you know who to thank!

1975 Cadillac Seville

1975 Cadillac Seville
1975 Cadillac Seville

1975 Cadillac Seville

The Seville had been seen before. During the 50's and 60's the name cropped up a few times, yet it was not a full Cadillac until 1975 when it was fully released. Amazingly, the 1978 Seville had a V8 diesel option!

1984 Plymouth Voyager

1984 Plymouth Voyager
1984 Plymouth Voyager

1984 Plymouth Voyager

Here's that wood paneling! The 84 Plymouth Voyager is where the Mini-Van craze started. If you needed a car for the 3 kids, 2 dogs and all the shopping, this was the car in the 80's. 

1984 Pontiac Fiero

1984 Pontiac Fiero
1984 Pontiac Fiero

1984 Pontiac Fiero

The Fiero was a first for an American manufacturer, it was the first production mid engine car. Designed to be a rival for the Toyota MR2, the Fiero saw some good sales figures. These days it is often used as a doner car for many kit cars. 

1987 Cadillac Allanté

1987 Cadillac Allanté
1987 Cadillac Allanté

1987 Cadillac Allanté

Cadillac needed something to rival the Mercedes Benz SL of the 80's. Cadillac took drastic measures by having this car designed and built in Italy by legendary Italian Designer Pininfarina. The car was shipped back to the States were it flopped. 

1987 Jeep Wrangler

1987 Jeep Wrangler
1987 Jeep Wrangler

1987 Jeep Wrangler

The "Wrangler" was a replacement for the unloved CJ model. Looking like the Willy's Jeep, the "Wrangler" was designed for die hard off roaders, and yet later in life became popular with young teens in high school. 

1988 Chrysler Voyager

1988 Chrysler Voyager
1988 Chrysler Voyager

1988 Chrysler Voyager

Introduced 4 years after it's Plymouth sibling, the Chrysler Voyager is still around today as a 7 seater MPV. This was the first year that a Voyager was release in the UK. It's worth noting, that the late 90's version of the "Voyager" is regarded as one of the worst cars to own. 

1989 Vector W8

1989 Vector W8
1989 Vector W8

1989 Vector W8

One of Americas forgotton Supercars. The W8 was described as being mroe like and Aeroplane than a Car. Although there are a lot of similarites with the design to some Larborghinis of it's time. The W8 was very expensive for it's time, with prices around $500,000. 

1992 Hummer H1

1992 Hummer H1
1992 Hummer H1

1992 Hummer H1

The HMMWV (M998 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) which was known around America as The Humvee was a war machine, the modern day version of the Willys Jeep. A road going version was built and made famous by one Arnold Schwarzenegger.

1997 Plymouth Prowler

1997 Plymouth Prowler
1997 Plymouth Prowler

1997 Plymouth Prowler

The 97 "Prowler" was a very radical retro remake for its day. The Hot Rod inspired remake was regarded as a great looking car. Yet Plymouth ruined it by only offering it with a V6 engine. 

1999 Cadillac Escalade

1999 Cadillac Escalade
1999 Cadillac Escalade

1999 Cadillac Escalade

The big monster. The "Escalade" is a massive machine made famous by numorous rap stars "blinging" them up to show off how rich they were. Although not the kind of vehicle to own when Fuel prices spike over the last year due to it's pathetic fuel economy. 

2000 Saleen S7

2000 Saleen S7
2000 Saleen S7

2000 Saleen S7

Ford had the Saleen S7 designed and developed in the UK before having it manufactured in America. The original naturally aspirated engine was good for 550bhp. In 2004 a twin turbo version was released with 750bhp. This car currently sits at number 5 in the top 50 fastest production cars of all time with a top speed recorded at 248mph. 

2001 Mosler MT900S

2001 Mosler MT900S
2001 Mosler MT900S

2001 Mosler MT900S

The Mosler was another American Supercar designed and this time built in the UK, yet it was sold as American. It also makes the top 50 fastest production cars list, but only in 47th place with a top speed of 190mph. Due to it's low weight it is capable of a 0-60 sprint time of 3.1 seconds. 

2003 Ford GT

2003 Ford GT
2003 Ford GT

2003 Ford GT

With the world turning so retro, Ford decided it was time they revive some of their racing heritage for their 100 yr birthday. The Ford GT was a rare concept that saw the light of day, and even more rare was the reviews it got. Some say it was even superior to the GT40 on which it was based. 

2005 Chrysler 300C

2005 Chrysler 300C
2005 Chrysler 300C

2005 Chrysler 300C

After a long list of rubbish cars, Chrysler finally hit the nail on the head with this superb car. It's spacious and comfortable cabin reminded people of certain German Marques, yet you could have the power of the SRT8. The price was also very desirable. 

2006 Shelby Ultimate SSC

2006 Shelby Ultimate SSC
2006 Shelby Ultimate SSC

2006 Shelby Ultimate SSC

This is the fastest production car in the world after recording a top speed some 4 mph faster than the Bugatti Veyron (257mph). The Shelby Super Car (SSC) has been around for a few years now, and with news of an impending electric version capable of 200+mph, SSC have an interesting future ahead of them. 

2009 Corvette ZR-1

2009 Corvette ZR-1
2009 Corvette ZR-1

2009 Corvette ZR-1

The latest Corvette has surprised many by being a very good drive. The ZR-1 is the most powerful Corvette made to date with the supercharged 6.2li V8 pumps out 638bhp to the rear wheels. The ZR-1 has a top speed of 205mph making it the 24th fastest car in the world. 

Conclusion

America has a long heritage of car manufacturing. With the present economy however, the big 3 are struggling to make money. Over the last 100 years some big cars have been and gone. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the American car market over the next 10 years, they could arguably be the most important in it's history. 

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