Ten Great Cars We Love
Top Ten Cars We Love – our love affair with cars
By Vince Bodiford
Our love affair with the automobile has been fueled by the idea of freedom and personal transportation, as a culture we have fallen in love with some very special cars – some more than others. But some are so important – like these Top 10 We Love – that no serious large collection is complete without them.
FORD MODEL T: Henry Ford’s “Tin Lizzy” was introduced in 1908, was built in the largest numbers of any car, and it set the table for the motoring culture we take for granted today. It was the first car most people could afford, helping make cars accessible to the working class. Our grandfather’s looked to this car as the platform for everything motoring – from everyday transportation to the first car ever to wear the name “hot rod,” single-handedly giving us the clay to form the custom car culture.
CHEVROLET CORVETTE: Making its debut in 1953, and produced every year since (except 1983), there were times the Corvette was an underdog and its demise seemed certain. Each generation of Corvette is unique to a particular generation. Today Corvette is the most formidable testament to what a domestic car can be. It’s civilized when necessary, untamed when desired. It’s still not perfect, but given its character, you wouldn’t want it to be. This is America’s sports car and by far our ultimate all-time American car. My favorites are the
FORD MUSTANG: The term “pony car” does not exclusively refer to Mustang, but this car invented the segment, soon joined by Camaro and Mopar models. Affordable, fun to drive and with sexy good-looks, the Mustang and America immediately fell in love, an affair which lasts to this day. In 1964, this single car saved the financially-strapped Ford Motor Company from bankruptcy. The brain-child of Lee Iacocca, a 2-door four-seat sporty car is now a mainstay of every carmaker in the world.
CHEVROLET CAMARO: Making its debut in 1967, this iconic pony car was actually in development long before anyone in Dearborn ever thought of a Mustang-type car. GM had its sights on the segment then dominated by the Ford Thunderbird, and it needed this car to bridge the gap between a Thunderbird and Corvette buyer. The result is Camaro – bar none the absolute King of the Pony Car segment with more models, more engines and more racing victories than it’s rivals. My favorite models:
FORD THUNDERBIRD: At first it set out to answer the Corvette – but we fell in love with it as a personal luxury car with a performance twist. Sound familiar? This is today a hotly contested segment, with names like BMW and Lexus leading the pack. Thunderbird defined for us what it meant to go fast and be comfortable at the same time – something Corvette didn’t figure out until recent models. It failed to compete head-to-head with Corvette – but was by far a larger financial success for Ford. My favorite models are the “opera window” first-generation coupes of the 1950’s, the art-deco styling of the mid-1960s, and the “suicide door” saloon that defies reason.
FORD F-SERIES PICKUP TRUCK: The Ford F-Series pickup truck earns a place on this list because not only do we love pickups, we love the Ford pickup the most. The choice of blue-collar ranchers, farmers and the “working man,” the Ford is a symbol of hard work, values and reliability. American’s devotion to one brand of the “Big Three” is usually polarized around the pickup trucks of Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge.
CHEVROLET BEL AIR – the “tri-fives” of 1955, ’56, ’57. Chevy designer Harley Earl’s masterpiece, powered by the now-iconic and still-used Chevrolet “small-block” pushrod V8 engine. The Bel Air changed how we think about cars, and ushered in the era of affordable luxury, endless options, and became the first platform of the street rod craze to come in the early 1960s.
CADILLAC ELDORADO: Whatever year, whatever model, Cadillac is the car to have in your garage when you have “arrived.” The Eldorado as an icon is the big-finned 1959 convertible – and followed with a number of game-changing models, including 1968 Eldorado that ushered in front-wheel drive on American cars. The last of the “big Eldorado’s” was the 1976 Biarritz Convertible, with 500-cid fuel-injected V8.
JEEP CJ: The Allies owe much of their WW2 victory to the rugged mobility and reliability of the Willey’s Jeep. In the peacetime years since, The Jeep has become a symbol of American independence, rugged lifestyle and love of the outdoors. Have Jeep, will travel – to any remote place on earth.
VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE: The only European car on my list, it was pproduced around the world for 65 years. The air-cooled original Beetle was the first car for generations of drivers. May be the most beloved car ever, survives today in a modern version. The iconic Beetle was the star of countless movies (Herbie!) and television shows. It is so famous and beloved it requires no introduction wherever it arrives.