The First Personal Luxury Car: Ford’s Thunderbird
The ultimate American personal luxury car of the heyday of the Big Three had to be the Cadillac Eldorado, but the very first of the breed was the Ford Thunderbird. The car went into development in 1953 as competition for the new Chevy Corvette as a sporty two-seat convertible, and by 1954 the first prototype was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show, in February; by September of ’54 the T-Bird went into production. The first 1955 Ford Thunderbird models were offered to the public by the end of October that same year.
The Durable Dodge Dart
If you were a young driver looking for an inexpensive used car in the late 1970s, your elders were invariably going to recommend that you try to find yourself an old Dodge Dart. Now these sixties-vintage Darts were not going to turn many heads or have any cheerleaders asking you for a ride home, but they were reliable, durable, economical, and easy to repair.
As an elongated low-riding model, the 1965 Pontiac Catalina offered many options from color and performance to engine upgrades. The full size two-door hardtop and convertible versions of the Catalina had the ability to use Pontiac’s 421 cid engine, despite the infamous General Motors ban on engines larger than 400 cid. The ban was in effect for intermediate vehicles, allowing the Catalina to skirt the rule because of its status as a full-size vehicle. This fastback further impressed with the addition of the “2+2” package option, which included the bigger engine among a handful of other upgrades. This option was phased out only 2 years later, in 1967, because it simply didn’t achieve the overwhelming successes of the GTO.
3 of the Most Unique American-built Cars
There have been many unique cars built that each has their own interesting characteristics. Three of these cars are classics built in America during the 1940’s and 50’s; we’d like to take the time to showcase them today.
The Nash Rambler: The Big 3′s Competitor
The President of the Nash-Kelvinator Company, George Mason, saw that his company needed to design a car to compete with the “Big 3”, and it had to be something that those companies did not have. He decided to concentrate on a compact car that was small, yet still would fit 5 passengers comfortably. Finally, he wanted a car that would save Nash on materials but still get great fuel economy and that would compete with companies that were dominating the lower price segment of the market (i.e. Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth). His outcome, the first successful modern American compact car, the Nash Rambler.
1969 Nova SS 396
Emerging from Chevy’s classic compact, the 1969 Nova SS 396 proved to be a potent muscle car without a flashy package. It may not have looked like much, but this classic from GM is one of the fastest cars from the classic muscle car era, thanks to clever engineering, a perfect weight ratio, and a powerful engine.
You may recognize this muscle car from the thrilling opening sequence of the popular movie The Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift, or you may simply be a fan of the old Chevys, but there is no disputing that the 1971 Chevrolet Monte Carlo holds a special place in the hearts of car enthusiasts.
The Monte Carlo was first debuted in 1969 as an answer to the Ford Thunderbird and has since seen five generations of production. The 1971 model sold for $3416 and included verticle, slimmer headlights in comparison to the previous model, but also featured a stand-up hood ornament and an optional four-spoke steering wheel. It had a V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, and coupe style, though it was largely unchanged from the 1970 model. At first, however, sales on this model got off to a slow start due to strikes.
1970 Olds 442 W-30
Considered by many to be the best that Oldsmobile put out, the 1970 Olds 442 W-30 is truly a classic muscle car. Not many think of Oldsmobile in terms of muscle cars; the high-end brand from General Motors was always more known for its large, luxury-oriented vehicles. The 442, however, was one of the finest muscle cars of the era.