American cars and car culture contains multitudes; it cannot be captured in whole, never mind with ten spots on a list. Nonetheless, some vehicles perfectly exemplify the sea-to-shining-sea wonderfulness of this land. These are Jalopnik readers' picks of the ten most quintessentially American cars.
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Photo Credit: crouchy69
10.) Jeep Grand Wagoneer
Suggested By: Defender90
Why it's your all-American: The SUV is one of the most cunning reapplications of a basic idea in marketing history: Take the rugged underpinnings of an off-road truck, pile the creature comforts on top, and sell to people who want to project an image of outdoorsy self-sufficiency without the discomfort. The Wagoneer is still a somewhat ironic, if much-loved, status symbol today.
Photo Credit: Jeroen Elfferich
9.) Chrysler minivans
Suggested By: Kiwi_Commander
Why it's your all-American: Not an exclusively American idea — medium-sized cargo vehicles with car mechanicals are not uncommon worldwide — but Chrysler's breakthrough was to maximize the passenger-hauling value. Station wagons may never recover from the pedestrian brilliance of this study in rational thought and packaging. Automakers continue to design more minivan-ish crossovers.
Photo Credit: Chrysler Group
8.) Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Suggested By: WOT
Why it's your all-American: All supercars have their intrinsically cultural quirks: 911s have the rear engine, GT-Rs have absurd layers of computerized complexity, the Corvettes have pushrod engines and odd suspensions. They're also one of the no-excuses best sports cars in the world, with an unearthly amount of power and the chassis to use it all effectively. Proof that we can (and should) get it better than right.
Photo Credit: GM
7.) Duesenberg Model J
Suggested By: Zergonn
Why it's your all-American: The big, technically-advanced cars from Indiana need no qualifications; they were among the very finest motor vehicles of their day bar none. Exceptionally well-engineered and cloaked in bodywork that went from dignified to outrageously flamboyant, the Model J should still be an example to US companies. A very American kind of class: different from European aristocracy, but never inferior.
Photo Credit: Darin Schnabel/Automotive Rhythms
6.) Ford Model T
Suggested By: CRXPilot; Junior Cornering Solutions Consultant
Why it's your all-American: The polar opposite of the Model J in terms of cost and glamor if not mechanical integrity, the T put the country (and with a few extensions much of the world) on the road. These spindly little carts came in a baffling variety of body configurations, all of which had a toughness at serious odds with their fragile clockwork appearance. A key part of rise and dominance of the American economy in the 20th century, it's worthy of a doctoral thesis.
Photo Credit: Seamus
5.)1932 Ford hot rod
Suggested By: rawtoast
Why it's your all-American: This is where things started getting serious for the young, underfunded, and speed-obsessed. The flathead Fords created American speed culture. Hotrodding would not exist without them; these cars singlehandedly opened up the market for speed parts and tuning, and looked all kinds of bad-ass in the process from New Jersey to Muroc.
Photo Credit: The Henry Ford
4.) Ford F-Series
Suggested By: Lounge Singer Chamois
Why it's your all-American: Picking one pickup truck to carry the flag is like picking a favorite American sandwich. We're going with Ford's F-series simply because it's been the bestseller, a perennial American point of pride. Regardless of manufacturer, the box behind the cab has been an essential part of the cultural landscape since its introduction. The American economy would be greatly reduced without it, both for what it is and what it does.
Photo Credit: Brian Snelson, at Goodwood
3.) 1959 Cadillac Eldorado
Suggested By: My X-type is too a real Jaguar
Why it's your all-American: If there was any real mechanical justice in the world, the late-Fifties Cadillacs would have been powered by General Electric J79s instead of V8s. THIS is America to much of the world: big, broad-shouldered, gaudy, immensely extroverted and optimistic in the postwar boom. No one else could have done tailfins, never mind to this kind of magnitude.
Photo Credit: Jack Snell>
2.) Jeep MB/CJ/Wrangler
Suggested By: Honda_Hooning_Daily_Driver
Why it's your all-American: After it won the war, the Jeep came back and sired a hell of a family of outward-bound rock crawlers. No other vehicle embodies the wild-frontier trailblazer spirit like the essential Jeep, even if current models are more plush and technically advanced than Patton could have dreamed possible. If you want to see the country, this will let you see more of it than anything else short of a helicopter.
Photo Credit: Allen/Roadsidepictures
1.) 1964½ - 1966 Ford Mustang
Suggested By: $kaycog
Why it's your all-American: Take everything we want to express to the rest of the world about this grand nation, deliver the list to a committee headed by Lee Iacocca, and you have the greatest car ever built here and one of the best ever. Among the most popular machines in the world, even for those who usually don't care for American cars, it covers it all: It is individualistic, it is small-d democratic, it is dignified, it can be configured as anything from a polite cruiser to a hardcore roadracer. Of the people, by the people, for the people: it is perfectly American.
Photo Credit: James Marvin Phelps