American Classic Automobiles


American Classic Automobiles

America has a love affair with the automobile. One of the earliest examples of this love affair is manifested towards classic American cars from the period of 1950 to the late 1970s. With the construction of America’s highway systems really taking off in the 1950s, this love affair with the automobile continued unabated. Today, a lot of classic car enthusiasts and muscle car enthusiasts are devoted to buying, collecting and working on their classic American cars. What follows will survey several classic American cars and muscle cars from 1950 to about 1979.

The Chevrolet Bel Air was a full-size automobile that was made by GM’s Chevrolet division from 1949 to 1975. Chevrolet was renowned for coming up with revolutionary styles, and set the design trend for decades to come. The first Bel Airs were advertised as convertibles with nondetachable roofs. The Bel Air went through various revisions or “generations” of models throughout its decades of production (1949 to 1975), reaching a total of seven generations in all.

There were some differences between this Bel Air and other, prominent classic cars, such as the Chevrolet Impala. For example, the Impala’s hardtop body was used in the Bel Air, but not its trim. The Bel Air also only had two taillights per each side, while the Impala featured three taillights on either side. The differences between these two models in terms of lights were really pronounced, as the Bel Air had four-segmented taillights as opposed to the Impala’s three-segmented ones.

The Dodge Charger is another classic American automobile. This car was not produced continuously by Chrysler’s Dodge division, but, rather, in intermittent periods from 1964 to the present. The Charger that was made in the late 1960s was similar to the Dodge Coronet because it borrowed its front-end sheet metal and also its chassis. In later years, the Dodge Charger would undergo even further design modifications that would make it more distinct from the Dodge Coronet.

The Shelby Mustang was Shelby American’s answer to Ford’s Mustang; it was built from 1965 to 1970 and again from 2006 to the present. The Shelby Mustang relied so much on the Ford Mustang in its construction that the earlier models actually had Ford Mustang bodies. However, for the 2010 models of the Shelby Mustang, even the base of the Ford Mustang was significantly altered.

The Ford Thunderbird began what would become the luxury car market, and it was an automobile that went through 11 generations of models from 1955 to 2005. The manufacture of the Thunderbird was actually a straightforward retaliation from Ford after the carmaker had seen Chevrolet unveil its new sports car, the Corvette. The Thunderbird copied the Corvette’s format, which was a convertible, two-seat arrangement. The Thunderbird was marketed directly as a competitor vehicle against the Corvette, and after the first year of going head to head, the Thunderbird outsold the Corvette by a ratio of 23 to 1.

Across the Atlantic in Britain, the Triumph Motor Company produced a lot of classic cars and muscle cars throughout the 1940s and 1950s. After a near100 year run, the now-defunct company’s trade name came under BMW ownership. In 1889, Triumph Motor Company began as a bicycle manufacturer. Though the impact of World War II meant hard times for Triumph with regards to its production output, it was still able to produce a good number of models after the war. Some examples are the Triumph 1800 Roadster, the Triumph 2000 Roadster, the 1955 to 1957 Triumph TR3, and the 1960 Triumph Herald 948cc Coupe.

Another well-known classic American car is the Chevrolet Camaro, which was produced by GM through the Chevrolet brand name. It is sometimes referred to as a pony car and, at other times, as a muscle car, but it was made from 1966 to 2002 and then again from 2009 to the present. In its first years of production, the Camaro possessed the same front-engine, rear-drive configuration as the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet II Nova. The Camaro was known for sharing both major components as well as its platform with the Pontiac Firebird.

The American love affair with automobiles is far from over. Despite changes in taste and technology, the models featured here will never go out of style. Proof of which is evident in the number of car collectors and enthusiasts around today.

For more information on classic cars, see these links.

? Classic Car Website

? Classic American Website

? All About Muscle Cars

? Peak and Decline of Muscle Cars

? Era of the Muscle Car (PDF)

? Muscle Car History

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