Classic American cars are a thing of beauty. They’re big, they’re powerful, and they have a style all their own.
People who enjoy automobiles are not “born.” Rather, their passion is cultivated through memorable experiences in automobiles that are enthusiastically reinforced by friends, events, and, yes, marketing. It might strike you out of nowhere—bam!—one day. It may happen to anybody at any age from a brand-new teen driver to a recently paroled septuagenarian.
For whatever reason, these things just happen, and when they do you’re changed forever. If you’re extremely lucky, it will happen more than once in your lifetime. It happened to me when I was 15 years old and my buddy let me drive his brand-new 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400 convertible.
It was love at first sight, and the die was cast. I’ve been a car guy ever since. If you’re reading this, chances are good that you have been affected in a similar way by automobiles at some point in your life.
What is it about cars that can turn an ordinary person into a raving maniac? It’s hard to say, but there’s no denying that cars have a hold on us that is unlike anything else. They are machines, after all, and as such, they are subject to the same kinds of emotional attachment that we humans reserve for our pets.
And like our pets, cars come in all shapes and sizes, each with its own unique personality. That’s one of the things that makes them so special. It’s also what makes choosing the “best” classic American car such a difficult task. Let’s take a look at some of the contenders for the title of best classic American car.
From Model T to the Corvette, take a look at some of the best ever-made iconic American cars.
17. Oldsmobile “Rocket” 88
Model Years: 1949-1999
Estimated Price: $19,000
People sang about pretty dames and fast cars back then in the fifties. But, the speed of those cars is nothing, compared to the cars of today! Tunes on cars easily lure people to the top of cars charts, just as Ike Turner had a hit with Rocket 88. Oldsmobile ‘Rocket’ 88 was tagged the fastest American car you could at the time.
This car was powered by a 135-hp Rocket V-8 engine and it gave enthusiasts what could best be described as a sweet, lovely, and classy ride. True, Rocket 88 is worth every penny, and rest assured that you can get one for just $19,000.
16. Dodge Charger
Model Years: 1966-1978; 1982-1987; 2006-Present
Estimated Price: $24,000
Dodge Charger, a car that made its debut in 1966, is still regarded as one of America’s greatest feats ever. Sales were very low when the car made its debut and this almost caused its discontinuation, but the manufacturer kept developing it.
A few decades after, the Dodge Charger cemented its position and became one of the most popular made-in-America cars to stand on four wheels. Bruce Willis was gifted one of these cars by his ex-wife, Demi Moore. He went on to sell the car to the lead singer of Jamiroquai, the well-known British band.
15. Pontiac Firebird Trans AM
Model Years: 1967-2002
Estimated Price: $16,000
Pontiac Firebird Trans AM, a distinctive car with a long hood that looks like that of the Chevrolet Camaro, was released in 1967 to compete with the Mercury Cougar and Dodge Challenger. The manufacturers incorporated rear “slit” taillights into the car, probably after they had carefully considered the Pontiac GTO.
This made-in-America car was not the most popular car of its era but it plays a pivotal role in the development of modern-day supercars. A Firebird will cost you just $16,000 and, if you’re lucky enough, it will be a model made after 1973. Firebird models made after 1973 come with the iconic ‘Screaming Chicken’ feature, which you will really admire.
14. Chevrolet Corvette
Model Years: 1953-1982; 1984-Present
Estimated Price: $35,000
Chevrolet Corvette, a car considered as a cultural icon among many U.S. residents, arrived in the automobile marketplace in 1953. Its impressive specs and stylish interior has made the car a must-have for everyone.
Corvettes are still in production and they aren’t cars for your day-to-day family runarounds since an average model of this luxurious car could cost you $35,000. And, corvettes may triple this amount, but this depends on the year of the model you’re opting for. Like the 70’s C3 which was dubbed a dud, some versions of the Chevrolet Corvette didn’t enjoy wide acceptance. But, up to date, many car enthusiasts still rank the C2 Sting Rays high in the list of the finest vehicular craftsmanship ever seen!
13. Ford Model 18
Model Years: 1932
Estimated Price: $58,000
Ford, in a bid to stay on top of the game, introduced its Model 18 V8 in 1932, despite the fact that not many cars were on the market then. The model was lovely to look at, and it was extremely customizable. The vehicle came in a variety of body styles and trims, and buyers had the freedom to choose the ones they admired.
An average Model 18 will cost you about $58,000 but you may have to cough $75,000 or more for superior models placed on auction. In the early days of motoring, as many people have pointed out, these vehicles demonstrated Ford’s dedication to perfection.
12. Duesenberg Model SJ
Model Years: 1932-1935
Estimated Price: $1,044,000
Duesenberg Model SJ, an expensive car in the twenties, went on to become prime examples of classic vehicles that are extremely expensive and hard to see few decades after its debut in 1932. These slick cars were designed exclusively for the filthy rich since they were introduced during the Great Depression.
Reputed as the ultimate supercar of the thirties, Model SJ came with a twin-cam, four valves per cylinder, and supercharged engines. Only 36 cars of this model were made, and one may cost you millions at auction. One Model SJ in good condition could cost you 2 million dollars or more.
11. Jeep Cherokee
Model Years: 1974-Present
Estimated Price: $15,000
Jeep remains a popular name in motoring. Cherokee, a vehicle mostly designed for rough terrains, started as a full-size SUV but later evolved into a compact version. Today, the vehicle exists as a crossover SUV but should not be confused with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
While the 1974 version of the car could sell as little as $5,000, modern or customized models command an average price of $15,000. Both models are good for family living, and you’ll surely enjoy them.
10. Ford F-Series Pickup
Model Years: 1948-Present
Estimated Price: $28,000
Pickup trucks are widely known for their ability to ferry or carry loads from one destination to another and they are good working vehicles. Having hit the market in 1947, this Ford F-Series became more popular over the years. And from 1977 to date, Ford F-Series remains the best-selling vehicle of its kind in America.
Ford F-Series Pickup has been in continuous production since its debut in 1947, and each version comes out better than the previous one. Apparently, this is why the automobile company continues to generate annual revenue of $41 billion on this model. In addition to their practical nature, F-Series pickups come with high specs.
9. Jeep MB
Model Years: 1941-1945
Estimated Price: $25,000
Jeep MB, a powerful car used to secure victory against the Nazis in World War II, is truly a special vehicle. During the clash, the Allied troops had over 700,000 of these Jeep. This gave them a mobility edge and a much-needed advantage.
For this vehicle, no terrain was too rough and no battle was too fierce. This made Jeep MB a historical sort of vehicle and, after the war was won, the car became the choice of many families and car lovers around the world. Today, this vehicle is more used in fishing trips than in armed conflicts.
8. Cadillac Eldorado
Model Years: 1953-2002
Estimated Price: $17,000
Dark Knight, Batman, and a few cool guys have been pictured at the wheels of Cadillac cars. This model has an elongated body, which is actually its trademark, and it is more visible on the Eldorado.
Its impressive grill and unmistakable bodywork made the model the pinnacle of luxury, as well as a staple of the rock and roll era back then in 1953. For fifty years, Eldorado remained in production due to its comfortable, uniquely shaped low ride, and buckets of attitude on the road. But, unfortunately, the vehicles are not being manufactured again.
7. Chevrolet Camaro
Model Years: 1967-2002; 2010-Present
Estimated Price: $42,000
Most lovers of Ford in the U.S. opt for Chevrolet, and the Camaro is really a lovely car to behold. It gained a solid fan base in no distant time when it was released in 1967. Chevrolet Camaro is reputed for its smooth handling, which is better than other cars of its kind. With its six-cylinder fawned-over engine, more people continue to fancy this car.
You may have to cough out about $25,900 for the cheapest Camaro on the market and park-up elite versions could be up to $67,000. On average, be ready to part with $42,000 for this vehicle whose body is as strong as a slice of metal.
6. Ford Model T
Model Years: 1908-1927
Estimated Price: $19,000
Ford’s Model T seemed to be where Henry began as a motoring giant. Although the car did not come with bells and whistles we now love and cherish, it was the first most affordable vehicle in the world. It helped shaped the landscape of modern America.
During its 19-year production span, Ford successfully made 15 million cars of this simple and incredible model, and more people could travel to work or see their relatives more often than before. The importance of this Model T cannot be underestimated, although the cars may look less attractive than what we have now.
5. Ford Mustang
Model Years: 1965-Present
Estimated Price: $35,000
Ford Mustang, a car model that holds much cultural significance to Americans, may be likened to the significance of Bruce Springsteen to The Boss, American music. In its first 18 months on the market, over 1 million vehicles were sold, and it dawned on everyone that Ford was going to make another huge motoring impact.
Baby boomers seemed to be the original prime target until the Ford Mustang broadened its reach a few years after, and it became the choice of both old or young, as well as rich or poor people. This powerful, stylish, and undeniably cool model has remained the apple of America’s eye, and it goes for an average price of $35,000. But, what you pay will be determined by the year of the model you’re opting for.
4. Ford GT
Model Years: 2005; 2017-Present
Estimated Price: $300,000
Ford GT, a sports car that was released in 2005 to mark Ford’s centenary, has appeared in many video games to entertain enthusiasts, but that’s what the car does in real life. GT40, its predecessor got high patronage when it made its way into the market, and there was already a market hype when Ford GT made its debut.
And, it hit the market when it was reintroduced in 2017. Its 2005 model had an average price of $300,000 while its latest version is pegged at $500,000. Ford GT is surely the dream of everyone who loves cars but only a few would ever own one.
3. Cadillac Type 51
Model Years: 1915
Estimated Price: Unknown
The majority of people were getting around on foot or by horse when this car was manufactured in 1915. And, since only a very few numbers of people knew how to drive then, the most fortunate individuals who owned a Cadillac Type 51 had to look for a chauffeur to drive them.
And, as the years passed, other types of cars such as Types 53, 55, 57, 59, and 61 were made. Finding these cars in the modern age is a difficult task. So, there is no way one can pin down the average price of this car. But, when these cars hit the market for the first time, they sold for $5,190, an amount that could be up to $129,000 today.
2. Tesla Model S
Model Years: 2012-Present
Estimated Price: $81,000
Tesla Model S, an all-electric five-door lift-back sedan which was conceived in 2012, comes with exceedingly impressive attributes and it is very modern, more than most of the cars we have already seen. Designed as an autonomous driving car, Tesla Model S can operate without the driver’s assistance. Also, its Enhanced Summon means that the vehicle could drive itself to you, even when there is no one behind its wheel. What’s more, you need a modern car?
Tesla Model S used to be the car everyone dreamed about but no one thought was ever possible! Newer models of this modern car cost just $81,000 and going by the car’s impressive specs, that’s a great deal.
1. Ford F-150
Model Years: 1997-Present
Estimated Price: $20,000
Ford manufactured this Ford-150 pickup to keep buyers interested in its F-Series cars. Ford’s intention was to design a pickup truck that would be more leisure orientated, not work orientated. So, the automobile company came up with the F-150. Being an improvement on previous models, the F-150 truck is designed to have a much sleeker and streamlined body.
And, going by the designs of this model, F-150 was a style overhaul and it proved that pickups shouldn’t just be for work alone. Just as this Ford F-150 can be used in a building yard, it can also be used at home on a date. Ford was able to prove that this model is good for play, not just for work!