Cars That Stand the Test of Time

© FCA USCars That Stand the Test of Time
Thousands of new cars, trucks and SUVs have come and gone since the introduction of the automobile more than 100 years ago — vehicles that companies conceived, manufactured, marketed, sold and eventually drove off into the sunset. However, some stalwart models have stood the test of time — they may have changed over the years, but the spirit and the name remain indelible in consumer consciousness. How do some vehicles stay relevant while others end up in the weeds? Bold design? Raw power? Historical significance? Granted, some of the following models disappeared for a while, but all vehicles listed here had their beginnings at least 50 years ago and are still around today.

© FCA USDodge Challenger
Introduced: 1970
The Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro had both been on the market for a few years when Dodge introduced its muscle car entry, the Challenger. Slightly longer than the Plymouth Barracuda with which it shared a platform, the Challenger was available as a 2-door hardtop or convertible. A wide range of engines were available for the 1970 Challenger, ranging from a 145-horsepower 6-cylinder unit to the 426-cubic inch HEMI V8 “Elephant Motor” that generated 425 horsepower. Colors such as Plum Crazy and HEMI Orange made the Challenger a visual standout, as did the optional “shaker” hoods and rear wings. The original Challenger was only built for five years; however, it did come back briefly in the late 1970s as a sad little 77-horsepower coupe imported by Mitsubishi.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDodge Challenger Today
In 2006 Dodge stole the show in Detroit when it took the wraps off a Challenger concept that boasted modern features, a HEMI engine and classic Challenger styling. Two years later the Challenger arrived in showrooms. Since that time Dodge has continued to keep the Challenger alive and relevant with colors from the 1970s as well as variants that include the 707-horsepower Hellcat, the 797-horsepower Hellcat Redeye and the limited-edition Demon with an insane 840 horsepower. The muscle car is alive and well at Dodge.

© Rod Hatfield, Automotive Content ExperienceNissan (Datsun) Z Car
Introduced: 1970
In late 1969 the first Z car appeared on the American market for the 1970 model year. The Datsun 240Z (the Nissan name wouldn’t be used in the U.S. until 1981) featured a 2.4-liter engine producing 150 horsepower teamed with a 5-speed manual transmission. Considered advanced for its time, the stylish sports car had 4-wheel independent suspension, magnesium wheels, front disc brakes and a 150-horsepower engine. The name continued to be adjusted over the years as the engine displacement grew with the 280Z and 300ZX. The 300ZX ended production in 1996.

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Car Today
The idea behind the Z car hasn’t changed much from the original, but performance has undoubtedly moved forward. As the name 370Z indicates, the current rendition utilizes a 3.7-liter V6 rated at 332 horsepower, available with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission. The NISMO version boosts output to 350 horsepower. To celebrate this iconic car’s 50th anniversary, Nissan introduced a 50th Anniversary Edition 370Z. The special edition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the original 1970 Datsun 240Z with exterior and interior details that recognize the legacy of that historic sports car. The two-tone exterior design is inspired by the #46 BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) Datsun 240Z that won multiple SCCA National Championships, driven by John Morton.

© Nissan North AmericaNissan Z Car Future
The venerable Z car still has a future, confirmed by the introduction of the Nissan Z Proto. The Z Proto is instantly recognizable as a Z car thanks to its long hood and a roofline that flows smoothly from the top of the windshield to the squared-off rear end — much like the silhouette of the first-generation Z. The bright yellow paint is also a tribute to the past; the color was part of a popular paint scheme on the first-generation 240Z. Although exact details about the Z Proto’s powertrain have not been released, it will feature an enhanced twin-turbo V6 engine with a proper 6-speed manual gearbox. Rumor has it the new model will be called the 400Z, suggesting 400 horsepower under the hood. Look for the production version of the new Z to debut in New York next month.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Maverick
Introduced: 1970
With the intention of competing against compact Japanese imports from Toyota and Datsun (now Nissan), Ford introduced the 2-door Maverick in 1969 as a 1970 model. With styling inspired by the popular Mustang, the rear-wheel drive Maverick was initially offered with either a 105-horsepower or a 120-horsepower 6-cylinder engine at a starting price below $2,000. A right car for the right time, Ford sold almost 600,000 Mavericks in its first year. Four years later, Ford added a 4-door version of the Maverick, but ultimately Maverick only lasted until 1977 when production ceased.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Maverick Today
Although it couldn’t be more different than the first Maverick car, the all-new Ford Maverick pickup truck does have one thing in common with the original version — it’s a compact model that appears to be coming to market at the right time. Designed for both versatility and efficiency, the 2022 Ford Maverick will be available with a hybrid drivetrain, and the automaker set the target of an EPA-estimated rating of 40 mpg city and a range of 500 miles on a full tank of fuel. Featuring an upright, squared-off exterior design, the 2022 Ford Maverick maximizes interior space and pays homage to early Ford trucks. The front end differs from other Ford trucks by incorporating a bar across the grille that connects the standard LED headlights for a distinctive look. The 2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup truck will go on sale in fall 2021.

© General MotorsChevrolet Blazer
Introduced: 1969
When the original Blazer came to market it was called the K5 Blazer, and Chevrolet built the vehicle to compete with the likes of the Ford Bronco and Jeep Cherokee. Built on a full-size pickup truck chassis, that Blazer of yore was larger than the competition and originally came exclusively with 4-wheel drive — a 2-wheel-drive variant joined the Blazer family in 1970. In 1983 Chevrolet introduced a smaller S-10 Blazer offering better maneuverability as well as improved fuel economy. In 1995 Chevy replaced the larger K5 Blazer with the Tahoe, leaving only the smaller model which by then was simply called Blazer. Chevrolet suspended the last of the Blazer line in 2005, although the time-honored name would be revived — eventually.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceChevrolet Blazer Today
After a 15-year hiatus, the Blazer name returned to Chevrolet; however, those nostalgic diehards hoping for a continuation of the boxy, truck-based SUV may have been slightly disappointed. The all-new 2020 Chevrolet Blazer was completely reinvented, rounded and reinvigorated with a thoroughly modern design, a comfortable ride and the latest high-tech features. Up front, the new Blazer wears narrow HID headlights with LED running lights that really set it apart from anything else on the road. At the rear, LED taillights have a unique pattern, and an integrated exhaust and covered tow receiver hitch provide a clean look. The Chevrolet Blazer has come a long way since its boxy beginnings 50 years ago, and Chevy has fully embraced the latest in design and technology with this new model.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFiat 124 Spider
Introduced: 1968
The original Fiat 124 Spider debuted at the Turin Auto Show in 1966 and sold in the U.S. from 1968 through 1985. Considered one of the most affordable, mass-produced sports cars of the time, the Fiat 124 Spider was designed by Pininfarina; the car was so successful it was not extensively redesigned during its 19-year production run. A 2-seat rear-wheel-drive convertible, the 1968 Fiat 124 Spider was powered by a 1438cc twin-cam 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission and 4-wheel disc brakes. The watertight soft-top could be lowered easily from the driver’s seat, and rear quarter-wipers improved visibility. Nearly 8,000 copies of the original Fiat 124 Spider are still registered in the U.S. today.

Fiat 124 Spider Today
The current Fiat 124 Spider arrived for the 2017 model year, marking its return after a 30-year absence from the U.S. market. The result of a collaboration between Fiat and Mazda, the Fiat 124 Spider is based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata, but with Italian styling and a Fiat drivetrain, suspension and tuning. The new Fiat 124 Spider was designed in Turin, Italy, and takes styling cues from the original 124 Spider, including the hexagonal upper grille, power domes on the hood and sharp horizontal taillights. The double-wishbone front suspension, multi-link rear suspension and steering are all tuned for a dynamic driving experience. The soft-top can be manually operated from the driver’s seat and stows behind the seats without a tonneau cover. The rear-wheel-drive 124 Spider is powered by Fiat’s 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo 4-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower (164 in Abarth) and 184 lb-ft of torque, teamed with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic. Unfortunately, Fiat has announced that production of the 124 Spider will end after the 2021 model year.

© General MotorsChevrolet Camaro
Introduced: 1967
The original 1967 Camaro hit the streets of America in 1966 at the height of the muscle car era. Based on the Chevrolet Nova, the front engine, rear-wheel-drive Camaro was rushed to market to compete with the Ford Mustang, which had become an unexpected sales success. In its first year Camaro was offered as both a coupe and a convertible, with a long hood, short rear deck, 2+2 seating and a broad range of engine choices — from inline 6-cylinder units to big-block V8s — to appeal to a wide range of customers. Camaro went through several iterations over the years, with the fourth generation ending production in 2002.

© General MotorsChevrolet Camaro Today
After an eight-year hiatus, Camaro returned to market as a 2010 model with styling cues heavily influenced by the 1969 Camaro. Refreshed last year, the Camaro received a revised front-end design with a new grille, hood, dual-element headlights, LED signature lights, front fascia, LED taillights and rear fascia. The Camaro is offered in multiple trim levels and all are available as either a coupe or a convertible. In keeping with its muscle-car heritage, the current Camaro has a range of powerful engines; the current chart-topper is a supercharged 650-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 powerplant in the Camaro ZL1.

© FCA USDodge Charger
Introduced: 1966
Making its debut on January 1, 1966, the Charger had a Dodge Coronet chassis but its own body style — the brand’s first fastback, built as a high-speed street racer. The unique design evolved from the Charger II concept car shown a year earlier, featuring hidden headlights and four buckets seats. Standard power came from a 5.2-liter V8 engine with 230 ponies, but a massive optional 426 cubic-inch HEMI engine boasting 425 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque really put Charger on the map. Sales were not tremendous in the first few years of production, so in 1968 the Charger was restyled, greatly improving the muscle car’s popularity and eventually becoming one of the most historic Chargers. By the late 1970s the Charger had become more luxury car than performance machine, and in 1982 the Charger had a brief run as a small front-wheel-drive coupe before ending production in 1987.

© FCA USDodge Charger Today
The Charger returned to the Dodge lineup in 2006 as a 4-door sedan, carrying some styling cues of those original muscle cars and offering a powerful V8 engine. Today’s Charger is still a large 4-door sedan with sporty styling and a comfortable, spacious interior. Replete with plenty of high-tech features, Charger is available with an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, electric power steering, pushbutton start and a high-end audio system. And in keeping with tradition, Charger has powerful engine choices including the R/T Scat Pack with a 485-horsepower 6.4-liter HEMI V8, or the latest entry: the SRT Hellcat Redeye with a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 producing a mind-blowing 797 horsepower. With a top speed of more than 200 mph, the Hellcat Redeye is the most powerful mass-produced sedan in the world.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Bronco
Introduced: 1966
On August 11, 1965, Ford introduced an all-new rugged off-road vehicle called the Bronco. With a body-on-frame design, short overhangs, a short wheelbase and high ground clearance, the new model was designed to be fun and agile off-road while delivering a more civilized alternative to the Jeep CJ5, Toyota FJ40 and International Harvester Scout. Bronco grew in size and capability as it went through several generations in the 1970s and 1980s. By the third generation Bronco shared a platform with the full-size F-150 pickup, adopting the big truck’s styling and performance. By the mid-1990s demand for 2-door SUVs began to wane, with the final Bronco coming off the line in 1996 at the Wayne Assembly Plant in Detroit. Bronco’s replacement arrived the next year: the brand-new 4-door Expedition.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Bronco Today
More than 50 years after the introduction of the original Bronco family, Ford introduced an all-new family of Bronco vehicles in 2019. With styling clearly reminiscent of the original, the new Bronco is available as a 2-door variant and for the first time will also be offered with four doors. Rounding out the new Bronco family is a smaller yet capable Bronco Sport. Like the original, the new Bronco will be built for off-road adventures and — also like the original — Jeep is once again Ford’s clear target. The new Bronco stands out with available features including a 7-speed manual gearbox, 35-inch tires, a removable roof and doors that can be stowed onboard. Bronco has 11.6 inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford up to 33.5 inches of water. The Bronco Sport has styling that clearly ties it to the rest of the new Bronco lineup, although this smaller model seeks a wider audience than pure off-road aficionados.

© Toyota Motor Sales, USAToyota Corolla
Introduced: 1966
Toyota introduced the Corolla in Japan in 1966, and the small economical car came to America two years later. Available as a 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan or 2-door wagon, the Corolla had a starting price around $1,700 and its simple design gained popularity quickly. The first model had a 1.1-liter engine that delivered 60 horsepower through a 4-speed manual transmission. A Corolla model has been on sale every year in America since that first one came across the Pacific, with almost 50 million copies sold over 12 generations.

© Toyota Motor Sales USAToyota Corolla Today
Corolla is one of the most time-honored names in the Toyota lineup, and recently the company celebrated the 1 millionth Corolla built in the brand’s Mississippi assembly plant. All new for the 2020 model year, the Corolla gets updated styling and a wider stance, as well as signature LED headlights and a range of new features — vastly different from the original model more than 50 years ago. Corolla is available with three powertrains including a very efficient hybrid system that has a U.S. EPA rating of more than 50 mpg. Toyota equips all levels of the new Corolla with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This suite of advanced safety features includes automatic emergency braking, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and road sign recognition.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Mustang
Introduced: 1965
On April 17, 1964, Ford showed its Mustang for the first time at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. The original sales forecast for this new sporty coupe was 100,000 units in the first year. With its popular styling and low price of $2,368, Ford sold that many Mustangs in three months. Four different engines were available at launch, ranging from a 170-cubic-inch six cylinder making 101 horsepower to the classic 289 cubic-inch V8 with 271 horsepower. For the next nine years Ford continued to iterate on the Mustang with fresh styling, more powerful engines and special versions that included the Mach 1 and Boss 302. Like many models in the mid-1970s, the Mustang succumbed to the need for fuel efficiency and became the less powerful Mustang II. However, potent V8-powered Mustangs eventually returned, with classic Mustang styling making a comeback on the 5th generation in 2005.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Mustang Today
The latest-generation Mustang debuted for 2015 with a lower, wider stance; a lower roof height; wider rear fenders and a wider track. For 2018 the Mustang received updated styling with a lower hood, wider grille and new front splitter designed to create what Ford calls “a meaner, leaner look.” While Ford has added a range of powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder engines to the mix, the Mustang GT still gets a proper V8 engine producing 460 horsepower. For those seeking ultimate performance there’s the Shelby GT350 and GT500 — the latter boasting a supercharged V8 grinding out a prodigious 760 horsepower.

© General MotorsChevrolet Malibu
Introduced: 1964
The Malibu debuted in 1964 as the top variant of the Chevrolet Chevelle lineup, offering a combination of a sporty design and a high level of standard equipment. Popular right from the start, the new model sold a total of 200,000 units in its first year. Chevrolet offered the Malibu in four body styles during the first generation: a 2-door hardtop, a 2-door convertible, a 4-door sedan and a station wagon. The Detroit automaker also offered a Malibu SS that eventually would be available with a big-block 396-cubic-inch 375-horsepower V8 powerplant. The Malibu carried its muscle-car looks into its second generation, but by the mid-1970s the convertible had been dropped and the car became more family-oriented. After four generations Malibu took a break, returning in 1997 as a front-wheel-drive sedan.

© General MotorsChevrolet Malibu Today
In 2016 Chevrolet introduced a 9th-generation Malibu that featured a sleek new exterior design intended to catch the attention of midsize sedan buyers. The front-wheel drive sedan was lighter than the previous generation and was available with multiple engine choices including a 250-horsepower turbo as well as a fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain. In 2019 Chevrolet gave the Malibu fresh new styling, a range of upgraded features and introduced the Malibu RS, which stands out with a black sport grille, black bowtie emblems, a rear spoiler, dual exhaust and 18-inch machined wheels.

© Porsche Cars North AmericaPorsche 911
Introduced: 1964
Designed as a 4-seat replacement for the Porsche 356, the 911 debuted as a prototype at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show. Originally named the 901, the moniker had to be revised to 911 after Peugeot insisted 901 was too similar to their naming convention. On sale for the 1964 model year, the 911 was motivated by an air-cooled 1.9-liter flat 6-cylinder engine making 130 horsepower — enough to give the new sports car a top speed of 131 mph. Within a few years, Porsche introduced the 160-horsepower 911S, as well as the 911 Targa. Ten years later the 911 received its first major overhaul, and that second generation lasted longer than any other — until 1989. There would be five more generations of innovations, including all-wheel drive, turbocharging and great leaps in performance, all leading up to the current generation that debuted in 2019.

© Porsche Cars North AmericaPorsche 911 Today
The Porsche 911 has carried the same basic shape since the first generation premiered at the Frankfurt Motor Show more than 50 years ago, and folks at Porsche remain locked on that look. For 2020 the 911 moves into its eighth generation with the latest technology, more power, better performance and a more muscular look — at the same time remaining as familiar as that first-generation car. Known as the 992, the latest-generation 911 gets updated styling that is wider and more aggressive. The front is about 1.7 inches wider, while the newly-developed headlights are inset into the fenders. Available as a coupe or convertible and with rear- or all-wheel drive, the new 911 Carrera gets a 379-horsepower turbocharged engine. The 911 lineup recently expanded thanks to an all-new 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S that has 640 horsepower and the ability to reach 60 mph in a mere 2.6 seconds.

© FCA USAlfa Romeo Giulia
Introduced: 1962
The original Alfa Romeo Giulia was a sporty 4-door sedan produced from 1962 to 1978. Founded in Milan, Italy in 1910, Alfa Romeo developed a rich racing history including five World Championships and 11 European Championships. With the Giulia, Alfa Romeo was one of the first manufacturers to offer a powerful engine in a lightweight 4-door car, creating one of the first sport sedans. The original Giulia was a rear-wheel-drive sedan powered by a 90-horsepower 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission. A total of 572,646 Giulias were produced during its 16-year run, and today Alfa Romeo aficionados highly regard the original Alfa Romeo Giulia, along with the Giulietta Coupe and Convertible of the same era.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Today
Alfa Romeo’s sport sedan returned to the U.S. market a few years ago, offered in six trim levels ranging from Giulia base to the high-performance Quadrifoglio. The Giulia draws power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque. Although Giulia is not offered with a manual gearbox, the 8-speed automatic transmission shifts in a very quick 100 milliseconds. The top-line Giulia Quadrifoglio gets a 2.9-liter bi-turbo V6 engine rated at an impressive 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, which is available as low as 2500 rpm, making this the most powerful production car ever from Alfa Romeo. The Quadrifoglio sprints to 60 mph in a mere 3.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 191 mph. The Giulia Quadrifoglio lapped the famed Nurburgring racetrack in 7:32, making it one of the fastest 5-occupant production sedans in the world.

© BMW AGMini Cooper
Introduced: 1960
The original Mini Cooper was the brainchild of Alec Issigonis — an engineer with the Morris company — who had the daunting task of designing a small, fuel-efficient but affordable car that could carry four passengers. By pushing the wheels to the corners and turning the engine sideways, Issigonis maximized interior space while at the same time created a car with excellent balance and handling. When the car was first launched the public wasn’t sure what to make of the tiny machine, but the small size, low price and fun-to-drive nature made the Mini an instant hit. Shortly after the Mini’s introduction, British racing legend John Cooper got his hands on one. After giving it a more powerful engine, bigger brakes and sport tuning, the Mini became a race car. By 1977 more than 4 million Minis had been sold worldwide, and in 1999 the last classic Mini rolled off the assembly line.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceMINI Cooper Today
Considerably larger than the original version, the current MINI is still one of the smallest cars on the market. And like that original, the MINI is still front-wheel drive, fuel efficient and great fun to drive. MINI returned to the U.S. market in 2002 and has since expanded the range to include the Convertible, Clubman and Countryman. To honor the British racer who realized the potential of the diminutive car, MINI offers high-performance John Cooper Works editions, including the latest MINI JCW GP that produces more than 300 horsepower. And though MINI always honors its past, the brand also looks to the future with its latest model, the fully electric Cooper SE.

© FCA USFiat 500
Introduced: 1957
The Fiat Nuova (new) 500 was designed to develop and revamp Fiat’s product range following the devastation of World War II. The small Cinquecento (Italian for “500”) delivered on its mission to provide efficient, affordable transportation during Italy’s period of rebuilding and economic recovery. Introduced in July of 1957, the 500 was less than 10-feet long and had space for two. The small 2-cylinder engine provided a modest 13 horsepower, but the 500 was just what the public and Fiat needed — almost 4 million 500s sold before production ended in 1975.

Fiat 500 Today
In 2001 Fiat returned to market with a contemporary version of the 500, and while it pays homage to that tiny, efficient original, the new subcompact 500 is thoroughly modern. Combining Italian styling with efficiency and technology, the 500 was offered in both coupe and convertible versions, as well as the all-electric 500e; however, 2019 was the last year for these two tiny offerings. The Fiat 500 will live on as the all-wheel-drive 500X crossover. Riding on the same platform as the Jeep Renegade, the 500X gets 177 horsepower from its 1.3-liter turbocharged powerplant.

© FCA USChrysler 300
Introduced: 1955
Chrysler first introduced the 300 in 1955, and with the debut of that high-performance 4-seater some would say the idea of the muscle car was born. Over the next 10 years, Chrysler would bring to market a range of 300s now referred to as the “letter series,” starting with that first 300 and continuing on with the 300B, 300C, 300D — a new letter every year with the final 300L in 1965. These special Chryslers were among the fastest production cars on the road, equipped with the latest in luxury features. A 300M followed the 300L, but it was 34 years later and the front-wheel-drive sedan had little in common with those original 300s. In 2005 Chrysler introduced a new 300 (no letter) that returned to its roots of a large, luxurious and powerful sedan with rear-wheel drive, available with a 345-horsepower HEMI V8.

© FCA US LLCChrysler 300 Today
The current Chrysler 300 has aged well if not gracefully, with only freshened styling and updated features since its introduction in 2005. One of the last large rear-wheel-drive American sedans, the 300 has a roomy, premium interior equipped with the latest Uconnect infotainment system and a large 8.4-inch display screen, as well as Apple CarPlay / Android Auto connectivity. Available with rear- or all-wheel drive, the 300 can still be equipped with a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine producing 363 horsepower.

© Toyota Motor Sales, USAToyota Land Cruiser
Introduced: 1955
Originally developed in the early 1950s as a military vehicle and alternative to the Jeep for the Korean War, the Land Cruiser was the first motorized vehicle to reach the sixth station on the trail to the summit of Mt. Fuji. Toyota’s iconic off-roader arrived on American shores in 1958 and rapidly became the best-selling Toyota in the U.S. Initially Land Cruiser was available with a soft- or hardtop, and a few years later a Land Cruiser pickup hit the streets. After several iterations over the years, the Land Cruiser that we know in America became more of a family-friendly SUV yet still a fully-capable off-roader.

© Toyota Motor Sales, USAToyota Land Cruiser Today
The current Land Cruiser retains the off-road capability of that first version — enhanced by the latest traction and stability systems. But Land Cruiser has become a fully-featured luxury SUV; in fact, there are no factory options — everything is standard. In addition to its off-road suspension and advanced 4-wheel-drive system, the 8-occupant Land Cruiser features leather seats with multistage heating, 4-zone climate control, a cooler in the center console, a high-end audio system with Toyota Entune, and several advanced safety features. A special Heritage Edition of the Land Cruiser is available with unique styling and features; however, Toyota has announced that 2021 is the last model year in America for this legendary off-roader.

© General MotorsChevrolet Corvette
Introduced: 1953
When Chevrolet introduced the Corvette in 1953, no one could have anticipated how much of an icon this 2-seat sports car would become. Only a few hundred were built that first year, but the car was already special since it was the only American 2-seater on the market at the time, and it utilized a revolutionary new material called fiberglass. The first Corvettes were powered by a rather anemic “Blue Flame” 6-cylinder engine that produced 150 horsepower. Two years later the Corvette received a more powerful V8 engine — it would never be offered with a 6-cylinder powerplant again. Over the next several decades not only would there be seven generations of Corvette, but this now iconic sports car would have considerable racing success.

© General MotorsChevrolet Corvette Today
After years of rumors about a mid-engine Corvette, Chevrolet introduced the eighth generation of this legendary sports car last year, and it is the first mid-engine Corvette in history. Still recognizable as a Corvette despite new styling, the all-new Stingray boasts better weight distribution, vastly improved performance and a high-tech cockpit. The C8 Corvette Stingray launched with the all-new LT2 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 490 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. Chevrolet does not offer the new Corvette with a manual transmission — instead, the engine gets paired with Chevrolet’s first 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. This combination allows the Stingray to jump to 60 mph in 3 seconds — the fastest time ever for an entry-level Corvette — and complete a quarter-mile run in 11.2 seconds at 123 mph.

© Rod Hatfield, Automotive Content ExperienceBentley Continental
Introduced: 1952
Bentley built its first grand tourer shortly after the company was founded in 1921. Over the next 30 years the grand tourer evolved into luxurious, stately automobiles. After WWII, Bentley began experimenting with more streamlined designs, and in 1952 the company introduced the R-Type Continental. Designed with a long, low body, fastback roofline and fins on the rear wings to aid stability, it was able to easily cruise at 100 mph with four occupants — a stunning feat in 1952. Forty years later Bentley introduced the all-new Continental R at the Geneva Motor Show. At that time Rolls-Royce and Bentley were combined companies; however, the Continental R was the first model of the era that didn’t share a body with a Rolls-Royce. Following the same idea behind those first Continentals, Bentley introduced a modern high-performance Continental GT in 2003 that would change the face of the company for years to come.

© Bentley MotorsBentley Continental Today
The current Bentley Continental GT is in its third generation, which was introduced at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. Although the general shape of the Continental GT remains familiar, the body lines are more sculpted with better definition, and up front a larger grille with stylish headlights adds to the new look. The interior is as elegant as one would expect from this legendary British marque, with the highest-quality materials and “diamond-in-diamond” quilted leather seats with 20 power adjustments, as well as heating, cooling and massage functions. The Continental GT can even be fitted with a Naim 2200-watt, 18-speaker system with Active Bass Transducers built into the front seats. Proper Bentley power comes from either a twin-turbo V8 or a 6.0-liter W12 engine producing 626 horsepower.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord F-Series
Introduced: 1948
Ford Motor Company began building trucks back in 1917, and the F-Series debuted as a 1948 model — the first all-new postwar vehicle line for Ford — with a redesigned cab and a new front end. The new trucks offered three new engines, a more comfortable seat and a one-piece windshield. The F-Series came in a wide range of cab and chassis configurations, from the half-ton F-1 through the 3-ton F-8. By 1957 the F-Series design took on a more modern style and offered 4-wheel drive as an option on the F-100 and F-250. Midway through the fourth generation in 1965 Ford introduced the first 4-door crew cab for the F-250. It wasn’t until 1984 that Ford dropped the F-100 designation, introducing the F-150. Ford continued to evolve the F-Series over a total of 12 generations through 2014.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord F-Series Today
Now in its 14th generation, the F-Series pickup has evolved into a high-tech machine that spans the spectrum from work truck to luxury transportation. The F-Series is also Ford’s most important product — the line has been the best-selling new vehicle in America for almost 40 consecutive years. Last year Ford took the wraps off an all-new 2021 F-150 with fresh styling, an updated interior and a long list of versatile new features. The automaker gives the F-150 bolder, more rugged styling for the 2021 model year — in fact, every exterior panel has been redesigned. The F-150 is available in a range of powertrains, including a first-ever 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 Hybrid that boasts 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque, as well as the ability to tow 12,700 pounds. Many innovative features will be available on the new F-150, ranging from fully reclining front seats to an onboard generator.

© General MotorsChevrolet Suburban
Introduced: 1935
Surprisingly, the Chevrolet Suburban has been sold longer than any other American-branded vehicle. After experimenting with affixing a wagon body to a commercial chassis, Chevrolet launched the Suburban Carryall in 1935 as a heavy-duty truck-based wagon. With seating for up to eight occupants, the 2-door Suburban could be equipped with side-hinged rear panel doors or a tailgate. Power came from Chevrolet’s “Stovebolt” 6-cylinder engine producing 60 horsepower. After a major overhaul in 1955 with revolutionary new styling, Suburban was equipped with its first V8 engine; two years later came the first factory-installed 4-wheel-drive system. Suburban continued to evolve through multiple generations, and in 2010 a special edition celebrated the big SUV’s 75th anniversary.

© General MotorsChevrolet Suburban Today
The Suburban has come a long way since that original Carryall, and this large American SUV is all-new for the 2021 model year. The new Suburban gets fresh styling inside and out, built on a new longer chassis designed to provide a more spacious interior, larger cargo capacity and improved driving dynamics. A wide range of advanced safety features are standard, and the interior gets the latest in infotainment technology. Multiple powertrains are available including a more powerful V8 as well as a new Duramax turbodiesel engine.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsRolls-Royce Ghost
Introduced: 1906
Introduced in late 1906 during an era when the company built only one model line at a time, the Silver Ghost was the only Rolls-Royce produced until 1925. Quite advanced compared to other models, the Silver Ghost featured pressurized engine lubrication, dual ignition and advanced carburation that provide smooth power delivery as well as great reliability. The Silver Ghost’s abilities were proven in 1907 when it completed a 15,000-mile reliability trial. Improvements continued to be made over the years — ultimately almost 8,000 Silver Ghosts would be built.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsRolls-Royce Ghost Today
Rolls-Royce did not use the Ghost name on a new vehicle until 2009, when the all-new Ghost debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Considered the “entry-level” model of the Rolls-Royce lineup, the Ghost became the brand’s most successful model ever. Now an all-new Ghost has been introduced for the 2021 model year with plans to expand this time-honored model’s success. The new Ghost gets built on Rolls-Royce’s aluminum spaceframe architecture, allowing engineers to place the engine behind the front axle. The new design also adopts all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering and a new suspension system. Still easily recognizable as a Rolls, the new Ghost features a larger Pantheon grille with accent lighting, as well as an illuminated dashboard that displays starlight to match the Starlight Headliner.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsRolls-Royce Phantom
Introduced: 1925
The Rolls-Royce Phantom — called the New Phantom at the time — was introduced as a replacement for the Silver Ghost. Between 1925 and 1931 this elegant motorcar was produced both in Derby, England as well as in Springfield, Massachusetts, where the company had recently started building vehicles. Powered by a 7.7-liter 6-cylinder engine that made up to 50 horsepower, the New Phantom was typically paired with one of the coachbuilders of the time, so there were many different configurations. There would be a Phantom II and Phantom III, the latter being the last pre-war car built by Rolls and the only Phantom at the time to be powered by a V12 engine. There would eventually be six generations of Phantom before BMW took ownership of the brand in 1998; however, the last three generations were built in small numbers. The Phantom was the first new Rolls-Royce produced under BMW, arriving late in 2003.

© Rolls-Royce Motor CarsRolls-Royce Phantom Today
In 2018 the eighth-generation of Rolls-Royce Phantom debuted, taking the idea of a luxury sedan to the extreme. Easily recognizable as the Rolls-Royce flagship, the most recent Phantom possesses an imposing presence that is unapologetically elegant; and while there is nothing subtle about this car, at the same time it is extremely refined. Built on a new all-aluminum architecture developed and engineered to incorporate the latest technologies, this eighth-generation Phantom is lighter, stiffer and quieter than previous generation. Under the long hood purrs a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that produces 563 horsepower with a focus on low-end power for smooth, quiet operation. Inside, occupants get surrounded by the finest materials available in any automobile, underscored by each of the four doors closing automatically with the touch of a button.

© Mercedes-Benz USAMaybach
Introduced: 1921
Wilhelm Maybach and his son Karl started Maybach in 1909, primarily as an engine manufacturer. Ten years later the company produced its first automobile prototype (wearing a double M logo), and in 1921 the production model premiered at the Berlin Motor Show. When WWII began, the company shifted from luxury automobile production to building engines for Tiger and Panzer tanks. However, once the war ended Maybach never reopened — the company had built its last cars in 1940. Twenty years later Daimler AG purchased the rights to the Maybach name, and it would be many years before the brand returned. In 1997, Mercedes-Benz introduced the Maybach concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, indicating the company’s plans to revive this classic brand. Five years later, Mercedes introduced the ultra-luxurious Maybach 57 and Maybach 62 with a double M logo adorning the large grille, but these expensive models never sold in the expected numbers and were discontinued in 2012.

© Mercedes-Benz USAMercedes-Maybach Today
The Maybach name has now claimed an appropriate place in the Mercedes-Benz lineup as the top-level trim of the S-Class — the latest version being the 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680. Based on an all-new S-Class, the Maybach features design cues that set it apart including a grille with Maybach lettering and vertical three-dimensional trim strips. Riding on a wheelbase 7 inches longer than the standard S-Class, the Maybach S-Class has longer rear doors, a more upright C-pillar and an illuminated Maybach emblem on those pillars. As expected, the interior is ultra-luxurious with rear-seat passengers enjoying one of 10 massage programs, a leg rest with calf massage, a footrest and neck / shoulder heating and a high-end entertainment system. With a 621-horsepower V12 under the hood, the Maybach is also the most powerful model in the S-Class lineup.

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