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The 16 Most Popular Classic American Cars: Muscle and Hot Rods


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Nothing evokes visions and memories of classic Americana than classic American cars. Each of the three major American manufacturers had at least one or two cars that can be classified as belonging in the elite group of Most Popular Classic American Cars. From the Pre-war years, our list of three major names expands to include names such as Cord, Packard, DeSoto and a number of others. Each of these antique American car brands was popular with collectors at one time or another. These were the days when a truly discerning automobile buyer looked for a car that was hand crafted by highly skilled artisans.

Classic Fords

Over the years, Ford has contributed five of the most popular classic American cars and trucks. Since its inception in 1948, the F-Series pickup has outsold every other series and brand of truck on the market. This has made them very popular with collectors of classic American trucks. First introduced in 1955 as a removable-roof hard-top convertible, the Ford Thunderbird will be found on any list of the most popular classic American cars ever. The T-Bird has been a two-seater sports car, your grandparents’ get around town to see the grandkids car, mom and dad’s take us everywhere car with some decent get up and go and has once again evolved back to the original two-seater sports car design, closely resembling its original designs. The Classic Ford Mustang is another car that can be found on any list of classic American muscle cars. Introduced in September of 1964 at the New York World’s Fair, Ford was soon engulfed with 2,200 orders for this new “Pony Car”, as the class came to be called. Bringing up the rear in the list from Ford of some of the most popular classic American Cars is the Falcon. The Falcon owes its popularity with collectors to its rarity and short production life. Having been produced from 1960 to 1970, the Falcon lays claim to being the only car from Ford popular with collectors to be out of production.

Classic Cars from General Motors

GM contributes five models and one brand to the list of most popular collectibles. General Motors encompasses four nameplates: Chevrolet, Pontiac, Cadillac, and GMC.  The first two of these contribute the five collectibles, while the third, Cadillac is a brand that must be considered as an entity when considering most popular collector cars. Cadillac began in 1902 as a small maker of fine cars, making it both a popular collectible classic American car and a favorite Antique American Car. The distinctive winged and bulleted style of Cadillac during the early post-war years makes them a car that collectors love to find. America’s love affair with the Corvette is legendary. Introduced in 1952 and having the distinction of being the first gasoline powered American car to be fuel injected, the Corvette was also the first American car to incorporate lightweight materials such as fiberglass and plastics. GM’s answer to Ford’s Mustang was the Camaro, which was introduced in 1966. The 1967 RS/SS, or RS/S, along with the 1969 RS/SS are probably the most collectible and sought after American cars of the post-war years. Pontiac introduced the Firebird/Trans Am in 1967 to compete with and compliment the Camaro. Arguably one of the first few true American Muscle Cars, the Pontiac GTO, or Gran Turismo Omologato, has a large following of very loyal collectors, spawning the phrase, “it means it only needs Gas, Tires and Oil, baby”. Encompassing a number of model names, the Chevy II/Nova/Chevelle is the last on the list of popular collectible American classic cars from GM.

Chrysler Motor Corporation

Chrysler is the parent company for three brands that are all considered MOPARS by collectors. Choosing the “most popular MOPARS” is a bit difficult, since almost every model from the 50’s through the 70’s has its diehard fan base. However, most collectors and auctioneers will name four models that garner more attention from car lovers than the others. The Chrysler C-300 from 1955 has been mentioned by some automotive pundits as the first true American Muscle Car. This is because the 300 in the name referred to the horsepower produced by its 331 cubic inch “Hemi” engine. The Chrysler Charger Daytona (changed to Dodge Daytona, but not as popular in the 70’s), with its distinctive bullet nose and rear wing, is one of the overall most sought after cars of all time.  The Dodge Charger/Challenger line has been popular with enthusiasts and collectors through the present, with older models of both being very highly coveted, especially ones like the 1968 Charger R/T. The Plymouth Roadrunner was based on the early model Charger body styles, with sporty and power enhancing modifications. The 1970 Plymouth Superbird, based on the Roadrunner/Charger body is one of those cars that collectors will go crazy over when one becomes available. At auctions recently, Superbirds sold for the highest prices of any American Muscle Cars.

Antique American Cars

No collection of cars is complete without at least one Ford Model-car or truck. The Model T and A being the first examples of mass production at work bringing the automobile within reach of the average American family makes anything from Ford prior to 1925 or so to be eminently collectible.

Some collectors of antique and classic American cars only collect cars from one maker, or even a single model. However, many collectors, such as Jay Leno, just collect fine examples of old, antique and classic American cars.

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