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The best car ever made in America?


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This is such a wide open question. I am sure that I will get everyone's idea of what is the "best" (either because they rode in one as a kid or had it as their first car or?), but I am looking to see if anyone can tell me which American made car is RECORDED AS BEING the best all around, both technically and money worth. I hear all of this talk about straight 4s, straight 6s, V6s, straight 8s, V8s, V12s, V16s...so. Which car was the best all around deal and had the best power range for the money. You know....the BEST.

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Duesenberg

Style, performance, high quality materials, exclusive.

Everything that followed was compromised in some way. Offering cheap models, cheap materials, performance lacking, shortcuts made somewhere.

Unfortunately they never updated like Packard, Cadillac, Pierce Arrow, etc. They reached their peak and then stayed basically the same until they became dated.

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:D Any Ford prior to the 53 OHV. You couldnt kill them they ran for ever,if it quit you could fix it with bailing wire and a pair of plyers. It took you to work and back to lovers lane with your best gal or some one elses and a 17 cent gal. of gas would get you better than 20 miles.:)
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Best ??? not sure. But I do think one of the most durable and reliable is the 89, to 91 Chevy Suburban, 350, 4 speed automatic. Next choice is a pre 1979 Chevy Nova. 6 Cylinder, with a 3 speed automatic transmission. :D And that's the way it is, life in these United States. :) Dandy Dave!

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My vote goes to Pierce Arrow, for many years unquestionably America's finest car.

Best model, the V12 of the thirties. They look like a dowager's or tycoon's bus but don't be fooled. They took one to Bonneville and Ab Jenkins drove one for 24 hours at over 100 MPH not once but three times, 1932 33 and 34.

Their record was broken by a supercharged Duesenberg which had a little something on the Pierce for speed. The next year the record was broken again, with the same Duesy sporting a Curtis Conqueror aircraft engine indicating that even the supercharged Duesy was at its limits.

The point is, Pierce was considered the ultimate luxury car but not a speed car like Duesenberg. Yet it had enough speed and stamina that it took a supercharged Duesenberg to beat it.

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Guest mystarcollectorcar.com

Early to mid 70s Plymouth Valiant or Dodge Dart 4 door sedan 318 V8.They were low priced, simple,had a bulletproof motor, held off the rust bug really well,pretty good mileage and power for the era because of their light weight.

You just couldn't kill them-biggest weakness was the choke.

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I have to throw my vote in with the Model T, too. Love my '13 runabout! But I could make a good case for the Model A. When most T's were made, they were already hopelessly obsolete. They were just such great value that folks kept buying them. But Model As were solidly of their time, as good value as Ts, safer, better performing, prettier, more comfortable, - - - . And they lasted for two generations of high school kids and other impecunious folks who needed good, cheap, used wheels. Their durability kept them around long enough to let a ton of collectors enjoy them as restoration projects and (sigh) hot rods. Chevies and Fords were sold in comparable numbers during the four years of Model A production, but surviving As outnumber surviving Chevies by what? 5 to 1? 10 to 1? A bunch, anyway.

I understand the sentiment for the big classics. They were magnificent. But they were good value only in that they offered the very best to the handful of people who were able and willing to spend a fortune to get the very best. The Fords made a huge difference to the lives of vastly greater numbers of people, so they get my vote.

Gil Fitzhugh, Morristown, NJ

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Gil, you took the words from my mouth (keypad?) on the Model A, which has my vote.

The Model T is no question the most SIGNIFICANT for it's market and social impact. But as you correctly stated the T was considered outdated and obsolete during much of it's life, as was the VW.

The big classics no doubt were the state of the art in materials and quality in their day and beyond. But they were rare and had little relevance to the regular car world. Rather like a Lamborghini or Ferrari today.

The Model A, however, came to market carrying forth the legendary durability of the Model T and it's superior Ford parts and service support, but in a smart, contemporary package. Unlike the T, during it's time it had superior performance to it's competitors, attractive style in a variety of bodies, and still one of the lowest price tags on the market. And it's capabilities endured for two generations of regular use, through the Depression and the war for hundreds of thousands of American families. Not to mention that the charm of the Model A probably pushed our antique auto world forward more than any other influence. Amazing also for a car only made for 4 years, compared to 19 for the T. The Model A is the one IMO, Todd C

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I agree with several of these posts. The best car is a question that is objective rather than subjective.. I believe the highest quality car was and still is a Rolls Royce..As far as built in America..I would go with the Deusenberg.They were/are hand made, but as already been pointed out, only for the wealthy. If you look at the greatest impact on the most people, then the T wins hands down. Look at what it represented. Henry had the idea for an assembly line, which revolutionized industry in America, then the world. He came up with the idea of a five dollar workday, but was the most rabid anti-labor man ever. The infrastructure developed around America to accomodate our new mobility was responsible for the economic boom of the twenties, and changed forever the way commerce is done. Prior to the T, many people never ventured more than 10 miles from where they were born. To expand my view point on this question ask this of yourself; What is the best airplane ever? One development has led to another.

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I agree with several of these posts. The best car is a question that is objective rather than subjective.. I believe the highest quality car was and still is a Rolls Royce..As far as built in America..I would go with the Deusenberg.They were/are hand made, but as already been pointed out, only for the wealthy. If you look at the greatest impact on the most people, then the T wins hands down. Look at what it represented. Henry had the idea for an assembly line, which revolutionized industry in America, then the world. He came up with the idea of a five dollar workday, but was the most rabid anti-labor man ever. The infrastructure developed around America to accomodate our new mobility was responsible for the economic boom of the twenties, and changed forever the way commerce is done. Prior to the T, many people never ventured more than 10 miles from where they were born. To expand my view point on this question ask this of yourself; What is the best airplane ever? One development has led to another.

The question was the best car made in America, Rolls Royce actually was made in America from 1921 to 1935. As fine as they were I believe Pierce Arrow was better.

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:D:D Whoooo Old car. What the he*l are you trying to do to this IMPECUNIOUS old country boy? Dont you know when you reach 70 your brim dont work untill your therd cop of coffee??:confused::confused: Dont be using them big words at 8oclock in the morning.:D. BTW, Back about 1950, my older brother tired of haveing folks buy a junk car he sent to the yard and driveing it,pulled the pit-cock, the oil drain plug and shot holes in a 33 ford. He then drove it in the corn field untill it quit. Ther says he. They wont drive this one. The next day it STARTED AND RAN.:D
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Yes, the word "best" is a loaded one. If you really mean best, I'd have to go with the Duesenberg. If value for money is the watchword, I'd have to go with the Model T, because it really did put America on wheels.

Rog

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I submit that pretty much any 2010 model year car will provide a more comfortable ride, better performance, better handling, better brakes, and more safety.

Maybe they have better brakes and handling. But they are loaded with plastic and other cheap materials inside and out. They are available in a whopping 5 colors with your choice of medium or dark gray interior. They are all identical looking 4 door aero-eggs with no style. They aren't cars, they are appliances. How is that best?

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LINC has a point in that virtually all cars today look alike, drive pretty much alike, and are all built to score well in the same crash and safety tests. While they are superior to virtually anything built before fuel injection, airbags, ABS and traction control, they have no soul or personality.

The arguements pointing to the Model T for putting America on wheels and virtually creating a society built around automobiles also has a lot of merit. But, that revolution was nearly 100 years ago, and while the Model T started the momentum, thousand of other cars, some brands long gone, kept the momentum going.

In terms of looking ahead, what will be the most significant car of the NEXT 100 years built in America? That would probably be the 2010 Ford Focus and Mercury Milan hybrids. In other words, ANY car that gets us out from underneath the dependence of $4, $5 or even $7 per gallon gas, with the price driven by whatever mood the oil barrons of the Middle East are in, will likely be the car of the future.

If the Focus and Milan hybrids continue to catch on and sell well as they seem to be doing now, they will lead a wave of American-built hybrids that will allow us to thumb our noses at the America-hating Arab states. Keep in mind that there ARE experimental vehicles that run on other fuels such as hydrogen or all-electric, but these cars are available NOW to virtually anyone that can afford to purchase almost any new car.

So, getting us off of foreign oil would be as significant as the Model T of nearly 100 years ago.

Joe

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LINC has a point in that virtually all cars today look alike, drive pretty much alike, and are all built to score well in the same crash and safety tests. While they are superior to virtually anything built before fuel injection, airbags, ABS and traction control, they have no soul or personality.

Agreed, but back to my original question of what is the definition of "best"?

Like it or not, the primary purpose of an automobile is to be a transportation appliance. I'm not saying I'd own a new car (my newest vehicle is a ten year old Chevy pickup with 210,000 miles on it and my daily driver is a 25 year old Oldsmobile wagon with a CARBURETOR, fer cryin' out loud), but it's hard to argue that any car built in the last century is better at providing transportation than a current year car. Unfortunately, the look-alike exteriors are a function of the wind tunnel (ever notice how all jet airliners also look alike?). I don't like it, but physics is what it is.

Now, if we're defining "best" as the car is a piece of jewelery, that's a different question.

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I would say "best" means the best money can buy. Not necessarily the most expensive now or when new, but best combination all around. A car with vinyl seats and loaded with plastic is not the best when you can get cars with leather, genuine wood, expensive fabrics, steel, chrome, silver, etc.

Likewise a Model T might have put America on wheels and be reliable, but anyone with money would have wanted something better like a Pierce Arrow or Rolls Royce. So if they wanted something better, a Model T cannot be best. Nothing against the Model T, it is significant in its own right. But it is not the best money can buy. Sold in great volumes or is inexpensive and reliable are great qualities, but it does not necessarily mean the best you can get.

New cars might have better braking and gas mileage, but as already stated, they have no style, personality or soul. I cannot see a 2010 Honda being on too many peoples wish lists 50 years from now. Not to mention I don't think you will be able to pull one out of a barn and fire it up after a few hours of tinkering like you can with current antique cars.

Edited by LINC400 (see edit history)
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I would say "best" means the best money can buy.

I would agree. I think that this question really needs to be categorized by periods or decades to be fair. I would concur that the Duesenberg was the best America had to offer in the late '20s until their demise.

The survivors of the automotive shake-out never really recaptured that level of excellence.

I know you'll think I'm overly partial here, but I would say that the middle '50s "best America had to offer" was the Continental Mark II. While not attaining the lofty Duesey level, the Mark II used the very latest in technology and used the very best materials available. Leather imported from Bridge of Weir, chrome that was salt tested before application to the car, engines that were run in on a dynamometer after it's parts were hand measured, selected and matched. The "Continental Star" hood ornament cost more to procure, from a gun-sight manufacturer, than an entire '56 Ford grill assembly. It idles silently at 425 rpm while vibration is almost non-existant. The car holds it own today. It is incredibly fast for a 5,000# aerodynamic brick. The brakes could be modernized, but work well for the period. It's 12-volt electrics make it very reliable and provides nice bright headlights. Shod with radial tires it's a dream to drive. A few on this board have driven it, West Peterson included. They will tell you that it could be driven as you would a modern car, albeit with a little more patience. I believe it was an instant icon, accounting for their extremely high survival rate. Estimates are that at least half of the 3,003 still exist.

Stepping into the '60s I think the best car were the huge front-drive GM products. Every one an icon.

The '70s were lost to federal regulations, the '80's lost to jelly bean designers, the '90 to bean-counters and this decade to consumers that will take whatever's spoon fed to them by the hype.

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Although I was born in '58, we were a GM (well, Chevy) family and although there are other GM cars I much-prefer in terms of styling, I seem to remember always hearing good things about mechanical durability and build quality compared to similar makes (in fact, still do) about 1963 and 1964 big Chevys with 283 V8. I much prefer the '65 for styling, but a friend who was a young mechanic then said when he first looked at a '65 on a lift, he couldn't believe how much things were cheapened out from a '64.

Bill

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What is the point of this thread?

Steve....I laughed soooo hard when I read your question that I almost fell off of my chair!! I guess I was trying to take a poll about which American made car was the all around best car for the money. Given the technology of the era(s), I guess it's a toss up between Model As and Model Ts. I know that there were MUCH more advanced cars at the time, but were probably an awful lot more money, hence the fewer buyers.

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What is the point of this thread?

If you think about this, Steve is right!

It's like asking, what was the best movie ever, or what was the best song ever written..................It's almost impossible to answer.............

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Yeah, I guess that's why I said in the beginning that it was such a wide open question. It is all about opinion. I was hoping that more of you would tell me a story about the technology of WHY their choice was the best. Actually, I am planning on writing a book about old cars and the folks who collect them. I am always researching different outlooks than in the books already for sale. Not just full of facts, but stories and off the wall events that have happened to old car collectors. You know....something DIFFERENT! I don't have a title yet, but IT WILL GET WRITTEN!!

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For me, I'm with the guy who voted for the '63 Chevy (big car, Biscane, Bel Air) with the

283 V-8 and Powerglide powertrain. A proven powertrain in a well made body, affordable by most employed Americans and durable as heck.

Now, some replys that might not be well received:

Early Ford V-8 (flathead) bad fuel pump design, location, often called by the old wives name "Vapor lock". How a major corporation could persist in this stupidity is beyond me. They are great cars on an April day, but terrible on the Fourth of July, when everyone wants you to be in the parade.

Roll-Royce: Pain-in-the-a__ wonk engineering to make silence. Silence is good, I've driven better in every decade, from America. I have driven/serviced a PI, PII (2 of them) , PIII and PIV, and lots of 70s and 80s silver this and ghost that, big whoop. I drove a 70s sedan, and drove an extrememly low miles Cadillac Fleetwood of the same vintage, and I much preferred the Caddy. Look at the R-R six engine (a truly great powerplant, BTW) there are two covers on the side of the engine to access the valve train components, just like a stove bolt Chevy, except the stove bolt Chevy has two large bolts to hold the cover in place and squish the seals. The Chevys rarley leak, and when they do, it's your fault. The R-R has 32 screws for each cover, and you can't keep oil in them for love nor money. Did anyone mention Lucas' contrubution to the marque?--oh, sorry.

Duesenberg--truly great cars, but a bear to drive. Incredible power, and nothing else looks like that. I had an interesting debate with a fellow in San Francisco re: Duesenberg vs R-R. His assertion is that Duesenberg used pot metal castings in places where R-R used much more durable, stable materials, so not everyone feels that the big D is perfect in every way. I happen to like and admire them a lot, having driven two.

OK, done trashing everyone else's favorites. Many props to early 60s Fords, good cars, simple, before the Gub-ment mandates hit. Some Chrysler products were amazingly durable, they could build a powertrain that couldn't be killed, I know people who try with every car they get. Chrysler, after the '57 model year had very sub-standard bodies, if you lived in the salt area they excused themselves from the road due to rust issues in the unit body frame channels, especially where the torsion bars mounted. Too bad, because the engines and trans' would go for another eon.

I think the Ford T&A are some of the best cars of their era, dollar for value and dependability. The simplicity of both is admirable, and they held up exceptionally well.

I have to say that if I totally look beyond the nostalgia of the past, my love for history and the look I love in the cars of the 20s-60s, the GM cars of the early 90s with the 3.8L V-6 are hard to beat. They just work, get great mileage, and went three times the miles that a beloved heirloom car like a 55 chevy, 65 Mustang or any muscle car could be asked to endure and still run as good as they do 250,000 miles later.

Cars of the 50s were pretty well shot at 100,000 miles. Trans-gone, engine-blowing blue, front end-a wandering fool, hit a bump and involuntarily change lanes. The other big three manufacturers had their own triumphs in this era. We may not be making many "heirloom" cars that we will want to set aside, the electronics may make that near impossible, but the "transportation appliances" made today are great to get in every day, electronic fuel injection alone made a huge difference. Anyone who owned the last generation fo carbureted cars of the mid 80s knows this to be true.

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Am opinionated as are most everyone here but the answer is really contextual. It must consider when, where, and for what ?

I was born in the first half of the last century and have to say that while I appreciate prewar (the real one) cars, they do not appeal to me.

Consider that I live in central Florida which was uninhabitable before air conditioning and where you have a four hour drive just to get out of the state - and I live in the middle. Heck, head west and you are in the next time zone before you get out of the state.

In the fifties the population was on the coasts except for a (very) few wide spots in the middle (one of which was Sebring, 128 miles from my home). The preferred vehicle was a big Pontiac/Buick/Cad (home was a GM town) that could hold 90+ for hours on end.

The times were different then, middle bridge was the preferred testing ground since officially not in a town and could tell just how fast a car was by how bright the brakes glowed coming into the 35 mph zone.

But a/c, p/s, and p/b were essential items as was a big V-8. At 22-24 cents a gallon, MPG was for people with VWs and a Jag was strictly a day/local car, not for a PB-LI overnight run (once trailed a Greyhound bus on the long sweeper on US 17 south of Brunswick GA and the bus was doing over 80...) Then, 20 hours to the Hamptons was pushing it.

Point I am making is that this is what the American car evolved for: check the oil and air, fill the tank and stop only to take on and discharge fluids for 1,000 miles of TLB. 50-70 was critical for passing semis in short passing zones.

Must say I prefer Interstates today mainly because am usually faced with minimum time transits but long-legged cruising is more important than passing power, thank you Ike.

Was recently asked about a bucket list but had to admit I already have enough toys. Including more than one that can just jump in and head for Bisbee, just depends on how big a trunk is needed and whether I want my own bed.

So best American car ? For me that includes Turnpike to '75, bear left at Lake City, and on to LaLa land. Comfortably and left lane with at least six hours between stops. How many can do that ?

Edited by padgett (see edit history)
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Well, in my humble opinion -

Pre 1925 would be the Model T for reasons noted in this string and many others. The T was, perhaps, the only perfect automobile, at least in the context of the times in which it was manufactured.

1925 - 1940 would be the Model A. Again, a near perfect automobile for the time. Low cost, well built, durable, availability of parts, ease of repair, etc.

1945 - 1960 would be the Advance Design Chevy trucks built from 1947 through early 1955 for the same reason as the Model A and T. My experience with these trucks is lengthy and even now I still believe that with the exception of modern highway speeds they may be the best trucks ever manufactured in this country. Here in Kingman there is still one original, battered model that is driven as well as worked on a regular basis. There is also a contruction compnay that still has in operation a 1954 GMC water truck in stock configuration.

1960-1970 VW bug for the same reasons as the T and A

1970-1980 any full size GM car with the 350 c.i.d. V8. Body and interiors are the weak link but the drive train is a perfected blend of the old and the new.

1980-1990 Ford Crown Victoria with 302 c.i.d. for the same reason as the GM cars produced during the 1970s.

1990 - 2000 the Jeep Cherokee. The parent company that I work for is a Chrysler dealership and as a result I get the inside scoop on vehicles manufactured by this company. As more than a year of careful study we replaced the tired 1988 Crown Vic wagon for a nice 1998 Cherokee this past spring. I am not a fan of post 1990 vehicles and have never owned one until now. To say the very least I am quite impressed. To be succint my opinion is that this generation Cherokee is a wonderful blend between the ease of repair, durability, and dependability of the Advance Design Chevy and the modern comfort and efficiency components.

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:) What is the point of this thread? WeLLLLLLLLLLL John I want to thank you for starting this thread. Its winter,we cant (most of us) take our babys out for the Sunday drive,unless your garage is heated you cant spend much time working on it and to be truthfull by now some of us may evan be starting to have withdrawll symtions.:D:D So thank you John for giving us something to think about and enjoy.

Not to copy outhers, but to determain the BEST auto,we must first define BEST. No the model T wont run a hundred miles an hr. All will agree that disc. brakes are better than mechanicle and fuel injection out performs our carburators. With that said,who the heck needs to go 100 mph. cept Jimmy Johnson??Last but not least, How many of the junk plastic cars made in 2010 will be on the road and maby entered in the AACA HPOF class in 2110?:D:D

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