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Malcolm Gunn’s Top Ten Cars of All Time


Richard Gallatin

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I think he was doing pretty well until he added the Civic.  While it may have been a milestone in the Japanese invasion of automobiles to the US, saying it was one of the "greatest" is a stretch.

 

Had he said a list of the most influential automobiles, that might warrant the Civic, but it might eliminate one or two others.  For example, the Avanti, while a great design, wasn't really influential.  The Cord, however, was, with disappearing headlights, first production front opening hood, no running boards, front wheel drive, and so forth....

 

My opinion only, of course.....other than that an interesting list.

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So, no brass cars like the Locomobile, Rolls-Royce, Pierce-Arrow, Hispano-Suiza or Delauney-Belville. Only two of them are even pre-war. These so-called difinitive lists get to be a bit boring after time, especially when the "expert" knows little or nothing about anything made before his own time.

 

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There are so many qualifiers to a "top 10" list that it's a no win situation.

 

One could probably come up with a top 10 list of cars that changed how the American public perceived cars.  I wouldn't dare to try, but Model T for practicality, Mercer raceabout or runabout for first sports car, , the first Chevrolet 6 for an affordable daily driver 6 cylinder, the 36/37 Cord which rocked the perception of the American public on what an automobile could be, the WWII Jeep for the practicality and the lives it touched and saved, The 1949-50 Oldsmobile which showed the car starved post war citizens how a car could be practical and beautiful at the same time, the 1955-1956 Fords and Chevrolets grouped together which showed Americans how cars could be beautiful and fun, the sheesh Mustang of course which could be built to a schoolmarm or a rebel level of options (I tried to leave that one out, but it's impossible).  Crap, that's only 8 ....  OK , so throw in the muscle cars, which I won't even discuss, and for the number 10 let's throw in Rolls Royce, which for a long time was a car that was built to a different standard, a standard that would be hard to match much less beat.  DISCLAIMER:  I'm not a RR guy, but I've worked on some early ones, and the over engineering is beyond reasonableness)...Now, someone can come back and say Mercedes should be on the list, which they probably should if it were the "Top 11"...Mercedes quality for many years was alien to the American way of looking at cars, the engineering was just so...uh...perfect...but they weren't plush, easy sitting American style cars...they were firm, great suspension, and it took someone special to appreciate the Mercedes sold from the 60's to the 80's, not "comfortable" in an American way, but you could drive 800 miles in a day and emerge from the car feeling OK...

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Several years ago we had a thread on this forum where we all listed our top 10.  Proof that even the experts of this antique auto forum can't agree any more than the U.S. Congress.  At least our discussion is not life changing.  Perspective and experience changes every list.

To some of us, a 1991 Taurus is a important antique, to others it must be 100 years old or older.  If we all liked the same things, Baskins/Robbins wouldn't need 31 flavors or had more than 1863 automobile marques to choose from.

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They might want to replace that Civic with the Mini Cooper.  Honda liked to imagine that they had invented the transverse front drive small car, but they were a little late for that.  The original Civic wasn't anymore original than the original 240Z...but the Japanese did manage to correct the reliability faults so common to the British cars that they copied.

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Obvious problem is trying to condense over one hundred years of automotive history into just ten vehicles, it can't be done. Seems to me as though the gentleman is a Post WWII guy he just added a couple of obvious pw cars to make his choices seem more comprehensive. Failure to include any important European cars really leaves the list with little creditability! 

 

I have owned several of the cars in his list, one of which is a 1964 Avanti, which I have owned for fifty years. I'm a Studebaker guy and have seventeen of them in the collection, but in spite of the Avanti's obvious influential design, as a driver it was loaded with flaws. In the 60's trying to use it as a daily driver, for my last two years of college, was a huge mistake! Didn't stop me from owning several more over the years, but the experience sure brought things into proper perspective. The Avanti wasn't even the most important fiberglass American car to come out in 1963. The whole world knows that to be the 1963 Corvette. For me, American cars not withstanding, the most beautiful car of the era has to be the Jaguar XKE!

 

Sorry Richard, but sometimes I just have to say what's on my mind. I long ago put away my rose colored glasses where the Avanti was concerned.

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4 minutes ago, Buffalowed Bill said:

Seems to me as though the gentleman is a Post WWII guy he just added a couple of obvious pw cars to make his choices seem more comprehensive. Failure to include any important European cars really leaves the list with little creditability! 

 

I am with you Bill, I do not know who this person is and this list (and most others like it) is just drivel to fill space with "content."  Most of us here could make a more informed list than whoever this is, Todd C 

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11 minutes ago, Restorer32 said:

The Avanti always reminds me of a bare bones kit car. Sorry, but that's the impression I get. They all look like they were ordered without badly needed options.

I won't go quite that far but I will agree that in my years of car exposure I have never found them as impressive as most critics (and list-makers) seem to.  It is probably heresy to say but as Studebakers go I find a GT Hawk more appealing, Todd C 

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I remember seeing the first civics with some of my schoolmates in Michigan. We called it a pop can and said who would buy one of these things. The first ones were as small as any clown car that Ringling brothers had. They did and still do easily achieve 300,000 miles’ something our cars still struggle to do on such a regular basis.

I have owned several Mustangs because they were cheap fun but they were not the game changer that they were trying to be like (corvette) they were a cheap imitation of a real important part of our automotive history.  

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I have to go with the GT Hawk myself. I drove a '56 Golden Hawk to High School for a while. The Avanti was different and neat when it came out but it has that non-automotive look to it. It doesn't have the organic look that cars had. It looks more like something to keep vegetables in to keep them from spoiling.

I still remember how European my Hawk felt with the gauges, almost flat windshield, and long hood. The roof on the GT made it just classier.

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34 minutes ago, 60FlatTop said:

I still remember how European my Hawk felt with the gauges, almost flat windshield, and long hood. The roof on the GT made it just classier.

 

I recall the first time I looked at one in person the European dash and square roofline just grabbed me too.  I would probably end up picking a Golden Hawk but as you said the GT is probably the classier design

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My Golden Hawk was fast and pretty hot looking. Especially with fresh gold and white paint and no hood. In 1965 you couldn't find a good hood. All of them were folded because the full service gas station attendant didn't pull the hood forward before lifting, something I get to do on my '86 PA today. The car had an awful steering radius. I had owned a '58 Chevy prior to the Studebaker and could U-turn the Chevy in places that took two swings with the Stude. The rear brakes were hard to work on with the taper fit hubs and drums. At the time the Ultramatic transmission linkage was not firm and had a vagueness to it. But I made that 140 MPH speedometer hit 135. It was one of six cars I left behind when I went into the Navy, the one at my parent's house, not the shop. I picked up a '36 Chevy while home on leave and the village code said one car in the yard. I gave it to a deserving friend.

Another time while home on leave I left a $30 deposit on a black '82 GT Hawk. I never followed through, but every time I drive by that shop I remember it sitting there.

Bernie

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I think Gunn's intention with this list was to honor the 10 cars that most affected changes in the automotive industry. With the 49 Ford it was mostly the timing of its introduction after WWII. With the Avanti it was the shift in design being so dramatic compared to other cars of its time.

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4 hours ago, Richard Gallatin said:

I think Gunn's intention with this list was to honor the 10 cars that most affected changes in the automotive industry.

 

Perhaps so... I guess he think nothing much happened before WWII.

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