Best Muscle Cars
The Most Famous Cars in American History
Even though we now have cars that can drive themselves, run on electricity, and come with built-in Wi-Fi, they just don’t make them like they used to. Despite all our incredible advances in technology, there are just some classics we’ll never forget. Check out what we consider the most famous cars in American history to see if your favorite made the list.
- The General Lee. Who could forget the Hazzards boys’ iconic, albeit ridiculous, paint job on their beloved 1969 Dodge Charger? Or that daredevil stunt jump in the opening credits? Of course, the stunt was filmed back in 1979 before CGI and computers existed, which we often take for granted in this day and age.Completing the stunt successfully meant loading down the trunk of the Charger with 700 pounds of cement. The production team also destroyed more than 300 Dodge Chargers over the course of filming the show, but we suppose that’s the price you have to pay to go down as one of the most famous cars in American history.
- The Original Batmobile. Talk about a one-of-a-kind vehicle. The very first version of the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, which would later be modified into the famous Batmobile, earned mixed reviews from critics upon its debut. Some found its elongated body and dome roof impractical, while others marveled at its futuristic design.The car was never cleared for mass production, and the concept was later purchased for just $1 by George Barris, who used it to design the iconic Batmobile. Even though the Lincoln frame and engine were replaced for the Batmobile, car enthusiasts around the world know the Lincoln Futura was the real inspiration for Batman’s ride.
- The DeLorean Time Machine. The DeLorean DMC-12 has a unique history. The car’s namesake and creator, John Z. DeLorean, worked as an executive at General Motors before starting the DeLorean Motor Company in 1974. During his time at GM, he helped design the famed Pontiac Firebird, the Pontiac Grand Prix, and the Pontiac GTO muscle car, among others. DeLorean’s company went bankrupt in 1982 before reopening under private ownership in 1995.Three years after the original company went under, one of the only three models DMC ever produced appeared in Back to the Future as Doc Brown’s Flux Capacitor. The DeLorean DMC-12 skyrocketed to fame, and every fan of the film was itching to get their hands on one for themselves. After all, “if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”
- Herbie the Love Bug. Today, self-driving cars aren’t as revolutionary as they were back in Herbie’s day. Even so, modern self-driving cars could never have the pizzazz and personality that Herbie became famous for. (And they certainly aren’t capable of matchmaking like Herbie is.)Initially, the producers of the original film hadn’t committed to using a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle to play Herbie. They set up a casting call, of sorts, to choose the vehicle that would later portray Herbie. The nominees ranged from Toyotas to Volvos. The film crew would kick the tires and aggressively steer the wheels of the other cars in a bid to test the car’s handling. When they reached the Volkswagen, they handled it a bit gentler, actually petting it. Thus, Herbie the Love Bug was born. (Besides, “Herbie the Love Volvo” doesn’t exactly have a nice ring to it.)
- OJ Simpson’s Ford Bronco. Perhaps OJ’s Bronco is now considered one of the most infamous cars of American history. His 1994 police chase in the Bronco was broadcasted to the nation after he was charged with the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.Although Simpson’s friend and former teammate Al Cowlings owned the Bronco involved in the chase, Simpson owned the exact same model. Simpson’s Bronco was later submitted as evidence in his controversial murder trial. Following his acquittal, his Bronco was destroyed. Earlier this month, Ford announced the company is bringing the Bronco back and will reintroduce the vehicle into its line-up.
- Dean and Sam’s 1967 Chevy Impala. Even if you aren’t a fan of the show Supernatural, you’ve undoubtedly seen Dean and Sam Winchester’s beloved Impala. The car, a precious family heirloom to the brothers, is a centerpiece of the show. The modified Impala, outfitted with an arsenal of weapons in the trunk, is the perfect companion to help the boys with their demon hunting. Dean even refers to the car as “Baby.”The boys and their Impala have been through a lot together. In one episode, the Impala itself was possessed by a demon. In another, a possessed truck driver crashes into the Impala, rendering it nearly unsalvageable. Against Bobby’s wishes, Dean restores the car completely, by himself, only to destroy it once again with a crowbar after learning a devastating secret about his brother. Over the course of the show, the Impala comes in and out of retirement. You just can’t separate demon hunters from their treasured Baby.
- JFK’s Presidential Limousine. Everyone has seen the video footage of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, and car enthusiasts would have noted his car was a unique model. The modified 1961 Lincoln Continental underwent several special modifications before it was ever used as the presidential limousine. Outfitted with a hydraulic back seat, special lap robes, two flagstaffs, and special steps, JFK’s limousine was certainly a vehicle fit for the president.Called “X-100” by the Secret Service, the presidential limousine cost a whopping $200,000. The original Lincoln Continental rang up at a little over $7,300, and Ford leased the X-100 to the White House for a meager $500 a year.
After JFK’s assassination, the X-100 was first submitted for evidence before being modified in 1964 and again in 1967. Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter used the revamped version of the X-100 on occasion before it was retired in 1977. Today, the car is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.
From fictional favorites like the General Lee and Herbie the Love Bug to the real-life rides of presidents and murder suspects, the legacy of these cars will endure forever. Some of the most famous cars in American history are one-of-a-kind models, while others, like the Dodge Charger and the Ford Bronco, are common daily drivers. It just goes to show that it’s not the car that makes it famous – it’s the driver.