To celebrate the birth of our nation, the Digital Trends Cars team gathered around for the most American activity we know – a good ‘ol fashioned argument. The topic of the day is what was the most American car ever made? And although we’ve recently looked at the most American cars sold today, this discussion was less about parts sourcing and more about what packs the most freedom vibes per mile. Each of us picked a winner, and had to defend our choice. The (dubious, entirely personal) results are below:
The 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz is a pellucid reflection of mid-century American aspiration. The Eldo convertible holds a special, exalted status among all Cadillacs. Caddie’s engineers gave this model an exclusive triple-carburetor 390 cubic inch engine with 345 horsepower; a bit more than any other Cadillac of the day. Curb weight of 5,250 pounds supported by a newly developed air suspension gave this mighty road machine the ride quality of a dreamy cloud. Kitted out in flame red with a color-matched red leather interior and a fat set of whitewalls, the Eldorado was the product of an optimistic civilization at its peak. Nothing about this car looks backward, or admits any compromise. At the dawn of the space age, the Eldorado was made to transport its owner in starry splendor. This car is bigger than big, fantastically opulent, totally in your face, and utterly breathtaking. We will not see its like again.
– By Jeff Zurschmeide
Toyota may be Japanese, but it’s worked very hard to cater to American buyers. The Camry is designed to American tastes (even its name is an Americanized of “kanmuri,” the Japanese word for “crown”), and it’s built in Kentucky. That’s made Toyota’s ubiquitous midsizer the heir apparent to the great American sedan tradition. As American automakers slowly retreat from sedans, the Camry has become a more common sight than its counterparts from Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge. The Camry’s eternal rival, the Honda Accord, may be nicer to drive, but it hasn’t worked its way into the fabric of American automotive life in the same way. Camrys are filling the void left by the Ford Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car as taxis and Uber cars, respectively. They even race in NASCAR. What’s more American than that?
– By Stephen Edelstein
America’s best-selling car is a truck. The best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 37 years and best-selling truck for 42 years, the Ford F-Series continues to top the sales charts for all vehicle types for 2019. Americans spend their money on trucks, compact SUVs, and traditional cars, in that order. Ford’s sales dominance over Ram and Chevrolet Silverado pickups isn’t a close race, either. In 2018, the last full year sales figures, Ford sold 909,300 F-Series pickups and the second place Silverado racked up 575,242 unit sales. For comparison, the Toyota Camry outsold all other regular cars, with 343,439 pairs of key fobs handed to new owners. Ford’s F-150 is the top seller in the F-Series, most often SuperCrew cab models with four full-size doors. Whether U.S. buyers are looking for a basic 2-door work vehicle, family transportation, a fully-loaded luxury truck, or a high-performance off-road sports machine, they continue to choose Ford’s F-Series pickups more often than any other brand or model.
– By Bruce Brown
Look, Americans love big cars — so of course the ‘most American car’ has to be huge! To me, the most American car has to be the Jeep Cherokee. The first Cherokees in the 1980s defined the “crossover” segment, and were the basis for the car like SUVs. Think of the popular SUV models before this, like the Ford Bronco and Chevy Blazer. The Cherokee completely redefined what an SUV could be (and look like), and made them sellable to a larger group of consumers. Sure, you could make an argument that overall the Ford Explorer really was the catalyst for crossovers and other brands reign supreme these days, but the good old Jeep Cherokee was the first.
– By Ed Oswald
The best-selling vehicle in the United States is, was, and will always be a truck. A Ford truck to be precise. Ergo, the most American car of all time must be a truck. And the truckiest of trucks – that any civilian can buy to use on a daily basis – has to be the F650 Extreme. Coming in at a gargantuan 23-foot-long wheelbase and a full 14ft high, the F650 was the largest vehicle produced by Ford in North America at the time. If every state was represented by a car, the F650 Extreme would be Texas.
The Extreme model was actually produced by an independent company called SuperTrucks out of Georgia, but they were available at several Ford dealerships across the country. You can still grab your own for $86,000, so really what’s your excuse?
– By Adam Kaslikowski
The Jeep brand is as American as a Big Gulp full of root beer. The Willys MB that every past and present Jeep model traces its roots to played a significant role in helping the United States win World War II, and the off-roaders that proudly followed the path it blazed continued to represent freedom when peace returned. They stood for a completely different kind of freedom, though. Instead of liberating nations from the twisted fantasies of a dictator, the MB’s descendants (including the CJ-7) gave owners and enthusiasts the freedom to go anywhere, with or without a top, and with or without doors. The fourth-generation Wrangler carries this torch.
Jeep’s CJs have competed against many rivals over the years, including the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Ford Bronco, and the International-Harvester Scout. The firm had the guts and the foresight to press on where its competitors gave up, and the Wrangler enviably exists in a class of one as of 2019. It remains surprisingly true to its roots, too. It’s not the most American car in terms of parts content, but it’s easily the most recognizable car ever designed in America.
– By Ronan Glon
- 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning: America’s bestselling vehicle goes electric
- President Biden drives Ford F-150 Lightning electric-truck prototype
- Watch Ford testing its next-gen driver-assist tech on a mega road trip
- The best commuter cars for 2021
- The best cars for driving in the snow