22 October 2014

Five Of The Most Elegant American Cars

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow famously wrote, “In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” And one could argue that the same is true in automotive design. American car design of the 1950s-1970s was beloved for its flamboyance; here are five post-war cars that swam against the stream of fins, scoops, chrome and decals and were memorable for their elegant simplicity.

  1. 1963-65 Buick Riviera: The 1963 Riviera was the result of GM design head Bill Mitchell’s desire to produce something that was a combination of a Rolls-Royce and a Ferrari. Whether he succeeded in that odd mash-up is debatable, but the 1963-65 Riv was a thing of great elegance and simplicity, particularly the 1965 model with hidden headlamps. Introduced at the height of Camelot, it was as elegant as Jackie Kennedy herself.

  2. 1956-57 Continental Mk II: The Continental was emphatically not a Lincoln, even though it shared the name of numerous products of that division of the Ford Motor Company. For two brief years, Continental was a division unto itself and the Mk II may well have been the most elegant post-war car built in America. Costing the then-unheard-of sum of $10,000 (the equivalent of almost $87,000 in today’s money), the care and craftsmanship that went into each car ensured that Ford still lost money on each one.  Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor were all Continental owners. The Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d’ Elegance is featuring three examples built for the Ford family at this year’s show on Nov. 2.

  3. 1953 Studebaker Regal Starlight coupe: Famous industrial designer Raymond Loewy put together a team of talented designers that included Robert Bourke to design a car like no other of the 1950s. Low, sleek and incredibly elegant, the Regal Starlight is largely forgotten today by all but the most diehard car collectors and fans of the long-defunct Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Ind.

  4. 1975-79 Cadillac Seville: In a decade not necessarily known for elegance (heaven knows how many high school kids rode to prom in dad’s Seville wearing powder blue polyester tuxedos), the Seville stood out against the odds as a particularly elegant design.  Not only was it handicapped by being a product of the 1970s, but it was the first time that a substantial number of Chevrolet components were used in a Cadillac (it shared the same underpinnings as the Nova). But this was no Cimarron. The first-generation Seville was elegant, restrained and every bit a Cadillac. Although it was the smallest car in the lineup, it was the most expensive and it looked the part.

  5. 1956 Chrysler 300B: The first of the 300 “letter-series” (the 1955 C-300 was never actually called the “300A”), it was probably the prettiest Mopar design of the 1950s. Its pillarless hardtop design and restrained use of chrome were wildly inconsistent with the over-the-top performance that the car was capable of delivering from its 355-hp, 354-cubic-inch Hemi V-8.  It terrorized NASCAR back in the day.

156 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Tom Sobieski United States October 22, 2014 at 13:08
    agree with most, not the 70s Caddy though
  • 2
    mundotaku Miami, FL October 26, 2014 at 03:17
    Who in their right mind chooses a 75-79 Seville as anything that would be elegant or to be proud of???
  • 3
    Greg Motor City November 5, 2014 at 13:02
    What is "elegant" and "stylish" are subjective (beauty is in the eye ...), but most would argue wit the Seville's placement here. There is already a Lincoln nominated, otherwise I'd submit the '61 Continental convert. I would also suggest the '53 Buick Skylark. And while it would be a stretch from elegant, the '63 Corvette Sting Ray is worthy of consideration. But - this is a tough list to limit to five vehicles ...
  • 4
    Mitch KY November 5, 2014 at 13:03
    I would have to say the C3 Corvette series. What a beautiful and enduring design. Cadillac Seville? No way!
  • 5
    matt midwest November 5, 2014 at 13:09
    Rob Sass keeps turning out lists like this and hagerty will have to start mandatory drug testing for all staff writers. Late 70s caddy! Let me guess Rob you might have one for sale right now???
  • 6
    nascardave Gilroy ca November 5, 2014 at 13:09
    How about the 57-58 eldorado brougham?
  • 7
    Terry Van Eck Tinley Park, IL November 5, 2014 at 13:13
    I somewhat agree with the Riviera, but maybe the 1966 Thunderbird would be a little better in a landau or convt.
  • 8
    Jaguarist Virginia November 5, 2014 at 13:14
    Although it is hard to use the words American Car and elegance in the same context when it comes to the 1970's, IMHO the closest you can come is the Continental MKIV & MKV from that era. The Seville was about as handsome as a GM car got back in that day; however, even though it was a Cadillac it is a stretch to call it's lines "elegant".
  • 9
    Jim Fox Hollywood, CA November 5, 2014 at 13:14
    I think the first series Lincoln Continental from 1939 to 1948 was more elegant.
  • 10
    jim houser United States November 5, 2014 at 13:17
  • 11
    Chris Rochester, NY November 5, 2014 at 13:17
    Wow - I guess you had to throw Cadillac a bone, but did it have to be THAT one? The '61 - '63 Continentals would easily make that list, but having TWO Lincolns on the list wouldn't be fair for the Caddy fans.
  • 12
    Greg Portland Oregon November 5, 2014 at 13:19
    well, You got one right... the Riv. 79 Cad..? is this a test of whose reading
  • 13
    Hchilds Tupelo, ms November 5, 2014 at 13:23
    The Continental is among the four or five most beautiful cars of the 20th century.
  • 14
    Jay M Amelia Island, Fl November 5, 2014 at 13:28
    If I was charged with guessing your five picks, I would have been 0 for 5. None of these would have made any list that I made up.
  • 15
    Loren Moore Dearborn, Michigan November 5, 2014 at 13:37
    How about the '41 Lincoln Continental?
  • 16
    Walt Virginia November 5, 2014 at 13:40
    A reasonable list except for the Seville. They didn't turn heads then, still don't, and never will. Substitute a 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix for that, and expand the list to six to include the 1961 Lincoln Continental.
  • 17
    Chris California November 5, 2014 at 13:42
    In my opinion the Seville featured here was among the worst of GM's badge engineering attempts. It's popularity was more linked to its absurd sticker price rather than it's very debatable "European" styling/dynamics.
  • 18
    Patrick Howrd Poulsbo, WA November 5, 2014 at 13:44
    For simple and elegant, you can't beat the '57 Thunderbird. No bling, no extra curves for design sake, just easy flowing lines.
  • 19
    Tony Stambrouskas Jr East Hartford, CT November 5, 2014 at 13:53
    Any of my Lincoln Mark VIII's look better than crapaliac
  • 20
    George Schaefer Kingsley, Pa November 5, 2014 at 13:56
    I would choose the 53 Stud, it was a style design ahead of its time and I could only wonder what they would have been today if they would have remained in the auto market. I owned a Stud back in the 60s and ran a 394 0lds with a B&M hydro. It ran at both the strip and on the street and caused many to rethink their idea of a muscle car!
  • 21
    John San Francisco November 5, 2014 at 14:00
    Great choices! I would add the 56 Cadillac 62, the early Ford Thunderbird and the '53 Buick Skylark convertible.
  • 22
    Joe Richmond, VA November 5, 2014 at 14:01
    '78 Seville that my dad said "was the best looking car ever to break down in US history." We did sell it at a profit to a dealer, who reported a bidding war for the POS. Dad bought it for mom, who was scared it would leave her stranded, so she stole my old Buick and I was stuck with the Caddie. I was instructed by my boss to park it in front of the store, to make it look like high rollers shopped with us. It often would not start so I kept a bike at work to get home. Utterly beautiful, utterly junk.
  • 23
    joeinbcs College Station, TX November 5, 2014 at 14:06
    I've owned a '65 Riveria, and a '56 Mark II...agree with both of those. Also, I've owned a '63 Lincoln Continental. I believe the '61-'63 Continental must be on any list of the 5 most elegant designs of the '50's-'70's. Also the '67 & '68 Cadillac Eldorado must he on this list. I've owned both years, and currently have a '68. This car is huge, but it is a masterpiece of proportion and innovative design cues. The success of the Cadillac brand in recent years owes much to this car.
  • 24
    Jim Waterford Mi November 5, 2014 at 14:06
    I agree these cars have 'Style', but aren't they the same 5 cars in Hagerty's previous 'Most Elegant Five American Cars'?? Plus, where is the 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix!??
  • 25
    Neil Russell Statesboro, GA November 5, 2014 at 14:13
    I remember back in the 70s when asked if he had stolen the design of the Seville from Mercedes, Bill Mitchell said: "Hell no, I stole from Rolls Royce. My father always said if you're going to steal rob a bank, not a grocery store." Considering what else was being made in 75, the Seville was a breath of fresh air.
  • 26
    mark hopkins dayton oh. November 5, 2014 at 14:17
    i can't believe the cadillac seville is on the list. they were not horrible but pretty damn close. for the most part most 1970 & 80 american automobiles are something to be ashamed of! that includes the seville.
  • 27
    Tman322 Charlotte, NC November 5, 2014 at 14:37
    I disagree with the Caddy....whoever selected it as elegant must have a field of abandon Sevilles he's hoping to cash in on.
  • 28
    Harvey Kent Kentucky November 5, 2014 at 14:42
    In place of the forgettable Cadillac I would suggest another Raymond Loewy design; the 1949 Ford which was a breath of fresh air for Ford. It is still a favorite of customizers, needing little to showcase its elegance, especially the coupe and convertible. If not the Ford, the 1961 Olds super 88 2 dr hardtop is head and shoulders above the Cad.
  • 29
    David Brown Monroe, Michigan November 5, 2014 at 14:56
    Agree with your selection although of course there are many others that might fit into this category. Technically, the Studebaker Corporation is not defunct - never did go out of business but did stop making cars and trucks. The Corporate entity continued and over the years was acquired, merged, etc. and until it when private a few years ago was the largest industrial leasing entity in the world. Unlike the stockholders of the now defunct General Motors Corporation, if you owned a share of Studebaker Corporation stock in 1963 and had held on to it as it morphed, you would still have something of value. General Motors Corporation stockholders, not to be confused the the current General Motors Company, have nothing today.
  • 30
    WaltL Athens, GA November 5, 2014 at 15:18
    Guys, come on, a late 70's Caddy? Seriously? I'm afraid your selection research team really laid an egg on that one.
  • 31
    Scott Allred Chico, CA November 5, 2014 at 15:33
    Beauty is in the eye.... I'd take a '75-'79 Seville any day of the week as opposed to any Riviera ever made. While I did not like that they were built on a Nova platform, they were still beautiful, nice driving cars, and one that sold very well for Cadillac at the end of the decade. I had the pleasure of driving one on a number of occasions; liked it every time.
  • 32
    LagunaMike Austin, TX November 5, 2014 at 15:38
    Why not the mid-year Corvettes????
  • 33
    Mike Bracey Dallas, TX. November 5, 2014 at 15:40
    I would vote for the 1956 Thunderbird. The Seville can't come close.
  • 34
    Jack Russin California November 5, 2014 at 15:56
    Agree whole heartedly with your choice of the Seville...truly an elegant and timeless design...but only years 75-79. Thereafter Cadillac design lost its way regarding later Sevilles. Too bad there wasn't more written in the Seville "history" section, and that the Studebaker image was of a four door...not the better looking coupe.
  • 35
    Walt Virginia November 5, 2014 at 16:01
    A reasonable list except for the Seville. They didn't turn heads then, still don't, and never will. Substitute a 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix for that, and expand the list to six to include the 1961 Lincoln Continental.
  • 36
    Don Workman Lincoln, NE November 5, 2014 at 16:13
    Given the parameters, I would have included the 70-71 Monte Carlo, and skipped the Caddie. If you wanted something 70ish.
  • 37
    F.T. NUGENT Holland, Michigan November 5, 2014 at 16:14
    Perhaps you could include the 1962 Continental Convertible as another exceptionally styled example fro Ford It,s price, fully equipped was $7700.00 depending on options. Its retracting top was a technological marvel of the electronics of the time.
  • 38
    Rod Pouget Ventura, California November 5, 2014 at 16:27
    What happened to ANY of the Dusenbergs. Most notibly the 1934 SJ supercharged models?
  • 39
    Miloslamplot Canada November 5, 2014 at 16:28
    Yeah, that Seville was notable mostly because it was made out of a Nova! Thankfully the disastrous GM 350 diesel conversion was not available to make the Seville a total mash up of bad thinking!!
  • 40
    joseph tarnowski orlando,fl. November 5, 2014 at 16:38
    lincoln continental with the suicide doors, , either the hardtop or convertible very elegant.
  • 41
    Ken Langdon Foley AL November 5, 2014 at 16:48
    Great choices - especially that Studebaker - which is arguably THE most elegant automotive design - ever. Not sure what the Seville is doing in this line-up, but beauty is subjective. .
  • 42
    Jim PA November 5, 2014 at 17:03
    Agree with the first three
  • 43
    Yaron Fidler NY, USA November 5, 2014 at 17:03
    Thank you for including the 1953 Studebaker as one of the top 5. Having one for the last 40 years (same color combo as well) brings me to be in total agreement with you, of course. One mistake you made is: It is indeed a 1953, but it is not a Starlight Coupe. It is a Starliner Commander Regal 2 Dr. HT. V8. The Starlight Coupes were not Hard Tops, but rather had a pillar between front and rear windows. V8 or straight 6 were available.
  • 44
    Jack Shiver Albuquerque, NM November 5, 2014 at 17:28
    You justifiably included the 1953 Studebaker Starlight Coupe (an elegant car, indeed) but the photo displayed was not a Coupe; it was a Starliner Hardtop.
  • 45
    Alweeja Georgia November 5, 2014 at 17:41
    Poor choices?......... 57 T-BIRD. VETTE 63 SPLIT GLASS, 68 STNGRAY,1969 CAMARO RS/SS,64.5 Mustang,57 Chevy Bel-Air
  • 46
    Art Weatherly Riverside Ca November 5, 2014 at 18:24
    I believe the 1st Chrysler 300 was so named for its 300 HP, not 355.
  • 47
    Steve Fields Springfield, VA November 5, 2014 at 18:37
    Of all the Cadillacs to choose from they come up with the Seville..? Really the Seville..? sigh........
  • 48
    tom wozab greenbank November 5, 2014 at 18:40
    i fully expected to see the 61 continental, surely a more suitable car than the caddy
  • 49
    Roger Meiners Milford, Michigan November 5, 2014 at 18:41
    I sort of agree with the Riv, and '53 Studebaker (though I wouldn't call the Stude "elegant). The MK II is the epitome of elegance. No question. I can't agree with you on the Seville, but the 300B is significant. An aside on the Cadillac: Since it is basically a Chevy Nova, a big-block Chevy engine will drop right in. A couple of my buddies did just that back in the late 1980s. Makes a real sleeper.
  • 50
    Johnjack Binghamton, NY November 5, 2014 at 18:44
    I sure would not have picked the '75-'79 Seville-EW!
  • 51
    Tom wynkoop Baltimore, MD November 5, 2014 at 18:46
    The 75-79 Seville were chosen over the 64-66 Thunderbirds.
  • 52
    Noiclas USA November 5, 2014 at 19:09
    I love the Riv's and the rest are classics except for the Seville.That car doesn't belong in this group.
  • 53
    Gary Hallgren western MA November 5, 2014 at 19:19
    Yeah, lose the Cadillac, add an early step-down Hudson.
  • 54
    John Lobre CT November 5, 2014 at 19:45
    Let's see, which is a better example of excellent design: Cadillac Seville or, say, Cord.
  • 55
    John DiCino Denver November 5, 2014 at 19:49
    1956 Ford Thunderbird, elegance and sporty!
  • 56
    Dixon Federal Way, WA November 5, 2014 at 19:50
    So glad to see a Studebaker show up here. I had a 53 hardtop, for a while, to get back and forth to college. That was back in 1959 and was just like the one shown. I felt like I had a sports car. Sadly had to sell it to pay for a dorm room and meals. In my old age I now have a 55 President Hardtop. I'm a Studebaker guy and it's nice to see someone give the Loewy Stude some acknowledgement.
  • 57
    George Poppenwimer Kissimmee, FL November 5, 2014 at 20:05
    How's can you leave out the 1964 Lincoln Continental?
  • 58
    ronald t konopka Grosse Pointe, Mich November 5, 2014 at 20:14
    If the list was expanded to include the 25 most elegant American cars, the 75-79 Seville would barely make 25th place.
  • 59
    Rob NJ November 5, 2014 at 20:26
    That 70's Seville was put in as a joke, right ? ..... right ?
  • 60
    Tom Ostrowski Luxemburg, WI November 5, 2014 at 20:27
    There are more classic caddys, than a Seville. I'm a Ford guy, but the 65 Riviera is the sharpest of the 3 year run.
  • 61
    Kenneth Perrier Colorado November 5, 2014 at 21:34
    70s' Cadillac Elegant ? maybe a 1960 Cadillac Convertible. How about a 58 Imperial of the two door variety.
  • 62
    Yaron Fidler NY, USA November 5, 2014 at 21:37
    Thank you for including the 1953 Studebaker as one of the top 5. Having one for the last 40 years (same color combo as well) brings me to be in total agreement with you, of course. One mistake you made is: It is indeed a 1953, but it is not a Starlight Coupe. It is a Commander Starliner Regal 2 Dr. HT. V8. The Starlight Coupes were not Hard Tops, but rather had a pillar between front and rear windows. V8 or straight 6 were available.
  • 63
    Stephen Schuller Tulsa, Oklahoma November 5, 2014 at 21:47
    I had a 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo that I thought looked really nice, but I'm the only one in my family who thinks so!
  • 64
    Shawn Atlanta November 5, 2014 at 22:01
    Where is the 63 Corvette Stingray Split Window? Elegant classic American design.
  • 65
    dave midwest November 5, 2014 at 22:02
    I owned a 79 Seville some years ago and I agree with your pick. The design was very restrained and elegant and set the tone for many manufacturer designs well into the 80's, especially the roof line.
  • 66
    D J Korson Reno, NV November 5, 2014 at 22:13
    Now mind you, this is coming from a die-hard muscle/pony car fan. What about the `54 Buick Skylark? I know someone who owns one of these, and the first time I saw in his garage I was just stunned at the elegant look of this car. The tail fins are just amazing on this car. Even when parked next to his wife's `62 Vette it just looked so much better to me.
  • 67
    John thomas utah November 5, 2014 at 10:21
    What about the all time most beautiful 1963 corvette split window coupe? All C2 vettes should be included.
  • 68
    Frank VA November 5, 2014 at 10:23
    how in the world could you include the Caddy in this group of unique cars. makes no sense.
  • 69
    Gerard Venable Rhode Island November 5, 2014 at 10:26
    take the Caddy out .... replace with a 56 Packhard ... or anything from 56 ... the year no ugly cars were made in America!
  • 70
    tallcatt CLT November 5, 2014 at 22:31
    Caddy Box Mobile ? really ? Lots of other choices - like the Rocket Style 61-63 TBids - early swank
  • 71
    Tom Kentucky November 5, 2014 at 10:33
    I think you need to look at the article in context. It is not about which cars you drool over owning. It is about design in the period. If you suffered through the 70's, you know how bad styling was. Japanese cars should have been driven backwards and Europe was not memorable. For a reworked Nova, the Seville had class.
  • 72
    Dave Sacramento, CA. November 5, 2014 at 22:38
    The 65 Rivera Gran Sport, with the 425 dual quads is the best! (power and elegant, what a combo!)
  • 73
    Chad Sutter Montana November 5, 2014 at 10:40
    How about including pictures within the stories about cars- this is the internet and it is insanely graphics driven today. You can find a picture of nearly every car ever built. As for the car selections: I agree with the Riv, the Mk II & the 300 being iconic. The Studebaker looks like a car mated to a '50's wash machine, and the Cadi is plain ugly- always was always will be.
  • 74
    Ron M. Colorado Springs, CO November 5, 2014 at 10:48
    The 1967-68 Eldorado was a far more elegant Cadillac choice. Likewise, the 1966-67 Oldsmobile Toronado. Both re-introduced America to front wheel drive and were beautiful and timeless designs.
  • 75
    Max Zacher Montana November 5, 2014 at 22:51
    I agree with most especially the 56 300, but the Cadillac? Really?
  • 76
    Robert Bonto United States November 5, 2014 at 10:52
    I totally agree that no one in their right mind would choose a 75-79 Seville, it was nothing but a glorified Nova.
  • 77
    Chuck Goode San Diego, CA November 5, 2014 at 10:56
    I quite agree with the contributor(s) re the '76 - '79 Seville; nothing more than a dressed up Chevy. What's noticibly absent is the '61 Lincoln Continental. A timeless design that was the first auto ever to receive the Industrial Designer's Institute's award for Excellence.
  • 78
    Rick Hogue Sarasota, FL November 5, 2014 at 10:59
    How did the 1961 - 63 Lincolns not make the list? And for pure elegance, why not include the Auburn? Both far surpass the Seville.
  • 79
    Bob Brumbaugh West Palm Beach FL. November 5, 2014 at 11:06
    I agree about the 63 Riviera I thought I would some day own one but life got in the way. But the ones I like is the Boattails 71 72 and 73 they are in a class by themselves and the American Dream of a vehicle before the Gas shortage. I have had four Boattails and loved each one.
  • 80
    Michael Gullery San Jose, CA November 5, 2014 at 11:09
    The Riv by far the best in this bunch. As for the Nova, er Caddy, agree with the comment above. Is Mr.Sass a child of the 80s maybe?
  • 81
    Mark Dulworth Houston, TX November 5, 2014 at 11:12
    The choices are pretty darn good, with exception of the Cad-rolet or Chevro-lac. It looks horrible and drives worse than it looks. They made anemic sucking sounds when putting one's foot down. Why not the '69 to '70 Pontiac Grand Prix? You get lots of power and Detroit sculptural elegance inside and out. And they sound great too!
  • 82
    john switzer tilghman, md November 5, 2014 at 11:15
    The 1961 Lincoln
  • 83
    iitywybad Milwaukee, WI November 5, 2014 at 11:17
    "Who in their right mind chooses a 75-79 Seville as anything that would be elegant or to be proud of??? " I agree. I like the 56 Lincoln Continental, but I would also have picked the 1956 Lincoln Premiere. In fact, that would have been my FIRST choice.
  • 84
    iitywybad Milwaukee, WI November 5, 2014 at 11:18
    "Who in their right mind chooses a 75-79 Seville as anything that would be elegant or to be proud of??? " I agree. I like the 56 Lincoln Continental, but I would also have picked the 1956 Lincoln Premiere. In fact, that would have been my FIRST choice.
  • 85
    Raymond United States November 5, 2014 at 11:18
    Have you guys decided that 4 out of 5 is close enough? A 70's Seville? Really? It's as elegant as a Wheaties box and almost as well built. It isn't even the model that had the sloping back end. At least that one showed some thought given to style. ... A bad thoughts but at least thought.
  • 86
    Brian R McMahon United States November 5, 2014 at 11:20
    I'd have substituted the "Camelot Continental" ('61-'63 Lincoln 4-door convertible) as an elegant design, or the '67-70 Cadillac Eldorado for the Seville.
  • 87
    LouB Hayward, CA. November 5, 2014 at 11:22
    Agree on the caddy delete and would substitute the Avanti instead of the Starlight.
  • 88
    Dan Hewett Milwaukee, WI November 5, 2014 at 11:24
    I agree with the choice of the 1956 Lincoln Continental, but I have always thought the 1956 Lincoln Premiere the MOST beautiful and elegant design ever.
  • 89
    Peter Hollinshead United States November 5, 2014 at 11:24
    A great list, missing only the 1951-55 Kaiser and the Studebaker Avanti.
  • 90
    Harbormate Michigan UP November 5, 2014 at 11:25
    The 1976-79 Seville was powered by an Oldsmobile 350 engine that Cadillac fitted with a port fuel injection system. Hence it was the first American car with what is today the standard fuel delivery system on virtually all cars.
  • 91
    Jim US, north of Boston November 5, 2014 at 23:25
    I would have liked to have seen the '61 Lincoln included, and maybe also the '67 Camaro. The '39 Buick phaeton, though before my time, was clean and good-looking, too.
  • 92
    Richard Roche No.Hollywood Ca November 5, 2014 at 23:33
    The 68 Dodge Charger and 63 Stingray should be on this list ! Dump the Caddy!
  • 93
    rdww Michigan November 5, 2014 at 11:36
    Not sure about the Seville. If I had to pick an elegant design from that inelegant era, I'd choose the '79 Riviera or the '80 Cordoba.
  • 94
    Scott CA November 5, 2014 at 11:52
    The Seville is also toward the bottom of any "elegant" list. What about a 1959 Caddy?
  • 95
    Dave Pyle Houston November 5, 2014 at 12:01
    Generally agree with your choices. Of those the Buick is the winner. How about the next five? I would nominate my 1967 Mercury Cougar as a #6. And while some might disagree the 1963-64 Avanti was another Loewy design that broke the mold.
  • 96
    Peter northern California November 5, 2014 at 12:08
    I'm surprised that the '61 Lincoln was not on this list... in the era of garish large cars it was a true departure with restrained elegant design--- much more so than the Seville of the mid-70's.
  • 97
    Mittenboy Atlanta, MI November 5, 2014 at 12:10
    I've had my 77 Seville for 25 years and I'm very proud of it. She still looks elegant going down the road. Four wheel discs, fuel injection, V8 power, the list of positives goes on and on.
  • 98
    Richard Missoula, MT November 5, 2014 at 12:14
    I never liked the Seville , but one of the colors that it came in - FireMist Emberrust was the prettiest color they ever made. I painted my E-Type that color in 1980. Unfortunately, it was lacquer and is NLA.
  • 99
    Terry CALGARY ALBERTA CANADA November 5, 2014 at 12:17
    Agree with all your selections but would add: 63 Pontiac Grand Prix 61-63 Lincoln Continental 60 Cadillac Coupes & Convertibles 57-62 Chrysler 300 Letter Series 62 Oldsmobile Starfire
  • 100
    jeff northern california November 5, 2014 at 12:19
    The 75-79 Seville was built on a Chevy Nova frame, similar to the 80s Cimarron, built on a Cavalier frame. The Seville had a myriad of mechanical issues and was built poorly. To include it as an elegant design while others, such as the 69-71 Continental Mark III or early 60s Continental convertibles or hardtops with suicide doors, or some of the other early Caddies or Chryslers, including the late 50s and early 60s Lebarons and New Yorkers, does not make an accurate list.
  • 101
    Mike Miami November 5, 2014 at 12:22
    I think the Detomaso Pantera qualifies as one of the most beuatifu "American" cars. Although it was built in Italy, it was designed by an American (Tom Tjaarda, whose father created the Lincoln Zephyr) in conjunction with Ford and Peter Brock, engine supplied by ford (351C) and imported by Ford Lincoln Mercury. This car's beauty has remained enduring through the years and at the time it was Ford's answer to the Ferrari, at half the price, 5 times the reliability and faster and easier to maintain.
  • 102
    carlivar Burbank, CA November 5, 2014 at 12:24
    I would argue the 61-67 Lincoln Continental Convertible should be on this list instead of the 56-57.
  • 103
    Fran Ivan Endwell NY November 5, 2014 at 12:26
    Buick nice, Continental MK2 nicer, # 4 NOT. Pictures of each car would have been nice. All suffer from the Ponytail, bearded old man syndrome. (And that is the problem with most old cars, especially the Corvette, Thunderbird). Seems the older Mustangs do not suffer from this. Speaking of the Thunderbird, a 61 through 66 might have been better than some on your list.
  • 104
    Early Daytona Beach November 5, 2014 at 12:33
    I always loved the Seville of this era....would love to have one in light blue or light green. Haggerty, your top 5 is correct.
  • 105
    Dave Orange County CA November 5, 2014 at 12:39
    Cadillac Seville? The author MUST own one because only a person who owns one could love it.
  • 106
    Walt Virginia November 5, 2014 at 12:39
    Reasonable list except for the Seville. They didn't turn heads then, still don't, and never will. Substitute a 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix for that, and expand the list to six to include the 1961 Lincoln Continental.
  • 107
    Derek CA November 5, 2014 at 12:40
    is this article an attempt to start bolstering interest in these specific models? Elegance is not the first word to come to mind when I look at those photos, quite the opposite...perhaps the author should look into the 62-64 Lincoln Continentals to see what pure elegant American design should refer to and then go from there...
  • 108
    Dan Hewett Milwaukee, WI November 5, 2014 at 12:42
    If I had made the choice, #1 would be the 1956 Lincoln Premiere and #2 would be the 1956 Continental Mark II. #3 would be the 1957 Thunderbird, #4 the 1950 Packard with the egg crate grille, and #5 would be 1948 Cadillac Limousine.
  • 109
    Mark N Halifax, NS., CDA November 5, 2014 at 12:45
    I agree that the Seville is questionable. What about the 67-70 Eldorado styling? That was elegance
  • 110
    W.G. Texas November 5, 2014 at 12:46
    1976-1979 Cadillac Seville was an outstanding design, I compare it with the 1967 Eldorado, 246 Dino, Ferrari Daytona, 365 BB and 308 Ferrari all of which I owned. Having had over 140 cars in my time of various makes and models, always mostly tried to choose the best looking one's!
  • 111
    Mark Mayher usa November 5, 2014 at 12:47
    I agree with Tom and mundotaku. Who the hell in their right mind, would have selected a 75-79 Seville?!! I can only think they got some really bad drugs!
  • 112
    Btuce Alexander South Dakota November 5, 2014 at 12:48
    Youdidn't mention the inovative goround breaking before it's time, 65 to 69 Corvair Corsa
  • 113
    Chris Toronto, Canada November 5, 2014 at 12:48
    What about the 1940 Ford instead of the the 75-79 Seville? Who would join me in making this switch to the list? The '40 Ford has great lines, a classic in art-deco styling, and was designed by the great Eugene Gregorie. As one website says: "It could be said that hot-rodding began with the 1940 Ford when our veterans came home from WWII and wanted something affordable they could work on and build up. The design reflects the Art Deco period, with its bold and sweeping lines and minimal flashy exterior components. "
  • 114
    Norm Davis NYC November 5, 2014 at 12:55
    Difference of opinion is to be expected. But "elegant" should define cars that are understated, use quality materials, use the latest and best engineering, and are prized by collectors. 4 of the cars chosen arguable meet those criteria....but the Seville? Overpriced unreliable junk when new, and of no collectible interest to anyone now.
  • 115
    jim hendry san francisco November 6, 2014 at 01:34
    drove a 300 (without permission) on famous devil's slide! what a scary rush
  • 116
    PJD2 Michigan November 6, 2014 at 14:05
    I agree, with mundotaku....55 Imperial newport SMOKES the Nova err Ahh... Seville.... How about the 54 LeSabre, Also smokes the Seville Nova....59 Cadillac pretty much ANY of the Harley Earls cars do....58 Dual Ghia the list is HUGE!!
  • 117
    anthony orwin nyack new york November 6, 2014 at 14:32
    I owned a 53 Studebaker loewy coupe loved it then and still do the Chrysler was the best of the fin cars of the fifties ,the Riviera was nice forget the Caddy
  • 118
    Jeff Hauser utah November 6, 2014 at 14:58
    the first gen front wheel drive Toronado and eldorado were very elegant.
  • 119
    Greg Markham, Cananda November 6, 2014 at 15:59
    I second the remarks by mundotaku in Florida! How this piece of crap Seville made this list baffles me.
  • 120
    Tim Harkleroad Lancaster, PA November 6, 2014 at 17:10
    The Seville is a brick. It's good for what the designer's were given to work with but it's still a graceless brick. The 300B is nice but the 300C is much cleaner and more modern looking. What about the '61 Continental, '63 Grand Prix, '66 Toronado, '63 Avanti, or the Pontiac Solstice. When you look around there have been many beautifully sculpted American cars that didn't rely on surface decoration to make them work visually.
  • 121
    Bob Yarbrough DFW November 6, 2014 at 17:43
    75-79 Seville. Yuck! Somebodies been smokin' some whacky Tobaccy. The most interesting of all wast even mentioned. A 57 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser
  • 122
    William Chicago, Illinois November 6, 2014 at 18:54
    All good choices except the Cadillac Seville! So many others that could have fit the bill... Chrysler Imperial, Cadillac Barritz aprx 59 2dr, just to name a few....
  • 123
    Tom Minneapolis November 6, 2014 at 08:24
    Great first choice the Riv is a great example but the Caddy? Mid 70's cars while challenging to include did have some better examples. How about the 76-77 Chrysler imperial. I do not recall a more luxurious car from that period. My dad had the baby blue Sedan Deville which was nice but the Imperial was far more comfortable in every aspect. Just Sayin!
  • 124
    Patrick (pjmk65) Indiana November 6, 2014 at 08:36
    Pretty good list especially the Buick. If you are not a 1970's snob, the Seville is elegant looking with clean squared off lines. and a plush interior. Too much is made of the Nova connection to the Seville. I have driven X bodies (Nova) and the Seville. They may share parts but they are not the same car.
  • 125
    Ron Gab Maryland November 6, 2014 at 08:53
    First 3 totally agree, but have you lost your mind with the Caddy? Elegant? Could it be mistaken for Caprice? Agree with many a Caddy but not that decade.
  • 126
    Jimbo Tidewater Virginia November 6, 2014 at 09:47
    How about the car that instantly rendered all competing designs obsolete? The 1961 Lincoln Continental.
  • 127
    Art Schlachter Danville, Ky November 6, 2014 at 09:58
    Your comment on the Chrysler 300 with the "bird bath faux spare tire" is your subtle way of slamming the design. With the faux spare tire, people either hated it or loved it. I have people at every show I go to with my 59 Sport Fury compliment me on the cars design including the classy faux spare tire on the trunk deck. The writer of this article must be for Ford or Chevy fan. Let me know what kind of car you drive and I will see if I can come up with an in-kind comment. Maybe the writer owns a Edsel with it's "Horse Collar" grill.
  • 128
    dan czyzewski oregon oh. November 6, 2014 at 10:07
    i agree on the riv. i had one till recently i sold it to buy a 65 t bird a big mistake
  • 129
    Tony Veloudas Virginia November 6, 2014 at 11:13
    Cadillac Seville, GMs answer to the Grand Fury/Dodge Diplomat/Chrysler New Yorker. They all look like they could have been built off the same assembly line. Definitely not the car I would chosen to put in with these other four beautiful automobiles. I'm actually thinking 30s Duesenburgs, Cords, Chryslers and Cadillacs as the most elegant American cars ever. (And I'm 54).
  • 130
    Dan los angeles November 6, 2014 at 12:23
    “In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity”... Shouldn't the 61-63 Lincoln Continental convertible be front and center on this list?
  • 131
    Joe Elliott Seattle, USA November 6, 2014 at 00:23
    I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the Seville is the opposite of elegant.
  • 132
    Jim US, north of Boston November 6, 2014 at 12:39
    I would have liked to have seen the '61 Lincoln included, and maybe also the '67 Camaro. The '39 Buick phaeton, though before my time, was clean and good-looking, too.
  • 133
    Leftycraig Tampa Bay November 7, 2014 at 20:53
    With plenty of other Caddy models to choose from, who in the world chose that ugly brick-looking Seville? How about the '59 stainless-top Eldorado? My vote goes to '66-67 Olds Toronado.
  • 134
    Tim Wisconsin November 7, 2014 at 09:32
    Though I really liked four of the pics, I can think of several more appropriate cars then the Cad. That surely would have NOT been in my top 5 list.
  • 135
    Tim Wisconsin November 7, 2014 at 09:40
    Sorry Rob S., but you surely missed with the Cad. In fact, HANDS DOWN, would be my choice of the 66 T-Bird. Now there was simplistic elegance (which was not always the case with T-birds in general). Now go watch the movie, "Thelma & Louise," with Regret. lol
  • 136
    Michael Monahan Ontario, Canada November 7, 2014 at 22:26
    I would place the '55 Packard Caribbean ahead of the Chrysler.
  • 137
    Jim Mammina United States November 7, 2014 at 10:45
    Love the Seville, for those with refined tastes only
  • 138
    Jim Mammina United States November 7, 2014 at 10:50
    The Seville is a truly inspired choice. Only appreciated by this with refined tastes though.
  • 139
    Ken Florida November 7, 2014 at 22:53
    What about the 2nd generation Corvair? A beautiful Bill Mitchell creation. It still looks new and fresh today.
  • 140
    Scott Asheville November 8, 2014 at 14:57
    In the context of the period the riv and seville were remarkable. The seville was like an American Bentley. I grew up in a wealthy CT town where german cars reigned, in those 5 years sevilles overtook them all. Of course, BMW, then Jag became the new debutantes as gas went up and domestic quality plunged.
  • 141
    Scott Asheville November 8, 2014 at 15:01
    In the context of the period the riv and seville were remarkable. The seville was like an American Bentley. I grew up in a wealthy CT town where german cars reigned, in those 5 years sevilles overtook them all. Of course, BMW, then Jag became the new debutantes as gas went up and domestic quality plunged.
  • 142
    Peter Bradley United States November 8, 2014 at 17:47
    Boy is this article going to generate a lot of flack, especially the Seville. If you wanted a Cadillac in the group perhaps you should have chosen one of the pre-war Fleetwood 60 Specials. The Seville was OK with the gas engine, but 78 and later models were available with the infamous GM diesel. That engine ruined any pretense of elegance or luxury. It make an incredible racket. At idle it was impossible to conduct a conversation standing next to the car.
  • 143
    Michael James Florida November 8, 2014 at 21:48
    I bought a 1970 coupe Deville when I was 18 and have owned over 30 Cadillacs and even with the Seville having a fuel injected Oldsmobile 350 from 75 -79 there style never deserved a Cadillac emblem . I would rather have another Allante with all the electrical problems then own such a plain design as the Seville shown .
  • 144
    S Papai Indpls November 8, 2014 at 11:04
    Unlike some others, I've always liked the understated style of the late '70s Seville, from the first time I saw one. I'm not left handed tho, so I'm in my left mind lol.
  • 145
    Dan Cincinnati, OH November 8, 2014 at 12:22
    It seems "elegant" is in the eye of the beholder..... my vote would be for the '66 Olds Toronado.
  • 146
    Len boschma Beloit,WI November 8, 2014 at 00:51
    I have owned a few 75-79 Seville's. 2 of the most notable were a Yellow 1976 I purchased in 1983 and used as a daily driver for a few months until buying my new 1984 Olds 98 Regency. The second was a 1978 I purchased on a whim from a collector who had it advertised online a few years back. It was a gorgeous champagne fire-mist color!! I made money on both of them after enjoying them myself a while and they went even more deserving homes with buyers who enjoyed them even more than I had.
  • 147
    Daniel Grunwald IL. November 9, 2014 at 13:07
    Really Rob? You would call a 56 Chrysler a more iconic design than a 63 Split Window Corvette? I have always liked the 75 Sevilles though. They went against the grain of huge boat Cads and and were a very classy as well as practical ,(until they added that ugly bustle on the back), American luxury car. Nothing else competed with them in their day. Dan
  • 148
    Gary Minnesota November 9, 2014 at 23:43
    I can't believe you picked the 1975-79 Cadillac Seville??? IF you were going to pick a Cadillac it would have to be a 1949 or 1954-56 but not the late 70;s Seville.
  • 149
    Gord Chatham, Ontario November 10, 2014 at 20:33
    How about the 1939 Lincoln Zepher V12 and any Thunderbird 1955 thru 1966. The Caddy Seville??? Really? I want some of whatever you're smoking!
  • 150
    Pete Johnson Rochester Hills Mich. November 11, 2014 at 09:54
    The Chevy-lac sure started some controversy, being a Nova underneath , it truley is an acquired taste, understated, but still not the best "less is more" design .
  • 151
    Bob M Traverse City MI November 12, 2014 at 22:11
    '56 Chrysler 300B was very plain, had no styling hook. Elegance? With the same basic sheet metal as the 300B, the '55-'56 Imperial Windsor coupes had elegance; tasteful chrome accents, wire wheels, and those gunsight tail lights...
  • 152
    John Leese Grand Rapids MI November 12, 2014 at 12:12
    How great that you recognized the classic design of the '76-'79 Seville. It is truely timeless and influenced the styling of the full sized GM luxury cars for the next decade. Those who don't appreciate this car need to take a closer look at it's beautiful lines and advanced technology.
  • 153
    John Minnesota November 19, 2014 at 14:35
    Sure, go ahead and bash the 75-79 Seville. I guess you would rather have your Disco Roofed Cordoba with Fine Corinthian Leather. Or diss any '70's cars (uh, theres the E-Body Mopars, Grand Am/Can-Am that deserve some respect bros). FACT- the 1975 Seville was the first commercially successfull FUEL INJECTED AMERICAN CAR! Yeah Buddy- what we all take for granted today! Unlike the Corvette's mechanical system- this one worked really good! FACT- it showed Detroit could make a GOOD luxurious small car- not another Granada. FACT- The Seville was a seriously fast sedan for the era. FACT- was a VERY HEAVILY Modified X-body (read Nova and vairants) platform. So go ahead and diss it if you want. I would rather have that car than a grab bag full of Camaros any day! There, ya been Schooled!!
  • 154
    George Caruso Fort Washington Md. April 7, 2016 at 10:07
    Hmmmm, Absolutely yes on the Rivera, Continental, and Studebaker. Why restrict this to postwar only, that lets out some real stunners. As to the Pantera, the glider kit came from Italy, but it was as American as some of the others which have parts or sub assemblies from Canada.
  • 155
    Jesse Palinkas PA May 27, 2016 at 11:30
    Regarding the Seville, I remember reading articles back then that stated that the only panel shared with the Nova was the trunk floor.
  • 156
    Paul Britain August 17, 2016 at 16:37
    I'm pleased folk are standing up for the '76/'79 Seville. I use one every day along with my '79 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II. The Seville is timeless, an incredibly clean and beautiful car. How many times are ill informed people going say they're a dressed up Nova. You simply know nothing about the development of the car and how far they took it to get that superb motor car. You want proof? Ride in my Rolls and in most cases the Seville is better riding, better steering, just a great car. The LAST really great piece of cadillac engineering.

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