According to You: The cars that best symbolize the U.S.A.


We live in an ever-changing world in which long distances are traversed in seconds on the internet and most things are accessible via Google by a far larger audience than ever intended. Life was much different before the advent of the personal computer; there was a time when all things American weren’t clouded by the fact that some Chevys are made in South Korea, some Hondas are more American than Chevys, and Lincoln sedans are still for sale in China. Very few things are simplistic these days, but we can still ask a seemingly basic question to see what answers we receive.

We can ask, we did ask, and we received some fantastic answers to this very query last week from the Hagerty Community. The results were beyond positive, and they showed just how diverse American vehicles are when they represent the good ‘ol U.S. of A. And perhaps it comes as no surprise, but the best car to represent the U.S. isn’t a car at all.

Gold Medal: Trucks (or just the Ford F-series)


I stopped counting after the umpteenth mention of the American truck; it’s clearly the ultimate expression of rolling Americana. It always had historical credibility as one of the U.S.’ favorite vehicles, but now that so many new family vehicles are of the crew-cab variety? And even EV automakers have their sights set on premium pickups? The evidence is simply overwhelming.

Trucks literally do everything in America, and members of the Hagerty Community are right. Except there’s more to it, as I did a quick tally of brand mentions: For those with a preference, six folks chose the Ford F-Series, with only one upvote apiece for Chevy and Dodge trucks. I guess being the best-selling truck for 45 straight years has its merits in society, not just in sales!

Silver Medal: Chevrolet Corvette

2021 MCACN corvettes
Jeremy McLean

There were nine mentions of “Corvette” from our Community, and it’s obvious why America’s sports car came so close to the popularity of the nation’s favorite truck. Even our staffers have a deep-seated passion for Corvettes of all generations. Be it a solid-axle first generation or the latest mid-engine monster ready to lay waste to modern exotics from Europe, it’s clear that the Corvette has stolen our hearts.

Bronze Medal: Ford Model T

Ford Heritage Vault

It’s pretty hard to question the impact of the Ford Model T on both America and the world. And because the mass-produced Model T was sold globally, there’s more than a hint of American Exceptionalism present that cannot be matched by any other car in this list.

Be it the yet-to-be finished roads in Europe, Australia, South America, Asia, or Africa, everyone who experienced the Model T in its heydey learned it was a product of the U.S.A. Ford beat everyone to the global market, which makes it a little unfortunate that it didn’t take the top spot. But with four votes (and nine mentions, which count for something), apparently history hasn’t been overlooked by many Hagerty Community members.

Honorable Mentions:

Many of us (from many generations) understand the cultural impact of the 1957 Chevy, and it subsequently received four mentions. But step back to the era when the Tri-Five Chevy blossomed, and something more important emerges. As Hagerty Community member Geisenj said, “Legendary cars of the ’50s come to mind when I think of American cars. Have to go with 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air.”

Ford Heritage Vault

I can hear a chorus of comments about our (gasp!) omission of the Ford Mustang. But fear not! We indeed received three votes for the perennial pony car. And three votes for Cadillac, though I suspect all were referring to the golden era in the 1950s not the alphabet soup of European-tuned sedans in our recent history.

Then we received two votes for American ragtops, or, as Ric_Rabbit said: “The cars that best symbolize America are the big GM convertibles of the early ’50s. WWII was behind us and auto manufacturers were in full swing building high-style cars that Americans had gone too long without.” Can’t argue with any of these submissions.

AMC Levis Gremlin Ad
Flickr/Alden Jewell

The vehicles with just one vote still deserve a mention, as the long running Chevrolet Impala pleased folks for decades. The 1961 Lincoln Continental is a lovely take on progressive luxury. And who wouldn’t want to take a 1957 Chrysler 300C convertible out for a spin one evening? Rounding out the list of one-voters was the American station wagon, the Duesenberg brand, the Jeep (presumably of the CJ/Wrangler variety), the AMC Gremlin, and one extreme oddball: As the pyrobirk put it, the Toyota Camry is an “immigrant that reached its peak here in the U.S..”

As a child of immigrants that started with close to nothing upon their arrival stateside, I appreciate pyrobirk’s sentiment. Toyota is still a Japanese company, but its roots in several parts of America and its customer-oriented dealer network can still show the world what American labor (and top-notch customer service) is all about. Knowing what I do now, which vehicle shall I add to the list?

I’m tempted to throw in the Camry’s main competition, the highly successful, company-saving 1986 Ford Taurus. While it advanced the definition of the American family sedan, and was the subject of many books (here, here, here, and here), its positive reputation soured over time. Which never happened with the Camry (to Toyota’s credit), so I’m sticking with the gold-medal recipient above.

Nothing else has the staying power and the nearly-universal appeal of the American pickup truck, and one such example is my daily driver. Always a good idea to practice what you preach!

Thank you for reading—I hope you have a lovely week!

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