Top 5 Iconic Cars from the '50s to the '90s
Cars are absolutely everywhere. To say that cars are a part of our daily life is an insane understatement! To most, a car is nothing more than means of a transportation. Point A to point B blah blah blah... We've all heard the "non-enthusiast's" view on why our passion is useless and how we waste our money. It always strikes me as odd that someone could look at a car and not see a work of art! It's like an art collector looking at an original Monet, or a symphony lover listening to Bach or Mozart! However, there are some cars that even the average Joe will appreciate. Cars that make everyone stop dead in their tracks and say: "God damn! That's a sexy beast!" These cars are iconic and I'd like to go over a few of the cars that I believe are some of the most sought after between the 50s to 60s.
The 1950's: 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air
We start with the 1957 Chevy Bel-air! Obviously, right? Who hasn't stopped to admire the ol' "AK57" once or twice? Those big chrome bumpers and the unforgettable side trim are what really sets the '57 Chevy apart from anything else. The body curves flow so effortlessly. Surprisingly though, 1957 was supposed to be the dawning of a whole new era for the Chevy car line; and the '57 Chevy we know today was the back-up plan. General Motors was going to completely re-design their Bel-air model but a series of production delays made this impossible. There were several trim levels available to the public depending on how deep your pockets were.The 150 was the base model of base models and about as average as you could get for the time. However, if you really dug deep and threw a whopping $2,857 on the barrel, you could have yourself the El Morocco! This was the highest class '57 Chevy money could buy off the lot. The El Morocco had absolutely everything including: power steering, power brakes, padded dash, power windows, power seats, air conditioning, a rear radio speaker (OMG!!!), and an "autotronic eye" that bolted to the dash and would dim the headlights automatically when there was oncoming traffic! There were also a wide variety of engines available: from the 160hp "Blue Flame Six" (inline 6 cylinder) to the revolutionary "Super Turbo-Fire" 283hp 283ci V8 (which was naturally aspirated) The '57 Chevy is an extremely sought after car even 50+ years after it's birth that wasn't actually supposed to happen.
The 1960's: Volkswagen Beetle:
Moving on, we take a look at the Volkswagen Beetle! Lately VW has been getting a lot of negative attention in the media and has been stirring up a frenzy with the pollution activists from all over the world. The Beetle was introduced in 1939 at the Berlin Motor show and is still very popular today. For now though, let's focus on what many call the "golden era" of the Beetle, the '60s! The Beetle is one of the most high number production cars on the road today. It's name deriving from the shape of the body is hilariously fitting especially for the early days because the car was not much faster than the insect! In the early 60's the Beetle came with a 1200cc rear mounted engine producing a staggering 40 hp... Yes 40. But with the 7.0:1 compression ratio this was actually a step up from past models! Moving into the late 1966 the German's came to their senses and offered a 1500cc engine throwing down a mind boggling 53hp! With a 0-60 time of 20.4 seconds you were sure to impress the ladies! In all seriousness though, Volkswagen seemed to have performance in the back of their mind during the 60's; because every model year had small quirks that had been fiddled with. Ranging from bigger brakes and sway bars to the "semiautomatic" gearbox introduced in 1968. The price was also outstanding for the time! From $1,565 in 1960 to $2,200 in 1969 the Beetle was a steal! If only one could find "like new" 60's Beetle for that price now....
The 1970's: De Tomaso Pantera
When most people were focused sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, the gear heads of the time were craving more power! The production cars were becoming more and more advanced, and our next iconic car was no exception. The 1971 De Tomaso Pantera! The Pantera, meaning panther, was the car to replace the popular De Tomaso Mangusta and was an instant hit. Production was limited, however; to only three cars per day. These cars were a product of collaboration from a number of different nationalities which was something that was not extremely popular in the '70s. Race car driver Alejandro De Tomaso funded the design and Giampaolo Dallara helped to style the car. Many people say that the Pantera slightly resembles the infamous Lamborghini Miura, which Dallara also had a hand in designing. Powered by a Ford 351 Cleveland and backed with a 5-speed transaxle this car would go like stink!
The 1980's: Delorean DMC-12
The 1981-1982 Delorean DMC-12 is somewhat of a unicorn of the car world. It's stainless steel body was so sleek and awkward. Partnered with the gull-wing doors, although used previously by Mercedes-Benz, had bright-eye onlookers screaming: "Oh my God, its the FUTURE!". John Z. Delorean was a former General Motors executive who set out to make his own sports car. He had one basic goal in mind at the time: To make a sports car available for $12,000. Although the intentions were good, the execution of the Delorean's design left something to be desired in the early '80s. The more popular sports cars of the era had flowing lines while the DMC-12 looked like it was designed with only a straight edge. It's stainless body was brilliant when new but quickly lost its luster unless properly maintained. In addition, the Delorean was severely under powered as well! The 2.8 liter V6 developed by PRV only produced 130hp. How Doc and Marty ever made it up to 88 mph I will never know. The car was only made for two years because John Z. Delorean was arrested and faced cocaine trafficking charges. Although the charges were later dropped, the company was in shambles and had to close its doors. But here is the thing: with all this talk about how the DMC-12 was a failure, can you think of a more iconic '80s car? Yes, there were better looking cars of course and there were faster cars, but to me, nothing screams '80s like the good old DMC-12.
The 1990's: Honda NSX
Last, but certainly not least, we look at the 1990's. One of the most iconic cars from the '90s is the ever popular Honda NSX. Why not the Supra or the other plethora of cars? Well because NSX at the time was game changing. In a very similar sense, the 3000GT VR4 was game changing, but this one doesn't completely fall apart after 50k miles. Not many people know that "NSX" was the code name for Honda's beautiful new creation before it was unveiled to the public at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show. It stands for "New Sports car eXperimental" and it stuck with the car better than any other name Honda could come up with. The NSX was supposed to be a competitor for the Ferrari 328, which changed to the newer 348 by the time of launch. The two cars were extremely close in the performance department! The C30A V6 in the NSX produced 270hp and had a red line of an astounding 8,000 rpm. 0-60mph was dealt with in a staggering 5.7 seconds thanks to a curb weight of 3,009 lbs. The engine was changed to the C32B in 1997 which produced an extra 20hp. By putting the engine in the middle of the car, an overall height was kept down to 46.1 inches!
Iconic cars never loose their luster! They never fail to catch the eye of most people who are even remotely interested in the automotive world. They don't have to be the fastest or the prettiest, they just need to have that "X-factor." Anyone can explain details of a car to someone until their ears bleed and that person just wouldn't get it. But being up close to any car with the "X-factor" everyone instantly understands what is so great about it!
So what do you think? Do you agree with our choices? Or are we just crazy. Comment in the section below AND let us know what you'd like to see us write about next.
We will begin having BIWEEKLY articles every Tuesday so stay tuned!
Written By: Gary Zulegar & Alex Martinez | Proofread By: Monte Hawkins
This blog was sponsored by Extreme Customs, a local truck accessory and build shop located right here in Wisconsin! We encourage you to check them out here: https://www.extremecustoms.com/