The American auto industry is known for many things. For starters, American cars are designed to be more affordable than European cars, which isn’t surprising as Americans invented the moving assembly line to aid in mass production. American cars are also known for their powerful V8 engines, especially popular muscle cars like the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger.
However, one thing American cars aren’t known for is design. American cars may match some of the fastest European cars when it comes to speed, but they’ve usually lagged behind in the design department. Not all of them, though. American manufacturers have also produced several gorgeous cars over the years that can rival the Jaguar E-Types and Ferrari 250 GTOs of the world, though they’re few and far between. Don’t believe us? Maybe these gorgeous American classic cars will convince you.
10 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray
The second-generation Corvette set the automotive world on fire when it debuted in 1963. The most impressive thing about it was its design – it had a new shark-inspired design featuring smooth lines, hidden headlamps, razor-sharp fender shapes, and, of course, the now-iconic split rear window.
The second-generation Corvette also received a boost in the power department, as it offered up to 360-hp under the hood. With some examples costing almost a million, the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray is one of the most expensive American cars you can buy at auction.
9 Ford GT40
In the ’60s, Henry Ford was obsessed with getting revenge on Ferrari after the Italian marque pulled out of a takeover deal. Ford decided that the best way to hurt Ferrari was by building a car that could end its dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The result was the GT40.
The GT40 was an instant success, famously recording a 1-2-3 finish to end Ferrari’s winning streak. In addition to that incredible accomplishment, the car’s beautiful design has served as an inspiration for the modern Ford GT.
8 Shelby Cobra Daytona
We almost included the Shelby Cobra, but to avoid lengthy arguments regarding whether it’s American or not, we’ve gone for the next best option – the beautiful Shelby Cobra Daytona. The Cobra Daytona was largely based on the Shelby Cobra but was entirely built in the US.
The Cobra Daytona was specifically built to take on the Ferrari 250 GTO in the racing world, which explains the similarities in design. With only six examples made, the Cobra Daytona is among the rarest American cars ever.
7 Pontiac GTO Judge
There’s a lot of debate in the automotive world regarding which car was the first muscle car, but everyone agrees that the Pontiac GTO played a vital role in popularizing the segment. The GTO started as a package for the LeMans, but gearheads loved its design and power so much that Pontiac made it a standalone model.
Of all the GTOs ever made, the 1969 ‘Judge’ is the most desirable. We love its beautiful coke bottle design, wide tires, unique details, and available powerful Ram Air IV V8 engine with almost 400 hp on tap.
6 1961 Lincoln Continental
In the ’20s, Ford established Lincoln as its luxury division. Of all the Lincolns ever built, the 1961 Continental is arguably the best-looking. This luxury sedan had a low-slung boxy look that gave it an elegance that most American luxury sedans lacked.
Sadly, this car is associated with one of the worst moments in American history, as it was the car president John F. Kennedy was in when he was assassinated.
5 Buick Riviera
When going through any list of the greatest Buicks ever made, you’ll never miss the Riviera. This personal luxury car was a huge hit thanks to its beauty and lightweight nature compared to its rival – the Ford Thunderbird.
Almost every Riviera generation will turn heads, but we have a soft spot for the 1971-1972 Riviera “Boat-Tail”. It was designed by Bill Mitchell, who wanted to combine several classic shapes to build a new luxury coupe.
4 1955 Ford Thunderbird
The Corvette was a huge success when it debuted in 1953. Jealous of Chevy’s success, Ford decided to build a worthy competitor, resulting in the Thunderbird. Ford’s plan worked like a charm, as the Thunderbird was praised for its gorgeous looks.
Although the two-seater Thunderbird was popular, Ford still decided to do away with it after 1957, replacing it with the rather garish 1958 T-bird that sat four.
3 Dodge Viper
In the early ’90s, Dodge decided to develop a new sports car that could compete with the best European sports cars of the day while costing a lot less. After several years of development, the Viper was born.
The Viper was an instant hit. It had a cool name, a sleek design, and a monstrous V10 engine under the hood giving it insane performance. The Viper went on to enjoy a nearly 29-year production run with minimal changes to its overall design theme.
2 1957 Chrysler 300C
The ‘300C’ name has been used on several Chrysler models over the years. This article will focus on the personal luxury car that Chrysler built from 1955 to 1965, particularly the 1957 model.
The 1957 300C received a new design featuring a “yawning” trapezoid-shaped grille, dual headlights, a “Vista-Dome” windshield, and rising tail fins starting from the door. The 1957 300C also received a power upgrade, as it had a 6.4-liter V8 with 375 hp on tap.
1 Chevrolet Bel Air
The Bel Air was a huge success for Chevy throughout its 30-year production run. There’s a lot to love about the Bel Air, but we think its design had a lot to do with its success, especially the second-generation model.
The second-generation Bel Air debuted in 1955 with a revamped design. The 1955 Bel Air notably had a Ferrari-inspired front grille, but most gearheads prefer the 1957 Bel Air’s more conventional front grille design. The second-generation Bel Air still turns heads today whether in coupe or convertible form.