American car manufacturers have turned out many models that went on to become beloved classics. Cars you remember from childhood are now considered some of the best ever to be made, whether because of design, performance, power or a combination of all three. Here are seven models whose legacy continues to stand the tests of time.
1960s Pontiac GTO
With its 389-cubic-inch V8 engine, the ’64 GTO defied a General Motors ban against “big engines” and stormed the market. Considered by some car lovers to be the first “muscle car,” this model went on to include a 400-cubic-inch engine in its ’67 release, giving it an impressive 360 horsepower.
1968-1970 Plymouth Road Runner
Another popular “muscle car,” the Road Runner dispensed with decoration in favor of delivering pure power with some models offering as much as 425 horsepower. Through clever licensing, Plymouth was even able to make the car’s horn sound like signature call of the Warner Brothers cartoon character.
1960s Ford Thunderbird
Produced in response to the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford’s Thunderbird started out as a two-seat model and added two more seats in ’58. Its distinctive headlight and grille design made it a stunning choice for cruising that’s still popular today, especially the convertible models.
1960s Ford Mustang
As the first “pony car,” Mustang didn’t offer quite as much horsepower as other cars with V-8 engines, but it holds the distinction of being Ford’s second longest running production car. A special model built in ’69 called the Boss was built to accommodate a 429-cubic-inch engine and is quite rare due to the fact that only 1,400 were made.
1960s Chevy Camaro
This American icon remains a very popular classic car. Made to rival the Mustang, the Camaro delivered a sleek look that’s still desirable today. The Camaro ZL1 was a particularly special model that gave drivers and impressive 430 horsepower. Finding one may be difficult, though; only 70 of them rolled off the production line in ’69.
1953-1966 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible
It’s hard to get more “classic” than the Eldorado with its luxurious body and eye-catching fins. Cruising down the street in one of these flashy convertibles was sure to attract attention, and the design is one that continues to turn heads at car shows. Former Monkee Michael Nesmith even mentioned the model in his unique song, “Eldorado to the Moon.”
1955-1957 “Tri-Five” Chevrolet
Though it was only in production for a few years, this model of Chevy stole the hearts of both cruisers and power-hungry drivers. Offering a small-block V8 engine gave car lovers the option of more “oomph” while the sharp fins added a bit of zip to the otherwise simple look.
Whatever level of car enthusiast you consider yourself, it’s easy to see why these cars continue to hold a special place in the hearts of drivers and collectors alike. If you’re lucky enough to see one of these special cars—or better yet, drive one—you’ll see why they’re still popular today.