Top five American cars in the present-day (or recent past)

The inspiration for this post comes amusingly from a friend’s rabid and almost universal hatred of all cars that are American. It led us to ask ourselves— is this kind of knee-jerk dismissal passé? Surely, not all cars coming out of Detroit are an abomination, are they? And as we had concluded recently, the answer came swiftly: certainly not.

Our criteria for this list was simple:

  1. Does this car do the American automotive enthusiast (in particular one who might have traditionally had a European or Japanese bent) proud?
  2. Would we rock this?

Here they are, in no particular order and not restricted to a specific price point or category in any way— there’s something in here for almost everyone.

Ford Focus ST:

As discussed recently.

Mustang Boss 302:

Why this and not the Shelby GT500? Simple: just the refreshing purity of the Boss 302, which gives you everything you need and nothing that you don’t. To us, it is the 911 GT3 of the Mustang lineup. The GT500 may have ‘more’ (of everything), but more isn’t always better.

Cadillac CTS-V:

The American car that gave the BMW M5 a run for its money (with ample change to spare). Make ours the wagon.

Corvette ZR1:

Again, think value. World-beating ‘hypercar’ performance at a less-than-supercar price (and, naysayers might argue, cachet).

Dodge Dart R/T:

We admit, this one was the hardest to include on this list (see our comments 1, 2, and 3 at the bottom)— Dodge’s four-door compact car (née Alfa Romeo Giulietta) doesn’t exactly set us alight with desire. But it’s been well-reviewed, looks and sounds decent, and is based on an honest-to-goodness Italian platform (albeit an economy car’s). For an affordable, ‘practical’ family car to round out this top five, one could do worse. Certainly, Dodge has (in the past).

Agree? Disagree? Drop a line in the comments.

¹ From a purely performance perspective, a Camaro ZL1 might have been the better inclusion to round out our top five, but we just like the Mustang Boss 302 better from a personal standpoint, even though the ZL1 is unquestionably impressive (and outperforms the Mustang, quite frankly). Sorry, Camaro fans (at least we were honest about our bias).

² The Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma were intentionally excluded from this list – recall that we made a reference to Detroit – even though one could probably make the argument that either/or belongs (probably the Tesla).

³ Were the Cadillac ATS-V already out, the Dart probably wouldn’t have made the cut.

Update (December 19, 2012): Can’t believe we forgot the Pontiac G8 GXP. It has been a few years.

Make this one our fifth choice in place of the Dart.

(Image credits:,,,— fittingly enough)

~ by velofinds on December 18, 2012.

13 Responses to “Top five American cars in the present-day (or recent past)”

  1. I have to agree. CTS-V, make mine a wagon. It is one of the only modern cars that isn’t scared to not look like everyone else. I think it looks great and performs insanely.

    I want to hate on a Corvette also, but if it had a european badge/name the haters would be lovers.

    All the rest is crap. haha

  2. Well if the intention was to prove your pal right, you have excelled.
    1 European
    2 So ugly it’s not funny
    3 The image you chose says it. Cynical use of wire mesh does not maketh a M5 challenger
    4 Corvette is a synonym for bad taste
    5 European

    Btw MCB is the best!

    • The image you chose says it. Cynical use of wire mesh does not maketh a M5 challenger

      Oh I’m not sure, I think the M5’s flared nostrils are just as offensive. And don’t get me started on its synthetic soundtrack!

  3. Kind of hard to call the Focus american, since the only thing that’s not european about it is its badge. Sweet car, though.
    And, would probably switch Dart with the new Viper for similar reasons.

  4. accini and KP, valid point. In that case, add #3 to the list of criteria: irrespective of its origin, it is sold in the US and wears a US manufacturer’s badge 😉

  5. Pontiac G8/GTO ftw! probably my favourite “American” (or Pseudo-American-Australian) cars of the last 20 years. I do like the Boss 302 from your list…..although it is mostly vulgar. It does, however, have Alcantara in the interior—-which really wins it proper points!

  6. Dart was a risky move. I will be curious to see what we say about it in 10 years. I have not driven it and know very little about it (except that it is made in my home state and based on an Alfa)

  7. I don’t get the Corvette haters. I’m not a fan but I respect them. Grand Sport or Z06 are track monsters and will give a real hard time to your M3 or Carrera or … you name it. Corvette is definitely one of the top five American cars of today or recent past.

  8. I think I agree with all these after the exclusion of the Dart and the inclusion of the G8 but I don’t think that the Caddy beats the M5 as the interior for the M5 is much nice and its generally a nicer car to drive.

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