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The turn of the century was an exciting time in car history. Perhaps the most important vehicle of all time was manufactured during this decade. The Ford Model T changed global manufacturing. Henry Ford and his brilliant assembly line design made car production less expensive, faster, and far more efficient. In a similar burst of innovation, the Cadillac Model K introduced the use of standardized car parts.
The 1910s tore away from the less powerful 6-cylinder engines and experimented with larger, more powerful engines. The Packard Twin Six offered a luxurious 12-cylinder engine for unparalleled power and a smooth drive. The 1915 Cadillac V-8 Type 51 offered a highly styled body and a powerful V-8 engine.
In the 1920s, the unit body construction of modern cars was introduced. Vehicles designed and built during this decade include the Chrysler Model B-70, the Auburn Speedster, and the 1927 LaSalle. While these vehicles are now close to one hundred years old, there are still many hidden away across the country. During this decade, annual vehicle sales averaged 5 million cars. Compare this to around 3 million a year during the Great Depression.
During the 1930s, vehicles became both streamlined and compact. Manufacturers experimented with front wheel drive, independent suspension systems, and 5-cylinder radial motors. As a result, the Cadillac 8, Cadillac 12, Cadillac 16, Buick Roadmaster, and the 1935 Dodge Caravan were manufactured. These cars were well made and developed into models that are still manufactured now. For example, the Buick Roadmaster was in production until 1992 and the Dodge Caravan is one of the most popular minivans on the market.
During World War II, many car manufacturers ceased production of motor vehicles and turned to plane manufacturing. During this period of time, the vehicles that were manufactured were made to be both practical and durable. An excellent example is the 1949 Oldsmobile Station Wagon.
After the war, designers went a little crazy. Some of the cars on the road looked more like spaceships than cars. The “Fabulous Fifties” included fantasy vehicles galore. The sleek designed featured large quantities of chrome and a myriad of accessories. Wrapped, single piece windshields became popular and are still used in modern vehicles. The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, the 1957 Chrysler Diablo, the Cadillac Eldorado, and the Ford Thunderbird are all excellent examples of the huge shift in design that took place during this decade.
The 1960s brought muscle cars to the masses. These were the most powerful, attractive vehicles around. The classic styling of the Ford Mustang, Dodge Charger, and Chevrolet Camaro filled the dreams of almost every car enthusiast. While the 1960s were not filled solely with muscle cars, they do come to mind first. Another vehicle that stands out during this period of time is the Lincoln Continental. Car manufacturers also produced a myriad of compact cars for the general public.
The oil crisis resulted in an increase in compact car production and a drop in the popularity of vehicles that were far less fuel efficient. The Ford Bronco and the Plymouth Barracuda were only a hint of what was to come in the 1980s. The 1970s include the last of what can be classified as a Classic Car today. However, a Classic Car is more than 20 years old. Soon, the 1980s will be included in the Classic Car group.
While these cars are not yet on the books as Classics, there are a few standout models that collectors are holding on to until they become classics. These models include the Dodge Lancer Shelby, The Mercury Cougar XR-7, the Honda Prelude, and the Lincoln Continental Mark VII LSC.