If you had to name the vehicle of the decade from the year you were born, what would you say? It’s a question that holds a lot of meaning for many folks, especially those with a love for the cars of yesteryear.
So, what’s in a car? We’re not talking about stray french fries or lost quarters. We’re talking nostalgia, fond memories, a passion that drives collectors, a deep love that fuels time-consuming restoration. Really, it’s all these things, and many more, for different people. Some of us use cars as a utility, others as art, and still others as the source for thrills and adrenaline.
To celebrate the ending of a decade, we’re taking a walk through history to showcase the most beloved cars of the decade throughout the years. Our picks were decided based on sales numbers and consumer sentiment from the given period. Check out our list, and let us know what your favorites are in the comments.
1940s Vehicle of the Decade: Lincoln Continental
The Continental is a car as American as can be. While production halted during the mid-40s to conserve supplies for the war, it was still a staple in American culture during the time and worked to elevate the standard of what a luxury vehicle should truly be.
1950s Vehicle of the Decade: Chevy Corvette
The Corvette was born in 1953 and quickly became one of the most collectible and sought after cars on the road. Its bold styling and impressive performance became synonymous with high-performance vehicles, making it the most beloved car of the 1950s.
1960s Vehicle of the Decade: Pontiac GTO
The GTO marked the introduction of the American Muscle Car. Packing an unprecedented amount of power under the hood of a slick, stylish exterior set the GTO apart from the moment of its introduction. While the GTO remained a bestseller throughout the ‘60s, it catalyzed the rush for other manufacturers to create competing muscle cars, which would shape a generation.
1970s Vehicle of the Decade: Olds Cutlass Supreme
Oldsmobile made a massive mark on the auto industry in the ‘70s with its extensive Cutlass lineup. But one car stood above the rest as a household name and collector favorite: the Cutlass Supreme. It was a luxury take on the popular Olds offering, one that was so beloved that it enjoyed a nearly 30-year production run.
1980s Vehicle of the Decade: Delorean
Nowadays, we think of the Delorean as the car from Back to the Future, but its popularity far preceded its big-screen debut. The Delorean was marketed as a competitor to Lotus, Ferrari, and Porche, but lacked many of the features that would put it on par with these brands. Nevertheless, the car sold in impressive numbers and remains a pillar of cliche 1980s culture.
1990s Vehicle of the Decade: Lincoln Towncar
There’s no denying that driving a Towncar is a lot like driving a boat. But it’s a boat outfitted with cushy interiors, a supremely comfortable ride, and an impressive amount of endurance. The Towncar was nothing new in the 90s, but it became prolific during the decade as a symbol of class, carrying celebrities and other powerful people, and often being produced as limousines.
2000s Vehicle of the Decade: Ford Mustang
The Mustang is one of the longest-produced cars in American history, so we’d be remiss to not include it here. Surprisingly, the 2000s were a sort of renaissance for Ford, a time during which the Mustang saw higher sales numbers than it had in decades. In the early aughts, Mustang reclaimed its place as one of the most desired and impressive sports cars out there.
2010s Vehicle of the Decade: Tesla Model 3
While the Tesla brand as a whole is somewhat polarizing – many love it, many hate it – it’s undeniable that it has transformed the auto industry. Its initial public offering, the Model S, was very well received but carried a price tag that limited access to it. Then came the Model 3 in 2017, which offered a price much more accessible to the public, and overhauled the preconceived notions of electric cars, replacing them with impressions of quality, slick design and innovation.