5 American Sports Cars That Illustrated the Times

The styling and performance of American cars have always historically reflected the feelings of the times that they were made in. Just like the land yachts of the 1950s with their elevated tail fins were a symbol of post-WWII prosperity, the powerful muscle cars of the 1960s illustrated the fascination America was developing with pure performance and speed. Courtesy of Browns Jeep Chrysler, we survey some examples American Sports cars that perfectly represented the feelings of the times.

Shelby Cobra

The brainchild of race car driver Carroll Shelby, the Cobra was born when he arranged a deal to stuff various Ford V-8 engines into British AC lightweight roadsters. The 427 Cobra, built from 1965 to 1967 with Ford’s big block 427 V-8, was Shelby’s tour-de-force with flared fenders, massive leg pipes, and insanely high horsepower. While it wasn’t a financial success in its day, the Cobra was a powerful, brute force sportscar that set the bar for raw performance during its day.

Plymouth Superbird

The Roadrunner Superbird was built by Plymouth for one reason, to compete at the 1970 NASCAR series. While its pointed beak and large rear wing made a difference on the track, its looks were considered goofy by the average car buyer and it didn’t sell very well. However, driven by Richard Petty at the 1970 NASCAR series, the car won many races and firmly established Plymouth as a manufacturer of serious racecars.

Saleen S7

Located in Cornona California, Saleen is a custom car manufacturer that build its reputation on tuning and supercharging Mustangs. After a few decades of hoping up Mustangs, they built the S7 in 2000. The car’s unique hand-built chassis and 7.0 liter Ford V8 mounted amidships made the S7 a true world-class supercar. The first 550 HP version could accelerate from zero-to-60 in the low-three second range and successfully competed in the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans races. Production of the Saleen ended in 2009, but with a top speed of 248 miles per hour, the S7 is still one of the first American supercars that could to go toe-to-toe with the finest international exotics.

Ford GT

The original Ford GT40 has some significant automotive history behind it. As the story goes, Henry Ford II wanted to see some Ford machinery compete in the world famous Lemans races during the 1960s. Knowing that Ferrari consistently won Lemans, Henry approached Enzo Ferrari to develop a chassis for his effort. Negotiations did not go well, and Henry decided he would build his own world class race car from the ground up. The result was the original GT-40 and it soon became famous by winning the 1966 Lemans in the first three places (1-2-3). Fast forward 40 years and Ford released the GT, a modern incarnation of Ford’s iconic GT40 racer. The 21st century GT was powered by a 5.4 liter supercharged V8 and rocketed from zero-to-60 in the mid-three second range.

Hennessey Venom GT

In 2005, the Bugatti Veyron transformed the super car landscape by becoming the fastest and most powerful car ever built. Refusing to be in second place, Texas-based Hennessey Performance Engineering unleashed the 270 mile per hour Venom GT. Following the same basic blueprint set by Carroll Shelby with his Cobra, the Venom GT starts with a lightweight body and chassis from Lotus and crams a 7.2 liter Chevrolet American V8 offering 1244 horsepower behind the seats. Hennessey plans to produce only 10 of the $1 million cars a year, making the Venom GT one of the rarest super cars in the world.


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