My Favorite All-American Machines

1956 Oldsmobile
As American as apple pie? Photo by Randy Stern

Our nation, in all of its glory, blazoned with patriotism and fireworks!

This has been a cycle to remember. My faith in this country restored by advances stating that I am indeed an equal in the eyes of the Constitution and the laws adjoining this document. If I was younger, I would be able to serve my nation proudly without fear or retribution for who I am. I would be protected under law if someone dares to injure or harm me motivated by my identity.

As far as I have come in this country, there are still holes to plug in terms of full equality. This is where the political portion of this article ends…

By waving the stars-and-stripes this week, I honor my birth nation with a patriotic Five Favorites – five favorite cars built in the good ol' U.S. of A.

The rules are strict here – their final assembly must be solely done right here. That eliminates a lot of favorite cars, I am afraid. It also eliminates some of the best cars ever built because they were built elsewhere included in the States.

It is not difficult to parse out, but challenging nonetheless. There were five, however…

1955 OLDSMOBILE NINETY-EIGHT STARFIRE CONVERTIBLE: If you were a baby, what car would you like to be driven home to from the hospital? My mom did well in choosing her beloved convertible – bought pre-owned in 1958. Not sure whether there was a child seat attached or anything to cart the second child of Barbara and Sheldon Stern home from West Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Encino, California. Little did she know that she enabled this second child into becoming an automotive scribe by virtue of this all-American baby carriage. Oldsmobiles were built exclusively in the USA – nowhere on Earth could you build a Rocket-powered car. Rightfully so! An Olds embodied the ambition of a typical American who wanted a combination of style, luxury and performance. They also wanted a dealership they can relate to in terms of their needs. Mom's convertible was at the top of the line – any more car and you would end up with a Buick Roadmaster or a Cadillac.

1971-76 OLDSMOBILE DELTA 88/NINETY-EIGHT: My first car was as American as apple pie. Built either in Lansing or Linden, New Jersey, the big Oldsmobiles were the epitome of American might. Well, at least I thought they were. These land yachts were amongst the best of the breed – big, bold and mid-valued. To see the rocket up front is just like waving the American flag – nothing could be equal to it. Hence why there are still arguments over the euthanizing of the brand last decade. Some of us still remember the brand because it was part of our heritage. Oldsmobile was the one that welcomed everyone to their showroom and enticed us with really nice wares. I, for one, am glad they did – considering one such 1972 Ninety-Eight Luxury Sedan.

1983-88 FORD THUNDERBIRD: Aerodynamics on a basic platform – not exactly world beating, would you think? But, damnit, I loved these personal luxury cars! Built in Lorain, Ohio or Wixom, Michigan, the aero T-Birds were considered art. When I drove them, they were quite the upgrade. They had doors as big as a smart forTwo, but had plenty of comfort for cruising, taking on the Los Angeles freeway system or the streets of San Francisco. The T-Bird defined my mid-1980s in terms of the kind of car I would prefer to roll in.


1984-91 DODGE DAYTONA/1984-86 CHRYSLER LASER: Laugh. I dare you. This is not a joke. I do have a fondness for the derivatives from the K-Car platform – and, this is my favorite. I actually had access to a Laser in the late 1980s and found it to be fun to drive. The Daytona was relevant at a time when affordable sports coupes, such as the Toyota Celica, Nissan 200SX and Volkswagen Scirocco, were part of the automotive landscape. To ensure its place in that segment, Chrysler's 2.2litre engine was turbocharged – and then some. The Turbo Z put the Daytona squarely within reach of even bigger sports coupes. Applying the Shelby name is now considered legendary. These St. Louis and Sterling Heights-built coupes were once on my radar for ownership if it were not for the dancing dual calipers in my dreams.

2012- ACURA TL: Before anyone takes a torch to my home, let us think this through for a moment. Yes, Honda is a Japanese automaker with a long history of building cars in the USA. They also have a huge engineering, development and design team here as well. It made sense that the folks in Japan gave the teams in the USA carte blanche to create a premium sedan with an eye on the global competition. However, the Acura brand is only sold in a few places worldwide – mainly in North America. With that said, the Marysville, Ohio-built TL is a fantastic car. You may not think of it as American as apple pie, but consider how much we co-opted cuisine and propped up American cooks and chefs worldwide. The Acura TL is about the willingness for American engineers and designers to take the best tools and create something truly special. Take it from me, this all-American premium sedan is truly something special.

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