By on July 4, 2012


We hold these truths to be self-evident.

That all men are created equal.

That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

A lot of writers will give speeches today. I am far more interested in answering a simple question.

What vehicle best represents American independence?

A lot of folks will say it is a pickup truck. Maybe a Ford. Maybe a Chevy. Never a Chrysler… unless that hauler happens to also be a minivan.

And why not the minivan? Keep in mind that our forefathers brought forth a heck of a lot of kids right well into the 20th century. Even after farming mules were replaced with John Deere tractors and riding lawnmowers, our forefathers gave birth to plenty of Dorothys, Edsels and Woodrows.

They would have appreciated the minivan. Maybe even the SUV as well. Names like Liberty, Commander, Explorer, and TrailBlazer are meant to evoke the modern mythology of enjoying open unexplored spaces at the low, low price of $399 a month ($2000 due at signing).  Surely an Expedition that can haul 8,000 pounds of ammo, shelter and supplies is preferable to a Conestoga wagon with wooden wheels and no cupholders.

We don’t need wagons these days. Actually, let me rephrase that. Nobody buys wagons these days. That makes me think that it may be the classic American car that truly embodies the American freedom ethos.

There are countless huddled masses of old cars that harken back to times gone by, and others long due for a swan song. Town Cars. Crown Vics. Impalas, are among the newer members of this group. But then you also have the Bel Aires. The old school Impalas. The Model T’s and Mustangs. Still no Chryslers!

But hey, isn’t America all about fun? A modern day Mustang convertible embodies the best of classic American muscle. The California inspired attitude towards open air motoring. The iconic symbol of the American penchant for speed and style.

Can a Stang pull this off better than a Camaro? How about a Miata? A Chrysler Sebring???

Naaahhh!!! The truth is Americans are boring and value driven lemmings when it comes to cars. Think of all the Camrys, Corollas, Civics and Accords. Boring! Boring! Boring! Give us a deal. A healthy cost of ownership, and a supersized interior and we are all the happier for it all.

Or maybe not. Ford and Chevy trucks are still the best selling vehicles in this fair land. Which brings us back to our question for this special day.

“What vehicle best represents American independence?”

It’s up to you figure it out. Just do us all a favor. Whatever you choose, make sure it has cupholders.

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65 Comments on “Question Of The Day: What Vehicle Best Represents American Independence?...”

  • avatar

    Of course there is no right or wrong answer, but my vote would be for the 1953 Chevy Corvette convertible. Why? It conveyed an attitude of conspicuous consumption (an American trait), independence (again), impracticality, and audaciousness. It was all about “look at me!” and the associated aura (rarely realized, but important nonetheless) of being able to go anywhere, anytime, in high style.

  • avatar

    “Never a Chrysler… unless that hauler happens to also be a minivan.”

    …which just happen to be built in Canada.

  • avatar

    Based on automotive history I’d have to say the Model T since it was the first car massed produced and cheap enough for most Americans to buy and own.Everything else is personal preference and more flash than substance next to the car that put more Americans behind the wheel than any other vehicle.

  • avatar

    The tackiest 1976 bicentennial special edition.

  • avatar

    Independence? How about anything with four (or two or three) wheels and an engine with a clear road ahead?

  • avatar

    Cmon now. Any Mustang GT/Cobra made past 198…3? Whenever they made the 225 HP 5.0. To HELL with CAFE!!!

  • avatar

    1965 Ford Mustang I…Simply the coolest Ford ever built and I would take one with the “wheezy” I6 (Thriftpower?) attached to a 3 spd auto. Lower the top and just go for a relaxing cruise…

  • avatar

    New Suburban and Tahoe. True American vehicles. True American style.

    New Corvette. American engineering at it’s best. Another great American vehicle.

    New Camry. Americans are able to buy what they want even thought the Obama administration has a hate for Toyota vehicles. This is freedom, July 4th style.

  • avatar

    The Cavalier: Sure, it’s a rolling heap, but let’s consider its qualities:

    1) (Open to all) It was attainable with low costs of entry. Anyone could buy one.
    2) (Freedom of movement/Freedom from tyranny) It was usually the first conveyance that let you do your own thing. There was a time where it seemed like 1 in 3 teenagers owned one.
    3) (With freedom comes responsibility) It didn’t come with much, so people wouldn’t believe things are going to get handed to them.
    4) (A stepping stone to whatever your personal American dream might be) Unless totally not running, it satisfied the down payment requirement on a Ford Expedition, Excursion, Excelsior, Exploiter, or whatever you got once you finally “made it”.

    • 0 avatar

      The concept of a vehicle showing the world that you “made it” is a theme from the past. Many professionals in their 30s on the east coast do not view a vehicle like this. I notice older folks think this way.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly. Especially since I see so many kids driving around in expensive cars their parents obviously bought for them. What you drive can say things about you that may or more likely not be true. I don’t think I have ever looked at someone driving a nice car and thought, hey that person has “made it.”

    • 0 avatar

      I thought I made it when I could afford to replace the original POS and buy a car that started regularly and had A/C that didn’t have unknown and unfixable holes in it. I don’t really think anyone would notice this, and I don’t care; it was fun to sell the POS, which was a symbol of independence in its coming and its going. (And, no, it wasn’t a Cavalier, it was a land barge, but of the same hand-me-down GM build quality of the 80s and 90s.)

      However, it is always funny to point to a group known to be the buyers of “near luxury” as people who don’t care about status…you can bet your 30-something East Coast professionals aren’t buying Kia Rios because of the TCO. Perhaps Acura should reconsider who it is trying to advertise to?

      • 0 avatar

        Status is determined by the culture in which you live. Many American cultures have little respect for the BMW/Mercedes/Lexus.

        In my tech-heavy and highly educated crowd, a Volt or a LEAF is a far better status car. The Prius had this role 10 years ago, but everyone realized that the Prius is just a sensible little car about 7 years ago.

        I test drove the LEAF and loved it. But, if I do buy it, it would be a status/statement car.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    BOF, RWD or 4WD, V8 powered and I really don’t care what body you plop down on it. That layout is the essential American layout that our automotive industry held on to far longer than almost all others.

  • avatar

    My vote is any car on the road. We have a wide range of choice in style, type and price. We have cars built at home, abroad, by long-term friends, former enemies and sometimes a mix of all or any of the above. The American Dream Car is a concept, a dream shared but still individual.

  • avatar

    A German friend of mine told me that when he thought of an American car it was a 1959 Cadillac convertible that would first pop into his head. He said it best represented distinctive American style, power and waste. That has always stayed with me.

  • avatar

    Cadillac Eldorado

    Named after the city of gold pursued by the Spanish, the Eldorado is excess and unrestrained exuberance. Eldorado is gold. When you have attained your fortune and want to let everyone know it, or just want to fake it like Gatsby, this is your ride. Are you an African-American achiever in the US? Cadillac Eldorado tells the neighborhood. Don’t “know your place” before your European sophist cousins? Be loud and flashy.

    Behold and Get out of the Way.

  • avatar

    Nothing says “American” quite like the Corvorado. Luxury, performance, rear wheel drive, and lots of chrome.

  • avatar

    American LaFrance Speedster. Fourteen point five liters of freedom.

  • avatar

    The Corvette. Unapologetically American (except for the Chinese wheels).

    • 0 avatar

      Sad that two of the most iconic “American” cars (Mustang and Corvette) have to rely on Chinese parts (transmissions, wheels) and yet still attempt to wrap themselves up in American-made pride. Kind of makes me mad and sad at the same time. Really sad that the most “made in America” cars in both assembly and content are the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. I might have been interested in a Mustang at one point in my life, but just can’t seem to work around that…kind of like why it cheeses me that some of our biggest military defense contractors buy counterfeit Chinese electronics (and now also blatantly sell helo software directly to the Chinese) that might well wind up on a platform that my Air Force son might have to operate in the future. Ok..rant off…this had to do with the “most American” car question…more than likely really an F-150. Americans still love them some pick-em-ups.

  • avatar

    Nothing says independence like a vehicle that is fully paid for and fueled by our own energy.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Anything with large tail fins. Audacious, ridiculous, pointless, absurd, but absolutely wonderful. Still.

  • avatar
    Mark in Maine

    Lots of vehicles come to mind – the good old-fashioned American pickup truck – any make, any model, any size, the ’32 ford of your choice, Corvettes, Mustangs, ‘Cudas, Novas – the list is long. Certain vehicles may resonate with certain folks, while some seem to resonate with most everybody. But, like Zackman pointed out above, the vehicle that best represents American independence for most of us is the one that’s sitting out in the driveway.

  • avatar

    “I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
    With a pink carnation and a pickup truck”
    -Don McLean, 1972

    The full-size truck with a rockin’ V8 says to hell with European-like stuffiness… They can kiss it!

    Let’s take to the hills, bounce around then drop the tailgate and sit and watch the fireworks away from the crowds. Pass me a brew… Happy 4TH everyone!

  • avatar

    Chevy Volt.

  • avatar

    Probably the Ford F-150. Ir hs been the most popular selling vehicle in the US since the 1970s. It can be used for hauling passengers or stuff. It can go just about anywhere. I think it shows American independence and shows the spirit of America. Both in how it used and that it is the #1 selling vehicle in America.

  • avatar

    I think the most iconic cars of the past 75 years or so would be the 32 duece with anything big up front…or… the 57 chevy. Think black widow if you choose. For me I will choose 210 wagon.

    Seems to me that 55-57 represented a paradigm shift for Chevy and then for everyone else.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I vote for the pre-malaise-era Cadillac land barges.

    Nothing broadcast better to the world, and specially to those red commies driving Ladas or Trabants, that America could really project power.

    If the USA had ever ran out of armored vehicles, we could have retrofitted a 72mm gun on them, and gone all the way to Leningrad.

    The only drawback would be the need for ample fuel supplies, these vehicles had worse mileage than a Sherman.

  • avatar

    I have to say the American-made pickup truck IS the most expressive ride of American Independence, just by sheer popularity.

    But to say NOBODY buys wagons anymore? Hogwash! We have a 04′ Taurus (flamesuit on) wagon in our stable… It at least has the DOHC option… and the rumble seat out back!

  • avatar

    Cadillac for sure!!!!
    or a Jeep

    • 0 avatar

      A certain Mr. E. Ferrari used to refer to Jeep as ‘America’s only real sports car.’

  • avatar

    I like the idea of a big late fifties- early sixties convertible land yacht or a muscle car as much as the next person, but I have to vote for the lowly Jeep, specifically the cheapest two- door, soft top version of the Wrangler you can buy. From the original Willys through the CJs to the current model, it’s been our automotive ambassador to the world since 1941.

  • avatar

    Jeep Wrangler. Not only does it let you say “to hell with you, I”ll go wherever I want,” and actually be able to get you there, but it’s also a vehicle that is enjoyed by all groups (except environmentalists, and maybe even then) and, like many of our forefathers, it fought against the Nazis.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Whatever is in your driveway. You had the freedom to buy whatever you damn well pleased. It’s not so much the ride, but the attitude behind it.

  • avatar

    For modern cars, I’m going with the Chrysler 300C/Dodge Charger, specifically the SRT-8 varieties. It came from a family of German-Italian-Canadian immigrants, it’s big and comfortable, it has an old-school big gas-drinking V8, and it just plain doesn’t care what you think.

    Special shout out to the v8 Mustangs as well.

  • avatar

    Shelby Cobra 427. What else?

  • avatar

    Jeep CJ. Point it any direction, it will go. With my loyal doggy at my side, or in back if my grumbling girlfriend is along. (She HATED that thing) And enough stuff to get me through till the next time I have to crawl back to work.
    Something about Jeeps that just screams American.

  • avatar

    The Ford Model T. It was the vehicle that made Americans independent of their locale. For the first time in human history an average man or family, not rich, could travel hundreds or thousands of miles in their own vehicle. That’s independence.

  • avatar

    Y’all are missin’ the most obvious choice: a big, fat V-twin Harley-Davidson motorcycle. No other company has milked the “all-American, freedom-lovin’, rebellious, independent spirit” theme to the success that H-D has. How many car owners tattoo their favorite brand on their biceps or purchase most of their wardrobe from their car dealer?

  • avatar

    1950 Ford V8 in full Bootlegging trim, painted dull black, All the work done by the owner and his cousins…

  • avatar

    A true lewd and crude muscle car…. like a ’69 Plymouth Road Runner 440-6.

  • avatar

    Did we learn nothing from Convoy?

    I am torn between Kenworth, Mack, and Peterbilt.

    Thanks to our amazing interstate system that surprisingly remains mostly toll free, these masters of massive hauling deliver the goods along the backbone of America in ways no other country can ever match.

    People can argue over Caddy’s, Corvette’s, Mustang’s and Jeep’s all they like but every child in America is in awe of these big rigs when they see them up close.

  • avatar

    The founding fathers kept their slaves so we need a slave to fossil – no EV’s.
    The right to be armed to the teeth – to fight them rotten English teeth.
    The image would have to conjour larger-than-life – so exaggeration of the underpinnings.

    Humvee – one that’s insured by Paul Revere…

    • 0 avatar

      Only some of the founding fathers owned slaves. Some that did own slaves liberated them. A number of the founding fathers were fierce abolitionists.

      Among the founding fathers who owned slaves, John Dickinson, Ceasar Rodney, William Livingston, George Washington, George Wythe, and John Randolph, among others, freed their slaves).

      A clear majority of the founders, though, opposed slavery.

      In 1774, Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush founded America’s first antislavery society in Philadelphia; John Jay was president of a similar society in New York. William Livingston a signer of the Constitution and Governor of New Jersey, joined the New York antislavery society.

      Other prominent Founding Fathers who were members of societies for ending slavery included Richard Bassett, James Madison, James Monroe, Bushrod Washington, Charles Carroll, William Few, John Marshall, Richard Stockton, Zephaniah Swift, and many more.

      John and Abigail Adams found the practice of slavery abhorrent.

      Also, it should be noted that the US Constitution provided for the outlawing of the Atlantic slave trade.

      It’s not fair to those good men that I mentioned to say that the “founding fathers kept their slaves”. Some did, a number of them didn’t, and most of the founding fathers didn’t own slaves in the first place.

  • avatar

    Dodge Viper
    Rude Aggressive Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense
    Faster then hell while still costing less then the majority of its foreign competitors
    Instills envy in your neighbors.
    Everyone picks on them saying how unrefined they are but in the end it just jealousy talking.

  • avatar

    I was going to say Canyonero, but apparently it was created in Korea.

  • avatar

    The full-sized American pickup. Take your pick of Chevy, Dodge, or Ford. These built America.

  • avatar

    If what we did as a nation was take something from the British and put our own spin on it, how bout the Tesla? May not be the best literal representation, but it sure fits pretty well metaphorically.

  • avatar

    The Mustang still does it for me. I get that there are “foreign” made parts on the car. With that in mind, it represents our current conditions perfectly.

    Pretty much any somewhat large, “powerful”, car with character and somewhat imposing styling makes for an American icon. Something you see yourself driving across the desert in.

  • avatar

    For me it was the 85 Accord I bought as my first car.

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