Classic American Cars 40s and 50s – The American automobile industry was at its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, bringing forth some of the most iconic classic cars that are still admired today.
This time period also brought with it some of the most popular muscle cars ever, many of which we’ll be discussing shortly.
With the popularity of films such as American Graffiti and television shows like Happy Days, it’s no wonder that there’s so much interest in these classic American cars from the 40s and 50s today.
10 Top Classic American Cars 40s and 50s
The 1940s is often thought of as one of the most turbulent decades in American history. Whether it was WWII, which put a further strain on America’s already stretched economy, or The Great Depression, which had already taken its toll by 1940.
The 1930s are often viewed as upbeat years though and that is reflected in cars produced during that decade with lots of interesting new models being introduced to a market that was finally out of recession.
In fact, total vehicle registrations reached two million for the first time in 1940, about 300k more than any other year before or since.
Which made it all too easy for us to pick 10 top classic American cars 40s and 50s from each decade we feel should be viewed as some of America’s finest.
1940 Ford Deluxe Coupe
The 1940 Ford Deluxe Coupe was one of America’s most iconic cars of all time. Its design defined a generation, or at least that’s what everyone says about it.
It was also affordable enough for young adults to buy their first car. The 1970 version is still one of the best-looking coupes ever made, even today. Owning a vintage 1940 Ford coupe is definitely one way to go back in time!
1941 DeSoto Airflow
The 1941 DeSoto Airflow is a classic car in its own right, but it really stood out in 1940s as General Motors’ dream car of choice.
The first front-wheel-drive car on U.S. roads, it featured all sorts of modern amenities, like air conditioning, power steering, and push-button radio controls.
Amazingly, over 25,000 of these babies were sold during its production run, which ended in 1949. So if you’re looking for a unique ride that can still get you to work each day (and turn heads along the way), consider buying one today.
1942 Buick Special
The 1942 Buick Special was an exceptional model for a number of reasons. Not only did it have an extremely high-quality interior, but it also had many modern features that made it stand out in a crowd of otherwise ordinary automobiles.
For example, its power windows were extremely well-received and considered to be amazing luxury items at a time when most cars didn’t even come with power steering.
And its radio was simply something to behold; it was large enough to fill almost one-fourth of all available dashboard space.
These were just some of many outstanding features that made the 1942 Buick Special one of America’s best classic cars 1940s in decades past.
1948 Chrysler Town and Country
The late ’40s ushered in a new era of design for Chrysler. Heading up Chrysler’s styling studio was Virgil Exner, one of America’s greatest car designers ever.
This led to some really beautiful cars, like these 1948 Chrysler Town and Country convertibles. Of course, it wasn’t just about looks; under that sleek hood was a powerful 295-horsepower Hemi V8 engine.
Today, these beautiful cars have become highly collectible, you can pick one up for around $100,000 if you find an affordable one (which is getting harder every year).
Of course, you may need some money on hand to repair what will likely be a few problems with something so old.
1949 Mercury Club Coupe
The 1949 Mercury Club Coupe was a stylish car with little performance, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was handled well for its time, and it was actually marketed as an affordable sports car.
Thanks to its unique look, it became somewhat of a movie star in films like It’s A Wonderful Life, where it starred as James Stewart’s character’s vehicle of choice.
The Mercury Club has become one of the best American classic cars from that era because it offers modern features at half of its original price.
These vehicles are still great performers today even though they are nearly 70 years old.
1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan
The Lincoln Cosmopolitan is a luxury car produced by Lincoln between 1948 and 1950. It was available in a four-door sedan, two-door convertible coupe, or a four-door station wagon body style.
The stylish 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitans were advertised as the ultimate in auto luxury. Starting in 1951, Lincolns were redesigned to emulate Cadillac Series 62 new look with tailfins and a V8 engine.
This new design continued through 1953. In addition to offering luxurious styling with their cars, many of these automobiles offer high-performance capabilities making them some of American best classic cars 1950s.
1954 Chrysler 300
When it comes to classic American cars, few are as iconic as the 1954 Chrysler 300. This was a beautiful car with a strong air of luxury, which is what made it so popular with Hollywood stars in its day.
If you’re looking for an interesting old car to add to your collection, you may want to consider getting yourself a C-300. The Chrysler was incredibly comfortable, with features like power seats, and it drove well, too.
So whether you’re simply in love with old cars or have an itch for something classy that won’t break your bank account when you buy it, purchasing a C-300 may be exactly what you’re looking for!
1955 Ford Thunderbird
Considered by many as the best looking American classic cars during its time, its classic good looks proved to stand the test of time.
The 1955 Ford Thunderbird might just be one of America’s finest classic cars. With its iconic fins and flowing fenders, it was able to make a statement in almost any setting.
In addition to being visually appealing, it also had a solid performance with a 288-cubic-inch V8 engine that generated 260 horsepower. The car could reach a top speed of 100 miles per hour.
Its luxurious interior included leather seats, power windows, power steering, automatic transmission with overdrive for fuel efficiency, electric door locks, and more.
1956 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser
The 1956 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser was originally built by Ford, but marketed by its Lincoln-Mercury division.
To get around tight postwar restrictions on chrome, turnpike cruisers were painted with a special metallic paint to make them shine, making them perfect for cruising down an open highway.
The 1956-1957 models sported some of the best classic cars from the 50s styling, with a low-slung frame and rounded tail fins that swept upward at their peaks.
1957 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88
The 1957 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 was actually known as Olds up until the 60s. That year they switched to Oldsmobile due to a trademark dispute with another company.
In 1957, they introduced a new series of cars that took advantage of GM’s ultra-new lightweight aluminum engine called Rocket V8.
The result was less weight, more power, better handling, and best of all: faster acceleration. All of which made it very attractive to teenage boys who wanted one thing when it came to their first car: speed.
The top classic American cars 40s and 50s is a list that almost every automotive enthusiast wishes they could have seen in person.
The late 1940s and early 1950s American cars were an exciting time for America as consumers found themselves with money to spend after World War II, leading to a construction boom across the country.
Men returned home ready to buy a car with options far exceeding what they had while serving overseas.
Taking advantage of these war-time advances, manufacturers began offering greater comfort, safety features, style, speed, and power than ever before possible.