The staff here at Speedway Motors was tasked with putting our suggestions for cars that should be enshrined into the side of Mt. Rushmore like our famed Presidents carved there now. This took some thinking and a lot of crumpled paper as my list was narrowed to just four and changed several times. So, before I change my mind again, here they are in date order what I feel are the Mt. Rushmore of significant vehicles of the 20th century. -Mark Houlahan, Copywriter
1908 Ford Model T
Where it all started to click for Henry Ford. After two failed attempts at starting a car company, Henry Ford’s third attempt, Ford Motor Company, in 1903 knocked it out of the park just five years later with the launch of the Model T. The combination of Ford’s ingenious business practices (such as mandating the crates vendor parts were shipped in be built a certain way so the wood could be used to build the cars), building the car on a moving assembly line, and other economies of scale, allowed Ford to sell the Model T at a price nearly anyone could afford. This quite literally put America on wheels. Available in several body styles, the Tin Lizzie was built through 1927 and sold over 15 million copies in its production run. I don’t think anyone will argue that domestic auto manufacturing owes its life to the Model T. So iconic is the Model T, it is listed on the Historic Vehicle Association Registry, specifically the 1927 Fifteenth Million Ford Model T. Today, the Model T is enjoyed by collectors and hot rodders alike and is still very popular amongst enthusiasts.
1932 Ford Model 18
I know my esteemed colleague, Joe McCollough, has this very car on his list, and rightfully so! The ’32 Ford, the Deuce to enthusiasts, not only ushered in Ford’s then new Flathead V8, but made owning a V8 powered car something anyone could afford. The styling of the ’32 Ford, and even the subsequent ’33 and ’34 model years is a classic piece of automotive architecture that, no matter how you style it, never goes out of fashion. Whether it is a lowboy, highboy, roadster, 3-window, or 5-window; fenderless or full fenders, the ’32 Ford hands down created the hot rod movement. From dry lakes racing to cruising Bob’s on a Saturday night, the ’32 Ford certainly has earned its right to be carved into the granite façade at Mr. Rushmore!
1941 Willys MB/Ford GPW
While the idea of a four-wheel drive 1/4-ton utility vehicle for military use actually started in the 1930s (to replace horses and other animals used in WWI), the vehicle didn’t gain approval and see initial production until 1941. Both Willys and Ford (Ford models are noted by its vast use of “F” script hardware and attaching parts) were contracted to build Jeeps for the military. A few Bantam models were built during prototype stages but Bantam ended up building the small trailers you often would see being pulled by these wartime Jeeps. The Willys MB and Ford GPW were loved by servicemen around the globe. Ease of service, commonality of parts, and its four-wheel-drive powered by the Willy’s Go Devil four-cylinder engine meant the Jeep was able to conquer just about any terrain and could be fixed quickly with minimal tools. Used in WWII and the Korean war, the Jeep was so loved that it would soon be offered in a civilian variant, the CJ-2A in 1945. That same basic design was used for decades up to the CJ-7 in 1986. Today, the Jeep name lives on and though the nameplate now includes SUVs, when people hear the word “Jeep” their first thought is of a rough and tough two-door open air four-wheel-drive, and rightfully so
1966 Ford GT40 Mk II
By now anyone with 10W30 running in their veins has probably seen the Ford vs. Ferrari movie, either on the big screen or streaming at home on the couch. The movie did an admirable job of telling the story of Ford’s desire to clean Enzo Ferrari’s clock at Le Mans after Enzo backed out of a sale to Ford Motor Company. Initial efforts by Ford’s engineers, both in Dearborn and in England, were frustrating to say the least. It wasn’t until Carroll Shelby was brought in, already successful with his Cobra roadster sports car and the fledgling GT350 Mustang program, that the GT40 program began to make forward momentum. Largely in part to Ken Miles, the GT40 was completely gone through and rebuilt as a world beating race car and beat the world it did! The now famous 1-2-3 photo finish of the 1966 Le Mans race was just the beginning of a multiyear onslaught on European long distance road racing, knocking Enzo’s best efforts off the podium completely from 1966 through 1969 and providing Ford with its first (of several ) international championships. The GT40 program invigorated Ford’s “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” ideals and helped put Ford on the international motorsports map where it still dances to this day. Today the real GT40s, of which barely 100 were made (including prototypes), are multi-million dollar cars, so your best bet of ever owning one is going to be a replica. Better start packing those work lunches and skipping those daily trips to Starbies if you want to build one though, as even as a replica they are quite pricey.
Mark did a great job of making a list of the cars that changed the world and the course of our industry. My list is a bit more personal. These are the cars that changed my world and made me into the enthusiast that I am. Sure, they made more than a few ripples on the pond in the larger automotive world, but they’re here because I love them, period. There are no rules here. -Joe McCollough, Marketing Content Coordinator
We would have had hot rods without the Deuce, they just wouldn’t have been as cool. Don’t get me wrong, I love Model T’s, Model A’s, and ’33-‘34s. Heck, I even own a Model A. But there’s just something about a ’32. They have a presence unlike any other, and when chopped, lowered, and treated to some horsepower, they’re even better. Not to mention the introduction of the Flathead V8 that really dropped the performance aftermarket into high gear.