10 Most Influential Cars of All Time

Ok. To appease the masses. It’s time. We all have to acknowledge it; especially when you live somewhere where the temperature gets to be 40 below MINUS the windchill factor. However, it has to be said. There are so many mixed emotions about it. For some, it brings about extreme joy, especially when it’s your first one or the one you have been dreaming of your whole life. It can bring you great happiness, relaxation, and moments of deep thought and self-reflection when everything goes according to plan. Heck, there are times when you sound like a freakin’ genius with it. There are times when it can bring you great despair as well though. It can bring such anger and frustration that it can be hard to believe that it can take the abuse you give it sometimes. It can also bring a grown human being to tears when it dies, or gets hurt expectantly. Such feelings of hatred can be brought forth when talking about it and our world where it stands because of it today. That being said, a lot of us would absolutely HATE IT if we lived in a world without one. We give them names based on what we think their personality would be, which also reflects a part of us. There are also those individuals who take their love too far and verge on the edge of downright creepy. The memories we have with them, whether they are our own, borrowed or even a friend’s, they can bring out the strength in our characters as a human race, and haunt us for our shortcomings and misjudgments. Some of us have only had one, or two, perhaps three in their lifetime. Others have topped out at hundreds, perhaps maybe even thousands of them. It’s time. It’s time… to talk cars.

Here’s the list of the 10 Most Influential Cars of All Time.



10 Dodge Caravan


I know what you are thinking as you are screaming and cursing at your screen as to how this could have possibly made a top ten list (or some snide remark about a girl writing this post), but TRUST ME! Valid argument and definitely influential on our lives as we know it.

Intorduced: 1984 (along with the Plymouth Voyager)

Who was behind it: Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich

Why it’s important: Have you seen how many people drive a caravan? More importantly, have you seen how much stuff you can shove into a caravan? Especially a Dodge Grand Caravan?! Those things are huge! And it only has one of the best sayings ever associated with it: What’s in the van, man? See, you can’t say that with a Ferrari; just sounds stupid.

The Dodge Caravan was the first MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) of their kind…, ever. And since they have been available for sale up until 2008, Chrysler minivans have outsold every other kind of van with over 13 million in each category under Chrysler and in over 80 countries. Having a birthday party with six screaming kids in two cars is not a pleasant experience for two people. However, six screaming kids in ONE car is a much more stable environment and at least one adult will leave the car happy (probably because they were in the car following behind the van but…).

9 Ferrari F40


You’re welcome. Told you to stick around.

Introduced: 1987 (ahh the ‘80s)

Who was behind it: Enzo Ferrari (and it was the last Ferrari that was personally approved by Enzo)

Why it’s important: Uhhhhh…, it’s a Ferrari??? *blink blink*

If you need me to go into detail though…,

This was Ferrari’s 40th Anniversary car. But this car had one need. The need, for speed. The F40 was the fastest and most powerful car when it came onto the market. Part of how that was achieved was:

-they made it a mid engine car; it helps in terms of weight balance and speed

- it came from a bigger version of a 2.9L version of the GTO’s twin IHI turbocharged V8. This allowed it to develop 471hp under 16psi of boost.

-suspension similar to the GTO’s wishbone

-flanking exhaust pipes that guide exhaust from each bank of cylinders while central pipe focuses on gases from the turbochargers (yes, it’s meant to be plural)

-body was made of kevlar, carbon fiber and aluminium with the windshield and windows being made of plastic.

If you wanted a car acting as a death wish…, wish granted.

8 Willys MB

For those of you who don’t know what that is, you will see.

Introduced: 1941

Who was behind it: Karl Probst for the American Bantam Car Company along with Willys Overland Motors and Ford, but John Willys gets the credit.

Why it’s important: Dude, it’s the first Jeep!

It was wartime and the Americans needed a reliable vehicle to handle everything that could be thrown at it that a military vehicle should be able to handle but not what a tank can handle. It had to be able to carry personnel and or cargo, and be designated as a ¼ ton 4x4 truck. When originally picked for designing the vehicle, American Bantam was able to make the deadline for the original demonstrations so that the army could try it out, however, Bantam was suffering from money troubles. And so the army, since it owned Bantam’s blueprints, let Ford and Willys make their versions of the vehicle as they wanted to make sure that this was the one. By the time all models were ready for presentation, the war was starting to get into swing and there was so much pressure to get vehicles out to the war zone, all 3 manufactures were approved to make their cars. Each design got its own with Willy’s being MA (Military model A), Ford was GP (Government vehicle with a wheel base over 80 inches) and Bantam BRC 40.  However by July of 1941, the War Department decided that it needed to standardize and decided to place an order with one of the three as they wanted them to make 16,000 of the chosen vehicle. In the end, Willys was the one who won the contract as the soldiers couldn’t stop raving about the engines on these cars. Plus it was also cheaper to make. The War Department did however, take elements from the BRC 40 and the GP so they could make a new car; the Willy’s MB, and hence…, the Jeep was born.

7 BMC Mini


How can anyone hate this car?

Introduced: 1959

Who was behind it: Leonard Lord started it but Sir Alex Issigonis, Jack Daniels, Chris Kingham and 6 others get the credit.

Why it’s important: And so marks the start of the macro and micro car love obsession.

The Mini was created for a very practical reason and it’s the reason why a lot of people nowadays buy a smaller car. The Mini came about because of the 1956 Suez Crisis, and gas was being rationed to people in the UK and hence large car sales slumped so everyone could buy German “bubble cars”. But if you look at them like the BMW Isetta and the Peel Tirdent, they’re so cute…, and NOW they were considered economical. However, Lord said in laments terms, “Screw that noise!” and in proper British form he vowed to rid the streets of them so that people could buy a “proper miniature car.”

The basic design requirements:

-the car should be contained in box 10x4x4 feet and the passengers should occupy 6 feet of the 10 foot length

-bring in experts to build car of awesomeness (hence Issigonis and others)

-brakes: compact rubber cones instead of springs (makes it feel like a go-cart)

-4-cylinder, water-cooled engine BUT mount it transversely

-front wheel drive

-Hydrolastic suspension (smooth ride but stiffness when you need it)

-other fancy things done to doors and body to make it cool

BAM! Bring on the car chase!

6 Audi Quattro

In case you didn’t know, quattro means four in Italian.

Intorduced: 1980

Who was beind it: Jorg Bensinger started it with Walter Treser, Ferdinand Piech, Franz Tengler, and Martin Smith. In case you couldn’t tell, definitely a German car.

Why it’s important: First and foremost, it’s a rally car so already there are bonus points in that all by itself. As well as having independent rear and front suspensions though, the Quattro is also the first rally car to have four-wheel drive on it, which at the time was a big deal as rally cars couldn’t have that, however because FISA (which was the name of FIA at the time) recognized this as a genuine production made car, and CHANGED THEIR RULES to allow the car in. That’s right; you know you are a big deal when an organization changes their rules to cater to you. And to show it’s appreciation, the Quattro was the winning car of many competitions in rally racing for the next two years. Love it when a star is born.

5 Volkswagen Golf GTI


Introduction: 1974

Who was behind it: Volkswagen (it doesn’t state who specifically was responsible for the original concept and design, but it’s the brand people, right?)

Why it’s important: The reason behind even building this compact car in the first place was that VW wanted to have a long range replacement for the Beetle that was a more modern car. Since this car has been brought into the world, it has gone through a few name changes depending on region, hence comment earlier (Rabbit for US and Canada; Caribe for Mexico). But also it has been the foundation design for many of VW’s other cars such as the Variant (5-door hatchback, estate/wagon), the Cabriolet or Cabrio (a convertible), the Caddy (a truck?) and a notch-back saloon/sedan that goes by three names on its’ own (the Jetta, Vento and Bora). On top of that, the Golf has gone through a minimum of seven different types of Golf’s (ranging from A1-A7). With this car, it laid one of the most important foundations for cars today. Without this car, we probably wouldn’t have cars such as the Smart Car, Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, or possibly even the Toyota Prius (although odds are the Japanese would’ve figured that out long before anyone else would have if given the opportunity).

For the Golf GTI was a modern hatchback. And not only that, but it’s been the main template and standard that all other modern hatchbacks are compared to due to its’ front-wheel-drive chassis and its’ rear tailgate design because you can’t fit a light Costco shopping trip all on the passenger seat (unless you are MacGyver or the Tetris King).

4 Citroen DS

It’s definitely a car that stands out at any car show just for its’ unique design alone (no one has a car that was made after the ‘70s that looks like that).

Introduced: 1955

Who was behind it: Flaminio Bertoni and Andre Lefebvre

Why it’s important: Does the term “disc brakes” mean anything to you?

This DS was a mass produced car that hydropneumatic suspension including a variable ground clearance and automatic leveling system (so meaning that you can clear the majority of those pesky Wal-Mart speed bumps without scraping the crap out of the undercarriage). It had power steering, a semi-auto transmission, fiberglass roof (makes the car lighter), and was built for rallying! Bonus points!

The car was also had front-wheel disc brakes which was a first for the French as disc brakes had been around for only about 5 years before then. However, when you look at the car…, just remember this is a ‘50s car and its’ main competition were cars like the Chevy Bel Air. The DS’ design alone was so far ahead of its’ time and it flat out is just a cool looking car. This car was even used in Back To The Future (it was the taxi cab). It truly pushed the boundaries in terms of design and pushed technical innovation to new standards in Europe and it was the DS that pushed for car manufactures to be innovative and efficient with their technology, but also to have the car look as awesome as it deserves to.


3 Chrysler Airflow


Stay with it…,

Introduction: 1934

Who was behind it: Carl Breer, Fred Zeder and Owen Skelton

Why it’s important: The car itself is actually not that important. The Airflow was considered to be the equivalent of a box office bomb in that sales stunk on this car. Which is a huge pity cause it’s a GREAT looking car. The headlights being semi-flush to areas by the grille, the front fenders covering the wheels, and it was a steel body (which at the time, makers like GM, Ford and even some Chrysler cars were still being made with wooden frames), which made it stronger than most models of the day. These guys had the BEST advertising campaign though for the day: they took an Airflow and reversed the axles and steering gear so that they could drive the car BACKWARDS through all of Detroit, which caused people to panic, but would definitely stick out in peoples’ minds when they would see it officially launch.

However, when the first Airflows came out of production, they had MAJOR problems…, as in the engine breaking loose from its’ mountings if you drove it over 80mph. That’s never good.

Something positive that came from the Airflow was that when Breer originally envisioned the car, he had seen geese flying in a V formation and had watched military planes practicing maneuvers when he began to wonder what shapes and forms could flow easier thorough their environment. Applying it to cars, Breer, Zeder and Skelton started applying wind tunnel tests to Chrysler’s cars. No one else had done that until this car and no one really started thinking in terms of aerodynamics on cars until this car. And in today’s age, wind tunnel tests are an industry standard. The Airflow was innovative for its’ time, but like some fashions, most people probably saw it as a trend and not an actual car.  Or they were traumatized from the reversing publicity stunt (which is still awesome).

2 Ford Model T

If you have a list of influential cars and don’t have this car on your list, you are crazy and shall be forever shamed in every Car Enthusiast household you will ever come across (and Car-aholic's homes as well).

Introduced: 1908 (an oldie, but a goodie)

Who was behind it: Henry Ford and designed by Childe Harold Willis, Joseph A. Galamb, and Eugene Farkas

Why was it important: Uhhhh, I don’t feel I should have to explain the first affordable car that was responsible for the start of the modern assembly line…, but if you insist.

Ford was an innovator no doubt about it, but with this quote, it should explain his reasonings behind the car:

"I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces."

The Model T was the first mass-produced automobile with completely interchangeable parts on a moving assembly line. Which was a HUGE undertaking at the time as at the time, cars were all hand made, and because it's hand made it means it will cost you extra and that’s why only the upper class could afford it. And if you worked at Ford, you could buy one with the equivalent of four months’ salary, which was on a payment plan, as Ford especially wanted his employees to be able to drive his cars. So everyone wins!

1 Benz Patent Motorwagon


Introduced: 1886

Who was behind it: Karl Benz

Why it’s important: It’s the beginning of all beginnings. This is the birth of the automobile.

Karl Benz was always on the verge of something great as he was also the first person to invent the gasoline powered two cylinder engine, but now he wanted more. He wanted to develop a fully motorized vehicle.

And hence the Motorwagon was born. It was the first automobile to be self sufficient; generating its’ own power. It had a lot of other firsts as well:

-had three wheels on it (that were designed by Benz)

-four stroke single cylinder engine was mounted at the rear of the vehicle (so you could have more leg room…, at least, that reason makes the most logic as ladies dresses were quite big then)

-electric ignition

-water cooled internal combustion engine

-tubular steel frame with wooden areas where needed (like the bench that you sat on)

Back in 1886, this was it baby! However, this baby also was indeed for the wealthy as it cost a cool grand. In modern times, you are looking around $24,000, which to be honest, although cool, you would probably spend on a Fiat.

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