As we’d hope you know, Mount Rushmore is one of the most patriotic landmarks in the country. Although our nation was founded, built, and influenced by many great Americans, only four have been carved in stone as the most significant—at least in the eyes of Doane Robinson, who conceived the idea for Mount Rushmore.
Naturally, this got us thinking: If there was a Mount Rushmore for American performance automobiles, which four vehicles would be carved into stone as the most important?
And this is where the fireworks start.
Remember, just four vehicles can be chosen for this historic landmark, and there’s plenty of room for debate. Chances are your choices will be different than ours, your buddy’s, and your neighbor’s. Check out our four faces of American automotive performance below, and then see if you can do better!
1908 Ford Model T
Produced from 1908 through 1927, the Model T was once voted as the most influential car of the 20th century in an international poll. Widely regarded as the first affordable American automobile, the Model T is also responsible for the creation of the automotive aftermarket, which allowed owners to customize and upgrade their ride.
We thought about the 1932 Ford for this spot, but without the Model T—and the revolutionary assembly line it came from—there may have never been a 1932 Ford as we now know it. We give the nod to the original Model T from 1908—the George Washington of our Mount Rushmore.
Few cars scream “American classic” like the Tri-Five Chevys produced from 1955-57. The first of this generation of Chevys, the 1955 utilized the “new” small block V8, which would revolutionize hot rodding and help spur the growth of the hobby in the 1960s and beyond.
The Tri-Fives have stood the test of time and are among the most collectible American cars around. Because they helped elevate our hobby to new levels, they’re like the Thomas Jefferson on the OnAllCylinders Mount Rushmore.
1964 Ford Mustang
We almost went with the 1964 GTO—widely recognized as the first muscle car—but we opted for the Mustang instead. And why not? It has been one of the faces of American automotive performance continuously from 1964 through today. It made high performance cars affordable for the youth market in the 1960s, created its own automotive category (the pony car), and helped launch a new era of American muscle cars in the 2000s.
Most importantly, though, the Mustang helped create a pony car/muscle car war between Detroit’s “Big Three.” This competitive battle would give us cars like the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger, along with muscle cars like the big block Chevelle, Hemi Cuda, and others. The Mustang is our Abraham Lincoln.
1941 Willys/Jeep MB
It’s our list, and we say the Jeep MB gets a spot because our landmark needs a war hero. The 1941 Jeep MB played an integral role in World War II as a lightweight, go-anywhere reconnaissance vehicle. After the war, it morphed into the Jeep CJ civilian vehicle and later became the Jeep Wrangler.
The Wrangler remains the quintessential off-road 4×4 vehicle, and its forefather, the Jeep MB, is still considered the iconic World War II vehicle. It’s the Teddy Roosevelt on our mountainside.
Grab some dynamite and an industrial-size chisel and create your own automotive landmark. Share your four faces of American automotive performance in the comments section below.