Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cult Cars -- Cars Worshiped in America Through the Decades

Definition of Cult from the Oxford English Dictionary

†1. Worship; reverential homage rendered to a divine being or beings. Obs. (exc. as in sense 2).

2a. A particular form or system of religious worship; esp. in reference to its external rites and ceremonies.

Hi folks -- so today I was asked by a MSNBC reporter about cult cars. In thinking about it, many many cars from our past are worship by small numbers of collectors and enthusiasts, and you can see this particualrly by going to car club functions or cruise-ins. But some cars are worshipped more than others, some are on a high alter (like a Duesenberg), while others are bowed down to on a low alter (sorry, Studebaker fans!). To some degree, cult status is reflected in cultural outpourings, like film, music, and literature. For example, there are more songs written about a Cadillac (1000+) than a Nissan. But the correlation is far from exact; for example, the Subaru has only 1 song written about (I think!), but has a tremendous cult following in the U.S., especially in New England.

Here are some of my top car cult picks:


1. Ford Model T -- poems, stories, and far more. A deity with humble origins.

2. Packard -- especially open models, worshipped by the rich and want-to-be rich before WWII. Abandoned by the same class after WWII, often for Cadillacs.

3. Duesenberg/Auburn/Cord -- maybe the grandest cars ever made in America -- worshipped every August in Auburn, Indiana. The ACD Museum there is one of the best in the U.S. Rolling sculpture at its best.

4. Cadillac -- "Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac." Most everyone takes his or her last ride in a Cadillac.


5. 1955 Chevy -- the quinessential everyman's car at th peak of the Golden AGe of America's love affair with the automobile.

6. Corvette -- after 1957, when muscle is added to the car. TV's "Route 66" deosn't help the brand either.

7. Thunderbird -- 1955-57 -- the banker's sports car, it made beautiful women look even more beautiful behind the wheel.

8. GTO -- 1964-5. Light, powerful, compact, and powerful.

9. VW Beetle -- OK, sometimes ugly Betty appears to be beautiful to a demented soul.

10. Porsche 911 -- as an owner, and a restorer of a 1971 911 targa, I ahve often wondered if I had sold my soul to a false god.

11. Ferrari -- what needs to be said?

12. Lamborghini -- ditto, even moreso.

13. Mercedes 300 SL -- I almost forgot this iconic cult car from the 1950s, but who can think of a more beautiful thing?

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