1948 Ford F 1 pickup truck

  • We selected two cars from each decade that lived up to our criteria.
  • The best cars ranged from pickups to supercars.
  • Yes, Tesla made the cut.

We’re always trying to figure out what the Golden Age of cars was, but the truth is that ever since World War II, we’ve lived in something of an endless Golden Age. 

For eight decades, cars have been incredible: gorgeous, innovative, powerful, and even reliable and affordable. As we spend more time talking about not owning cars and enjoying them drive themselves, we thought it would be appropriate to look back on the glories witnessed and pick a few big winners.

Our criteria was simple: Was the car a smash hit at the time, historically important, and did it change the game or exert a huge influence? Bonus points if a model is still in production in 2017.

Here’s what we came up with, the two best cars from each decade from 1940 to the present. 

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The 1940s: Original Jeep

Why it’s here:

The Willys-Overland Jeep was the vehicle than helped the Allies win World War II. The original rugged, throw-anything-at-it set of wheels, its legacy remains strong in vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler.

Military vehicles have sometimes made the transition to civilian life. Think of the Hummer, for example.

But the Willys Jeep is one of the vehicles that said it all in victorious fashion. Simple, easy to maintain, tough, ready for action. It was used by the US military and its allies as a scout car, so it saw front-line duty. Study it today and you can’t help but be impressed at its perfect combination of form and function.

The 1940s: Ford F-Series pickup truck

Why it’s here:

The F-Series pickups were originally introduced as work trucks and delivery vehicles for businesses, farms, and ranges. Fast forward Almost eight decades later, the F-Series has become America’s bestselling vehicle, reigning at the top since the 1980s. Ford will sell nearly a million in 2017. That astounding run had to start someplace.

The 1950s: Citroën DS

Why it’s here:

The Citroën DS marked France’s automotive comeback after World War II. Ahead of its time in both technology and styling, the DS has and will always be considered a pinnacle of the peculiar Gallic aesthetic attitude toward cars: sleek, suave, worldly.

It’s iconic styling, advanced hydropneumatic suspension, and numerous Citroën design quirks made the DS truly unique. 

The beautiful machine went into production in 1955 and stayed there until 1975. America had tailfins, Mustangs, and muscle cars during that period. France had the beautiful DS.

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