Home Cars These American Luxury Cars Will Make You Sell Your Lexus
Cars

These American Luxury Cars Will Make You Sell Your Lexus

Vukasin HerbezOctober 26, 2022

The concept of American luxury vehicles has changed significantly over the past several decades. Chrome ashtrays, clumsy radios, and vinyl seats gave way to infotainment screens, massaging seats, and autonomous driving systems. It took ages to get from the elegant sedans of yesterday to today’s luxury SUVs, but is this real progress?

There’s no doubt that today’s luxury vehicles are safer and more efficient, but are they more prestigious and stylish? We don’t think so. Just look at our list of 30 classic American luxury cars and decide for yourself. Would you rather drive one of these classic machines than the nondescript modern luxury car you see every time you drive? We would, so we compiled this list of American luxury cars that will make you sell your Lexus.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Pontiac Grand Ville

In the early 1970s, Pontiac’s management entered the luxury car segment by introducing a new top-of-the-line model called the Grand Ville in 1971. The Grand Ville had a Bonneville platform but with a few trim details that differentiated the two models. Pontiac decided to offer a 400 V8 engine as standard. The 455 came as an optional engine and a offered a high level of equipment (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

For those who wanted something extra, Pontiac offered a leather interior, climate control, heavy-duty suspension, an AM/FM radio, and even adjustable brake and accelerator pedals. The Grand Ville was provided as two and four-door hard top and luxury convertibles. But the market didn’t respond well and sales needed to be higher.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Cadillac Eldorado 1953

The 1950s brought post-war optimism and rising standards so Detroit responded with fresh models and more power. But nothing could match the highly exclusive Cadillac Eldorado in 1953. Based on the Series 62 convertible model, the Eldorado was the first actual “personal luxury” car and the most expensive Cadillac at the moment with a price of $2000 over the rest of the lineup.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

The car’s main features included the advanced one-piece wrap-around windshield, an interesting belt line with a slight dip, and raised tail lights that were the announcement for chromed fins that were to arrive just a few years after. The power came from the same 5.4-liter V8 as the rest of Cadillac’s models from 1953. Cadillac only made 532 Eldorados that year. But despite its limited availability, the Eldorado became famous and stayed in Cadillac’s portfolio for 50 years (via Notorious Luxury).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Chrysler 300 “Letter Cars”

Even before muscle cars were a thing, Chrysler produced a series of high-performance luxury coupes and convertibles that delivered unbelievable performance and excellent style. The model was called 300, followed by letters of the alphabet, with the C300 being the first model in 1955. Known as the Letter Series, those upscale cruisers were some of the fastest and most powerful models produced from 1955 to 1965 (via Car Throttle).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The first models had early Hemi engines, which could produce 300 horses (hence the name). Early Chrysler “Letter Series” models were the first American cars with 300 HP ratings. The “Letter Series” models were always costly and produced in very limited numbers. Throughout the years, Chrysler’s “Letter cars” combined luxury and limited availability with fantastic performance and style, making them one of the best examples of the personal luxury class.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Studebaker Golden Hawk

The Studebaker brand disappeared in 1966 after years of trying to stay relevant in the American market. However, in the mid-’50s, it was still one of the best names in the business with its lineup of exciting models. One of the best Studebakers ever built was the elegant ’56 Golden Hawk (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Conceived as a cool-looking personal luxury coupe, the Golden Hawk had a Packard-derived 352 V8 engine with 275 HP, which was impressive for the day. Its performance was also strong with a 0 to 60 mph time of fewer than nine seconds. The Golden Hawk showed the market that Studebaker could still produce exciting cars with a premium feel and look.

Cadillac Seville 1975 - Amazing Classic Cars
Photo Credit: Amazing Classic Cars

Cadillac Seville

The 1975 Seville was somewhat shocking to Cadillac purists as the first downsized Caddy ever, but it was a brilliant move by the company and one of the best US-built sedans of the late ’70s. After the time from 1970-1977 was marked by big land yachts and heavy cruisers, Cadillac realized that the market had turned to more agile and precise foreign cars like the Mercedes W116 S Class. So it decided to introduce a smaller, more modern car that was every bit a Cadillac.

Cadillac Seville 1975 (9200) | 1975 Cadillac Seville first g… | Flickr
Photo Credit: Flickr

The 1975 Seville was the perfect car for the time and sales exceeded expectations. It was elegant, perfectly sized, and reasonably powerful. It also came with a long list of options and trim choices, including an attractive Slantback body style and even a Gucci-themed trim package (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Ford Thunderbird 1955

The Thunderbird came out in 1955 and even though Ford tried to present it as a sports car, it was clear that the Thunderbird wasn’t one. The car had two seats and sporty looks, but it rode on a standard platform with a comfortable suspension and interior. This was Ford’s first personal luxury car with others to follow soon (via Net Car Show).

Photo Credit: Ford

Ford missed the mark with the Thunderbird and failed to introduce a proper sports car to rival the Corvette, but it managed to create a sales hit. The T-Bird outsold the Corvette easily and became one of Ford’s best earners in the late ’50s. This sealed the faith of the Thunderbird, and Ford turned it into one of the biggest personal luxury legends of the American industry.

Photo Credit: GM

Cadillac Fleetwood Talisman

Many car collectors remember the famous Fleetwood models of the ’70s. They were the biggest, most luxurious cars Detroit ever mass-produced, with enormous size, 500 CID V8 engines, and every conceivable option. However, there was a Talisman option from 1974 to 1976 that took things a step further (via Automotive Mileposts).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

If you opted for the Talisma, you got a unique interior with a center console running to the back. There were two comfortable armchairs instead of the rear bench seat. From the outside, Talismans weren’t much different than the regular Fleetwood 60 Series. Only the script on the back and side revealed the true nature.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Continental Mark II

The Edsel was not Ford’s only failed luxury attempt. In the mid-’50s, Ford established a separate brand called the Continental Division to produce luxury cars above the Lincoln brand. The success of the original Thunderbird showed them the way, so Ford decided they should build a more advanced, expensive, and prestigious luxury coupe. The first and only car was the famed Continental Mark II introduced in 1955 (via Motor Cities).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Ford’s idea was to present a superb luxury coupe with the finest technology and comfort and market it as a separate brand. The idea sounded good, but the market repose could have been better. The Continental Divison was shut down in five years following the disappointing sales of the Mark II coupe, despite it being the ultimate American personal luxury coupe.

Foto Credit: Auto WP

Buick Riviera

GM intended for Cadillac to introduce a flagship coupe. Since Buick needed help and Cadillac was doing well, Buick was green-lighted for developing the Riviera based on a successful concept car called the Silver Arrow. The production model debuted in 1963 and immediately became a sales hit, reaching the position of one of the best cars of the early ’60s.

Foto Credit: Auto WP

The Riviera was built on a particular frame and its chassis wasn’t shared with other GM products. It had an advanced and sophisticated design and interior with a central console, which was unheard of at the time (via Riv Owners).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Jeep Wagoneer Limited

Before the Grand Wagoneer and the luxury SUV models of today, there was a Wagoneer and its Limited version, introduced in 1978. The Wagoneer was already a premium off-roader with a high level of interior features for an all-terrain vehicle. Still, in the Limited package, it stepped towards the luxury field (via Auto Week).

Photo Credit: Hagerty

With signature woodgrain side panels, leather interior, climate control, and V8 engines, buyers could spec their Jeeps like any other luxury car on the market. The public loved that and the Wagoneer remained in strong demand despite its hefty price.

Photo Credit: GM

Oldsmobile Toronado

Back in the ’60s, Oldsmobile enjoyed a reputation for innovative technology, style, and luxury. They represented the cutting edge of GM at one point in time. Presenting models that were far ahead of their time and displayed power and style on the global market. One such car is the Oldsmobile Toronado from 1966 (via Driving Line).

Photo Credit: GM

This was a big, powerful personal luxury coupe with a twist, as it was front-wheel drive. In those days, only a few imports were front-wheel drive. All other domestic cars, regardless of the class or engine, were rear-wheel drive. However, Oldsmobile wanted to introduce something else and constructed an ingenious FWD system. Designers drew a fantastic-looking shape with a low roof and hidden headlights, while power came from a big block 455 V8 with 385 HP.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Dual Ghia

Only a few people know about Dual Ghia, a premier American car company founded in 1956 that was defunct only two years later in 1958. Started by businessman Eugene Casaroll, Dual Ghia produced high-powered, custom-built convertibles that used the Chrysler platform and 315 V8 engines. The selling point was the body and luxury appointments. Casaroll sent the chassis to Italy to be re-bodied by the famous Italian design house Ghia, hence the name (via Supercars).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

The Dual Ghia appeared in 1956 and was the most expensive American car. Only 117 were made, and A-list celebrities bought most, like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Richard Nixon.

Photo Credit: Ford

Lincoln Continental

After the very popular and influential 1961-1969 Continental, Lincoln presented an upgraded 1970 model that lasted nine years until 1979. It was similar to Lincoln and Mercury models but retained several unique features, details, and trim.

Photo Credit: Ford

Front headlights were under the automatically operated cover, which was a nice touch. Under the hood, the 460 V8 was present but gradually lost power due to tightening emissions standards. However, the Continental retained signature comfort, luxury, and a high level of equipment and sold well despite a heavy price tag (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: GM

Cadillac Eldorado 1967

The 1967 model year marked a revolution for the Eldorado. It wasn’t just in terms of a new design but also in terms of technology and drive train. The Cadillac needed a new model to make a statement and keep the Eldorado on top of the market.

Photo Credit: GM

This was the 1967 model, which featured gorgeous new coupe styling with hideaway headlights. It had a long hood and an elegant rear end. The new Eldorado looked stunning, and even though the convertible option was gone, sales went through the roof. But the most significant change was the switch to the front-wheel drive layout. The Eldorado had almost perfect handling and better driving dynamics. While retaining the mighty 340 HP engine and all classic Cadillac characteristics (via Net Car Show).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Hudson Italia

Designed and manufactured in Milan, Italy, by the famous Carrozzeria Touring, the Hudson Italia was a luxury coupe built on a standard Hudson Hornet platform. It featured the same suspension and drivetrain. Carrozzeria Touring gave it a specific look with its signature “Superleggera” construction technique, making it light and nimbler than the Hornet (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Unfortunately, the finished product was very expensive at over $4,000, which was more than the Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Limited production, a long waiting period since the car was shipped from Italy, and a lack of Hudson’s reputation in the luxury car market sealed its faith. The company only made 26, and the production lasted from 1953 to 1954.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Pontiac Grand Prix

With the restyling of the Grand Prix for the 1969 model year, Pontiac introduced a really special car. First, there was a cool-looking new design with a long hood. It had a short rear end and a very interesting and driver-oriented dashboard. The 1969 Grand Prix looked apart from the competitors, and sales immediately jumped. Second, there was a cool trim option called SJ. It featured a high-output 428 V8 engine that delivered 390 HP and many other performance options.

Photo Credit: Mecum

The moniker “SJ” was from the legendary Duesenberg brand. The SJ insignia was featured on the most potent Duesenberg cars back in the day. Pontiac wanted to get a piece of that legend with the Grand Prix SJ. The automotive press and the fans received this personal luxury car well, resulting in great sales numbers for the Grand Prix (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Lincoln Continental Mark III

The Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company was enjoying considerable success during the ’60s. That was primarily due to the Continental, which was introduced in 1961 and was a landmark model in many aspects. With healthy sales numbers, Lincoln turned to the personal luxury market. The innovative and advanced 1969 Mark III coupe is considered to be one of the best personal luxury cars Ford Motor Company ever made.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Introduced in late 1968, the Mark III was built on the Thunderbird chassis and had a powerful new 460 V8 engine. Since the new model used much of the existing mechanics, Lincoln concentrated on design and equipment, departments in which the Mark III excelled. The front had a prominent chrome grille reminiscent of Rolls Royce models. It also had hideaway headlights, which were an interesting touch. The trunk had a cool-looking spare wheel hump with Continental lettering. That, combined with its vinyl top, made the Mark III’s design unique and special (via Black Hawk Collection).

Lincoln Continential
Photo Credit: Wiki

1961 Lincoln Continental

Back in the late ’50s, Ford’s luxury division Lincoln was far behind Cadillac, not only in sales but also in popularity and style. Ford decided that had to change and the 1961 Lincoln Continental was born. When Lincoln showed the new model, the automotive public was stunned. The beautiful elegance of its styling, conservative use of chrome, straight lines, and futuristic design transformed the four-door luxury model into a work of modern art.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The best exterior feature was the suicide doors, with the rear doors opening toward the traffic. Of course, this wasn’t the best solution, but it only added to the charm of the Continental. Interestingly, Lincoln offered a cool-looking four-door convertible model which proved very popular and unique on the market (via How Stuff Works).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Chevrolet Monte Carlo

In the late ’60s, Chevrolet product planners had an idea to enter the personal luxury segment with a new model. Since Chevrolet was known as a mid-priced car brand, moving up the ladder was a big deal. Chevy knew they needed a fresh design, name, and powerful engines. So in 1970, the Monte Carlo was introduced (via Collectors Auto Supply).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Built on a modified Chevelle platform, the Monte Carlo was a handsome coupe-only car with V8 engines. It had a nice interior and decent performance. Even though most Monte Carlos came with smaller V8 engines, there was one crazy muscle option in the form of the SS 454 package. However, most of them had smaller 350 and 396 V8 engines.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Cadillac Eldorado 1976

The 1976 Eldorado was an automotive dinosaur in many ways. It was the last Cadillac with the enormous 500 CID V8 engine, one of the most significant engines ever made. The Eldorado was the previous Cadillac convertible for over 10 years. Since the late ’70s safety laws almost killed the convertible class, it was the last massive land yacht that dominated the domestic car industry in the ’70s.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Even during this generation of the Eldorado, it was obvious the industry was changing. It was also clear that Cadillac had to rethink its strategy to stay on top of the game. However, the 1976 Eldorado was the perfect way to end that era of excess and its monstrous engines, chrome trim, and plush interiors. Never before or since there was such a big, opulent personal luxury car offered on the market (via Top Speed).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Imperial 1981

In one of the final attempts to resurrect Chrysler’s luxury division Imperial, the company presented a very interesting personal luxury coupe in 1981. This was the project of Lee Iacocca, who came to Chrysler from Ford in the late ’70s and saved the company from bankruptcy.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

So in 1981, the Imperial was a stylish two-door coupe built on the Chrysler Cordoba or Dodge Mirada chassis. It was powered by a 318 V8 engine. Its design was contemporary with several classic cues like a slant buck rear end and hideaway headlights. But it was an aesthetically pleasing luxury car. Chrysler invested a lot in marketing and even used Frank Sinatra as the spokesperson for the new model, but sales were still slim (via Hemmings).

2003 Ford Thunderbird
Photo Credit: Ford

Ford Thunderbird 2002

In 2002, Ford introduced the new T-bird with retro-inspired styling reminiscent of the 1955-1957 models. It featured a two-seat configuration, a 3.9-liter V8 in the front, and a stylish interior. The car looked great, and Ford got the retro feel of a classic Thunderbird right. The initial response from buyers and the motoring press was fantastic. But the hype was over soon as sales were disappointing (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Mecum

The new Thunderbird wasn’t the performance car people seemed to believe. It was comfortable, heavy, and not very fast despite having 280 HP. Ford realized that it wasn’t real competition for the Mercedes SL. Instead, it was just another underperforming and expensive model in the market segment, which is essentially gone today.

Stutz Bearcat
Photo Credit: Mecum

Stutz Blackhawk

The early ’70s saw the return of one of the most famous classic American brands – Stutz. The company was founded by New York banker James O’Donnell who invested heavily in marketing, design, and production. Stutz commissioned various Italian coachwork companies to produce unique, retro-inspired bodies designed on the Pontiac Grand Prix, using its drivetrain and 455 V8.

Photo Credit: Mecum

The first car was the Blackhawk, which entered production in late 1970. Due to its unique style, strong marketing, and celebrity endorsements, Stutz soon becomes one of the most exclusive and in-demand American cars. Although costing over $20,000 (in 1971), which was close to the price of a new Rolls Royce, O’Donnell found many customers who kept his company in business for almost 20 years (via Mecum).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

1963 Mercury Monterey Breezeway

Learning from the Continental, Mercury offered something new to the customers hoping to raise its sales. In 1963, it introduced an innovative and exciting Breezeway option on its top model. This was a reverse C pillar design with a concave profile of the car and tilted rear glass, which was retractable. It was an innovative solution that resulted in more space in the interior and an excellent-looking design.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Mercury kept the Breezeway option for selected models up to the 1968 model year. Despite being not all that popular or influential, the Breezeway is still one of the coolest luxury US sedans of the ’60s (via Motor City Garage).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Lincoln Continental Mark V Coupe

After the successful Mark III and IV models, Lincoln presented the ultimate luxury coupe of the late ’70s, the Mark V in 1977. However, a bit smaller than the predecessor, the Mark V was still a big car with a long hood, massive bumpers, and a grille.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Powered by standard 400 V8 and optional 460 V8, it wasn’t the fastest car on the road. But it was comfortable and good-looking. It had cool Opera-style windows on the back, and a signature spare wheel bump on the trunk lid. Also, Lincoln offered several unique versions in cooperation with various fashion houses, which were very popular with buyers (via Facebook).

Photo Credit: Classic and Sports Car

Buick Riviera Boat Tail

The original Riviera was a 1963 model, but in 1971, Riviera became a design classic with the introduction of the iconic boat tail design. It was in production for only three years, but it left a significant mark on the industry with its unusual-yet-elegant styling.

Photo Credit: Classic and Sports Car

With powerful engines, decent performance, and overall uniqueness, the 1971-1973 Riviera was one of the best personal luxury coupes and an authentic ’70s classic. Buick continued to produce Rivieras until 1997 but never repeated this generation’s success (via Motor Cities).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

1969 Buick Wildcat

The Wildcat is one of the exciting but almost forgotten models that were popular back in the day. Introduced in 1963, the Wildcat was something between a personal luxury model and a muscle car. It featured restrained and elegant styling. Much as the rest of Buick’s lineup but also had powerful engines, sporty trim, and excellent performance.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

In 1967, Wildcat was a four-door which boosted its appeal and helped improve sales numbers. For 1969, the Wildcat got a new look and powerful new 455 V8 with 370 HP, transforming it into a hidden performance car with room for six adults (via Concept Carz).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Ford 7-Litre

Using the full-size Galaxie two-door hard top or convertible platform, Ford introduced a brand-new model for 1966 called the 7-Litre. The seven stood for displacement and its Litre spelling gave more charm to the otherwise ordinary Galaxie. Under the hood was the 428 V8 with a respectable 345 HP which delivered a pretty convincing performance (via Hemmings).

Ford Galaxie - Car
Photo Credit: Hot Rod

However, the 7-Litre’s equipment was also very interesting as Ford put everything they got into this car. The buyers could get A/C, and bucket seats were standard. There was also its heavy-duty suspension, power everything, a choice of unique colors, and 7-Litre badges on the sides, which helped identify this model.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser 455

You are probably thinking of how a family station wagon could be a powerful luxury car, but it can. The 1970 Vista Cruiser had an optional 455 V8 monster of an engine. It’s essentially the same powerplant from the famed Oldsmobile 442 muscle car. This transformed an ordinary ’70s American suburban wagon into a fire-breathing muscle car disguised as practical family transport (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Of course, the performance of the Vista Cruiser 455 was worse than the regular Oldsmobile 442, and the reason was the wagon’s weight. But the Vista was still pretty quick with a 0 to 60 mph time of around six seconds. Unfortunately, only a few people knew about this in 1970, and Oldsmobile installed 455 in just a handful of Vista Cruisers. That is why those cars are forgotten and rare today.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Chrysler Ghia Specials

The story of the Chrysler Specials built by the Italian coach-building company Ghia is a very interesting and unique one in automotive history. In the early ’50, the American car industry started promoting wild concept cars and introducing new and jet-influenced shapes into production models. On the other hand, Chrysler presented several very elegant concepts, all of which drew much attention from the crowd. Interestingly, Chryslers were fully operational prototypes on standard car chassis and drivetrains.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Several of Chrysler’s top managers realized that there was potential for limited production of those prestigious coupes. But in cooperation with Ghia, which had already designed and produced several concept cars. So, in 1951 the first Chrysler Special called the K-301 was for sale, which continued with several other models until 1955 (via Motor1).

Advertisement
Please wait 5 sec.