‘Tis the season of turkey, mashed potatoes, awkward dinner conversations, and giving thanks immediately followed by shameless materialism. That’s right, Thanksgiving Day is upon us. With the world still reeling from Covid and the entirety of American life reduced to left vs. right politics, it may be difficult to find anything to be grateful for when grandma asks you to say grace at the dinner table. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list of ten cars that will help you do just that.
Benz Patent Motorwagen
Obviously, a list of cars to be thankful for must begin with the granddaddy, the pinnacle, the genesis of all cars — the Benz Motorwagen. Created by Carl Benz, the one-cylinder, four stroke engine produced 0.75 horsepower and could carry two passengers including the driver. It’s max speed was about 10mph going downhill, and could only carry enough fuel to travel 5 miles, but the ingenuity of Mr. Benz is what led to the rest of the vehicles on this list.
Ford Model T
If the Benz Patent Motorwagen was the first page in the book of automobiles, then the Model T was the copying machine. Henry Ford pioneered the mass manufacturing processes that allowed for the Model T to be affordable for the everyday consumer and sold nationwide. The assembly line not only pumped out affordable cars, but also led to the creation of the five-day, forty hour workweek. On second thought, maybe I should just leave that out.
Founded in 1937 by the German Labour Front, Volkswagen, meaning “the people’s car company”, was tasked by Adolf Hitler to build an affordable vehicle for the masses. Ferdinand Porsche was tasked with designing said vehicle, and in 1939 the KdF (Kraft-durch-Freude)-Wagen (“Strength through Joy” car) was displayed at the Berlin auto show. Ironically, shortly thereafter World War II began and Volkswagen halted production. After the war, the allies made Volkswagen their focus in an attempt to resuscitate the German auto industry, which apparently worked because VW churned out Beetles for nearly 60 years afterwards.
The VW Beetle was Europe’s people’s car, and the Ford Mustang was the quintessential American working man’s sports car. Revealed in 1964, designed by Lee Iaccoca, and developed on a shoestring budget, the Ford Mustang expanded the muscle car market. The key was in the pricing. The exciting V8-powered pony car wasn’t much more than the obtainable family saloon, so upgrading to the thundering stallion was a no-brainer.
Supercars are the most exciting thing ever created, and Lamborghini makes some of the most bedroom-poster-worthy super cars in existence. It is no surprise then that this historical pedigree began with the Muira, which is considered to be the first supercar. The mid-engine Lambo certainly wasn’t perfect, or reliable, but it paved the way for even more preposterously thrilling performance vehicles.
Things got a bit less fun after the 70’s oil crisis, but for Japanese automaker Toyota, it was the beginning of a stratospheric rise to their current place at the top of the automobile manufacturing class. The Corolla is the best-selling car in history for good reason. While a bit bland, it showed that an emphasis on quality without sacrificing affordability could create brand loyalty for generations. A car doesn’t need to be exciting to be important, and that’s what the Corolla brings to the table.
Okay, bear with me for a second. This isn’t the list of “cars that look good or are desirable”, it is the list of cars that we should be thankful for. The Toyota Prius, as ugly as it is, did alter the landscape of production hybrid technology which now permeates the auto industry. Like it or not, the Prius changed the game, and it did it while retaining Toyota reliability. The hybrid technology utilized in supercars like the P1 or LaFerrari owe their existence to the Prius which proved that the technology was worthwhile and in demand.
As fuel prices rose and emissions standards got more strict, manufacturers had to figure out a way to make fun cars that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. The Miata is considered to be the industry standard when it comes to reliable and affordable sports cars. It is the best selling roadster of all time and boasts one of the best enthusiast car cultures out there. One only needs to do a quick Facebook group search to see how supportive the Miata culture is, unless you drive an NC Miata.
This entry on our list is more for kicks and giggles, which seems exactly what Bugatti’s engineers were thinking when they made the Veyron. Imbued with an aura of “what the hell, let’s give it a shot”, the Veyron is on this list because it is literally useless with the exception of proving exactly how insane a car can be. I mean, a quad-turbocharged W16 engine? It’s like they asked a twelve year old how many cylinders they thought it should have. The Veyron is essentially a middle finger to physics and showed that the impossible was actually possible.
Tesla Model S
Being that the Roadster wasn’t a fully Tesla-made car, it doesn’t make the list. Instead, the Model S is here because it redefined what a compelling automobile could be. Driven entirely by electricity, the Model S silently blew away muscle cars at the drag strip alongside the public’s expectations of motoring. The Model S made sustainable transport sexy (s3xy if you are Elon Musk), and paved the way for the more captivating electric cars.
Give Thanks For Motoring
So, next time you find yourself sitting at a dinner table wondering what to be thankful for, just remember back to this list and all the cars that pushed against the limits of what was known to create something new and better. Because, at the end of the day, those cars sitting outside brought you physically closer to someone that you love, and those cars were only possible because of what came before. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving.