Although Plymouth enthusiasts insist that the Baracuda beat the Ford Mustang to market by two weeks, the Mustang is generally considered the first "pony car", a new class of automobile first introduced in 1964 and designed to be more compact and more affordable than the larger muscle cars that inspired them. It was the Ford Mustang, first introduced at the New York World's Fair on April 17, 1964, that captured the imagination of the American public and guaranteed the success of the pony car. In fact, the Mustang was perhaps the most successful product launch in automotive history. Racking up over 22,000 sales in its first day and one million sales in its first two years, the Mustang inspired a wave of imitators including the Pontiac Firebird, Mercury Cougar and Chevrolet Camaro, but none could match the success enjoyed by the Mustang. Originally named for the P-51 Mustang, a fighter plane, Ford's new car quickly became associated with the horse of the same name and this became the basis for the now-famous Mustang emblem. Early versions of the Ford Mustang are highly collectible today.
In November of 1982, the first American-produced Honda Accord rolled off the assembly line at the Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio, making it the first Japanese car to be produced in the United States. The Accord would prove quite popular. In its first year of production, it became the best-selling Japanese car in the United States -- a title which it would hold for the next 15 years. It would receive its share of industry accolades as well. As of 2005, the Honda Accord had made Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list 19 times, making it the winningest vehicle in the 22-year history of the award.
In 1965, the Chevrolet Impala sold more than one million units in North America, setting a record that still stands today. Originally introduced in 1958, the Impala was the best-selling automobile in the United States during the 1960s. Early Impala models sported six taillights, a unique feature which, for a time, became the Impala trademark. The Impala was named after an African antelope.
In 1953, General Motors issued three specialty convertibles: the Buick Skylark, the Oldsmobile Fiesta, and the Cadillac Eldorado. Of the three, the Buick Skylark was the most successful with a production run of 1,642 units.
The first Chevrolet Corvette rolled off the production line on June 30, 1953, at the GM plant in Flint, Michigan. Only 300 Corvettes were built that year (each of them by hand), making this the rarest Corvette. Each fiberglass-bodied two-seater was white with a red interior and a black canvas top. The 1953 Corvette featured a Powerglide automatic transmission and a "Blue Flame" six cylinder 235ci 150 hp engine with three carburetors and dual exhaust.
The "Model-T" was the first car to be mass-produced. Henry Ford introduced the assembly line in December of 1908, and as a result he was not only able to mass-produce the Model-T, but was able to offer it to his customers at a much lower price than the competition. By 1913, Ford was producing half of all cars sold in the United States, and by 1927, he had sold more than 15 million Model-Ts!
The first car to include anti-lock brakes was the 1966 Jensen FF which came equipped with the Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock braking system (originally developed for use on aircraft). Although crude by today's standards (and sometimes unreliable), the Jensen FF's anti-skid system was a huge technological breakthrough at the time. Three years later, in 1969, the Lincoln Continental Mark III improved on the idea, placing sensors on the rear wheels that modulated pressure on the rear brakes when they began to lock up.
In 1999, the two-door Honda Insight became the first commercially available hybrid gasoline-electric car in the United States. The Insight won numerous awards (including International Engine of the Year) and earned EPA mileage ratings of 61 mpg in the city and 70 mpg on the highway, making it the world's most fuel-efficient car. The Insight originally sold for just under $20,000.
The original Porsche 911, introduced in 1964, boasted an impressive 130 hp @ 6100 rpm and a top speed of about 130 mph (209 km/h). By comparison, the 2005 Porsche 911 Turbo S boasts 444 hp @ 5,700 rpm and a top track speed of 190 mph (305 km/h).