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Searching for America's Next Cult Car
CNBC.com | January 06, 2012 | 03:22 PM EST

What ever happened to America’s cult, classic cars? We’re talkin’ Mustangs. Corvettes. James Dean slumped in a Porsche Spyder. Clark Gable draped in a Duesenberg, the epitome of ‘30s glamour.

During the '70s, car regulations prompted changes in auto design, and the oil shock sent fuel prices soaring. The automobile transformed from object of leisure and luxury to an appliance of transportation . While American cult cars haven’t been the same since, their appeal lingers.

“Cult cars will always be around. The love affair is always going to be there,” says John Heitmann, auto historian and professor at the University of Dayton. “They may change and become cult electric cars in the next 40 years.”

True Devotion

The cult-car phenomenon has dissipated since its ‘50s heyday. But that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from pushing their models as the next gotta-have-it car. Auto enthusiasts continue to admire and collect cult-car classics.

Just ask Howard Pardee of the Shelby American Automobile Club , based in Sharon, Conn. Pardee and his fellow 3,000 club members from around the globe are fans and collectors of the Shelby Cobras and Mustangs, high performance versions of the iconic Ford Mustang, part of Ford Motor. The cars were manufactured from 1962 through 1970 model years.

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