3 Stylistic Differences Between Classic American and European Cars

If you’re relatively new to the world of classic car collecting, you’ve probably become aware of the age-old “America vs. Europe” debate. For decades, automotive enthusiasts have argued over who created better vehicles throughout the golden age of auto manufacturing. Since “better” is a highly subjective term, the definitive answer to this question varies depending on who you ask. However, there are a number of notable differences between classic American automobiles and their European counterparts.  

1. Bulkiness

Many American cars manufactured during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s were very large, long and bulky. Sedans and sports cars created by automotive giants like Ford and Chevrolet gave off a powerful presence. Alternatively, European vehicles from this era tended to be more practical and compact. While somewhat bulky by today’s standards, many classic European vehicles hardly resembled the behemoths found stateside. Their respective sizes and lengths were more in line with modern-day American automobiles.

2. Space Age Influence

The 1950s and 1960s are commonly known as the Space Age by many Americans. The country’s obsession with space travel during this period hardly went unnoticed by prominent auto manufacturers, with many classic automobiles sporting futuristic tail fins and booster-shaped headlights. Certain sedans were even designed to resemble actual rocket ships. However, while very showy, these frills seldom served any practical purpose.

3. Roominess

Since American cars were generally much larger than European vehicles, they were often able to accommodate more passengers. With the rise of family-centric vehicles in the 1950s, many auto manufacturers began equipping their sedans with built-in backseats, while many European cars from this era lacked them. It’s worth noting, however, that a number of classic European vehicles featured detachable backseats.

Decades from now, the “American vs. European cars” debate will still rage on amongst seasoned gear-heads. Although classic car lovers will never reach a true consensus, you can form your own educated opinion on the subject by familiarizing yourself with the stylistic differences between the two types of vehicles. 


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