---Here are the top 10 American cars of all time---
 Chevrolet Corvette (1953-Present)
In its near six-decade life, there were times the Corvette was an underdog and its demise seemed certain. And let’s be honest, there were a few years that are best forgotten. But today, the C6 especially with the ungodly powerful ZR1 package -- is the most formidable testament to what a domestic car can be. It’s civilized when necessary, untamed when desired. It’s still not perfect, but given its character, you wouldn’t want it to be. This is America’s sports car and by far our ultimate all-time American car.
“Pony car” is a generic term, not exclusive to Ford’s Mustang. It may as well be. It launched the segment and continues to define it. And while Chevy and Dodge directly compete again with pony cars of their own, this all-time American car never quit. We can’t imagine it will anytime soon either. The 2011 lineup of V6, V8 and Shelby models is the best yet, inspiring the same love of driving the original Mustang did in 1964.
Just as it apexed, Chrysler announced the Dodge Viper’s demise. Predictably, it did not go gentle into that good night. It was, after all, a Viper ACR that shattered the single-lap record at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at the hands of Chris Winkler. In a recent alignment of planets and a dose of dumb luck, Winkler treated us to a lap of Road America in an ACR. It squelched every criticism we’ve ever had for the Viper, and gave us a newfound respect to miss this all-time American car before it was even gone.
A staple of American car culture from the 1950s and beyond came from a simple formula: a much better design than its granny-like predecessor, coupled with a much-needed motivational boost from an optional new small-block V8. From 1955 through ’57, the everyday Chevy was as cool as the Corvettes of the day. Moreover, the three-year run of this basic design has become highly prized among collectors and revered as an all-time American car yet today.
About the time the real Don Drapers of the world were hitting their stride, Cadillac was in cool control as well, and its “Standard of the World” slogan actually had bite. The Eldorado Convertible stood for look-at-me luxury in excess, even well beyond its glory days and into the ‘70s, when it became a bloated anachronism with a 500 cubic-inch V8. But then, doesn’t faded glory qualify it as an all-time American car?
Saleen’s mid-engined S7 is the President Obama of all-time American cars because it broke barriers with a resounding “yes we can” (and try as some might to prove otherwise, the S7 was American-born also). Offered with naturally aspirated or twin-turbo V8s, the car had the visual punch of European competitors and easily ran with them -- often outrunning them -- on the road and in racing. Yet, it wasn’t desperate for obsessive worship or maintenance like most other supercars. Yes, it did. We wish it still did.
 Mercury Eight (1949-’51)
For most of us, the demise of Mercury is a mixed blessing. Sadly, we’ll no longer get to watch Jill Wagner on the TV ads, but at least there’ll be fewer Grand Marquis on the road to mistake for police cars. But when granddad was your age, things were different. The ’49-’51 Mercury Eight out-cooled anything else on the road. It didn’t hurt that James Dean drove one in Rebel Without a Cause, but the original Lead Sled didn’t need the star power to immortalize it among all-time American cars.
 Pontiac Firebird (1967-2002)
Pontiac’s pony-car entry was more than a badge-engineered Chevy Camaro; it had an indelible impact on American pop culture. From prominence in the timelessRockford Files to lowbrow Smokey and The Bandit movies and the kitschy cool original (or is it KITT-schy cool?) Knight Rider, Firebirds were must-drives for decades. And what could’ve been more American than the Screaming Chicken decal that draped Trans Am hoods? Let’s see an oversize Cavallino Rampante get the same effect over the front of a Ferrari.
We could have easily featured a top 10 article of all-time Mopar greats and still had difficulty narrowing them down. But for all those worthy of mention here as all-time American cars, few shout “USA” like the Prowler, the prefab hotrod sold as a Plymouth until the brand’s demise, then as a Chrysler stepchild a bit longer. It was more flash than dash, but at least it was indulgently brash in attitude; something that couldn’t have sat well with management during the Daimler days. We kind of like that.
When you look at the generations collectively, Ford struck out more often with the T-Bird than it connected. But when Ford got it right, a great all-time American car was produced. The original would-be Corvette competitor achieved greater success as a personal luxury cruiser, always looking its best in convertible form. Halle Berry driving one in Die Another Day didn’t hurt the car’s looks either.