While there are millions of people who follow the trends in the automobile industry, the volume can almost be too much to handle. Millions of cars are produced on a yearly basis, and new models are launched almost as frequently by the variety of companies in the industry.
It can be hard to keep track of which four-wheeled stunners are worth looking at. These 10 cars, however, have permanently solidified their role in history and are globally iconic automobiles. Not because of their aesthetic appeal (because who doesn't love a fancy car), and they might certainly not be the most expensive cars out there, but because of their significance in major events that have occurred over the last ten decades.
1. Franz Ferdinand’s 1911 Graf & Stift Double Phaeton
(By Andrzej Barabasz (Chepry), Wikimedia Commons)
This was the vehicle of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an Austro-Hungarian Leader appointed inspector general of the entire armed forces of the nation in 1913. It was in this car that the Archduke, and his wife, former Countess Sophie Chotek, were assassinated on June 28th, 1914, in Sarajevo. The Graf and Stift vehicles. in general. are among many of the lesser-known cars in history, though this one is seared in our memory.
This event would eventually cause an escalation in the tension between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbia and lead to war. The car is now on display at the Museum of Military History in Vienna, Austria, along with numerous other weapons and items collected after the assassination.
2. Bonnie & Clyde’s 1934 Ford Model 730 Deluxe Sedan
(By greyloch, Wikimedia Commons)
Bonnie and Clyde were one couple that had bank owners everywhere quivering and the police all riled up. It’s hard to know for sure how much money they stole, but during the Great Depression, they hit a little under 15 banks and were responsible for the death of at least 12 people.
They were finally gunned down by the police on May 23rd, 1934 in Louisiana while fleeing in their Ford V8. Police cars have since become faster and tougher, for a pretty penny. The bullet-riddled car was sold in 1988 for a whopping quarter of a million dollars, to the Primm Valley Resort and Casino, first in Nevada, and now in Saint Joseph, Missouri.
3. Adolf Hitler’s 770-K Mercedes-Benz staff cars
(By Bundesarchiv, Wikimedia Commons)
Here’s one car that will go down in infamy. Der Fuhrer had a number of cars that he used to motor around the Third Reich, but this beautiful Mercedes Benz, one of the best luxury cars produced between 1939 to 1943, is quite possibly the most famous. It was custom designed and heavily modified to include extensive armored plating.
After being confiscated by an American soldier towards the end of World War II, it was owned by a number of private individuals who had millions of euros to spare. It finally made its way to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada, where it still stands on display.
4. Elvis’ Pink Cadillac
(By Corkythehornetfan, Wikimedia Commons)
Just after making a name for himself in the music industry, the King of Rock and Roll decided to treat himself by purchasing a gorgeous pink 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60. Unfortunately, the brake lining failed shortly after he bought her, and that was the end of his iconic Cadillac.
He went on to mention his pink Cadillac numerous times in songs, and a month after losing the original, he bought a blue 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60 with a black roof. He had his neighbor, Art, paint the car to a customized color of pink, lovingly named “Elvis Rose”. This iconic car is currently preserved in the Graceland Museum, in Memphis, Tennessee.
5. James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder
(By Chad White, Wikimedia Commons)
James Dean was an actor that touched the spirits of rebels without a cause everywhere. In addition to his incredible and memorable performances on screen, he was also a lover of all things fast and having four wheels. He began to develop a career in auto-racing as well, which spurred him to purchase his dream car, a Porsche 550 Spyder, affectionately nicknamed “Little Bastard”.
Dean was driving from LA to Selinas in Little Bastard at speeds of 85 m.p.h and upwards, on September 30th, 1955, when a 1950 Ford Tudor rounded the corner. With no time to break, the collision sent the car into the air, and when it landed, left the iconic actor with only a weak pulse. He was announced dead at the scene. This car has changed hands a number of times, and while its official whereabouts are unknown, there’s a good possibility it’s in the gigantic garage of some wealthy collector.
6. Rosa Park’s Number 2857 1948 General Motors TDH-3610 City Transit Bus
(By Rmhermen, Wikimedia Commons)
Iconic vehicles can come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a bus and a lady who changed the game for an entire nation. It was on December 1st, 1955, that Rosa Parks was making her way back home from work, sitting at the back of Bus No. 2857, in the designated “color” seats. After the bus conductor noticed a few white people on the bus standing, several black patrons of the vehicle were instructed to get up to allow the Caucasians to sit. Rosa Parks simply said no.
The resulting outcome and her arrest lit a fire under those fighting for equality, and shortly thereafter, the NAACP began organizing a boycott of the public transport system. These events together played a key role in the history of America. This momentous piece of history is currently being held in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan
7. President Kennedy’s 1961 Ford Lincoln convertible
(By The U.S. National Archives, Wikimedia Commons)
Code-name SS-100-X, this dark blue Lincoln Convertible was the presidential limousine for J.F.K during his term. It is the very same limousine in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a presidential motorcade through the streets of Dallas, Texas. One of the most iconic pictures of this car was taken moments after the assassination occurred and captured Agent Clint Hill of the Secret Service clamoring onto the trunk of the car to protect the first lady, who was clinging to it in fear. This car went on to be used by several future presidents, after numerous modifications, before finally being retired to the Henry Ford Museum in 1977.
8. President Reagan’s 1972 Ford Lincoln Continental
After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, whilst in the presidential limousine, it was decided that the new presidential limousine would require a series of intense alterations to make it safer for later presidents. To start with, the vehicle was painted black (unlike J.F.K's Navy Blue) and the roof, sides, and windows were fitted with armored plating. This is the very same car in which John Hinkley attempted to shoot and kill President Reagan on March 30th, 1981, and the very same car that took him to the hospital safely. It even protected President Ford from an assassination attempt, securing its place in history.
9. Princess Grace’s Porsche Rover P6 3500
This Porsche, like many of its brethren, was quite a beauty to see on the streets. It belonged to actress Grace Kelly, who became royalty after marrying the Prince of Monaco. While driving down the long and winding roads of the hills of Monaco, a predominantly mountainous region, with her daughter, Stephanie, the Princess suffered a stroke and lost control of the vehicle. The crash took her life, though, mercifully, her child was largely unscathed. Rumor has it, following Grace Kelly's demise, the car was crushed into a cube and disposed of.
10. Princess Diana Spencer’s (Lady Di) Mercedes-Benz W140
(By Bull-Doser, Wikimedia Commons)
Here's another vehicle involved in a point of history that even today breeds confusion and controversy. Princess Diana Spencer was a potential Queen of England until she divorced her husband Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, following a series of scandalous events that brought the paparazzi on her trail like fire ants at a picnic.
The official story is: she, along with three other passengers, which included her then-fiancee, were driving through Paris when the car slammed into a concrete pillar. The driver, who was rumored to have high blood alcohol levels and the passenger in the front died instantly. Princess Di and the 4th passenger were left critically injured and passed later in the hospital.
While there are many speculations as to how the events of the accident truly unfolded (and whether it was an accident at all), one thing is for sure. Since the accident, the car itself has been disposed of, in an attempt to leave behind the tragic past associated with it.