Are You an American Vehicle Expert?


By: Robin Tyler

7 Min Quiz

Image: Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd/DigitalVision/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Yes, the modern motor car was invented in Germany, but that doesn't mean the United States hasn't played a crucial role in its development.

At the turn of the 20th Century, several American engineers were at the forefront of vehicle innovation. Early pioneers included Charles and Frank Duryea of the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1893, Henry Ford, who built his first vehicle in 1896 and Ransom E. Olds who formed Olds Motor Vehicle Company (later Oldsmobile) in 1897. It was the Olds Motor Vehicle Company that dominated the early car scene in America with their model, the Curved Dash. By 1901, the company was making use of production lines when making their cars.

We also know how much Ford dominated the motoring scene, not only in America but worldwide with the introduction of the Model T in 1907. More than 15 million of these were produced over 19 years, making Ford the dominant brand in the automotive world. And it didn't end there for American motoring. Chevrolet and Chrysler joined Ford as one of the big three vehicle producers while other brands had success and some failures as well.

But just how much of an American motor vehicle expert are you? In this quiz, you will need to identify U.S.-made vehicles with only the help of a few small clues. If you are stumped, then use the hint we provide to get you on the right track.

Can you cross the finishing line first?

An off-roader steep in military history, this one was a little different, however. What is it?

Built between 1946 and 1965 in the U.S. and until 1981 in Argentina, the Willys Jeep Station wagon was one of Jeep's most successful models. It was designed by Brooks Stevens and more than 300,000 were produced in the U.S. alone.


Can you name the first-ever car produced by the luxury division of Ford?

The first car ever produced by Lincoln — Ford's luxury division — was the L-series. The model made its debut in 1917 and was built until 1930. Throughout its production run, the L-series was powered by a V-8 motor coupled with a 3-speed manual transmission.


From these options, pick the Lincoln model from the 1930s.

Produced between 1936 and 1940, the Zephyr was a mid-sized luxury car produced by Lincoln. It was the only car in its class to feature a V-12 engine with its rivals running V8s and straight 8s. The Zephyr was available in a variety of body types, including a two-door coupe, two-door convertible and four-door sedan, to name a few.


This car broke 29 records on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the 1960s. Can you name it?

Introduced in 1962, the Avanti certainly looked different from other cars on the market. Studebaker pitched the Avanti as a high-performance four-passenger car. And its performance at the time was pretty special with the Avanti breaking close to 30 records during runs at the Bonneville Salt Flats.


From the options below, pick the luxury electric SUV, please.

A luxury SUV, the Tesla Model X is an electric vehicle capable of traveling between 237 and 295 miles on a single charge, depending on driving conditions. Sporting all-wheel drive and two motors, the top of the range P90D produces 193 kilowatts to the front tires and 375 kilowatts to the rear tires!


Based on the Chevy Camaro chassis, name this vehicle's stablemate that sold 87,000 units in 1967.

Based on the Chevrolet Camaro chassis, the Pontiac Firebird was its own car and certainly caught the attention of auto enthusiasts in the mid-1960s. The Firebird was powered by a range of engines, including straight-six and V8. More than 82,000 were sold in 1967, its first year of production.


A modern muscle car that goes zero to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. What is it?

Performance-wise, the 2011 Shelby GT350 Mustang was super impressive. Not only could it go from a standing start to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, but it also covers a quarter mile in just 12 seconds, reaching 121 mph in the process. This is all thanks to the 5.0-liter Ford V-8 engine under the hood.


Can you name the upgrade to a popular truck that put it into "muscle truck" territory?

The SVT Lightning was introduced in 1993 and is essentially an F-150 truck with a little extra under the hood. The Lightning was powered by a 5.8 liter V-8, and handling was improved thanks to an upgraded suspension system.


Name the late 1940s car of which only 51 units were ever built.

The dream of Preston Tucker, the Torpedo saw only 51 units built. Why? Well, Tucker was indicted for mail fraud, although many say he was set up. The Torpedo was something new after car production had stalled during World War II, and people believed that larger carmakers, including Ford and Chevrolet, were threatened by it. Tucker was cleared of all charges, but his dream was destroyed.


Name the vehicle that was sometimes called the Super Scout II.

Also known as the Super Scout II, this American off-roader was in direct competition with the Jeep CJ. Much like the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser, the Safari II could hit the trails with modifications of any kind. It has a massive wheelbase — 106.5 inches — as well as a V-8 engine with a manual transmission.


Name the power wagon that was first a concept car but then went into production.

The Warlock, which fell in the power wagon category, was initially a concept car. Dodge put it into production from 1977 to 1979. The Warlock was available only in black, but other colors could be special ordered.


More than 5,000 units of this pickup were sold in the late 1970s. What was it?

A "super truck" of sorts, more than 5,000 Li’l Red Express trucks were sold in 1978 and 1979. And it's not difficult to understand why. Not only did it look incredible, but it had some serious speed. In fact, the modified 360 cubic inch V-8 engine produced 225 brake horsepower, even more than the Corvettes of the time.


In Australia, this vehicle was marketed as the Rambler Javelin. What was it called in America?

This 2-door hardtop was manufactured between 1968 and 1970, and again between 1971 and 1974. The AMC Javelin offered various engine levels, from the more economical pony car to muscle car options. In Australia, it was known as the Rambler Javelin, in Mexico as the VAM Javelin and in Europe as the Javelin 79-K. Keith Martin’s Guide to Car Collecting named the 1971-1974 Javelins as one of nine muscle car sleepers.


Which of these used a gimmicky sport water injection system in the 1960s?

Introduced in 1962, the Jetfire from Oldsmobile used a sports water injection system. For this to work, owners had to top up their Turbo Rocket Fuel, essentially a mixture of water and alcohol. Often drivers forgot and although it wasn't meant to, it affected the performance of the turbocharger and made the engine die. The Jetfire didn't last long.


Which of these modern cars is popular in the sub-compact class and made by one of America's Big Three automakers?

A popular car in the sub-compact segment, the Sonic from Chevrolet not only has excellent handling, but it is also spacious and has ample cargo space. It is also light on fuel, offering around 28 mpg in city driving and up to 37 mph on the open road.


Can you name the vehicle that dominated early NASCAR races?

Early NASCAR racing saw drivers using stock vehicles, hence the term stock car. The Hudson Hornet was so dominant that if you were not driving one, you didn't stand a chance of a NASCAR win, no matter how talented a driver you were.


Which of these was first a trim package for a model known as the CJ-5 but became its own model in 1965?

Initially a trim package for the CJ-5 introduced in 1961, the Tuxedo Park included some more chrome add-ons, an Indian ceramic steering wheel, and different vinyl trims. The Tuxedo Park become its own model in 1965 and to differentiate it from other models, it had chrome bumpers, badges and hubcaps, as well as a column shift.


Driven by James Bond in "The Man With the Golden Gun," this vehicle's name is associated with bullfighting. Can you name it?

The American Motor Company produced the Matador in various models ranging from a coupe to a station wagon. AMC sold the Matador from 1974 to 1978 as a coupe with a range of inline-6- and V-8 engines. A special luxury model featured a custom interior designed by Oleg Cassini. James Bond drove a Matador in "The Man With the Golden Gun."


Devised as a NASCAR racer, only three were ever produced. Which vehicle are we talking about?

A special edition of the Gran Torino, the King Cobra was meant to dominate NASCAR for Ford. Unfortunately, only three were ever produced.


Can you name the van that was used in the "Batman" TV series of the 1960s?

The Chrysler Corporation marketed this range of compact forward-control trucks and vans between 1964 and 1970 in North America, under Fargo in Canada and Dodge in the U.S. A Dodge A100 was used in the "Batman" television series of the 1960s.


What car did Eric drive in the TV sitcom, "That '70s Show"?

Oldsmobile manufactured the Vista Cruiser between 1964 and 1977. The earlier models had fixed-glass, roof-mounted skylights with sun visors for the second-row passengers and three rows of forward-facing seating.


From the options below, pick out a hybrid pickup built in the United States, please.

One of America's lesser-known vehicle producers, VIA Motors makes a range of electric vehicles, including a hybrid pickup truck with a battery range of 40 miles, enough to cover the distance most of us travel each day. It is charged at a normal plug point.


This rear-wheel-drive V8 was considered an '80s family car. What was it?

A big brash American car, the Roadmaster was one of the family cars of the 1990s, even though it was a rear-wheel-drive V-8-powered monster. When it came out in 1991, it was the first time the Roadmaster name had been used by Buick in 33 years.


Please tell us the name of the vehicle considered to be America's first-ever sports car.

Considered the first sports car built by an American company, the Bearcat introduced in 1914 had a four-cylinder 60 brake horsepower engine. Although by today’s standards that may seem like nothing, in 1914, the Bearcat was the fastest thing on four wheels.


Which of these is a capable off-roader and a pickup?

The Rebel combines comfort and off-road abilities thanks to its full-frame front suspension, a solid rear axle and air suspension all around. Not only can ride height be adjusted for the toughest terrain, but it can benefit on the highway with lower gas mileage. It also has an excellent 8-speed gearbox.


It was introduced in 2005 and discontinued by General Motors in 2010. What vehicle are we talking about?

The Hummer H3 model was introduced in 2005 and is the smallest of the Hummer models. Three engine options were available for the H3 with most powerful a 5.3 liter V-8 which produced 300 brake horsepower. General Motors discontinued the Hummer brand in 2010.


It's a famous American brand that disappeared in the mid-1980s only to return in 1997. Name this vehicle from one of America's Big Three automakers.

A famous Chevrolet brand for more than 20 years, the Malibu disappeared after 1984. Chevrolet resurrected the name in 1997, and it is currently attached to a vehicle in the mid-size vehicle class. The top of the line model comes with a 9-speed automatic gearbox paired with a 2000 cc turbocharged engine pushing out 250 brake horsepower.


From the options below, pick the vehicle that had a turbine engine, please.

This concept car was built in small numbers. Only 55 were made, 50 of which were used in a designed user program. As one can tell by the name, this Chrysler model was driven by a turbine engine. Only nine remain today; two of them are owned by private collectors.


Produced together with a legendary carmaker, name the performance truck first introduced in 1989.

With input from the legendary Caroll Shelby, the Dakota feature a 5.2-liter V-8 capable of 175 brake horsepower. This was coupled to a 4-speed automatic transmission. In 1989, that made for a performance truck that was very impressive.


This vehicle replaced its stablemate, the Hornet. Do you know what it is?

Between 1978 and 1983, the American Motors Corporation manufactured the compact AMC Concord in four styles: a four-door sedan, two-door coupe, three-door hatchback, and a five-door station wagon. A mid-size family car, it was designed to replace the AMC Hornet.


Aimed at the more mature buyer, this vehicle was marketed between 1967 and 1971. What is it?

The GTX was another performance model made by Plymouth and marketed to the more mature buyer. It was built between 1967 and 1971. Some GTX models were powered by a massive 7.0-liter Hemi engine which pushed out 425 bhp.


Which of these is considered to be the first-ever minivan?

Many car fundis believe the Stout Scarab to be the first-ever minivan, although the designers and the general public might not have known it at the time. You can certainly see why they named it the Scarab. It looks like an elongated beetle. Designed by William Bushnell Stout, the Scarab was powered by a Ford flathead V-8 engine.


Henry Ford made many cars during his lifetime but what was his first?

Henry Ford designed the Quadricycle in 1896 and over the next five years, built four models. It was a simple machine that ran on an ethanol engine and used bicycle tires. He built the engine for it in his kitchen sink!


Please identify the vehicle listed below — often called a "muscle truck" — that has a 4.3-liter turbocharged V6 engine.

Take a 4.3-liter turbocharged V-6 and the transmission of a Corvette, couple that with an all-wheel-drive truck, and what do you get? A Typhoon, that's what. The Typhoon was faster than many sports cars of the time and easily raced to 60 mph from a standing start in under 5 seconds.


In the mid-1950s, this vehicle was aimed specifically at women. Can you name it?

Produced by Dodge between 1955 and 1956, this two-door hardtop was specifically aimed at women. Only 2,500 were sold in a 2-year period, although little evidence suggests that it was well marketed.


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