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The Best Cars From The '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s
My choices for the '50s would be Chevrolet, VW Beetle and Chrysler.
For the '60s Ford (Falcon, Fairlane and Mustang were strong entries in new segments, and the '55-'58 Galaxies and LTDs competed well with Chevy and Mopar), Pontiac (affordable performance) and Lincoln (beginning with the '61, it featured elegant design over glitz).
For the '70s, Toyota, Nissan and Honda were the most significant new entries, squeezing the domestics and VW. The Japanese demonstrated that quality and reliability didn't have to be sacrificed for price in economy cars. It was a new business model, or, maybe, one that the automotive world had forgotten. GM deserves credit for their excellent downsized '77 and '78 models, but I'd still give the trophy to the Japanese for this decade.
In the '80s, BMW and Mercedes as the new standards of the luxury market. In the mid-priced field, Volvo made strong inroads with safety features. Chrysler Corp. deserves credit for reinventing the minivan, but important as this was, if forced to choose I think that the dethroning of Cadillac and Lincoln were more significant events.
For the decade of the '90s, Acura (introduced in the '80s), Lexus and, to a lesser degree, Infiniti, took the wind out of the European luxury brands, by excelling in quality, reliabiliy and value. They also delivered a hard punch to Detroit's most profitable models.