Hooniverse Asks – What American Car is Least 'Merican?

Car and Driver recently printed an article about the percentages of domestic content in cars nominally built within our nation’s borders. And while it turns out that the vast majority have enough foreign-sourced content to require a green card just to drive here, most people show by nameplate, and are most likely oblivious to where much of their car was built.
That means that most folks consider Fords to be made in America – even if they really come from places like Mexico – and Toyotas to be ‘furrin’ despite being assembled by guys named Scooter and Jim-bob down Tennessee way. The biggest indicator to most people of where their car came from, is how it looks and feels, as American cars have a rather unique characteristic that could best be described as expansive baroque. Whether it’s size, Novocain  steering, or the application of chrome where chrome should not be, our cars speak volumes about our nation.
Except when they don’t. Some U.S.-assembled cars are virtually indistinguishable from their cousins sold overseas. Usually smaller, typically more efficient in the use of space, both on the road and in the cabin, these Parent Trap twins also usually share one factor- they were designed elsewhere. Other cars have been designed here, but have been purposefully made to look like a foreigner – Pontiac’s 6000 STE falls readily to mind. But what about other cars? What car designed and built here in the states is the most un-American?
Image source: [caraudiomag.com]

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  1. tonyola Avatar

    Dodge Daytona – all-American but this could have very easily been a Japanese car.
    Also, you guys need to whip Nibbles into line again – it's back on a comment-eating frenzy.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5f/Daytonashelbyz.jpg/799px-Daytonashelbyz.jpg&quot; width=400>

  2. tonyola Avatar

    An then there's the Ford Granada. Why, it looks *just like* a Mercedes, right? Fools me all the time!
    <img src="http://www.americangranada.com/gallery/ad-2.jpg"&gt;

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      The Granada A.S.S.
      (American Sport Sedan)

    2. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

      These engineers at Ford had a bad ophthalmologist, maybe you should change yours too 😉

    3. Alff Avatar

      If you answered any of those questions wrong, you deserved the Granada.

      1. skitter Avatar

        Also, I have an M3 I'd like to sell you.

          1. skitter Avatar

            ^^That's how you know it's seriously cool.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    A small nimble, 2 seat, RWD,4-cylinder roadster. Can't get much more unAmerican than that.
    <img src="http://lasvegasnevadaexoticcarrentals.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/2007-pontiac-solstice.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    For the 1970s I'll go with a Cosworth Vega.
    <img src="http://vlane.com/img/blogs/mb/feat04cosworth_vega_00.jpg&quot; width="500/">

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      They're bloody quick.

  4. Møbius Avatar

    If all Ford count, then the Ka takes the cake.
    But of all America-assembled vehicles, the Ford Ranger is my unAmerican truck of the day.

  5. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
    mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    The Ford Contour was advertised as the world car even. [youtube 4gKJVgEV3jY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gKJVgEV3jY youtube]

    1. FrankTheCat Avatar

      My girlfriend has the Mercury Mistak- I mean, Mystique. Same car really.
      Anyway, I've spent a lot of time driving and being driven in that car, and I will tell you; I would take a Morris Marina over that car because I loathe it so much.

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        I love 'em.
        Okay, that's not entirely true.
        I love 'em when they have a five-speed. The CD4E is literally the worst gearbox I've ever encountered. Never shifted when it was meant to, sapped any power the 2.0 Zetec had, and tried to vibrate the car apart when idling in gear – you had to put it in neutral at a stoplight, otherwise it felt for all the world like a rear-drive car with an off-center driveshaft. It may have been a transmission mount, we don't know to this day, but no shop could figure it out.
        The stick-shift Contour my mother had before, though? Lovely.

    2. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      mr. mzs zsm msz esq


  6. skitter Avatar

    The Caddy that Zigs.

    1. CptSevere Avatar

      Otherwise known as an Opel.

    2. Maymar Avatar

      Sort of soft (but not full-on boat) and had a litany of engine problems? Sounds like a proper 90's Cadillac to me.

  7. SSurfer321 Avatar

    'Muricans don't like small cars, therefore I'm issuing a wide sweeping blanket statement that any B Segment car with a domestic badge on it is unAmerican. Hell in the 80's and 90's we just rebadged furrin B segment cars cuz we didn't know how to make'em.
    Although we are warming up to them now that fuel rising over $4/gal.

  8. Alff Avatar

    The cars that first come to my mind in response to this question are rebadged foreign vehicles – for example the Korean LeMans, last-gen Capri and Caddy Catera.
    In order to come up with a legitimate answer, I had to go obscure. Presenting the Aerocon Boa…
    <img src="http://www.mclellansautomotive.com/photos/B26567.jpg"&gt;

  9. Cretony38 Avatar

    ASSEMBLY? Assembling doesn't count as changing the country of origin of the manufacturer, the foundry that made the steel, the banks that financed, the design, the prototypes, the parts suppliers, the shipping companies. And what company the profits go to after someone buys it. Assemble is a way to beat Unions (here & there) and by pass tariffs & taxes.
    In a perfect world your black & white is the clear choice.

    1. dculberson Avatar

      It's not clear what you're arguing in your comment..
      A Toyota assembled here has more American made parts in it than, say, a Fusion made in Mexico. A LOT more.

      1. Cretony38 Avatar

        Come on, it's the snarky attitude Like your comment about Toyoda sending over finished components to be "made in the USA" is somehow smart and if Ford has plants in the rest of the world it's somehow a dirty trick.
        Assembly is for monkeys, and children being tested for Special Ed.

        1. tonyola Avatar

          Ignorance is for monkeys and children being tested for Special Ed.
          The US-built Camry has 68% domestic content, meaning that 68% of its components are manufactured in the USA. The Accord is 60% domestic. The Civic is 70% domestic.

          1. OA5599 Avatar

            That site doesn't seem to track the simian content of automobiles, though.

          2. Cretony38 Avatar

            By the sound of it I guess I should have first asked what kind of Toyotas you guys drive.

          3. tonyola Avatar

            An attempt at snark does not change the fact that your statements were utterly and completely misguided. By the way, I drive a LeSabre.

          4. citroen67 Avatar

            If you are asking…it's an '04 Sequoia that was built in Princeton, Indiana…and is approximately 75% US MANUFACTURED.

        2. ptschett Avatar

          I'm guessing you haven't spent much time on assembly lines. I design construction equipment for a living, and spend maybe two work weeks a year helping with prototype builds on the assembly line, making sure that my assigned subsystems go together the right way (and learning what areas don't go together as well as was hoped.) It's not an easy job.

  10. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Nash Metropolitan. Back when American cars were all about big, powerful and boaty, it was small, thrifty, and would have been just right for threading your way through narrow French and Italian back alleys.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ed/Series_III_Hardtop.jpg&quot; width="400">

    1. Jim Brennan Avatar
      Jim Brennan


    2. Jim Brennan Avatar
      Jim Brennan

      Trying this again….

  11. tonyola Avatar

    Ford GT – it was based upon the British-designed and built GT-40.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c3/Ford_GT_High_Quality.jpg/800px-Ford_GT_High_Quality.jpg&quot; width=400>

  12. Lotte Avatar

    When is an American car un-American? When it's Canadian 😉
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/23/62_Acadian_Invader.jpg&quot; width=500>
    (Though it was built right here in Oshawa so it's not exactly American-assembled, but let's let that slide…)

    1. vwminispeedster Avatar

      Shody build quality and attention to detail. Couldn't even spell CANADIAN correctly. 😉

      1. Lotte Avatar

        It's in French. You gotta look at the flip side.
        (Ok, it's not.)

        1. vwminispeedster Avatar

          This is the Acadiane (with an 'e') I am familiar with… http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e
          Then again I am an Amercan kid that was raised on euro cars, not 'merican v8s.

    2. tonyola Avatar

      As a kid living in coastal Florida, I used to see Acadians and Beaumonts on the road all the time. Especially in winter, which was snow-bird season in east central Florida (Cape Canaveral and surrounding areas). It took me a while to figure out what the deal was with the odd-looking Chevy IIs and Chevelles.

      1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

        I had the same experience vacationing on the southern Maine coast decades later – Echo hatchbacks? Pontiac G4 Pursuits? Acura ELs? Chevy Optras (protip: Daewoo-built Suzuki Reno/Forenza)?
        It's a wonder I've never consciously noticed a Passport/Asüna.

        1. Maymar Avatar

          Hell, even as a Canadian, I can't remember if I've seen a Passport/Asuna outside of auto shows ever (and that would've been 18 year ago). On a lark, I searched AutoTrader – they have two Asunas for sale, in all of Canada (both in B.C.).
          Of course, the Passport, between the Isuzu dealer network, and their sole vehicle being a knock-off Daewoo, didn't stand a chance of existing outside of the 90's.

    3. Maymar Avatar

      <img src="http://www.chevettes.com/images/chev/chev_02869l.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
      Don't forget the other Acadian. On one hand, it was US-built, but then it was European-designed (although I'm not sure they'd be willing to take credit for what we turned it into).

  13. mdharrell Avatar

    I'll stretch the definition of 'car' for this question (although from the other direction it's stretching the definition of 'motorcycle' anyway) to nominate the 1980-82 HMV Freeway.
    <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5133/5512867456_cfc3733b03.jpg&quot; width="400">
    Designed and constructed in the US by a US company (High Mileage Vehicles of Minnesota), using a US engine (Tecumseh) and transmission (Comet), nonetheless it seemed far from typically American at the time and still regularly gets mistaken for some sort of obscure import.
    Besides, that's mine in the photo and tomorrow (30 April 2011) is the thirtieth anniversary of its build date.

    1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

      Someday the hoonmind will post something that you can't relate to your stable of tiny, awesome cars. Seriously, we need to mail Mitch over there to just take pictures and document everything.

  14. scroggzilla Avatar

    Air cooled, flat-6, rear-engined, "compact"…..
    <img src="http://www.flat4.org/galerie/albums/userpics/10532/1968_Chevrolet_Corvair_Monza.jpg"&gt;
    Corvair, by Chevrolet

    1. ptschett Avatar

      And just slightly more conventional, its water-cooled/front-engined sibling which kept the independent rear suspension and rear mounted transaxle.
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fd/Pontiac_2119_Tempest_1961.jpg&quot; width="500"/>

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      So un-American that the original blueprints were drawn up with the Holden logo on them.
      (Sure, it was just a bit of corporate subterfuge, but still…)

  15. ptschett Avatar

    How about a 4-cylinder, turbocharged, FWD, decent-handling 5-door sedan, imported from Detroit?
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a6/1988_dodge_lancer_es_turbo.jpg/800px-1988_dodge_lancer_es_turbo.jpg&quot; width="500"/>

  16. mdharrell Avatar

    No, all body production was carried out by Fisher & Ludlow (a division of BMC) in Birmingham, England, and final assembly was by Austin (a division of BMC) in Longbridge, England. This is true for cars intended for all markets, North American and otherwise. It's covered over the course of several pages here:
    Even nearly all of the miscellaneous bits and pieces are Austin. It's British.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Wow. You're right and I'm wrong. I stand corrected and very contrite. I really thought I knew what the hell I was talking about. So much for relying on my synaptic cortex as a reference source.

  17. dragon951 Avatar

    1988-93 Pontiac LeMans
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2e/%2792_Pontiac_LeMans_Hatchback.jpg&quot; width="300">
    Where Natives, French and South Koreans intersect.

    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      You know, when you put it that way, that car should be waaaay prettier.

  18. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    See my contraction and apology to Mr. Harrell above. I'm a buffoon, masquerading as a clown, wrapped in an idiot.

    1. dculberson Avatar

      But you're our buffoon, masquerading as a clown, wrapped in an idiot, and we wouldn't have you any other way!
      (But really, you aren't any of those things. Other than ours. All ours.)

  19. Dave Avatar

    The A40 engine is a B-series motor

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      Essentially the same engine, yes, but the A40 wasn't a B-Series during the initial period of Metropolitan production. It's only a B-Series by virtue of back-naming, like calling the first Lincoln Continentals the "Mk I" after FoMoCo came out with the Continental Mk II. They weren't called that at the time.
      The timing of production was right around the introduction of the B-Series terminology:

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Car and Driver once said that the Lumina Euro should have been called the "Amero".

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        Like a Camero, but just a bit less….
        [and yes for the sake of my shitty humor we'll pretend it's spelled that way]

        1. RahRahRecords Avatar

          in 75% of craigslist ads it IS spelled that way.

  20. rovingardener Avatar

    Cunningham C5R, without which, no Corvette.

  21. 2stroke4life Avatar

    Chevy Aveo, hands down. Let us eat BBQ, not kimchi.