The United States just celebrated its 240th birthday, and for nearly half that time, the modern automobile has held a special place in American history.
With the help of automotive pioneers like Henry Ford or William Durant, cars as we know and drive them have become engrained in U.S. culture. Today, the “Big Three” Detroit automakers — Ford, General Motors and Chrysler — still roll out new models off the assembly lines every day.
Some of their nameplates are among the most recognizable cars that have been in production for generations, so it’s worth celebrating their place as part of U.S. automotive heritage.
Using data from Edmunds, analysts at AxleGeeks, a transportation research site powered by Graphiq, identified the 10 cars with the longest production history. To be considered for the list, the models needed to be produced by an American brand continuously — without gaps in production years — until 2016.
The list is ranked according to the number of years each model has been in production, with the longest surviving model at No. 1.
Note: Edmunds data only goes back to 1990, so over-time charts won’t show the full history for each car model.
10. Jeep Wrangler
Years in production: 30
The Jeep CJ was a tough act to follow, since the military-inspired, civilian friendly vehicle saw a 40-year-plus history of its own; so when Jeep unveiled the Wrangler in 1986, expectations were high. Less a successor and more its own automobile, the Wrangler brought with it a rugged design and reliable drivetrain that consumers had been seeking. Jeep shoppers looking for a Wrangler now have a wide swath of trim levels and features in 2016, like the Wrangler Sahara, Rubicon, Backcountry and Sport.
9. Ford Taurus
Years in production: 31
With full-size aesthetics and front-wheel-drive economy, it’s little surprise the Taurus — Ford’s flagship full-size car — has remained in production for 31 years. The Taurus now is filled with a wide choice of engine options, performance packages and tech upgrades to rival the best of luxury sedans.
8. Dodge Grand Caravan
Years in production: 32
Today, crossover SUVs and hybrid vehicles are a way of automotive life, but in the early 1980s, station wagons and trucks dominated the market. The Dodge Grand Caravan ushered in the era of the minivan in 1983, combining large van spaciousness with sedan reliability. Though it’s often superseded by Dodge and Chrysler stablemates Pacifica or Town & Country, the Caravan remains a strong seller and recently experienced a 95 percent sales increase in February.
7. Ram 1500
Years in production: 35
Produced since 1981, the Ram 1500 succeeded Dodge’s long-running D-Series. The current version of the Ram 1500 has garnered several automotive awards, notably for its balance of affordability, performance and fuel efficiency.
6. Ford Fiesta
Years in production: 40
The tiny, subcompact Ford Fiesta might be new to American drivers for the past six years, but it has had a long, 40-year history in Europe. This supermini’s small frame has easily maneuvered foreign roadways since it began production in 1976. By 2010, the Fiesta finally made its ways to the other side of the Atlantic. This model appealed to U.S. motorists looking for a fuel efficient and affordable, entry-level car.
5. Ford Transit Van
Years in production: 51
The all-purpose fleet of Transit vans hasn’t changed much since Ford debuted it in 1965. Utilitarian, spacious, yet never one to be weighed down by cargo, it’s been one of the best-selling commercial vehicles for nearly six decades. If the Transit appears to have some European flourishes to its design, that’s because it was the first automobile Ford produced with its European partners. Today the cargo van continues to enjoy success on both sides of the pond.
4. Ford Mustang
Years in production: 52
Drivers easily recognize the galloping stallion on the grill as belonging to the Ford Mustang, the first car to start the pony car segment of affordable, sporty four-seaters. The car’s popularity skyrocketed upon its production in 1964. Automakers have tried to imitate the Mustang’s sleek looks and powerful performance – think the Camaro and the Challenger.
3. Chevrolet Corvette
Years in production: 63
Hear the words “American sports car,” and the Chevrolet Corvette comes to mind. Originally designed in 1953, Chevy was inspired to make an all-American version of the two-seat, V8-engined roadsters dominating European roads, and the Corvette — named after a small warship — was born. The classic Corvette Stingray was recently revived for the car’s seventh and current generation.
2. Ford F-150
Years in production: 68
A baby boomer of the American automotive world, the Ford F-150 debuted in 1948 with a constant production run of nearly seven decades. The F-Series spans across several models, but it’s the F-150 that’s become Ford’s most iconic and recognizable pickup over the years.
1. Chevrolet Suburban
Years in production: 81
The longest produced vehicle in the U.S. without interruption is the venerable Chevy Suburban. At 81 years old, it first entered the assembly line in 1935 as a station wagon built on a truck chassis. The Suburban later went on to serve as a military transport vehicle during World War II, and it’s spent the last 60 to 70 years as a popular selling extended-cab SUV.AlertMe