The US is known mostly for baseball, McDonald’s, and NASCAR – the latter of which helped popularize the V8 engine. An aspect of the automotive world that also took hold in American motoring was the luxury car in the 1920s.
Many rich individuals in the 1920s wanted luxury cars and imported them from Europe, however, some American manufacturers saw this gap in the market, which led to the creation of the American luxury car market. During this time, Cadillac, Packard, and Duesenberg designed and built some of the most luxurious cars in the world.
Duesenberg went one step further and built the SJ, which was the fastest production car in the world at the time.
America continued this luxury car trend, establishing them as worthy competitors to the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Bentley. So without further ado, here are 10 of the greatest American luxury cars ever made.
11 1930 Cadillac V-16
The V-16 was the top-of-the-line luxury car from the premium brand Cadillac between 1930 and 1940. The V-16 came about during a time when the philosophy was, ‘the bigger the engine, the more luxurious the car’. As a result, Cadillac built a 7.4-liter V16 engine to one-up the V12-powered cars of Europe.
The V-16 was in production for 11 model years, with a revision occurring in 1937 to follow the new global design trends. Cadillac sold over 4,000 units during its run, an excellent achievement considering the V-16 was the most expensive Cadillac of the era, launched right after the 1929 Wall Street Crash.
10 1932 Duesenberg SJ
The Duesenberg SJ follows the philosophy of opulent luxury with beautiful coach-work and expensive materials. The SJ was fitted with a 6.9-liter supercharged straight-8 engine, producing a ridiculous 320 hp – back in 1932!
This massive power added to the fact that the SJ had a top speed of 140 mph, during a time when sports cars struggled to achieve even 100 mph. The most beautiful version was the Duesenberg SJ LaGrande Dual-Cowl Phaeton, with the four exhaust pipes coming out of the side of the engine bay – just brilliant.
9 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
The 1959 Cadillac Eldorado is one of the most recognizable classic cars in history – partially thanks to its use in many movies and partially due to Elvis Presley, who owned two. The Eldorado was fitted with a 6.4-liter naturally aspirated V8 producing around 350 hp, coupled to a 4-speed automatic.
The Eldorado Biarritz was one of the most luxurious cars sold in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and unlike the normal Series 62 Eldorado, was only available as a convertible soft-top. The Cadillac Eldorado truly is one of the most beautiful cars ever produced.
8 1963 Lincoln Continental IV
The Lincoln Continental Mark IV is famous for two things – being the official presidential car for John F. Kennedy and having rear-hinged coach doors. The doors added to the comfort and luxury as they looked great and made getting out easier for the rear passengers.
The Continental IV was available with a range of V8 engines, starting at a 7.0-liter and ending with a 7.6-liter. All versions of the Continental IV were fitted with a 3-speed automatic transmission. Another design feature which added to the luxuriousness of the car was the fact that it was a four-door convertible.
7 1965 Buick Riviera
The Buick Riviera was marketed as a personal luxury car and was in production from 1963 until 1999. The first generation Riviera was available with the Nailhead V8, both in 325 hp 6.6-liter and 340 hp 7.0-liter forms, mated to a 3-speed automatic. Buick also offered a 360 hp ‘Super Wildcat’ version of the 7.0-liter, upgraded with dual 4-barrel carburetors.
The Riviera featured some luxurious options such as inlaid wood in the dashboard and leather-covered bucket seats – both front and rear – along with power windows and air-conditioning. White-wall tires were also an optional extra to enhance the exterior design, improving the extravagance of the car.
6 1977 Lincoln Continental Mark V
The Lincoln Continental Mark V is the definition of a ‘land yacht’. It comes in at over 230 inches long, almost 80 inches wide, and weighs almost 5,000 lbs, all while still being only a 2-door coupé. The Continental Mark V was available with a choice of either a 6.6-liter or a 7.5-liter, both V8s; unfortunately, the US saw some increased fuel economy and emissions regulations, resulting in the smaller engine only producing 180 hp while the larger engine produced 210 hp.
The Continental Mark V was the epitome of American luxury coupés and whilst many companies have tried to emulate the Mark V, all of them have fallen short. The Lincoln Continental Mark V truly lives up to its name of being as big as a continent, whilst also succeeding in being a fantastic luxury car.
5 2003 Lincoln Town Car
The Lincoln Town Car can be considered as the less expensive 4-door version of the Continental. The Town Car is based on the Ford Crown Victoria, resulting in a 4.6-liter naturally aspirated V8 and a 4-speed automatic transmission.
The Town Car in all its model years sold excellently and became a status symbol for better-off members of society. The Town Car was also available in a stretched limousine version, which is one of the most famous cars in the film industry.
4 2022 Cadillac Escalade
The Cadillac Escalade, much like the Lincoln Town Car, has become a status symbol. The first generation was nothing more than a rebadged GMC Yukon, however, Cadillac differentiated the model from the SUV it was based on for the subsequent models.
The current generation Escalade has only been available since 2021, but has rapidly become popular. This huge achievement resulted in both a diesel version with an impressive fuel range and a newly revealed Escalade-V high-performance version to compete against the likes of BMW’s X7 M50i and Audi’s SQ7. The Escalade has ridden this wave of triumph since 2001, and the current generation is bang on track to continue the success of the model.
3 2012 Chrysler 300C
The second generation Chrysler 300 may have been around since 2011, however, it is still one of the best luxury cars – due to its price. The 300 starts at under $40,000, and the optional V8 fits within that budget as well – one of the few remaining cars to offer it.
The 300 is based on the Dodge Charger platform, but it features more upmarket interior styling and materials, whilst still being a good car. The 300 SRT was still available in Australia until recently, resulting in an excellent 4-door muscle car with a more luxurious approach.
2 2019 Cadillac CT6
The Cadillac CT6 was a large executive saloon produced by the American marque between 2016 and 2020. The CT6 was aimed at the luxury car market and competed pretty well, however it was not as refined as some of its European rivals.
The one aspect where the CT6 was absolutely brilliant was with the drivetrain. The lower-spec models featured 2.0-liter turbocharged engines in various states of tune, two V6 engines (a 3.6-liter and a 3.0-liter twin-turbo), and one of the greatest V8 engines in modern times, the 4.2-liter twin-turbocharged Blackwing V8. The engine was only ever found in the CT6-V and produced a healthy 550 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque. It was such a good car that GM announced its discontinuation shortly after the launch.
1 2020 Lincoln Continental ‘Coach Door Edition’
Whilst the modern Lincoln Continental never really captured the spirit of the classic versions, it was no doubt a good car. The 10th generation Continental was available between 2017 and 2020 and was based on the same platform as the Ford Taurus. The Continental was available with three different V6s, two of which were twin-turbocharged.
Whilst the factory Continental had much to be desired, Ford commissioned Cabot Coach Builders to redesign 150 Continentals to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Lincoln Continental. These special versions swapped out the conventional front-hinged rear doors for rear-hinged Coach ones, emulating the original. The 80th Anniversary Editions were all fitted with the highest specifications, including the Black Label trim package and the 400 hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6.
A Detailed Look At The Lincoln Black Label Continental
About The Author