While American manufacturers have always been focused on producing cars that are accessible to the masses, there was always that one American car that stood out with its high price tag. This is despite the fact that these cars came from good-ol’ mainstream manufacturers such as Ford, Chevy, Cadillac, etc.
The following list does not only feature the conventional American brands, however. A few small-scale innovators did produce limited-edition models, which then became the priciest of their years.
Adjusted for inflation, these prices are eight or ten times higher than they were at the time of production. Taking their rarity into consideration, some of these models are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars at present. Let’s discover the 10 American cars with the highest MSRP at the time of their launch and what their prices would look like when adjusted for inflation today.
10 2019 Ford GT $560,000
The Ford GT is a continuation of the 2005 model, though the original design concept came from the Le Mans-winning GT40. The original model was made by Ford in order to beat Ferrari which at the time dominated endurance race circles.
Needless to say, the Ford GT was hugely successful and one of the biggest successes of American racing, hence the huge price tag of the GT40 at auction. It would stand to reason then why the newest GT costs so much. Interestingly, though, it has a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine instead of the supercharged V8 characteristic of the previous generation.
9 2005 Saleen S7 $1,000,000 ($1,400,000 Today)
The S7 is one of the more underrated supercars in history. It is powered by a Windsor 7 liter V8 rear mid-engine churning 750 horsepower at its peak. If that was not enough, the S7 was equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds.
Saleen took the model out of production in 2009 following a decorated history in motorsport. The price may have been a little more than half a million dollars during production, but that price has doubled since discontinuation.
8th 1998 Cadillac DeVille $42,960 ($70,344 Today)
The DeVille was the embodiment of style and elegance from the ’90s. Cadillac re-invented the concept of the traditional sedan and restyled the front from the windshield while also dumping the half-moon rear wheels. The model also featured StabiliTrak, which is an integrated chassis control system that prevents four-wheel lateral skids.
The great thing about the DeVille is that it provided several comforts that were not readily available on any of the era’s models, from new radio systems to enhanced door lock programmability.
7 1980s DMC DeLorean $34,000 ($80,000 Today)
The iconic Delorean is one of the most popular models of its era due to the brazenness of its story. The design was unlike any that had come before, entailing the gull-wing doors. The design was so forward-looking and futuristic that it earned the DeLorean an important part in the Back To The Future movie franchise.
It came fitted with a 2.7-liter V6 engine that produced 130 horsepower. Unfortunately, it was underpowered and suffered from many mechanical issues. The cost of production along with the promotion is probably what led to the high price tag.
6 1976 Stutz Blackhawk $47,500 ($228,000 Today)
The Stutz Blackhawk is described as an American ultra-luxury car produced during the ’70s and early ’80s. The villainous body shape, headlights, and kidney grille definitely add to the appeal. As if to cement the status of style, Elvis Presley owned one of these, and it was one of his favorites.
As a typical old-school American model, the Blackhawk had a 5.0-liter V8 as the base engine. With power rated at 425 hp, the Blackhawk could accelerate to 60 mph within 8.4 seconds.
5 1969 Ford GT40 $20,000 ($149,000 Today)
As mentioned before, the Ford GT has a rich heritage that began with the GT40. When Ferrari refused Ford’s advances for purchase, Ford opted to build a sports model that could compete on the same level in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Ford GT40 is the product of that project, which entailed Ford, Shelby American, and key racers of the era. Due to its intense history, the GT40, which was discontinued and remade as the GT, now has a price just shy of $10 million.
4 1955 Continental Mark II $9,966 ($101,000 Today)
The first Continental debuted in the mid-1950s as the Mark II. The premium luxury coupe may not have been the sales success as hoped, but it was one of the most influential designs of the period. The Mark II was one of the heaviest cars at the time, even with a 6-liter V8 and a turbocharged engine pushing out 285 horsepower.
It is not surprising that the acceleration was 16 seconds to 60 mph. That said, the Continental Mark II did have a luxurious interior that was fitted with fine and durable materials.
3 1948 Tucker 48 $4,000 ($45,405 Today)
The Tucker 48 was commonly referred to as the ‘Car of the Future,’ considering the technical innovations ahead of its time. These included an independent suspension, shatterproof windshield, and a parking brake that was also an anti-theft device.
The model apparently utilized a Bell 47 helicopter engine—an air-cooled 5.5-liter flat six-cylinder motor capable of 166 horsepower. The modifications and space-age innovation made this item a significant rarity, and its price rose way above what the model’s MSRP would be today when adjusted for inflation, as it’s now valued at over $2 million.
2 1932 Duesenberg Model SJ $8,500 ($169,300 Today)
Featuring a 7-liter straight eight-cylinder producing 265 horsepower, the SJ was incredibly powerful for the time. The SJ model featured a short wheelbase design wrapped in Rollston’s body.
Produced between 1928 and 1937, the Duesenberg was not only a performance car but a luxury car as well. The body and interior trim apparently were custom-made by a third party according to the buyer’s specifications.
1 1924 Chrysler Model B-70 $1,535 ($24,506 Today)
The B-70 was the first model that bore the Chrysler moniker as designed by Fred Zeder. Its first public showing was at the 1924 New York Automobile Show. It had advanced engineering features that were not common at the time, hence the price tag.
The engine was a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter side-valve six-cylinder making 68 horsepower. The styling of the b-70 was rather conventional and clean, with flowing fenders and classic lines.