HomeThe MarketWhat were the 10 cars that changed the world? Museum has the...

What were the 10 cars that changed the world? Museum has the answer


If you had to pick 10 vehicles that forever changed the world, which 10 would you select?

The Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana, asked itself that question, and also consulted members of the Society of Automotive Historians, and shares its answer in a special exhibition running through January 6, 2019.

“Ten Cars that Changed the World” is located on the second floor of the museum, which recently co-hosted the inaugural Concours d’Elegance at Copshaholm.

10 cars, What were the 10 cars that changed the world? Museum has the answer, ClassicCars.com Journal
Minivan and Mini among the 10

 To show you how seriously and honestly the museum took to the task, none of the 10 cars is a Studebaker, as wonderful and significant as that brand’s vehicles may have been.

So what cars did the museum select for its display, which includes commentary on placards by some leading automotive historians and experts?

•  Turn-of-the-century Oldsmobile “Curved Dash” Runabout, the first car produced by assembly-line mass-production techniques.

  Cadillac Model 30, which in 1912 became the first car to feature an electric starter and lights, features that made motorcars easier to operate for more people.

•  Ford Model T, which took mass production to a new level and put a nation, and the world, on motorized wheels.

•  Ford GPW is displayed in representation of all of the U.S. military’s World War II-era 4-wheel-drive reconnaissance vehicles, aka “Jeeps.”

•  Volkswagen Beetle, the automotive icon that popularized import vehicles in the United States.

•  Rover Group Mini-Cooper, which brought with it the era of compact front-wheel drive vehicles as well as economy cars as performance vehicles.

•  Citroen DS, a mid-century marvel with advanced technologies such as self-leveling suspension, front-wheel drive, disc brakes and streamlined aerodynamics that challenged the auto industry’s conventional wisdom.

•  Ford Mustang, which created a new and wildly successful vehicle class.

•  Dodge Caravan (and Plymouth Voyager) and the minivan revolution.

•  Toyota Prius, which brought electric propulsion to the masses, paving the way for hybrid and full-electric vehicles.

10 cars, What were the 10 cars that changed the world? Museum has the answer, ClassicCars.com Journal
Exhibit greets visitors at they enter the museum’s second floor gallery

Eat chili, save life and limb

Midwest Track Day is scheduled this weekend at the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where part of the festivities includes a chili cook-off and air fence fundraiser. The chili cook-off is being held to raise money toward adding an air fence barrier to the track. An air fence is a safety device that cushions riders and bikes that have left the racing surface.

Oh, and you don’t have to be in Kentucky to help out. You can make a cash donation from anywhere.

Mercedes museum visitors list grows to 193 nations

On August 22, staff at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany could say with confidence that “we have welcomed the whole world.” It was that day that visitors from Guyana and the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis visited, which means that people from all 193 member states of the United Nations have visited the museum.

Museum staffers also reported that since the facility re-opened in 2006, 60 percent of its visitors have come from outside Germany. More than 10 percent have been from China, followed by those from the U.S., France and Switzerland.

Special events this weekend

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento offers a Talking Shop program August 28 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. featuring John D’Agostino, who will talk about Sacramento’s history of customizing and hot rodding cars.  

The National Corvette Museum celebrates its 24th anniversary August 30-September 1. The weekend includes the induction of Burt and John Greenwood, Tom Wallace and Mike Yager into the hall of fame.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento hosts a Drive-In Movie Night on August 31 featuring Back to the Future. Only 15 “watch from your car” tickets are available. To get one, visit the museum website.

Britain’s Beaulieu museum hosts its International Autojumble on September 1-2, with more than 2,000 vendors offering spare parts and assorted automobilia for sale (autojumble is the British version of a swap meet).

Mark your calendar

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine hosts “Coachbuilders Behind-the-Scenes tour on September 4 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Newport Car Museum in Rhode Island will host a “Hoods Up” weekend September 8-9 with the engines exposed on more than 70 automobiles.

Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, is the site of the 68th annual old Car Festival, September 8-9. The event features cars produced through 1932 with a special display this year of vintage pickup trucks.

“Riverside Revisited” is the theme of a special tribute celebration of the historic racing circuit scheduled for September 8 at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California, just south of the runways of LAX. During the event, mechanic, fabricator, car builder, crew chief and Indy racing team manager Jimmy Dilamarter will receive the Peter Bryant Challenger Award for Excellence in Engineering.

“Chrome and Glass” is the theme September 8 for America’s Automotive Trust’s annual Wheels & Heels gala at LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, where Dale and Leslie Chihuly will be honorary chairs and where the Nicola Bulgari award will be presented to Amelia Island concours founder Bill Warner.

More than 400 classic (as early as 1970) and modern trucks of all categories are expected for the Retro Truck Show to be held September 8-9 at the British Motor Museum. 

An IMSA race and the Corvette Racing banquet take place September 8-9 at Laguna Seca and the National Corvette Museum’s Museum In Motion will launch a tour of Northern California on September 10 through the 16th with travel on the Pacific Coast Highway, visits to car collections and other points of interest.

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, hosts a “meet the designers” event from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. on September 12, with members of the League of Retired Automotive Designers participating in an Artist’s Talk about the nearly 50 works of their dream-car art in a special exhibit. 

America on Wheels museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania, has rescheduled its Classics and Cruisers on Hamilton car show for the afternoon of September 15. 

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine hosts a CArs & Canines show with the SPCa from 9 a.m. until noon on September 15.

The Simeone Foundation Auto Museum in Philadelphia’s Demo Day on September 15 will carry this theme: “1948, The Day They Stopped The Trains,” and will focus on the first serious attempt to revive sports car racing in the United States after World War II in Watkins Glen, New York. The museum is looking for some “guest” cars to participate. See the museum website for details.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, hosts the Wish Upon A food Truck Festival on September 15 with 35 food trucks and a variety of children’s activities scheduled. 

The Kansas City Auto Museum will be among the participants in the American Royal BBQ Car Show, scheduled for September 15 at Kansas Speedway.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, will participate in the Danville d’Elegance weekend September 15-16 and at 6 p.m. on September 20 will offer a screening of Tucker: The Man and His Dream.

The Beaulieu museum in England launches its annual Autumn Lecture Series on September 15 with Steve Fenwick of Renault Sport Racing discussing “F1 Cars: An Engineering Challenge.” On October 12, it’s Steve Waddingham, historian at Aston Martin Lagonda, talking about “Aston Martin: A History.” November 12, Petere Williams will discuss his motorcycle racing career. On December 8, Chris Keith Lucas, managing director for Jaguar specialist Lynx, will present “If I had known then what I know now.”

The Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine offers a Demo Day on September 20 with talks at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, will host the Road Map Collectors Association show on September 21-22 and the Matchbox toy show on September 23. The event benefits Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, Delaware & Susquehanna Valley. Among featured guests at the museum will be Chopped junior champion Danielle McNerney, American Ninja Warrior Joe Moravsky and racer Bobby Gerhart Jr.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, is doing a road trip by coach on September 29 to the Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI at Laguna Seca. 

The British Motor Museum, located on the grounds of the former RAF Gaydon base, hosts the third annual Gaydon Military Show on September 30.

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento stages CruiseFest on Fulton Avenue on October 6.

The Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, celebrates its 30th anniversary with a Gala scheduled for October 14. In addition to dinner and silent and live auctions, the evening will feature music by Franc d’Ambrosio of Phantom of the Opera fame.

The Simeone Foundation Auto Museum in Philadelphia plans “An Evening with Hurley Haywood” featuring the sports car racer on October 26.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email larrye@classiccars.com

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. GTO to for the "first" muscle car in 1964 created the muscle car class.
    although there were muscle cars in 1957 nobody called them that!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts