Video of the Day: Motor Trend’s cars of the year pass in review

Budget Direct presents a video parade of the winners

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Car of the Year
Some of the early Motor Trend car of the year winners | Budget Direct illustration

“Annual car awards are a dime a dozen,” notes Australian auto insurance company Budget Direct, “but three of the most recognized and longest-running award-giving bodies in the automotive landscape are Motor Trend (USA), What Car? (UK) and Wheels (Australia).

“More than just about glitz and glamour, car awards are bestowed as a recognition of engineering excellence, performance, practicality and the safety aspects of a particular vehicle.

“Out of the three, Motor Trend is among the most popular and trusted publications in the industry. First published in 1949, it was officially the first publication to give out a Car of the Year award. However, Wheels magazine is not far behind and declared its first Car of the Year award in 1963.”

With that as motivation, Budget Direct put together a series of three videos in which the respective cars of the year parade across your screen.

We’ll share all three, starting today with the Motor Trend cars of the year.

Budget Direct points out, “From 1949 to 1957, the Motor Trend COTY award was given to overall manufacturers, not a particular make or model. The first-ever Motor Trend Car of the Year award was given to Cadillac in 1949, for its V8 engine. The first specific model to win the Car of the Year award was the 1958 Ford Thunderbird. Since then, it has gone on to win four times, making it the most popular car in the publication’s history.

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“The first electric car to receive the Motor Trend COTY award was the Tesla Model S in 2013. This was followed by the Chevy Bolt EV in 2017. The first hybrid vehicle to win was the Toyota Prius in 2004. 

“And while all the winners of Motor Trends COTY awards from 1949 to 2020 are conventional sedans or coupes, the Dodge Caravan earns the distinction of being the only minivan to win COTY in 1996.”

On September 17, we’ll share the What Car? winners and on September 18, the Wheels COTYs.

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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.

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