If you typed “used car dealership near me” into the search engine to find a fixer-upper, there are several used models out there to choose from. So many, in fact, that you may want to prepare yourself before running straight to the dealership. We want to help you out, which is why we’ve got some of the most influential cars in the auto industry listed here for your convenience. Whether you want an old car or a modern used model, we’ve got several options you’ll want to check out now!
These Models Aren’t Dead
The main thing to remember here is that these models are both historical AND ongoing. We’re not telling you about vehicles that are stuck in the 1960s. You can still find these models on the market, whether you choose their classic variations or their newest renditions. Their ability to stay relevant for so long is what makes them some of the best models that changed the automotive industry.
#1 – The Chevy Truck: From C/K to Silverado
The Silverado didn’t just pop up out of thin air. Before there was a Silverado, there was the Chevy C/K. While Chevy has been producing pickup trucks since the Advanced-Design series of the 1940s, the modern pickup line began in 1967 with the C/K series, eventually giving way to what we now know as the Silverado. But what is so special about the C/K trucks? Two things: The Cheyenne and the Silverado.
The Cheyenne is a high-quality Chevy C/K truck trim that was considered luxurious for its era. Debuting in 1972, the Cheyenne came with bench seating and its own unique interior with wood grain accents both inside and out. Despite its truck-level status, the Cheyenne was considered quite luxurious for its time. While it hasn’t been produced since 1998, the Cheyenne trademark was recently renewed by Chevy, giving Cheyenne fans hope for a tribute model. However, you can still buy the original thing and spice it up while you’re waiting.
The most important C/K line baby is the Silverado. The Silverado did more than just replace the C/K lineup; it came directly from it. Much like the Cheyenne, the Silverado was originally a top-level C/K trim at one time. It was so loved that Chevy decided to make the Silverado trim into its own lineup, and it’s been dominating the Chevy truck world since. There’s some great news if you’re looking for a used Silverado; they’re easy to find. Whether you want a 1999 model, a 2019 model, or anything in between, you’re sure to locate one easily.
#2 – The Toyota Prius: First Successful Hybrid Car
Hybrid cars have technically been around since 1899. However, those early models came with too many flaws to be considered legitimate vehicle options and disappeared from the market shortly after the beginning of the 20th century. This is why the Toyota Prius is so important.
The Prius officially showed up in 1997 as the first-ever successful hybrid vehicle available to the public. Its fuel efficiency improved with each generation, starting off at 42 miles per gallon and now landing at up to 58 miles per gallon. Unlike an electric car, you don’t even have to plug it in to charge overnight, and you still get better mileage than any traditional gas car on the market.
While the Prius isn’t exactly known for its design, by its fourth generation (2016 and on), it grew more aesthetically appealing with nicer exterior accents and modern styling. Of course, we all love a nice-looking vehicle, but what originally mattered the most with this car was its fuel efficiency.
After seeing the Toyota Prius’s success, other developers began following Toyota’s lead, and hybrids became the new trend. That trend is going strong, as 39% of buyers are now interested in going electric. It’s safe to say that the Prius is definitely one of the most important cars in automotive history.
#3 – The Chevy Suburban
When a model stays popular for almost 100 years, you know the brand is doing something right. This is the case for the adored Chevy Suburban. Debuting in 1934, the Suburban was designed to be a powerful family ride. Since its early start, this model has both maintained and grown its interior space and performance capacity limits, serving as the perfect family vehicle.
While sports cars are fun, they’re not practical. Most American families need something spacious and capable, which is how the Suburban first came about. In the 1930s, family-friendliness was a number one concern. This model could carry more than the average family crew, with seating for up to 8 passengers. Even back then, the classic Suburban’s seats were removable, allowing for more cargo than any model before it. In fact, this model set the stage for what we now know as the “SUV.”
By 1957, Chevy began offering four-wheel drive capability with the Suburban, making it even more appealing. This well-rounded model could be used for just about anything and the same stands for its newer variants. For example, a used 2015 Suburban can tow as much as 6,300 pounds while still hauling up to 8 passengers like the original. The first official SUV on the market changed the way we build vehicles forever.
#4 – The Volkswagen Beetle
Remember Herbie? He wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Volkswagen’s incredible creation, the Volkswagen Beetle. He and he alone is the reason why this model makes the “cars that changed the auto industry list.”
Okay, just kidding. There’s actually a bit more to it than that. The most impressive thing about the Beetle is that its lineup ran longer than many other models on the market. It lasted for 65 years in a row, from 1938 to 2003. But production didn’t really stop there. A redesigned “New Beetle” was introduced in 1998 and produced until 2019, for a total run of 81 years!
Still affordable, this newer model includes driver-assist safety features, comes in a convertible option, and offers LED lighting. Part of what makes the Beetle so special now is that you never know when it’s going to see a new production year. While it’s out of production for now, Volkswagen knows we thrive on nostalgia and will likely bring it back for years to come.
What drove this model to success was its affordability and its cute, unique appeal. It was fuel-efficient and compact, making it a great commuter model (with the exception of large families, of course). Since the Beetle’s future timeline is unpredictable, your best bet is to find a used Beetle. Whether that means a 1977 model, a 2003 model, or even a 2019 model, this retro car won’t disappoint you.
What Does It Mean to be a Car that Changed the Auto Industry?
These models aren’t just influential because of their popularity. Each model made a mark on the industry, specifically by making new vehicle designs and trends popular. Without these models, we wouldn’t have the vehicle market as we know it today. Can you imagine a world without SUVs, hybrid engines, high towing capacities, or compact vehicles?
These four models helped popularize these features that we now take for granted. When it’s time to start used car shopping, these are four influential models you’ll want to keep an eye on. Whether you choose a classic model to revamp it, or you want a reliable newer used model, there’s an option for you.