How Well Do You Know American Auto Manufacturers?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Redline Reviews

About This Quiz

Americans have a real love affair with the automobile! It was a relationship that began early in the 20th century, with the affordable Model T, the car that got working families on the road. But the mid-20th century was when America rolled out the cars that most people consider to be truly classic: the Ford Mustang and Thunderbird, the Buick Roadmaster, the Corvette and Camaro, the Charger and Challenger. 

Of course, during the oil crises of the 1970s, U.S. automakers had to scale back. Buyers didn't want powerful rolling steel or cars that could seat seven or eight people, and Japanese-made cars were suddenly selling like Mustangs had in the 1960s. American automakers scrambled to compete. The now-defunct American Motors Corporation all but owned this niche of the market, with cars like the Gremlin. But when the crisis was over, suddenly the minivan and the SUV were king, giving us brands like the Navigator and Escalade, the Suburban and the Voyager. 

Are you an aficionado of American cars? Then we've got a quiz that will test you on a little of everything. You'll find some questions in a historical vein, about the earliest U.S. brands and the ones that, sadly, no longer exist. We'll test you on logos, on slogans, and on current offerings. The only thing you won't have to worry about are imports!

Are you ready? Take our quiz for a spin!

Which of these companies is named for a Swiss race-car driver?

The company was named for Louis Chevrolet in 1911. Chevrolet didn't stay with the carmaker very long, due to differences with his partner, William Durant. But the name endures.


What color is Chevrolet's "bowtie" emblem?

Chevrolet's symbol is a gold "bowtie" or Swiss cross. You'll see it on the grille of their cars and trucks.


What is Ford's symbol?

Ford is sometimes called "the blue oval company." It's Mazda that uses the gull-wing shape, and Subaru has the Pleaides ("Subaru" is the name for the Pleiades star cluster in Japanese).


Which of these car companies was founded first?

Oldsmobile was founded in the 19th century, unlike most of its rivals. Unfortunately, Oldsmobile was discontinued in 2004, so it cannot claim to be the oldest U.S. carmaker still in operation.


So, which of these IS the largest U.S. carmaker still in operation?

This distinction goes to Buick. It was founded in 1908, and operates under the General Motors line.


Which of these is NOT an American car brand at all?

Lexus is Toyota's luxury line. Toyota has worked hard to keep the Lexus name apart from the Toyota name, including having separate dealerships.


Who is credited with developing the Ford Mustang?

Lee Iacocca might be better known for revitalizing Chrysler in the 1980s. But he also gets credit for the creation of the Mustang, now an iconic American car.


What other person was also strongly associated with the Mustang?

Carroll Shelby is a legend in the world of high-performance cars. He'll forever be associated with the "Shelby Mustang."


Which carmaker offers both the Corvette and Camaro?

These are both Chevy offerings. They've both struggled with being viewed as "working class" sports cars, as opposed to true sports cars like the Porsche or Jaguar.


Which of these companies makes the Ram line of trucks?

For their light trucks, Dodge chose a name that suggested raw power. This wasn't true if you owned a Ram 50, the little four-banger truck made by Mitsubishi, but at least you saved on gas.


Which of these brands is named after the founder of Detroit?

Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded the northern city. Cadillac's symbol is based on his coat of arms.


Lincoln is a sub-brand of which company?

Lincoln is Ford's luxury brand. Its symbol is a narrow vertical cross inside an equally vertical rectangle.


Which of these American cars was named for an African animal?

An impala is a speedy grazing animal, like an antelope. When you think of the Impala, you might think of the vintage 1960s models, but updated versions are still in production today.


The Eldorado is what kind of car?

Cadillac took the name from a mythical South American city. We're not clear on who decided to compact the name, "El Dorado," into the less elegant "Eldorado."


Which of these is considered the first muscle car?

1949's Rocket 88 had an overhead valve high-compression V8 in a relatively light body. For this reason, it's considered the first muscle car, though nowadays we expect a muscle car to be a bit more compactly-built, like the Dodge Challenger.


Finish the slogan: "Have you driven a _____, lately?"

Ford is a car company that has seen its share of highs and low. This slogan was rolled out during one of the low periods, trying to persuade Americans to get back behind the wheel of a former favorite brand.


Which of these automakers did NOT take a government bailout in the late 2000s?

The bailouts of 2008 gave us the phrase "too big to fail." But Ford actually pulled itself back from the edge of failure, unlike its two rivals, and did not go into bankruptcy.


Finish the slogan: "This is not your ______ Oldsmobile."

This was a catchy way of saying, "We're faster and sexier than we used to be." It was a daring slogan, in that it acknowledges what many people thought of the brand.


Which automaker once used the slogan "Quality is Job One"?

This one might take a little explaining. Back in the day, when something was important, your boss would just say, "Hey, this is Job One." Nowadays, they have to say, "Prioritize this action item." Ford, whose slogans have always been simple, was tapping into nostalgia for a straighter-talking time with this one.


Finish the slogan: "See the USA in your ______."

This slogan comes from an earlier time, before air travel was cheap enough to be available to many families. You'll still hear people use this one, joking about an upcoming road trip.


Which of these companies is NOT under the umbrella of General Motors?

General Motors is a giant corporation that includes iconic American brands like Cadillac, Buick, and Chevrolet. It makes its home in the gorgeous Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan.


Which now-defunct carmaker used the slogan "A different kind of company. A different kind of car"?

Saturn was big in the 1990s, manufacturing its cars in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Unfortunately, despite populist sentiment in support of this all-American brand, it went under in the late 2000s.


Cadillac's entry in the SUV market is called the _______.

As Americans went crazy for the SUV in the 1990s, even Cadillac, known for luxury sedans, had to follow suit. Other unexpected entries in the luxury SUV market include the Lincoln Navigator and the Range Rover Evoque.


Which carmaker sells the Viper?

The sexy and speedy Viper is a Dodge product. Chevrolet makes its perpetual rival, the Corvette.


Which of these cars was NOT an AMC product?

Dodge made the Charger (and still does). The other three cars were made by the now-defunct American Motors Company.


Which of these cars was a failed 1940s rival to the Big Three automakers?

The Tucker 48 was the brainchild of designer Preston Tucker. Production was shut down during a scandal about Tucker's capital-raising methods, which some people suggest was just a smear campaign by the Big Three. If you want to learn more, check out the film, "Tucker: The Man and His Dream," by Francis Ford Coppola.


Which car's advertising slogan was simply "Hi"?

Ads for the Neon showed the car, face-on, and above it the simple word "Hi." Automotive writer David Fuller observed, "Some called this slogan cute. We called it annoying."


The Thunderbird was made by ______.

It just isn't fair, is it? Ford has made two of America's most iconic mid-century cars, the Thunderbird and the Mustang. Fun fact: It was a vintage Thunderbird convertible that was the unbilled third star of the 1990s hit, "Thelma and Louise."


Which of these was a funny-looking forerunner to the SUV?

The El Camino looked like a 2-door car with a truck bed in back. It was sold in the 1960s, '70s, ​and '80s, at the end of which the SUV and the minivan both began making significant inroads into the hauling-and-utility market.


Which car was the U.S.'s top seller at the end of the 1970s?

The 1970s saw two oil crises, and buyers were flocking to smaller cars, like the Chevette. Neither the Corvette (a sports car) or the Eldorado (a luxury car) had much appeal to the average driver in those days.


What relation was Edsel Ford to company founder Henry Ford?

Edsel Ford's name will forever be synonymous with the unsuccessful Edsel division of Ford. But that wasn't created until after his death, and named in his memory. Edsel Ford was generally a successful businessman and a philanthropist.


Which of these Plymouth brands could you buy in 2017?

Plymouth was discontinued, or rather merged with Chrysler, in 2001. It was the end of a brand that had been sold since the 1950s.


Which of these carmakers gave us the Voyager minivan?

You can still see Plymouth Voyagers from the 1980s and 1990s on the road now and again. But don't stare too long. The driver is probably pretty embarrassed, especially if it's a model with wood-paneled doors.


Which company made the Monte Carlo in the 1970s?

As its name suggests, the Monte Carlo was an entry in the luxury market. It also offered a big V8 engine, the gas prices of the '70s notwithstanding.


In what decade did AMC go under?

The American Motors Corporation folded in 1988. It had begun life about three and a half decades earlier, with the merger of the Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson companies.


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