What's Your Classic Car IQ?

Torrance Grey

Image: VV Productions

About This Quiz

America didn't invent the automobile, but we certainly have a love affair with it. It was a relationship that started early in the 20th century, with the affordable Model T, the car that got the middle class 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, not all classic cars are American. Germany gave us the beloved Beetle (twice, including its redesign in the 1990s). And Britain has made a number of fast, stylish cars -- some of them driven by their icon, James Bond. 

Nowadays, we have a complicated relationship with the vintage car. With the world's population approaching eight billion and fossil fuels in limited supply, we realize we can't all drive outdated, gas-hog cars. (In fact, we probably shouldn't all be driving gas-burning cars, period.) But there's no harm in admiring a classic car when we see one on the streets, or fantasizing about driving one. So, if you have such dreams, take your classic car IQ for a spin with our quiz! We promise it'll be a smooth, nostalgic ride!

Which automaker produced the Fairlane?

An easy way to remember this is that it was the name of a movie in the early 90s -- "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane." This was a star vehicle (no pun intended) for briefly-hot comedian Andrew Dice Clay. The actual car was a full-size, tail-finned car of the 50s.

Which of these cars was made by now-defunct AMC?

The AMC Gremlin was a subcompact car meant to appeal to buyers as gas prices rose in the 1970s. However, its slogan "the first American-made import car" must have had buyers scratching their heads.

Which classic car was named for an African animal?

The Impala name might have been chosen for its suggestion of speed. The impala is a grazing animal, similar to an antelope.

By what name are third-generation Corvettes also known?

The Stingray was one of the most coveted cars of the late '60s and early '70s. Rich girl Cherry Valance drives one in "The Outsiders."

What car was specifically criticized by Ralph Nader in "Unsafe at Any Speed"?

Nader titled one chapter in his book "The Sporty Corvair: The One-Car Accident." It was a black eye for Chevrolet, though the book criticized the automotive industry in general for being reluctant to make cars safer.

What car did Susan Sarandon drive off a cliff in "Thelma & Louise"?

Oh, stop complaining about spoilers! You've had nearly 30 years to see this movie, people!

Which carmaker produced the Bel Air?

The Bel Air is the kind of car people think of when they think of classic 50s cars: big, sometimes two-toned, in pastel colors reminiscent of South Florida motels. Fun fact: Some Bel Airs came with fuel injection, long before this was the industry standard.

Which carmaker produced the Matador?

Though AMC didn't survive as a company, the Matador was popular in its day. The LAPD ordered a number for use as police cruisers.

Which of these cars took on the Big Three automakers in the 1940s and lost?

The Tucker 48 was the dream 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," (though it's admittedly slanted, as Francis Ford Coppola is a proud Tucker 48 owner).

What innovation did the 1948 Buick Roadmaster offer buyers?

Dynaflow was Buick's patented form of automatic transmission. It was said to be smoother than competitors' automatic transmissions.

Which car was the unofficial star of 1971's "Vanishing Point"?

"Vanishing Point" is a classic movie about Vietnam-era disillusionment. A veteran and ex-cop takes a Dodge Challenger on a high-speed road trip, earning the ire of the Highway Patrol and the admiration of average Americans.

Which year did Chevy first offer the Corvette?

The Corvette has been around for longer than many people realize. Its early incarnations looked a lot like the small, light European cars of the 1950s.

What kind of car was "Eleanor" in 1974's "Gone in 60 Seconds"?

That's right, the prized car in the 1974 film is a piece of classic American rolling steel. The theft of a yellow 1973 Mustang proves strangely difficult for the "hero," Maindrian.

Which of these mid-century luxury cars was named for a mythical city?

The city of El Dorado was rumored to be somewhere in northern South America. European expeditions in search of it caused much of the Amazon river and basin to be mapped. And, later, a car to be named!

Whose brainchild was the Ford Mustang?

Iacocca was an icon in the 1980s for revitalizing Chrysler. But it was during his term at Ford that he backed the Mustang, in an attempt to help the company recover from its misstep with the Ford Edsel.

Which carmaker, known for solid and boxy cars in the 1970s, made the sleek P1800 sports car?

The beautiful P1800 looks nothing like the heavy-bodied cars Volvo began making in the 1970s. Fun fact: A P1800 is said to be the longest-serving passenger car, racking up three million miles for its owner.

The lead engineer on the first VW Beetle was ______.

Of course, he's better known for the sports cars that bear his name. But Porsche was a part of the German war effort, and he was lead designer on Germany's "people's car."

What years did Porsche not make the 911?

The 911 is one of the most successful sports cars ever made. About one million have been sold since 1963; a solid number for a car with a high price tag.

Which car did Chevrolet stop offering for a six-year period in the 2000s?

It might have surprised people, but this popular car was discontinued from 2003 to 2009. It's available again today.

The Volkswagen that was called the Trekker in the U.K. and the Kurierwagen in Germany was called the _______ in the U.S.

"Thing" is an appropriate name, given that you're almost not sure it should be called a car. A Thing is a convertible with straight-line military styling, akin to a Jeep.

Which of these was not a secondary name for the Cadillac Eldorado?

The Eldorado was a luxury car, and the previous three names reflect that. Biarritz, for example, is an exclusive European resort town. The Skylark was a Buick product.

Where on a 1950s car would you find "dagmars"?

Dagmars were cone-shaped projections on the front bumper of full-sized 1950s cars. They were named for a full-figured TV hostess of the time.

The Pontiac GTO took the latter part of its name from a ______.

The GTO stands for "Gran Turismo Omologato." The first to have this acronym was the Ferrari 250 GTO.

What year did the DeLorean DMC-12 reach the market?

We say "reach the market" because the prototype car had been designed some time earlier. The DeLorean never really took off, partly because of an economic slump in the early '80s, and partly because going up against the Big Three was never going to be an easy task.

What does the name "Corvette" mean?

A corvette is a quick, light warship. It's Camaro that doesn't translate into anything that anyone's heard of.

What type of car did Emma Peel drive in "The Avengers"?

Diana Rigg played Emma Peel on the sexy spy show, "The Avengers." Her cars, both Lotus Elan convertibles, underscored her free-spiritedness.

What kind of car does Steve McQueen pass several times in the chase scene of "Bullitt"?

The same green Beetle is seen several times because the director and editor spliced together repetitive footage to create the chase scene. Well, at least the car was appropriate for the year, 1968. If McQueen had repeatedly passed a prewar Packard, it would have been a lot more noticeable.

Which of these is considered the first muscle car?

It might look big and inefficient to modern eyes, but 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.

Which of these introduced the concept of the "supercar"?

A miura is a type of Italian bull, with surprisingly good foot speed. The Miura car introduced the rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive setup that other supercars would follow.

Which decade's Mustang was largely rejected by consumers?

The second generation of Mustangs were considered unattractive and too slow for Mustang fans. To this day, you'll hear people calling the second-generation Mustang a "Farrah Fawcett car" because her character, Jill Munroe, drove one on "Charlie's Angels."

Which of these design elements does a DeLorean DMC-12 have?

Don't laugh about the light-up bust! Some DeSotos actually had this, except they were of explorer Hernando DeSoto.

Which of these is named for two other car models?

This compact (for the time) car was a Chevrolet product. Its name is a combination of "Corvette" and "Bel Air."

Which of these cars was rumored to have a special "high performance" model, of which only 120 were made?

These were supposed to have rolled out in the mid-1960s. Because the Thunderbirds of that era were heavy-bodied for their engines, the rumor of a 427 cid engine would naturally have caused excitement.

Carroll Shelby is most associated with which car?

Shelby, who died in 2012, was a legend in the world of high-performance cars. He is associated with both the Cobra, a British import he outfitted with a V8 engine, and Ford's Shelby Mustangs.

What kind of Mustang does Clarice Starling drive in "Hannibal"?

Thomas Harris, who is very particular about what consumer products he refers to in his books, gives Starling a Roush Mustang in "Hannibal." Starling is said to have bought it cheaply at a law-enforcement auction.

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