It’s been 236 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and about 110 of those American years have been spent in the company of automobiles. With the yearly celebration of Independence Day going on, everyone’s collective favorite colors are red, white, and blue, and we’re no exception. As a celebration of sorts of the United States of America and its long fascination with the automobile, we present the 7 best (six serious favorites, one honorable mention) red/white/blue automotive specials for the 7/4 holiday.
1) 1998-1999 Oreca Dodge Viper GTS-R
If we like July for Independence Day, we like June for the annual running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the late 1990s, Chrysler campaigned a handful of Dodge Viper GTS-Rs (rebadged as the Chrysler Viper GTS-R, because Europe had only the Chrysler brand, not Dodge) at the Circuit de la Sarthe along with Team Oreca, a French racing team. The Dodge / Chrysler racecar had an 8.0-liter V-10 engine, just like the road car, and the resulting monster took the GT2 and GTS categories by storm. A handful of the Dodge / Chrysler racers, including the class winners in 1998 and 1999, did so wearing red, white, and blue paint.
2) 1976 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible Bicentennial
Few things are more classically American than big Cadillacs, so the Eldorado Convertible definitely deserves a spot on this list, especially when wearing red/white/blue paint. The Eldorado in question is the 1976, which featured white paint, a red interior, and blue and red pinstripes to celebrate the country’s bicentennial that year. In true special edition fashion, only 200 cars were ever produced, and each one wears a gold plaque commemorating the event and the car.
You’d expect that a company called the American Motors Corporation would come up with a hefty number of red/white/blue cars, and you’d be right: AMC had many, many cars to wear the three colors, and even those sold in other colors proudly featured AMC’s red, white, and blue logo. We give a special salute, however, to the AMC Javelin (AMC made 100 red/white/blue roadgoing versions of the Javelin Trans-Am race car), and the AMC SC/Rambler for looking like four-wheeled flags with hefty amounts of horsepower. Also, the SC/Rambler scores extra points for cheeky red/white/blue graphics on its air-scoop.
4) 1972 Ford Mustang Sprint Edition
In 1972, designers at Ford decided to commemorate the athletes going to the Olympic Games events in Munich, Germany and Sapporo, Japan. The resulting idea was Ford’s Sprint Décor Option Group, which put red, white, and blue paint on select cars and put them on sale. Ford did offer the color scheme on Mavericks and Pintos, but it also put the patriotic paintjob on a few Mustangs of the day. 9383 Ford Mustangs (in all bodystyles) in those colors left dealer lots that year, and at the Munich games a swimmer named Mark Spitz won seven gold medals, setting a world records for most gold medals won during a single Olympic Games.
5) 1971-1972 Datsun 510 BRE
We know, we know: there’s very little that’s American about a Datsun, but there’s plenty American about the racers prepped by Pete Brock’s Brock Racing Enterprises.particular one has an interesting history. The red/white/blue 510 BREs all but dominated the Trans-Am Series in the early 1970s. Datsun went on to win the Manufacturers Championship in the Trans-Am 2.5 Challenge in 1971 and 1972, before changes to the Trans-Am series essentially ended small sedan racing in late 1973.
6) 1973-1978 Greyhound/MCI MC-8 “Americruiser” Coach bus
Yes, we know that no one can actually go out and buy one of these busses as a daily driver, but there’s something very American about seeing the country from the relative comfort of a coach bus riding the Eisenhower Interstate System. Greyhound started giving many of its buses the Americruiser moniker in the 1970s, and our personal favorite Americruiser model was the 40-foot-long MCI MC-8, with its awesome red and blue paint lines that run parallel to the bus’ sheetmetal lines.
7) Honorable Mention: Bedford VAL from “The Italian Job”
Before Mark Wahlberg and CharlizeTheron popularized the story of The Italian Job, Michael Caine and his band of misfit thieves lit up the big screen with their own Italian caper movie in 1969. The movie’s final scenes showed a Bedford VAL (dressed up as a Harrington Legionnaire coach) carrying a stash of gold bullion through the winding roads of Switzerland before crashing and half-dangling off a cliff, where it stands as the film ends. Wahlberg and his gang may have successfully smuggled the gold thanks to an Amtrak train in their 2003 remake, but we think the bus is a much better looking getaway vehicle.