Ford’s been cranking out hits since Model T’s were rolling off the line, shaping how we drive and what we drive. From the muscle of the Thunderbird to the workhorse F-150, Ford’s got a knack for making vehicles that stick in our minds and on our roads. Let’s take a look at some of Ford’s most unforgettable machines.

Ford Explorer

©Ford

Back in ’91, when flannel shirts were big, Ford rolled out the Explorer, and suddenly everyone needed an SUV. Before it hit the streets, “Explorer” was just a fancy name slapped on pickups. But with the Jeep Cherokee turning heads and the Bronco II not cutting it, Ford went back to the drawing board. They took the Ranger, beefed it up, and bam, the Explorer was born. This thing was a hit from day one, offering everything from basic setups to the fancy Eddie Bauer edition. Over the years, it switched from a truck frame to a slick unibody design, making it the go-to for police fleets across the U.S. Sure, it’s not the world’s best-seller, but with over 7 million sold, it’s a heavyweight in Ford’s lineup.

Ford GT40

©Ford

The Ford GT40 is the muscle car of race cars, born out of a beef with Enzo Ferrari. Back in the ’60s, Ford was all set to dive into GT racing with Ferrari, but Enzo pulled a fast one. Henry Ford II wasn’t having any of that, so he tasked his engineers with building a Ferrari-beater. The GT40 had its fair share of drama, with engineers walking out and reliability issues. But in ’66, it dominated Le Mans, sweeping the podium and putting America on the racing map. These days, snagging an original GT40 will cost you a pretty penny, but it’s a piece of racing royalty.

Ford Taurus

©Ford

The ’80s were tough on American cars, but then came the Taurus, and suddenly Ford was back. Ditching the dated look for sleek lines and ditching the V8 for more sensible engines, the Taurus was what everyone wanted in a family car. It was such a hit, it was America’s top seller and even snagged the Car of the Year title in ’86. The Taurus stuck around until 2019, leaving behind a legacy and a bunch of SHO models that car guys still drool over. With 8 million sold, it’s a classic in its own right.

Ford F-100

Johann Jaritz / CC BY-SA 4.0CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The F-100 is where Ford’s truck legacy really starts to shine. Post-war America was all about trucks that could handle a day’s work and still look good doing it. The F-100 nailed it, offering comforts like sun visors and armrests. It’s tough to find one that hasn’t been beaten up or modded today, but they’re out there. With its success, it paved the way for the feature-packed trucks we see today. A mint F-100? That’s like finding gold.

Ford Transit

Jon BennettCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Before the Transit hit U.S. shores in 2014, it was cruising around Europe since ’65. Born out of a partnership between Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany, the Transit was all about hauling more in those tight European streets. It came in all flavors, from V4 to V6 engines, and quickly became the go-to van for moving goods. Fast forward, and the Transit’s dominating the U.S. cargo van scene, picking up where the Econoline left off. With over 9 million sold worldwide, it’s clear Ford knows a thing or two about building a van that lasts.

Ford Ranger

Mr.choppersCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Back in the early ’70s, when Japanese mini-trucks started to crowd the streets, Ford decided it wanted a piece of the pie. Enter the Ford Ranger in ’83, Ford’s answer to snagging some of that small truck market love. Initially, you had a choice between a modest 79-horsepower 4-cylinder or a beefier 115-horsepower V6, with a diesel option that got the axe in ’86. This little workhorse got beefier and fancier with each generation, proving you don’t need a giant rig to get the job done. After a hiatus, the Ranger made a comeback in 2019, bigger and badder, proving it’s still a key player in Ford’s lineup with over 7 million original units and counting.

1966 Bronco

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In ’66, Ford threw its hat into the SUV ring with the Bronco, going toe-to-toe with the likes of the Jeep CJ and the International Harvester Scout. This beast was built to tackle anything, with a 170-cubic-inch straight-6 engine and options ranging from a cozy wagon to a rugged roadster. The Bronco evolved over the years, getting bigger and bolder until ’96. It’s a classic that carved out Ford’s spot in the SUV world.

Ford Focus

©Ford

When the late ’90s rolled around, Ford decided it was time to switch things up and replaced the Escort with the Focus. Aimed to be a global hit, the Focus hit the streets in Europe in ’99 and the U.S. in 2000, boasting a range of peppy 4-cylinder engines and a fresh look that caught everyone’s eye. It wasn’t just another car; it was a statement, scooping up awards left and right. With four generations and some seriously fun performance models like the SVT and ST, the Focus sold over 9.2 million units, proving Ford could do small cars with big appeal.

Ford Mustang

©Ford

The Mustang kicked off the pony car craze in the mid-’60s, thanks to Lee Iacocca’s vision of an affordable, sporty car. Launching mid-1964 as a ’64 ½ model, it was an instant hit, with sales skyrocketing. Through the years, the Mustang has seen many forms, from the classic muscle of the ’60s to the high-tech beasts of today. Special editions like the Shelby GT350 and modern powerhouses from Shelby American and Roush keep the Mustang at the top of many wish lists. With over 10 million proud Mustang owners out there, it’s clear this icon isn’t going anywhere.

Ford Model T

©Ford

The Model T wasn’t Ford’s first rodeo, but it was the car that changed everything. Thanks to Henry Ford’s vision of an affordable, simple car for everyone, and his revolutionary assembly line, the Model T became the first car to truly dominate the roads in the U.S. and beyond. Starting in 1908, Ford’s moving assembly line cut production times from 12.5 hours down to just 93 minutes, making the Model T increasingly affordable. By 1927, 15 million Model Ts had been sold, making it one of the most influential cars in history.

Ford Thunderbird

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The Thunderbird hit the scene in ’55, giving the Corvette a run for its money with a 4.8L V8 that could push it up to 150mph. It wasn’t just fast; it became the poster child for “personal luxury cars.” Despite outselling the Corvette in the early days, by its 10th gen in ’89, it got a bit too chunky and could only muster a V6, leaving speed demons wanting more. Ford hit pause in ’97, gave it another go between 2002-2005, but eventually, the T-Bird flew its last.

Ford Escort

©Ford

Starting in ’67 in Europe, the Escort took over from the Anglia, hitting it big with folks who wanted something safe and zippy. It crossed the pond to the U.S. in ’81, morphing into an economy hatchback that was all about getting from A to B without breaking the bank. Despite a rocky ride with quality in the States and a mixed attempt at global unity, the Escort bowed out in 2000 after shifting 20 million units worldwide, making its mark as a true Ford staple.

Ford Capri RS2600

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Philip T. Clark, the brain behind the Mustang, whipped up the Capri RS2600 in ’75, and it was a looker with its long hood and short back. Made for the track, it packed a punch with a 150 PS V6, hitting 224 Nm of torque at 3500 rpm, all while keeping it light on its feet. It’s a classic racer that made its mark both on the streets and the circuit, becoming a cherished collectible for those in the know.

Ford Fiesta

©Ford

The Fiesta burst onto the scene in ’76, dipping its toes into the supermini pool at a time when America was all about big rides. Despite its small stature, it didn’t quite catch on in the U.S. during its first run but became a global hit with its sharp handling and reliability. After several updates and a brief return stateside from 2011 to 2018, the Fiesta wrapped up as Ford’s best-selling car ever by 2023, with a staggering 22 million units sold worldwide.

Ford F-150

©Ford

The F-150 is the king of the road for Ford, evolving from a basic work truck in ’48 to today’s near-luxury behemoths that still know how to get dirty. It introduced the world to the F-Series naming and kept upping the game with more comfort and tech. Nowadays, you can get an F-150 that feels more like a high-end sedan but doesn’t shy away from heavy lifting. Holding the title of the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for over four decades, the F-150 has sold over 40 million units, proving it’s not just a truck; it’s a legend.

Author: Abbie Clark

Title: Co-Founder

Expertise: Automotive Industry, Electric Vehicles, DIY Car Repairs

Bio:

Abbie Clark is a writer, blog, and founder of RideRambler, Hey She Thrives, and The Bearded Bunch.

From clever car cleaning tricks to the freshest car features and reviews, Abbie loves sharing her knowledge on everything automotive. Outside of her time writing for her websites, you’ll find her fishing with her husband, deciphering her toddler’s babbling, or baking up something sweet.

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