If you want a comfortable, high-class grand touring car nowadays, you’ll have to look overseas for the best versions. Germany, Italy, and the U.K. are the ‘go-to’s’. lt wasn’t always like this, though. Not that long ago, the United States was the epicenter of global manufacturing.
Those who want a truly worthy American luxury car should not look at the current lineup, but the old ones, instead. These classics represent the best that the U.S. had to offer, both in terms of speed and driveability. The best part, though, is the availability of performance parts.
No leases to worry about, no warranties to break. Just an antique cruiser that embodies the American spirit: power and convenience and comfort.
If you’re not already considering such an expense, perhaps these modded American luxury cars will change your mind!
10 1967 Mercury Cougar XR-7 GT
More often than not, the best type of restorations/restomods are those that’re subtle in their delivery. Not overly modified, but not bone-stock, either. A perfect middle ground, if you will. Well, that’s just what our first entry is: a clean Mercury Cougar XR-7 GT!
As you can see, this Cougar isn’t bagged to the floor or made to look like a racecar. Instead, the owner decided to keep the original look intact; opting to make smaller, quality-of-life adjustments/mods.
As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We think this philosophy holds strong, especially with a mint-condition XR-7.
9 Alex Short’s 1958 Ford Thunderbird
Depending on what you want from your restomod/restoration, you can go one of two ways. Either the more relaxed method (like the aforementioned Cougar XR-7) or a full-blown custom rebuild. The owner of this 1958 Ford Thunderbird – Alex Short – clearly went for the latter.
To say Short went “above and beyond” with this Thunderbird would be an understatement. Heck, he even redid the entire “unibody’s suspension” system, which encompasses the whole vehicle. Beyond that, this T-Bird has new rims, L.E.D. lights, a reupholstered interior, etc.
8 Fesler 1963 Buick Riviera
To get our share of car spots, drift videos, and special announcements, we often go to Instagram. Not only do brands post on the app, but so too do individual car enthusiasts, along with the tuning companies that assist them. Of all the neat vehicles we’ve seen on there, one American luxury car has been cemented in our memory. The Fesler tuned 1963 Buick Riviera.
While scrolling through Instagram a couple years back, we got our first taste of what Fesler could do. This ’63 Riviera is both menacing and alluring; almost like the a Mobster’s car, if you will. Funnily enough, that’s exactly what the owner requested. As he put it, the Riviera needed a “sinister and gangster vibe.”
7 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ
After Pontiac had successfully marketed and sold the first-generation Grand Prix, executives at the company decided to spice things up for the next iteration. The result was a more muscle car-like aesthetic; featuring a large front-end and a fastback-looking rear.
In 1969, consumers bore the fruits of Pontiac’s labor with the release of the Grand Prix SJ – A sort of hybrid between the then-current Pontiac Firebird and Ford Gran Torino). The SJ was outstanding, and (over time) the reaction towards it only began to grow. Now, we have restorations like these.
Once again, it’s a classic case of “less is more.” You don’t need a crazy spoiler or twin-turbo setup. Just build something that fits its style.
6 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS
Given the rareness and price-tag of a Buick Grand National GNX, not everyone’s going to get a chance to drive/own one, let alone have the skills to really push it. However, if the GNX is too much, go for the more comfortable, luxurious alternative: the mid-’80s Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.
By 1985, the fourth-generation Monte Carlo had undergone a few changes. The SS versions, though, didn’t get too much beyond their normal 5.0-liter V8 and a new set of disc brakes. Nevertheless, the Monte Carlo SS was plenty fast as is, especially for the market it appealed to.
Needless to say, “just enough power” doesn’t stop tuners from going to work. With a set of lightweight rims, a suspension upgrade, and (maybe) a supercharger, an ’85 SS will act less like your grandma’s car and more like a GNX.
5 Bagged 1966 Lincoln Continental
Like we showed earlier with the Fesler-tuned Buick Riviera, bags on an old luxury/muscle car can look good (if you do it right). “Still not sure if you agree?” Well, allow us to change your mind with this beauty: a 1966 Lincoln Continental.
Rather than focusing solely on straight-line speed or on-track performance, this Continental is clearly designed to be an American Rolls-Royce. The suicide doors, hood ornament, huge backseats, and gigantic size remind us of an old Phantom. Perhaps that’s what they were going for.
4 1970 Cadillac ‘Coupe de Kill’
Every cool car needs an equally as cool nickname. In The Dukes of Hazzard, their Charger was ‘The General Lee’, the GT-R’s have ‘Godzilla’, and so on. An effective one describes the car itself in some aspect; occasionally using clever wordplay to get the message across. Case and point, this 1970 Cadillac ‘Coupe de Kill’.
Just as the name implies, this Cadillac is not to be taken lightly. Its low-profile, matte-black paint and turbocharged V8 are all indicators of a monstrously fast race car, which it is. However, no comfort is sacrificed to achieve this.
As the owner himself said back in 2015, “I was worried about how the car would act at high speed because of the homebuilt suspension up front, but it drives really well, even at more than 175mph.”
3 1962 Chevrolet Impala
Thanks to popular television shows like Supernatural, the classic Chevrolet Impala has started to emerge in the minds of young car enthusiasts. As great as the late-’60s to early-’70s models were, they should also take a look at their predecessors, such as the 1962 Chevy Impala.
Contrary to the later model Impala’s, the early-’60s alternatives were much more rounded. This can be seen in the taillights, as well as the overall body shape. In our opinion, the curvier, round angles suit a ‘luxury classic’ aesthetic far better than the newer ones. Add to that an Air-Ride suspension with some sleek mods and you’ve got yourself a car that’ll impress anyone from the 1960s to now!
2 1962 Studebaker Avanti
The mid-to-early-20th century saw some wild designs; both in architecture, fashion, and cars. During that time period, one company refused to conform, opting instead to create unique, strange-looking vehicles. That manufacturer was none other than Studebaker!
Throughout the various cars, Studebaker would produce, two have a special place in our hearts. For now, let’s focus on just one: the 1962-’63 Avanti. Though it was only made for a year, the Avanti quickly made a name for itself, particularly because of its (then) world-record top speed figures. With no mods at all, an Avanti can hit ~178 MPH. Now just imagine how fast this modded one could go! But, it is a luxury car, so the speed isn’t everything.
1 1959 Cadillac Coupe Deville ‘Wild Cad’
Under normal circumstances, we’d typically dismiss modded cars like those of out of a Hot Wheels set. It’s not that they’re bad, it’s just usually not our style. However, we said “usually,” so we’re open to having our minds changed. And, as fate would have it, this 1959 Caddy may just convert us.
Like we said before, this Cadillac Coupe Deville really gives us those Hot Wheels/Matchbox car vibes. Maybe it’s because of the ludicrously low suspension or the comically large blue flames on the side. Whatever the reason, one thing’s for sure: we want this ‘Wild Cad’!
NEXT: This Is The Best Classic Car To Restore
Rare Special Edition Sports And Muscle Cars Gearheads Would Love To Own
About The Author