Hooniverse Asks- Stealing From Top Gear Edition

Last night on Top Gear -in between building the world’s most dangerous electric car and pirouetting  a Vette around the track like their were Dancing with the Stars, Clarkson brought up a question that they are asking for an upcoming show- which is What car maker has built the most great cars?

Somebody brought up Ferrari, which may seem like the most logical answer, but then the boys rightly noted that the Italian Stallion had a released a number of “rubbish” cars in their day.
So, because I’m not so creative on a Monday morning, and since i think it’s a pretty good question, we’ll beat Top Gear to the punch and ask the question of the Hoonigans here, and so without further adieu- What car maker has made the most great cars?

Rubbish, according to Top Gear.
Rubbish, according to Top Gear.

Image sources: [ Stangbangers,Allsportautos]

44 Comments

  1. As hit and miss as GM can be, they've built so many cars (from so many purchased manufacturers), there's quite a few standouts. It wouldn't surprise me at all if one department within the corporation was staffed by an infinite number of monkeys, and on the 2011 Impala, the owners manual will be the collected works of Shakespeare.

  2. I am going to throw my vote in the ring for…
    Mercedes-Benz.
    They essentially made the first car, and have had some great ones from there – their current crop of vehicles are essentially either technological marvels or luxurious muscles cars.
    I am sure to feel the heat from this choice, but I stand by it.

    1. I'm afraid I have to agree. I can't think of anything Mercedes that wasn't excellent, and I'm not even a huge fan. (well, okay, everything from the Chrysler side when they were DaimlerChrysler, but I think that was just that Mercedes wasn't terribly successful in polishing a turd.)

    2. Third that, I can't think of a time when Merc wasn't putting out at least a couple good cars. I would drive a Mercedes from any generation.
      Although, I find it strange that then "didn't make cars" in the 1940's

    3. My thoughts exactly. Even if M-B's build quality isn't what it was in the glory days, they have always engineered and built cars that were second to none. My mother currently drives an '07 E350 wagon, and it does pretty much everything you could ever ask of a vehicle. It's fast, fun to drive, classy and comfortable, and my father and I once carried 1200 pounds of cement in the back. Turn back the clock a few decades, and every vehicle from the lowly 200D to the 600 Pullman was at the absolute top of its class.
      I got to ride in a Gullwing once. The cockpit is uncomfortable, noisy and hard to get in and out of; the engineering isn't as amazing as Mercedes enthusiasts would have you think, with the 300 sedan's heavy engine and transmission and the same rear suspension layout as a VW Beetle or an early Corvair..
      It was spec-friggin-tacular, and as far as I'm concerned, it represents everything that is right about Mercedes-Benz engineering.

    4. Even their models from the last 15 years or so – now that they're no longer overbuilt – have still been technological marvels, and while they're not so unstoppable, they're still overwhelmingly good cars.

  3. Volkswagen-Porsche have produced the most cars out of any other manufacturer. If you're going by numbers.
    Oh, most great car nameplates. Well, that could still be VW-Porsche. From the original Beetle and its derivatives to the Porsche 917 and 356, there has not been a generation since the 1930s that couldn't claim a VW and/or a Porsche as one of its definitive vehicles.

    1. Concurred. I was going with Porsche, but VW is lumped in there. Granted, some of the stuff that is coming out of Stuttgart recently has been questionable, I have to say throughout the years, they have had the most great cars.

  4. You know I really should avoid daily questions because I'm more inclined to ask more questions then answer them.
    I am driven to look at this from a ratio standpoint where I look at the crap to great ratio or C/G=X
    Using this I do believe that Lamborghini has the best ratio.

  5. I don't necessarily think it is, but I'm throwing it out there for discussion. What about Ford? Could it be that the Maker of Mediocre could actually stand in this fight?
    The Model T, which everyone copied.
    The Model A, which everyone copied.
    The Tudor Coupe, which everyone copied.
    The T-bird, which everyone copied.
    The Mustang, which everyone copied.
    …and so on, but when you think about it, they've been on the leading edge a whole lot over their history. The problem is that so many of the copies ended up being better than the original… but do they deserve bonus points for the fact that they started it?

    1. We must have had a mental race on that one. I agree, but how many cars have cult and to some extend blatant love from the media and drivers alike?
      Mustang
      GT40
      Shelby Cobras (mostly a Ford)
      EXPs
      LTDs
      Tempo fanatics
      Taurus
      The F series
      The Fiesta, Mondeo, and a host of world platform cars.
      Even their crap has sold reasonably well. (Someone had to buy all those Probes)

    2. And for better or worse, you can add:
      The '49 Ford, which everyone copied
      The Taurus, which everyone copied (and sorry, reviewing the evidence I am NOT convinced the Taurus was a copy of the Audi 5000).
      The Explorer, which everyone copied
      The Edsel, which everyone knew NOT to copy
      The Suicide Continental, which promptly found itself in the NY MOMA…

      1. Thanks for convincing me you guys are right before I went through the time and effort of thinking this through and trying to come up with something original. It's a busy work day for me.

    3. I was going to say Ford before I went for a pure production numbers angle. The question wasn't very specific.
      It also depends on the definition of "great". There have been some obviously "great" Fords — The ford GT40 taking 1-2-3 at LeMans comes immediately to mind. However, "great" would also depend on what the car is intended to do?
      A Ranger isn't going to win LeMans, but you can beat the crap out of them and they keep going. For a small truck, that would be greatness.
      A Taurus isn't going to set the world on fire, but it did change design language at the end of the malaise era and was the best selling car in America for many years. As a family car, it was great.
      Even the Focus and Fiesta aren't particularly lustful cars in the company of cars like the Subaru WRX (unless you include the Focus ST and RS), but the Focus was a reasonably priced, European-inspired (well, mostly designed) car that Ford desperately needed in the early 2000s, and proved to be one of its greatest investments when gas hit $4.50 a gallon and F-150 sales dropped off. The Fiesta seems poised to do the same thing in the next decade, as well as showing Ford's commitment to profitably (key word) building a small, efficient car rather than counting on large truck and SUV sales.
      Speaking of SUVs, even though it isn't the first SUV (Jeep could probably claim that title), the Explorer definitely helped set the SUV craze in motion. There's a reason why so many were heartlessly destroyed in C4C…there were so many built.

      1. There's something to be said for simply getting the job done, isn't there? The only thing against Ford's favor in that case is the "look the other way" attitude toward their bread-and-butter AXOD Taurus transmissions and 3.8L headgaskets. The really could have out-Toyota'd Toyota back then, had they just had a little foresight.
        Still, there are a few other Fords worth mentioning:
        – F-Series. Any year, 'nuff said…. the standard by which all others are judged. And technically this is a truck… but then it's a big distraction those smaller car-only companies don't have to deal with.
        – Ranchero. Which is what the El Camino copied from, two years later.
        – Fairmont… not maybe a great car in name, but in 1982 over half the vehicular nameplates Ford sold were based on disguises of this one platform. That's versatility! (reliability may vary).

      1. Most late-70s and early 80s Subarus were available with 4wd, rather than AWD, actually.
        ….and that is awesome. I believe it was on Cardomain a while back, I saw a Forester that was lifted a bit and converted to use an older EA-style 4WD transmission — the 2WD mode drove the front wheels. Here's the link: http://www.cardomain.com/ride/792800

  6. ZIL, they've made some of the most beautiful Packards, Chrysler Imperials and Ferrari 166s ever produced, as well as some swell AutoCar and International Harvester trucks.

    1. Mazda has generally had a good run, but when I think of the 80's and 90's, not much comes to mind. The 323 was a tossable funball and the RX was always great. But the 626 and 929 weren't anything special, neither was the Millenia. The early B-series fell wayside for a Ranger clone, and the Navaho was a half-baked Explorer (only 2 doors).
      But I guess Ford's as much to blame for those as anyone, and they weren't necessarily so bad as to completely skew the average…
      …hmm. On second thought, I can support this for further review. Good call.

  7. i think this question is undeniably answered with GM….. unless one takes it a bit further and asks "ratio of good to bad cars" GM has been the largest global motor company for about a half a century (if not more…… … or ended up buying some of the greats before 50 yrs. ago) so.. they just kinda win by default…
    now, number of bad-ass cars vs. P.O.S. cars… well.. we've got quite a fight there…

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