UNITED STATES—The measuring stick for success last month was Gold. Yes, the Rio Olympic Games were in full swing and reminding us once again that we Americans have plenty to be proud of despite what our current campaign season has shown us. However, Olympic medals are not the only awards that are handed out to the same recipients on a regular basis. Indeed, the automobile industry has its own versions of Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt. So, without further ado, here is a list of some of the most awarded cars in history:
The Honda Accord is not the sexiest car on this list, far from it in fact. The Accord is all about wholesome family values. While today this mild mannered sedan is often lost in a sea of decidedly vanilla flavored four-door saloons, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, the Honda Accord played an important role in shaping the auto industry in the early 80s.
While American makes were still rolling out gas-guzzling hoopties, Honda was steadily stealing away America’s emerging value-conscious customers. Just how successful has the Honda Accord been since its debut? Well, in 1989 it became the first import to become the best-selling car in the United States. Since then, it has garnered Motor Trend’s coveted “Import Car of the Year” award and has been on Car & Driver’s “Ten Best” list an impressive 28 times in the last 32 years.
While most would agree the BMW 3-series sedan is one of, if not the most popular entry level luxury sedans on the market, the arguably more important accomplishment of this German sedan was that it defined the performance sedan segment. What this car did was negate the need for an additional car in the garage for the weekends.
Much like the modern crossover has become the one-stop-shop for consumers in need of a vehicle with the utility of station wagon, the people hauling capabilities of a van, the multi-terrain talents of a 4X4, and the everyday usability of a sedan, the 3-series became the go-to choice for those in need of something that could take the kids to school in the morning, impress clients with its understated luxury from 9-5, and help you unwind on the weekends. The 3-series has in fact been placed on Car & Driver’s “Ten Best” list for 22 consecutive years, the longest running streak in history.
Those of you who’ve been following the column must have known this car would make the list. Indeed, it is a car that holds a spot near and dear to my heart. So much so that I’ve recently purchased a neglected 1991 300ZX Twin Turbo with the intention of returning it to the splendor that we first witnessed during Super Bowl XXIV. But I will cut to the chase. If you want the whole story about this car, please check out my August 6, 2015 article.
As far as accolades go, in just its first year, the 300ZX (or Z32) was named Motor Trend’s “Import Car of the Year”, placed on Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” list, named to Road & Track’s “Ten Best Cars in the World” list, and included on Car & Driver’s “Ten Best” list. It remained on Car & Driver’s “Ten Best” list every year of its six year production run in the US. Of course, if you include previous generation Z cars, the list of achievements grows to include another Motor Trend “Import Car of the Year” award in 1979.
A decade after the Z32’s final year in production, it was still receiving praise. Automobile Magazine called it one of the 100 greatest cars of all time in 2004. Two years later, Automobile Magazine couldn’t stop drooling and felt the need to place the Z32 on its “20 Greatest Cars of the Past 20 years” and the “25 Most Beautiful Cars in History” lists. Even non-automotive publications like GQ listed the Z32 as one of the most stylish cars over the past 50 years back in 2010.
What other cars could have been included in this list? Good question. Please feel free to make suggestions in the comments section.