On June 29, 1956, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the Federal Aid Highway Act, which authorized the construction of over 41,000 miles of interstate highways, the largest public works project in history. Now all America needed was cars to drive on it. Enter The Big Three: Ford, Chrysler and GM, all headquartered near Detroit, Michigan.
This rivalry is intense not so much in the competition for overall production or sales, which GM dominates, but more specifically in the evaluation of the automobiles themselves. It isn’t always easy to compare cars across company lines because of the industry tendency to blend categories and find untapped markets between existing ones. Nonetheless, there are abundant occasions in which the sizes and styles match up nicely. For example, the Ford Pinto, Dodge Colt and Chevrolet Vega; the Ford GT, Dodge Viper, and Chevrolet Corvette; and the Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, and Pontiac Firebird. There are numerous more instances of overlap, especially when you consider other vehicles such as trucks, minivans, and SUVs.
While the heyday of these rivals is long in the past and the three of them combined is barely able to compete against German and Japanese manufacturers, to many people the cars these companies sold for years represent the very spirit of what it means to be free and American.