The Auto Industry's 10 Most Disruptive Cars Since the Model T

Will any of the cars at the 2017 New York International Auto Show leave this kind of legacy?
The Auto Industry's 10 Most Disruptive Cars Since the Model T
Image credit: Bettmann | Getty Images

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Entrepreneur Staff
Associate Editor, Contributed Content
3 min read

The New York International Auto Show first opened in 1900, and ever since, it's been one of the most important fixtures in the auto industry. American icons Dodge, Ford and Chevy showcase their newest ideas and designs alongside international brands like Toyota, Volkswagon and Porsche. In 2017, the show opens to the public Friday, April 14 and runs through Sunday, April 23.

But, will any of the cars at this year's show have an impact like the cars on this list? Start the slideshow to see the 10 most important and influential automobiles of the past century.

Tatra 77: 1934 to 1935

Tatra 77: 1934 to 1935
Image credit: Wolff & Tritschler | ullstein bild | Getty Images
The Tatra 77 is the oldest and worst-selling car on the list, but it's still massively influential for its emphasis on aerodynamic design, which was revolutionary at the time. Think about this: The Tatra 77, built in 1934, had a lower drag coefficient (0.2455) than a modern Tesla Model S (0.25). 

Volkswagen Beetle: 1938 to 2003

Volkswagen Beetle: 1938 to 2003
Image credit: Gianluca Prioli | Getty Images
Adolf Hitler contracted Ferdinand Porsche to build a car for the people -- a "Volskwagen" -- in 1934. Four years later, the original Beetle debuted, reaching top speeds of up to 62 miles per hour. In 1972, the Beetle overtook the Ford Model T as the best-selling car ever, and maintained that honor for almost two decades.

Ford F150: 1948 to present

Ford F150: 1948 to present
Image credit: Bill Pugliano | Getty Images
If you're going to talk about pick-up trucks, you have to talk about the Ford F150. Ford's most popular line hasn't just been the best-selling truck in America for 40 straight years, or the best-selling vehicle for 35 years. It also became the best-selling vehicle ever in the late 1980s and held that title until around 2012. 

Jeep Wagoneer (SJ): 1962 to 1991

Jeep Wagoneer (SJ): 1962 to 1991
Image credit: Darryl Norenberg | The Enthusiast Network | Getty Images
One of the first full-size SUVs and one of the first luxury 4x4s, the Wagoneer was ahead of its time in all sorts of ways. It's no wonder the model managed to last for almost three decades with minimal changes before being replaced by the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Porsche 911: 1963 to present

Porsche 911: 1963 to present
Image credit: Car Culture, Inc. | Getty Images
Watch a movie from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and you won't see many cars that look like they can be on the road today. The Porsche 911 is an exception, and the 2017 version of the German sports car doesn't look so different from the car that debuted in 1963.

Toyota Corolla: 1966 to present

Toyota Corolla: 1966 to present
Image credit: Martha Holmes | The LIFE Images Collection | Getty Images
The Toyota Corolla was one of the first popular cars from a Japanese automaker, and helped announce the country's presence in the industry in a major way. Today, with almost 40 million cars sold, the Toyota Corolla is the best-selling automobile ever.

Chrysler Minivan (S): 1984 to 1990

Chrysler Minivan (S): 1984 to 1990
Image credit: FCA US LLC.
Laugh if you want to at its blocky design and woodgrain paneling, but the original minivan with the sliding passenger door helped bring on an entirely new type of automobile.

Toyota Prius: 1997 to present

Toyota Prius: 1997 to present
Image credit: brightstorm | Getty Images
The first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car, the Prius has been making big waves (and low emissions) for 20 years now.

Tesla Model S: 2012 to present

Tesla Model S: 2012 to present
Image credit: Jasper Juinen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The first electric car to top the monthly new car sales in any country, the Model S has been the world's best-selling plug-in electric car the past two years, and it's revolutionizing the way we think about the industry.

Waymo self-driving car: coming soon

Waymo self-driving car: coming soon
Image credit: Waymo
Alphabet subsidiary Waymo has been tantalizing us with videos of self-driving cars for a while now, but the car isn't ready for mass production just yet. That said, Waymo did show off a self-driving minivan at the Detroit auto show in January. If we're lucky, it'll be ready to show us something new in New York.
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