Of The Marques)
In some eyes Corvettes can claim the honor as the sole American sports car for the period of two or three decades if the term is defined as a two seater and includes Grand Tourers in the category, but if one whishes to define sports cars as minimalist two seat vehicles without any passenger comforts and certainly no luxury add on's then some of the model years would not pass judgment as true sports cars.
Sports car has been defined in so many ways that two people may not come to agreement on its meaning and its meaning has in fact changed over the years. To the purists it is a minimalists design and to others it can even include a four seater such as a Mustang, Jensen, or even a four seat Ferrari. The line between a Grand Tourer and sports car is often blurred today and that is why since the fifties many cars have even been called GT's and one is never sure what the potential of that car is by its designation in the initials.
The best example is the use of GTO for both the Pontiac and Ferrari:; each car with quite different capabilities and both deriving their names from the term Gran Tourismo Omologato which signified the combining of various production cars into a single class so as to meet a specific required production number.The difference being that the Pontiac used the badge as a marketing gimmick while the Ferrari used it to be able to race its cars. Though both cars are labeled GTO I would only consider the Ferrari a sports car. And there are rare instances when I would grant a four seater the status of sports car. Some of them are the British made Jensen Interceptors, the various four seat Ferraris that have been produced and of course the Avanti, still in production today though maybe only the original Paxton supercharged versions one of which at the Utah salt flats was able to reach 172 mph in the early sixties could qualify.
To the British sports cars had always been basic open two seater's with cycle fenders and small cut down doors while the Germans preferred more full bodied coupes and tended to guide their vehicles toward an aerodynamic envelope functionality. In America after the demise of the Stutz and Mercers the challenge of creating sports cars went to the luxury car makers and the glory of fast motoring passed on to the manufacturers of cars such as Duesenberg with its wonderfully supercharged SJ's and Cords. Though they produced two seater's these cars were hardly nimble and weighed plenty. There were others of course and for those who could not afford these expensive vehicles the lowly Ford hot rod provided the answer.
The Hot Rod of course was the genesis for time trials and speed trials on the salt flats and allowed less well to do youths especialy on the west coast to build their own fast cars for next to nothing except sweat equity.This led to of course to drag racing but that is another story and with time allowing I may be able to tell some of it at a later date.