History loves a good beef: Hamilton-Burr. Edison-Tesla. Ali-Frazier. Apple-Microsoft. Bunny-Fudd.
A tastily bitter rivalry requires closely matched contestants with otherworldly skills and arrogance to match. Long-running feuds are best, leaving grudges to fester while fresh wounds pile up. Michigan and Ohio State have been going at it since 1897, one reason why theirs may be the greatest rivalry in American sports.
It’s no different for cars. The most respected machines—and their makers—are reliably spurred to greatness by having someone or something to beat the snot out of. Detroit and its cars went to hell in the Seventies and stayed there through most of the Nineties, largely because it stubbornly refused to see Japan as a legitimate rival.
From the industry’s quaint beginnings to the modern showroom, here are some mano a mano duels that shaped the cars we drive today.