After World War II, Chevys were the sensible cars for people who people who liked sensible six-cylinder engines. But along with the 1955 Chevrolet came the all-new "Small Block" V8 engine; a compact, overhead valve, high-compression eight that would ultimately become the most popular, most raced, and most versatile engine in American automotive history. The original 265 cubic inch version was rated at only 162 horsepower. But the $59 Plus-Power option — everyone called it the Power Pack — knocked that up to 180 horsepower. While 180 doesn't sound like much now, back then it was enough to send Frank Christian to victory in the 100 mile NASCAR race at Columbia, SC that year. The small-block has been winning ever since.
Why it's uniquely American: America loves a winner.