1950s Classic Cars
Production dropped sharply in the automobile industry during the last half of 1951. This was a result of government steps to shift more critical materials to national defense production. The downward trend was expected to continue until at least late 1952.
But truck production broke all past records in 1951. New records also were set in highway travel, total automotive employment and payrolls(including workers on defense projects), and number of motor vehicles in use in the United State.
Production. Passenger car output was at high rate in the first half of 1951.But the material shortages of the last half of the year resulted in a new-car total for the year of only 5,328,000 units, 19 per cent below the record for 1950. Truck producers made 1,430,000 vehicles,for their best year in history.
Wholesale value of the year’s vehicles was $9,553,000,000, some what below that of 1950. But the value of replacement parts, $2,500,000,000,was well above that of 1950.
Nearly 480,000 vehicles were exported in 1951, compared with 303,685 in 1950.
Employment in automotive industry plants averaged 861,000 during the year, for an all-time record. This high employment was due to increased output of replacement parts and military equipment. Near the end of 1951 some employment cutbacks took place.
Payrolls for the industry’s 725,000 production workers reached a new high of $2,821,000,000 for the yea.
Registrations. By the end of 1951 a total of 52,236,000 motor vehicles were in use in the nation, 3,000,000 more than in 1950. The 1951 total included 42,846,000 passenger cars and 9,390,000 trucks and motor buses.
These vehicles set a new travel record of about 485,000,000,000 miles during the year. Nearly half this travel was on city street.
Special Taxes paid by vehicle owners in 1951 amounted to $4,570,000,000. This includes state gasoline and license taxes totaling $2,800,000,000, and Federal taxes of $1,500,000,000 on gasoline, vehicles, and parts. General property taxes are not included in these total.
Highway Expenditures during 1951 were at a new high of over $4,600,000,000. But a growing lack of structural steel and other materials for road work was resulting from the defense program, and road construction was expected to decline drastically during 1952. With traffic nearly double the 1941 level,and the highway system already crippled by the halt in road building during World War II, road officials feared that essential highway service might be disrupted by the new restrictions on road improvement.
Defense Transportation. Production of a minimum of 4,000,000 cars yearly during the defense period was recommended in a 1951 study by the Brookings Institution for the Defense Transportation Administration. This study showed that about 31,000,000 cars must be kept in operation in the event of war,to provide essential transportation. Because half of all cars in 1951 were prewar models, scrappage was expected to be heavy for some years as older cars wore out.
“Automobile (1951).” Online Table. World Book Advanced. World Book, 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.