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1952 Cars



1952 Buick Series 70
1952 Buick Series 70

The Fifties
1950s Classic Cars

1952 Cars

“The number of motor vehicles on United States roads and streets keeps rising each year. In 1952, the total reached 53,363,000. This included 43,894,000 passenger cars and 9,469,000 trucks and buses. For the first time in history, motor vehicle travel for the year was over half a trillion vehicle-miles.

These increases in highway traffic took place in spite of a decline for the second straight year in motor vehicle production. The production drop was a result of continued government limits an automobile output to conserve critical materials for national defense need.

1952 Chevrolet Bel Air 2
1952 Chevrolet Bel Air

Production. A total of 5,554,000 vehicles were built in the United States automobile plants during 1952. This compared with a peak of 8,003,056 units produced in 1950, and with 6,765,000 built in 1951. Even so, 1952 was the fourth highest production year in the industry’s history.

A total of 4,332,000 passenger cars were built in 1952, and 1,222,000 trucks and buses.

The year’s vehicle production had a wholesale value of $9,000,000,000.In addition, the replacement parts produced had a wholesale value of $2,450,000,000.

1952 Chevrolet Bel Air
1952 Chevrolet Bel Air

About 200,000 automobiles and 165,000 trucks were exported during 1952. This was 23 per cent below the 1951 export total.

Employment in automotive industry plants declined slightly to an average of 785,000 persons. The industry’s 640,000 hourly-rated workers earned $2,600,000,000 during the year.

While factory employment was down as a result of the government limitation on vehicle production, employment in highway transportation fields kept growing in 1952. This employment now exceeds 9,400,000 persons,and accounts for one seventh of all U.S. jobs. Included are 2,000,000 jobs in automotive sales and servicing, 5,230,000 in trucking, 330,000 in road work, and over 1,800,000 in automotive manufacturing, insurance,petroleum refining, and taxicab operations.

1952 Chevrolet Skyline Deluxe
1952 Chevrolet Skyline Deluxe

A total of 693,000 automotive business places exist in the U.S. today,which means that one in every six business establishments in the nation is in the automotive field. The total includes gasoline stations,repair garages, car and parts dealerships, trucking and bus operating firms, and scores of other type.

Special Taxes paid by motorists in 1952 reached a new high of over $5,300,000,000.This included almost $2,000,000,000 in special Federal automotive excise taxes. State gasoline and license taxes exceeded $3,000,000,000 while special local taxes and tolls were $330,000,000.

These totals do not include general taxes such as property assessments and sales taxes. When such general taxes are included, 32 per cent of the price of a new automobile today represents tax costs. For example,taxes in 1952 accounted for $650 of the cost of a typical new cars selling for $2,000.

1952 Chevy Skyline
1952 Chevy Skyline

Highways. A total of $5,100,000,000 was spent for road and street work in the U.S. during 1952. This was a new record. But because of the lower purchasing power of the dollar, the road program actually was equal only to the 1930 work volume–whereas traffic in 1952 was two-and-one-half times as great as in 1930.

A new “good roads” movement was launched during 1952. Forty national organizations joined to create “Project: Adequate Roads”–better known as PAR.

PAR has the objective of organizing special state and local committees to stimulate public awareness of highway needs and to unify the efforts of all groups working for better roads. The program is being supervised by the National Highway Users Conference, National Press Building,Washington, D.C.

General Motors Corporation announced it will offer $194,000 in prizes for essays on how to plan and pay for better roads. The contest deadline was March 1, 1950.

Outlook. With a lifting of production restrictions expected by mid-1953, the automotive industry was confident it would increase output and sales during the coming year.

New models offered such special features as power steering and braking,tinted windows that absorb much of the sun’s heat rays, and air-conditioning systems.

As in indication of the industry’s future, a Federal Government study during 1952 predicted that by 1975 the nation will have 65,000,000 cars and 20,000,000 trucks in use.

“Automobile (1952).” Online Table. World Book Advanced. World Book, 2015. Web. 9 June 2015.


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