1950s Classic Cars
“Production of 6,117,000 cars made 1957 the fourth best year in U.S.automobile history. Foreign car sales totaled about 200,000, up sharply from the 91,042 units sold in 1956. But the strong year still did not measure up to early hopes for a 6,500,000-car market. One reason was the lack of a sales spurt in April and May. Automobile men geared production more closely to current sales than ever before, seeking more evenly balanced sales throughout the year. As a result, sales in late summer and fall held up well. One new face, the Edsel, appeared in the 1958 models. Two old-timers, Nash and Hudson, bowed out.
Sales Trends. The General Motors Corporation lost ground to the Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Corporation. Ford topped Chevrolet in sales during most of the year. Plymouth regained third place from Buick. General Motors recognized the increased popularity of small economy models.It started to import its German-made Opel and English-made Vauxhall for sale through Buick and Pontiac dealers, respectively. They planned to import about 12,000 of each annually, and to sell each for less than $2,000.
Sales of small economy vehicles accounted for 3 per cent of the total market. Ford announced it would be willing to produce a small car in the U.S. when the market totaled 5 per cent. Studebaker-Packard Corporation brought out a low-priced Studebaker, the Scotsman. American Motors Corporation revived its 100-inch wheel base Rambler, but dropped the Nash and Hudson lines. It also signed up some General Motors,Ford, and Chrysler dealers to sell Ramblers as well as their regular line.
New Models. Ford’s new Edsel cost $250,000,000 to design and produce. Edsel offered 18 models in four series roughly comparable to the Buick. A vertical oval grille and shift buttons located on the steering wheel hub distinguished it from the other cars.
Most 1958 models offered four headlights as standard equipment. Many introduced new engines, generally with higher horsepower. Oldsmobile offered a less powerful engine to get better fuel mileage. Chrysler modified its choke for the same purpose.
All Chrysler Corporation cars kept their fin like rear fenders, Chevrolet changed its 1958 model completely, featuring a softly rounded rear fender, and adding 9 inches in length. Ford also changed its models greatly. Buick introduced a more expensive series known as the Limited.Chrysler, Chevrolet, and Pontiac offered fuel injection as an extra-cost option on some models. Ford dropped its $10,000 Continental Mark IIin favor of a less expensive Mark III model built on the same body shell as the Lincoln. Ford’s Thunderbird sports-type car became a four-passenger luxury class vehicle.
Put Brakes on Advertising.The Automobile Manufacturers Association agreed in June to stop participation in racing competition and to advertise automobile comfort and safety rather than speed and horsepower.
Riding on Air.Many 1958 models featured air springs as optional equipment. When the springs sink from added weight, a small air compressor pumps in more air, raising the auto’s body to normal level.”
“Automobile (1957).” Online Table. World Book Advanced. World Book, 2015. Web. 9 June 2015..