1960s Classic Cars
“The industry had a mixed year in 1960. Sales were good and production was high, but dealers held heavy inventories throughout the year.In December, 1,000,000 new-model cars were waiting for customers.Detroit assembled 6,694,327 passenger cars, second only to the record 7,900,000 output in 195.
Compacts held the spotlight. Production and sales of the smaller cars accounted for almost a third of all volume. Ford devoted 35 per cent of its production to compacts; General Motors, 19 per cent; Chrysler. 32 per cent. In December, Rambler offered progressive premiums to buyers n the form of U.S. government bonds on condition that sales increased by 10 per cent or more through March, 1961.
The Pontiac Tempest provided the two major engineering innovations of the year. By moving the automatic transmission and its torque converter to the rear, it reduced the hump on the front-seat floor. It did this by locating the transmission and the differential into what the company called a transaxle unit.
Many believed that the compact field was flooded with too many models.Five new ones were introduced in 1960. With a total of 25 different American models available, buyers had their widest choice in 25 years.Some auto people felt customers were confused by a lack of brand identity.During the year, Chrysler dropped its DeSoto line, the ninth medium-priced car to disappear since 1951. It was suggested, however, that the name might appear again on a compact being planned for 1962.
The compacts played a major part in stemming the flood of imported cars. This trend brought about international repercussions. In England and France, automobile production fell sharply, and mass layoffs occurred.Meanwhile, U.S. auto makers stepped up a drive to gain a larger share of the foreign market, which had grown with postwar prosperity.
Investment. The Ford Motor Company continued to expand abroad. In December, it offered to buy all the shares in its British subsidiary, Ford of England.It already owned controlling interest of 54.4 per cent. More than$196,000,000 will be invested in 1961 to 1963 to expand British Ford production. Ford produced one car in Great Britain for every four cars it produced in the United States in 1960. In 1950, the ratio was one to ten. General Motors announced plans to spend $500,000,000 for new plants and new models of its foreign-built cars in 1961 and 1962. George Romney, president of American Motors, accused Ford and General Motors of “economic imperialism.”
Problems included auto credit swollen larger than at any time since 1955.Renewal of the United Auto Workers contract in mid-1961 posed the threat of labor trouble ahead. The used-car market remained soft through most of 1960. Studebaker-Packard faced a battle for survival. Sales of its compact Lark dipped 50 per cent or more in 196.
Industry Forecasts were optimistic. Frederic G. Donner, chairman of General Motors,predicted sales of 7,000,000 U.S. and foreign cars in 1961. A more realistic prediction, others felt, was about 6,300,000, or less. American Motors was expected to show higher profits after writing off heavy premium steel costs incurred during the 1959 strikes. Ford profits could be hurt by a shift to more lower-priced models. General Motors was expected to continue major styling changes, involving heavy outlays.
With the blurring of the old low-price, medium-price, and luxury price classifications by the compacts. 1961 may see the introduction of a new bantam car to establish a clear-cut price differential. There also is expected to be an increase in the number of medium-size compacts.”
“Automobile (1960).” Online Table. World Book Advanced. World Book, 2015. Web. 9 June 2015..