1960s Classic Cars
Automobile (1961)”Recovery was late in coming to the automotive industry in 1961. A backlog of 1,000,000 new-model cars in dealer’s showrooms in January plus strikes in the fall added up to lower production than in 1960. Sales of U.S.-assembled automobiles totaled 5,500,000 units in 1961. Foreign-made cars accounted for another 400,000. The industry as a whole suffered a sales decline of more than $1,000,000,000 for the year.
Crowded showrooms, late in 1961, brought back smiles to dealers’faces. Their November sales mounted to 585,005 U.S.-built cars, the highest monthly sales average since September, 1955. As a consequence,dealers gave lower discounts, thereby realizing about 3 per-cent higher prices on 1962 models than on the 1961’s. The manufacturers had held the line on, or even trimmed, prices of most of their 1962 model.
Labor Peace was assured for three years on November 2, when the AFL-CIO United Auto Workers and the Chrysler Corporation came to terms on a new contract.That and other agreements moved the union nearer to its goal of a guaranteed minimum annual salary. Under the new contracts, workers laid off in slack times would still draw about 75 per cent of their take-home pay. This put a cost penalty on the industry’s usual practice of pacing assembly lines with the peaks and valleys of demand. As 1962 opened, the manufacturers’ efforts to avoid temporary production increases despite the public’s feverish buying, put a squeeze on inventories. Dealers, and customers, too, complained about long delays in getting models they wanted. But manufacturers were proceeding methodically on the assumption that the usual buying lull during the dead of winter would build up inventories again.
Compacts burgeoned into such a profusion of sizes with the release of the 1962 models that Ward’s Automotive Reports suggested the dropping of the word”compact.” It added: “There is no such animal” and “no point on the scale which says a car starts to be or ceases to be a ‘compact.’.
General Motors brought out its Chevy II, a cross between its 180-inch-long Corvair and the standard-size Chevrolet. Ford followed with a restyled 197-inch Fairlane as a sort of a “super compact.” Later,Ford brought out a luxury super compact–the 204-inch Mercury Meteor. American Motors Corporation signed an agreement with Renault to assemble and partly manufacture its Rambler Classic at Renault’s Haren (Belgium) plant, beginning in January, 196.
Safety Belt hardware became standard equipment in 1962 models. With this improvement, car buyers needed only to purchase belts to assure themselves of greater safety.
The industry also acted to lessen air pollution. In December, the Automobile Manufacturers Association recommended that its members install crankcase ventilation systems on all 1963-model cars and trucks.Use of such “blow-by” devices was expected to cut gaseous wastes by as much as 40 per cent. Cost was put at $4.50 to $6.50.
Heavy Transport Trucks were expected to make a major comeback in 1962. These heavy-duty highway workhorses, weighing 26,000 pounds or more, must be kept rolling constantly to earn their keep. As a result, they must be replaced about every three years. Truck manufacturers, noting this three-year cycle, were getting set for another peak year in 1962, with sales expected to match or surpass the 81,300 of 1956 and the 81,500 of 1959.”
“Automobile (1961).” Online Table. World Book Advanced. World Book, 2015. Web. 9 June 2015..