1960s Classic Cars
“The public’s preference in 1962 shifted from austere, smaller cars to the more luxurious, slightly larger models. Variety remained the key, with more than 300 individual models available from five major U.S. manufacturers.
Buyers flocked into showrooms. Domestic car sales boomed. They reached heights scaled only during the record year of 1955. Imported cars remained a factor, but as in each year since 1959, a steadily diminishing one.
About 6,750,000 U.S.-built cars were sold, plus 330,000 imported models.For the second year, Volkswagen took more than 50 per cent of all import sales.
Retail deliveries of 722,886 domestic cars in October were 20,000 above the previous all-time monthly high of 702,400 in April, 1955.As the 1963 model year began in October, industry analysts were predicting another excellent 12 months, for two unprecedented back-to-back years of high sale.
The Sales Pie. General Motors (GM) dominated the 1962 market as no other manufacturer had done since the heyday of the Model T Ford in 1921. Its five car divisions–Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac–accounted for about 55 per cent of all domestic sales.
Ford took barely 28 per cent. Chrysler sank to its all-time low, taking less than 10 per cent. American Motors made up slightly more than 6 per cent of the market, and Studebaker just over 1 per cent.
Fancier, Sportier. One of the phenomena of the 1962 model year was the sudden demand for bucket seats. More than a million cars were fitted with such seats.Every car lime except Lincoln and Imperial had at least one model that used them. Along with bucket seats came the center console between the two front seats. They often incorporated some instruments, such as radio or heater controls.
Demand also boomed for other sports-car fittings, such as tachometers, for registering revolutions per minute of the engine; manual gearshifts with four forward speeds, instead of the conventional three; wire wheels; and knock-off hubcaps.
This demand spurred pre-1963 introduction of additional sports-type models with luxury touches–the Corvair Monza Spyder, with turbo charged engine; and the Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire, also with a turbocharge.
The 1963 Line. Two other luxury sports models were introduced during the calendar year–the Avanti by Studebaker and the Buick Riviera. Both were in the $4,000 to $5,000 price range. The Avanti used a glass-fiber body, airplane cockpit-type controls, and offered as an option a fully supercharged engine. In official speed trials the Avanti was timed in excess of 170 mph. The Riviera was GM’s first direct challenge to the Thunderbird and its personal car market.
The styling trend generally was toward the sharp, square edges ofthe Thunderbird roof and the flat, slab sides of the Lincoln Continental.American Motors, in its first major restyling of the Rambler since 1956, chose both the Thunderbird roof and the curved side windows of the Thunderbird and Lincoln for its 1963 models.
After an absence of almost eight years, Willys got back into the passenger car business. Late in the fall it introduced a compact station wagon,the Wagoneer. It had “Detroit styling,” not the boxy lines of the utilitarian Jee.
1962 Production. The Automobile Manufacturers Association reported that 6,686,883 cars were built by the Big Five in the 1962 model year, compared with 5,408,418 in 1961. Of these, 137,288 were exported in 1962, down from 176,487 in 1961.
The leading builder was GM’s Chevrolet division. It assembled 2,071,183 cars including 1,438,542 standard Chevrolets–slightly more than double the second-place Fore Galaxie. The next eight, in order, were: Rambler, Falcon, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Chevy II, Corvair,Ford Fairlane, and Buick.
Eighteen states shared in the production, with Michigan’s 31.7 per cent leading the group as usual. Second was California, with 9.9 per cent, and in close third was Wisconsin, with 9.8 per cent. Others were Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Georgia, Delaware, New York, Maryland, Kansas, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Massachusetts, Kentucky,and Virginia.
Service and Warranties. As well as meeting the public’s demand for sportier cars for 1963, the manufacturers stepped up quality control. Without exception,the companies were spending far more time and money than ever before in an effort to build trouble-free cars. The trend also was to vehicles requiring less-frequent lubrication and oil changes.
Significant changes were made in the warranties on new cars for the second time in three years. GM, Ford, American Motors, and Studebaker each doubled the 12-month-or-12,000-mile warranty–in effect since the start of the 1961 model year– to 24 months or 24,000 miles.Chrysler stood pat, but added a five-year-or-50,000-mile warranty on the power train-engine, transmission, differential, rear axel–provided routine maintenance was performed.”
Manufacturers’ suggested retail prices remained relatively steady. Automotive News reported 1963 prices averaged 0.2 per cent less than those of 1962 models with comparable equipment.
“Automobile (1962).” Online Table. World Book Advanced. World Book, 2015. Web. 9 June 2015..