Throwback Thursday

Two of my favorite and most valuable books are History of the American Auto and Encyclopedia of American Cars, both by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide®. The first title has inspired quite a few of the nearly 1,000 posts I have written for two blogs over almost seven years.

The History of the American Auto has hundreds of color photos of US autos and many black and white photos of pre-1920s cars. The book also contains hundreds of factoids arranged by year. For example, in 1960 “four-fifths of all American families own at least one automobile—that number is up almost a third since 1940.”

I just wanted to acknowledge the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® and their contribution to my enjoyment and my learning. Given the 2005-ish publication date for both books, they are a little dated and, I think, out of print. Still, given the amazing thing called Internet shopping if one is so inclined then one or both books can be purchased.

One note from History of the American Auto for 1960 is interesting to me, for some reason. “Plymouth holds third place for the last time until the Seventies; Rambler is fourth, with the highest production ever from an independent.” By 1970 the Rambler name was extinct and, of course, the Plymouth name was discontinued in 2001.

What did the Plymouth and Rambler 1960 model year cars look like? OK…

See the source image

From ebay a photo of a 1960 Plymouth Fury convertible. Most of the other decent photos that popped up in an Internet search were from Barrett-Jackson or Mecum and I have become increasingly nervous about infringing on copyrights. Famed car designer Virgil Exner was responsible for the look of Chrysler Corporation products from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s. His “Forward Look” design featuring a gradually rising body line from front to back and the use of fins was very influential in the design of most American cars, not just those from Chrysler.

See the source image

From a picture of a 1960 Rambler American. To me this car looks older than its year and newer at the same time. This body style reminds me of a little of Alfa Romeo and Facel, two European automobile manufacturers. George Romney (Mitt Romney’s father) was president of AMC and cast aside long-time makes Hudson and Nash after 1957 to focus on the Rambler, which represented a departure from the large, fin-dominated designs of the Big Three. The plan worked for awhile. To wit:

Model-Year Production Totals for Rambler

1958     162,182

1959     374,240

1960     458,841

The Big Three finally started producing smaller cars in the early 1960s to respond to the success of Rambler, the Studebaker Lark and the increasing number of foreign-made small cars being sold in the US like the Volkswagen Beetle.

With the dominance of SUVs and pickup trucks in the American market will we ever see a resurgence of smaller cars? What do you think?