As will be noted elsewhere, on this day in 1929 “Black Tuesday” or the Stock Market Crash of ’29 occurred. What many people don’t know is that this was not a one-time, out of the blue event. For example, the Dow Jones Industrial Average actually peaked in early September. In late September the London Stock Exchange crashed when a top British investor and many of his associates were arrested and jailed for fraud and forgery. More significant selling of securities began on October 24.
While the Great Depression ensued quite quickly after Black Tuesday, not all dramatic stock market declines lead to economic slowdown. The “Black Monday” of 1987, also in October, during which the Dow declined by 22.6% in one day, the largest one-day percentage decline in history, did not lead to a prolonged decline in economic activity.
Both events led to major changes in stock trading rules. Of course, the Great Depression led to wide-sweeping changes in the economy.
As it applies to the automobile industry, the Great Depression accelerated the shake-out of firms and the concentration of market share in a few companies. On a page in History of the American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® a list is shown of makes that “expired” [their word] from 1930 to 1941. The list shows more than 40 companies and I’m sure it is far from complete. In 1930, US automobile production declined by nearly 35% compared to 1929. In 1932, the worst year of the Great Depression, car production was 73% lower than in 1929. The production number from 1929 was not topped until 1949 although, of course, World War II had much to do with that.
Some automotive historians have postulated that the seeds of the eventual demise of Packard and Studebaker were sown during the Great Depression. (That’s a long discussion for, perhaps, another time.) Studebaker actually did go into receivership in 1933 and was the first US auto company to recover and to continue production after such an event.
From this article by Hemmings a picture of a 1934 Studebaker President Land Cruiser. This car was part of the “Year Ahead” series and does bear more than a passing resemblance to the legendary Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow of the year before. Studebaker purchased Pierce-Arrow in 1928 and sold the company in 1933 as part of the post-bankruptcy reorganization.
Studebaker was known more as a “middle-class” car company, but this President is definitely more of an “upper-class” car. The President Land Cruiser sold for $1,445 in 1934 when one could buy a Chevrolet for $465 or a Plymouth for $485.
I have seen a car like this in person (and am sure I have a picture or two on my phone, but good luck finding it among thousands of car photos) and it is quite stunning to behold. Unless my net worth were orders of magnitude higher than it is, owning a car like this would not be practical for me. Still, I can admire this automobile and I do.
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8 thoughts on “Black Tuesday”
I wonder how “The Big Three”, especially Ford, fared during the depression. They obviously survived, but I wonder how much they were hurt in those depression years.
Thanks for the comment. Here are some production figures:
Chrysler acquired Dodge in 1928, the same year it introduced Plymouth and DeSoto. Not an apples-to-oranges comparison to Chevrolet and Ford for this time period. ALL companies suffered greatly from 1930 to 1932.
Indeed, from these numbers, it’s obvious that the early ’30s were a sad time for all. Thanks for the research!
No problem, sir. The desk where I write my blog is covered in automotive reference books. The Internet helps, too.
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The production figures you post tell another tale aside from the effects of the Depression: Ford needed to produce a more modern car – the many years of Chevrolet outselling Ford began in these Depression years as shown in the numbers you post. While the Ford V-8 was a step in the right direction – and certainly a breakthrough in its price class – Ford never shook off Henry’s stubborn refusal to move past the Model T until after Henry’s death and Henry II taking the reins after WWII. What is seldom remembered today is that in the ’30s through the late ’40s, Chrysler was actually a larger company than Ford.
You may have posted this in the past – Henry Ford’s last ride was in a Packard. 😊
… a Packard hearse …
Many thanks for the info.
I neglected to mention that I think the Studebaker you show is a very handsome car.
Yes, I think it’s stunning.
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