OK, a dream first: I dreamt I was watching a football team practice. I think it was an NFL team, but it could have been college. At some point, though, it seemed as if I was participating in the practice, although I’m not sure if I was dreaming (within the dream) about practicing or actually practicing. I remember making a great diving catch and that the ball seemed to be moving more slowly the closer it got to me.
Also, the word “CHECKSUM” was of great significance during the practice. From Wikipedia; “A checksum is a small-sized block of data derived from another block of digital data for the purpose of detecting errors that may have been introduced during its transmission or storage. By themselves, checksums are often used to verify data integrity but are not relied upon to verify data authenticity.”
I used to do some computer programming, but that was a long time ago and I never used or wrote any checksum algorithms. Why “CHECKSUM” was in the dream is beyond me, like many things in my life.
So, we have reached the end of the Threes And Sevens series. When I began I knew that 1997 would be the last featured year because the 21st century has not been about cars, it’s been about non-cars like pickup trucks and SUVs. As every regular reader knows, I am not interested in those vehicles.
This last Threes And Sevens post will be more freeform than the others. I will offer that I have written elsewhere that 1997 was the first year that non-cars comprised more than half the new vehicles sold in the US. However, if The American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® is correct, then the share of non-cars in the new vehicle market was about 45 percent in 1997, not 50+ percent. Still, it is true that 1996 (yes, not 1997) was the first year that The Big Three sold more non-cars than cars, 5.7 million versus 5.3 million.
Speaking of market share, Japanese automobile manufacturers captured 23.5% of the US market; European companies had 3.8 percent. Both of those figures were increases from 1996. General Motors and Ford market shares were the same (31.1 percent and 25.2 percent, respectively), but Chrysler’s share fell from 16.2 percent to 15.2 percent.
Even though GM and Ford saw no meaningful increase in total sales, their profits rose sharply year over year. Ford’s net earnings rose 58 percent while GM’s increased 19 percent. The significant increase in truck sales, which have higher profit margins than car sales, was a major factor. Non-cars were 41 percent of the market just two years earlier. In a large market like the US market for vehicles, an increase in market share of four percentage points in two years is meaningful.
Ford was the only US make to reach seven figures in 1997 sales. The Taurus was, once again, Ford’s best-seller reaching nearly 400,000 units; 398,802 were produced for the 1997 model year. Do you want to see a picture of a 1997 Taurus? OK…
Closer to my life, 1997 was the first model year for the fifth generation Corvette or C5. This generation Vette really was brand new. It featured an all-new engine, the aluminum LS1. A first for the Corvette was a transaxle, which was located at the rear wheels so the car would have a 50-50 front-rear weight distribution. The transaxle was retained for the C6 and C7 generations, which were built for 15 model years, meaning the transaxle was used for a total of 23 model years.
The C5 had virtually all new components for the interior, exterior and suspension. Not surprisingly, with such a radical change production hiccups limited the number manufactured to fewer than 10,000 and meant convertibles were not available for 1997. Let’s hope this picture link doesn’t break.
This is a 1997 Corvette in Fairway Green Metallic, which was the least used exterior color and comprised only about 1.5 percent of 1997 Vettes. In the back of my mind–OK, maybe not so far back–I really want to own a green car. I just like the look of the color on a car. When I imagine my “ultimate” Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, it’s painted in British Racing Green or Limerock Green (from the 2014 Corvette) with a cream top. For the nth to the n time and from the movie Diner, if you don’t have dreams you have nightmares. My dreams are sure as hell no walk in the park, anyway.
I hope you have enjoyed Threes And Sevens. It will probably be the last “focused” post series in this blog. The Hall of Very Good Cars posts are not as well defined as those from Threes And Sevens or Cars: A To Z. As always, please feel free to send thoughtful comments. Thanks.
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