Find Your Make

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
HOME | Articles index | media | use of content | contact us  
June 2007 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
U.S. Postwar Econocars
By Robert McLellan
 

Once again the fear of expensive gasoline has the automotive industry second guessing our future with a variety of small cars, alternative fuel vehicles and hybrids.

 
EARLY ATTEMPTS (WWII - 1957)

World War II set off a fuel shortage that produced the Austin Bantam and Crosley, but soon America returned to normal and most makes grew in size and weight. There were exceptions like the Henry J and Metropolitan, but it was not until about 1960 that Detroit launched an assault on the European invasion.

 
AMERICAN BANTAM (1938-1941)
 
   

CROSLEY (1939-1952)
 
     

HENRY J (1951-1954)
 
     

METROPOLITAN (1954-1961)
 
     

WILLYS AERO (1952-1954 / BERMUDA (1955)
 
     

THE COUNTER ATTACK (1958-1973)

Initially Volkswagen and the Renault Dauphine began to show up on our shores in the 1950s, but now the Japanese were showing signs of producing cars for America, too. The "Big Three" counter attack began with the Corvair, Valiant, Falcon and Lark. That was followed by a variety of additional makes and models some sporty and even luxurious. Notice how the models grew in size with time.

 
AMC RAMBLER AMERICAN (1958-1965)
 
     

AMC GREMLIN (1970-1973)
 
     

BUICK SPECIAL & SKYLARK (1961-1962)
 
     

CHEVROLET CORVAIR (1960-1969)
 
     

FORD FALCON (1960-1970)
 
     

FORD MAVERICK (1970-1973)
(Mercury's comparable car during this period was the Comet.)
 

     

FORD PINTO (1971-1973)
 
     

MERCURY COMET (1960-1963 & 1971-1973)
 
     

OLDSMOBILE F-85 (1961-1962)
 
     

PLYMOUTH VALIANT (1960-1962)
(Dodge's comparable car during this period was the Lancer)
 
     

PONTIAC TEMPEST (1961-1963)
 
     

STUDEBAKER LARK (1959-1963)
 
     

THE OIL PANIC (1974-1979)

It was the oil embargo in the Fall of 1973 that set in motion a panic at Detroit. All makes and models needed to be drastically modified to produce better mileage or the cars would not sell. The price of oil continued to rise until the early 1980s, making cars of mid- and late-1970s a period of poor quality (inflation was rampant) and poor performance. Brochures for these cars avoiding mentioning horsepower and concentrated on emphasizing mileage.

 
AMC GREMLIN (1974-1978)
 
     

AMC PACER (1975-1979)
 
     

CHEVROLET VEGA (1971-1977)
 
     

CHEVROLET MONZA (1975-1979)
Buick's comparable car during this period was the Skyhawk
 
     

CHEVROLET CHEVETTE (1976-1979)
 
     

DODGE OMNI (1978-1979)
 
     

FORD MAVERICK (1974-1977)
Mercury's comparable car during this period was the Comet
 
     

FORD MUSTANG II (1974-1978)
 
     

FORD PINTO (1974-1979)
Mercury's comparable car during this period was the Bobcat
 
     

OLDSMOBILE STARFIRE (1975-1979)
 
     

PLYMOUTH HORIZON (1978-1979)
 
     

PONTIAC ASTRE (1974-1977)
 
     

PONTIAC SUNBIRD (1976-1979)
 
     

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Americans sighed in relief at "reasonable" gasoline prices and purchased performance-oriented sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and large sedans. But in the last few years both manufacturers and consumers are again concerned about the rising price of oil.

Are the econocars of the past collectible? Some certainly are, even if mostly as novelties. The literature on these cars is increasingly of interest.

 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, June 2007
 
 
 
 
 
Spacer
Spacer
 L I T E R A T U R E
I N D E X
Click here
Spacer
separator
Spacer
Spacer
separator
Spacer
separator
Spacer
Spacer
separator
Spacer
Literature for
OVER 600 MAKES
Sales literature