The Year in Cars: 1940

1940 Ford Deluxe front doghouseIn the latest installment of The Year in Cars, Mac’s Motor City Garage features another important year for the American auto industry: 1940. 

 

 

The best-selling song of 1940 was “Frenesi” by Artie Shaw and his Orchestra, while the top movie was Boom Town starring Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Detroit Tigers in seven games to take the World Series crown, but except for that, it was a pretty fair year for the Motor City.

Chevrolet led vehicle production with just over 1,000,000 units—the first automaker to break the one-million mark since 1930. The industry was slowly climbing out of the Great Depression. Ford trailed in second with 691,000 units, and Plymouth held onto the number three slot with 522,000.

If you look closely, in the 1940 model year you can see the debut of three important long-term industry trends.

+   On the 180 Series, Packard introduced the first true factory air-conditioning system, a feature that is essentially standard equipment today.

+   Oldsmobile launched the Hydra-matic, the first fully automatic transmission and another ubiquitous feature today. In the USA, automatics now account for over 90 percent of passenger car sales.

+   Sealed-beam headlamps were adopted nearly industry-wide in ’40. They had a significant impact on styling, but more importantly, they made night driving far more popular and practical, helping to speed along the development of the national highway system.

 

Grille DeSoto

 

In other news, 1940 proved to be the final year for the LaSalle, Cadillac’s beloved but ultimately unsuccessful sub-brand introduced in 1927. And it was the first year for the Continental, Edsel Ford’s Lincoln Zephyr-based personal luxury car.  Industry consolidation continued—Graham, Hupmobile, and Bantam were still in business, though barely hanging on. You’ll find all these cars and more in the gallery below.

 

1940 DeSoto Convertible Coupe
1940 Buick Super Estate Wagon
1940 Chevrolet Chevrolet Master 85 Business Coupe
1940 Cadillac 60 Special 4 Door Sedan
1940 Ford Deluxe Coupe
1940 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe
1940 DeSoto Deluxe Club Coupe
1940 Oldsmobile Sedan
1940 Chrysler Traveler Sedan
1940 GMC Model 100 Pickup
1940 Packard Super Eight Darrin Victoria
1940 Crosley Convertible Coupe
1940 Pontiac Deluxe Six Cabriolet
1940 Pontiac Station Wagon Maryland DMV
1940 Lincoln Continental Coupe
1940 Packard Super 8 Police Wagon
1940 Buick Roadmaster Convertible
1940 Plymouth four door sedan
1940 LaSalle Series 52 Convertible Coupe
1940 Cadillac 62 Tourng Sedan
1940 Willys Speedway Coupe
1940 Nash Ambassador 8 Model 4088
1940 Oldsmobile Custom 8 Cruiser Touring Sedan
1940 LaSalle Special Sedan
1940 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon
1940 Hudson Utility Coupe
1940 Studebaker President Convertible Sedan by Derham
1940 Mercury Fordor Sedan
1940 Nash Ambassador 8 Club Coupe
1940 Graham Hollywood
1940 Studebaker Champion Sedan Delivery
1940 Pontiac Torpedo Coupe
1940 Hudson Convertible Coupe
1940 Hupmobile Skylark
1940 Dodge Luxury Liner Special 2-door Sedan
1940 Mercury Convertible right front
1940 Dodge Four Door Sedan
1940 Willys Deluxe Sedan
1940 Checker Model A Landaulet
1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Sedan
1940 Graham 150
1940 International Station Wagon

1940 DeSoto Convertible Coupe

1940 Buick Super Estate Wagon

1940 Chevrolet Chevrolet Master 85 Business Coupe

1940 Cadillac 60 Special 4 Door Sedan

1940 Ford Deluxe Coupe

1940 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe

1940 DeSoto Deluxe Club Coupe

1940 Oldsmobile Sedan

1940 Chrysler Traveler Sedan

1940 GMC Model 100 Pickup

1940 Packard Super Eight Darrin Victoria

1940 Crosley Convertible Coupe

1940 Pontiac Deluxe Six Cabriolet

1940 Pontiac Station Wagon Maryland DMV

1940 Lincoln Continental Coupe

1940 Packard Super 8 Police Wagon

1940 Buick Roadmaster Convertible

1940 Plymouth four door sedan

1940 LaSalle Series 52 Convertible Coupe

1940 Cadillac 62 Tourng Sedan

1940 Willys Speedway Coupe

1940 Nash Ambassador 8 Model 4088

1940 Oldsmobile Custom 8 Cruiser Touring Sedan

1940 LaSalle Special Sedan

1940 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon

1940 Hudson Utility Coupe

1940 Studebaker President Convertible Sedan by Derham

1940 Mercury Fordor Sedan

1940 Nash Ambassador 8 Club Coupe

1940 Graham Hollywood

1940 Studebaker Champion Sedan Delivery

1940 Pontiac Torpedo Coupe

1940 Hudson Convertible Coupe

1940 Hupmobile Skylark

1940 Dodge Luxury Liner Special 2-door Sedan

1940 Mercury Convertible right front

1940 Dodge Four Door Sedan

1940 Willys Deluxe Sedan

1940 Checker Model A Landaulet

1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Sedan

1940 Graham 150

1940 International Station Wagon

5 thoughts on “The Year in Cars: 1940

  1. I have been complaining about how all the cars look the same these days. But I guess the trend started in 1940. The only difference in most of them was the grille.

  2. One small error – the Graham Hollywood, while built in 1940, was a 1941 model car.
    Hupmobile just made it into 1940 – the last Skylark was built in July 1940, and the company was reorganised under bankruptcy in November 1940, ending 31 years of production.

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