With key facts and stats and loads of rare images, Mac’s Motor City Garage surveys the American automotive scene for 1962.
Where were you in ’62? —went the memorable tagline for a memorable car movie, American Graffiti. Here are a few of the trends that illustrate what the Motor City was up to in 1962:
+ General Motors’ convertible-styled hardtops debuted almost corporation-wide in 1962, offered in the Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick divisions, and on both the full-size and compact car lines. GM had pioneered the convertible hardtop body style in 1949, and was now driving it home with this convertible-look roof, complete with simulated top-bow creases pressed into the sheet metal. Usually sold under the Sport Coupe label, the style was red-hot in 1962 but lasted only three model years, disappearing after MY 1964.
+ For 1962, Ford launched its Lively Ones product theme, which quickly morphed into the Total Performance program. The Mustang I concept car was introduced, and the factory threw its shoulder into serious racing programs in NASCAR, sports cars, drag racing, and Indy cars. The Ford Fairlane and Mercury Meteor were also introduced, launching the intermediate category.
+ By comparison, the Chrysler Corporation stumbled in ’62, introducing downsized Dodge and Plymouth full-size models with peculiar and unpopular styling. On the plus side, the smaller bodies gave the Mopar entries in motorsports an advantage in both weight and frontal area. However, sales took a big hit as Plymouth tumbled from fourth to eighth place.
Speaking of sales, here’s how the units moved in the Motor City in 1962. Chevrolet led with 2,061,677 passenger vehicles produced, followed by 2) Ford with 1,476,031, 3) Pontiac 521,933, 4) American Motors 442,346, 5) Oldsmobile 428,853, 6) Buick 399,526, 7) Mercury 341,366, 8) Plymouth 339,527, 9) Dodge 240,484, 10) Cadillac 160,840.
With only 89,318 passenger cars produced in 1962, Studebaker lacked sufficient volume to sustain operations and would not survive much longer. You’ll find examples of all the winners and losers in the gallery below.