The Year in Cars: 1962

The Year in Cars 1962With 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.

 

1962 Mercury Monterey two-door sedan
1962 Ford Mark I Cortina Lotus
1962 Plymouth Fury Convertible
1962 Chrysler Imperial four-door hardtop
1962 Toyota Corona
1962 Dodge Dart 440 four-door hardtop
1962 Pontiac Tempest Convertible
1962 Oldsmobile F85 Jetfire Sport Coupe
1962 Oldsmobile 98
1962 Studebaker Lark Daytona Coupe
1962 Ford Galaxie Town Victoria
1962 AMC Rambler Classic 6 Cross Country Station Wagon
1962 Ford Falcon Sedan
1962 Ford Falcon Club Wagon
1962 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe
1962 AMC Rambler Ambassador Sedan
1962 Oldsmobile F85 De Luxe Station Wagon
1962 Bentley S3 Continental Park Ward Sports Sedan
1962 Austin Healey Sprite Mark II
1962 Fiat 500 Autobianchi
1962 Renault Dauphine
1962 Ford Fairlane 500 Town Sedan
1962 Chrysler 300H Hardtop
1962 Cadillac 60 Special Sedan
1962 Mercury Meteor Two-Door Sedan
1962 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine
1962 Lincoln Four-Door Convertible
1962 Daimler Limousine
1962 Pontiac Catalina Two-Door Sedan
1962 Chevrolet Corvair 700 Coupe
1962 Ford Thunderbird Roadster
1962 Buick Skylark Sport Coupe
1962 Buick Electra 225 four-door hardtop
1962 Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier Station Wagon
1962 Plymouth Valiant Taxi
1962 Volvo 122 Four-Door Sedan
1962 AMC Rambler American Coupe
1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk
1962 Chevrolet Corvette
1962 Dodge Lancer Hardtop
1962 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon

1962 Mercury Monterey two-door sedan

1962 Ford Mark I Cortina Lotus

1962 Plymouth Fury Convertible

1962 Chrysler Imperial four-door hardtop

1962 Toyota Corona

1962 Dodge Dart 440 four-door hardtop

1962 Pontiac Tempest Convertible

1962 Oldsmobile F85 Jetfire Sport Coupe

1962 Oldsmobile 98

1962 Studebaker Lark Daytona Coupe

1962 Ford Galaxie Town Victoria

1962 AMC Rambler Classic 6 Cross Country Station Wagon

1962 Ford Falcon Sedan

1962 Ford Falcon Club Wagon

1962 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe

1962 AMC Rambler Ambassador Sedan

1962 Oldsmobile F85 De Luxe Station Wagon

1962 Bentley S3 Continental Park Ward Sports Sedan

1962 Austin Healey Sprite Mark II

1962 Fiat 500 Autobianchi

1962 Renault Dauphine

1962 Ford Fairlane 500 Town Sedan

1962 Chrysler 300H Hardtop

1962 Cadillac 60 Special Sedan

1962 Mercury Meteor Two-Door Sedan

1962 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine

1962 Lincoln Four-Door Convertible

1962 Daimler Limousine

1962 Pontiac Catalina Two-Door Sedan

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 700 Coupe

1962 Ford Thunderbird Roadster

1962 Buick Skylark Sport Coupe

1962 Buick Electra 225 four-door hardtop

1962 Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier Station Wagon

1962 Plymouth Valiant Taxi

1962 Volvo 122 Four-Door Sedan

1962 AMC Rambler American Coupe

1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk

1962 Chevrolet Corvette

1962 Dodge Lancer Hardtop

1962 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon

13 thoughts on “The Year in Cars: 1962

  1. What a great list. So many choices in 1962. Seems like ’62 is being revisited all over for some reason. However, you left out one of the most important cars of all time. The 1962 VW bug. VW sold 826,255 cars in 1962!

  2. I miss illustration in advertising, particularly for automobiles. I don’t really like Pontiac’s stuff from 1962 but Chevrolet looked really good that year and the next.
    The Dauphine ad shown here is also appealing to me.

    Illustrations allowed the manufacturer to display the car in a variety of settings while keeping it the focus of attention. Based on it’s more sophisticated appearance, I’m guessing that the Corvar 700 illustration was placed in one of the high-end home/travel magazines rather than Life or Look. IMO, total fail. Too much going on and the gold is too subdued.

    I also like the European color photographic work more than American. Different film I suppose, Afga instead of Kodak. Higher contrast and more saturation and completely unrealistic. The German and Italian work was almost surreal sometimes. Compare that Volvo to the Autobianchi.

    • I love the old illustrations too. It’s part of the motivation for doing this series. I recently went to a talk by Art Fitzpatrick at the CCS, wonderful stuff.

  3. I saw one discrepancy, there was no ’62 Jeep Wagoneer, the Wagoneer and Gladiator were both introduced in 1962, but they were all sold as 1963 models.

  4. I’ve got a Van/Fitz ’61 Bonneville print in the bedroom and a pair of ’71 Grand Villes above the computer desk. The ’71s aren’t stunning, a sedan and wagon, but they’re original showroom displays and fit in the frame I had hanging around.

    I’ve got a bunch of ’68-80 Chevy showroom illustrations in a box in the spare room because I can’t afford to mount them. Caprices and Monte Carlos mostly, nothing hot. The Fitzpatrick stuff is better executed and I wish I could get five or six more. But a house needs a variety of artwork.

    I used to go around and collect all the displays from the dumpsters when the new models came in. They took up a lot of space, which a young man starting out on his own doesn’t have. So they went in the trash. I could buy a nice Porsche with the proceeds had I kept them. I suppose many have had the same regrets, but one was less likely to have it rubbed in their face before eBay and the rest of the web.

    Eighty grand for a rusted, dirty Jaguar? I wouldn’t have paid $1500 for that thing during my English car phase in the Seventies. 60,000 miles is high mileage for one of those things. Most caught fire or rusted out before then.

  5. My 1962 Pontiac Bonneville convertible is the sexiest best car I have ever had to this day. The tri-color leather interior rolled and pleated was so fine. Three bar spinner hub caps were even sexier than the aluminum wheels on the Gran Prix’s…..That car was IT!!!! 389 with three dueces was plenty of power and oh the girls did love it so! I would kill to still own it but alas I have not seen a 62 in tact for a very long time and even if I did, it would never match the color and texture of this car…..

  6. Wow, the boys at Ford must really have been looking over their shoulder’s with Chevy outselling them by 585646 cars in one model year. I wonder what led to this sales disaster by Ford. That’s got to be the biggest margin they ever lost the sales race to Chevy by. The success of the Mustang in 65 must have really helped to narrow that gap. I wonder why there was such a hugh difference between the 2 makes in 62?

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