The year in Cars: 1965

1965 MercurysIn the latest edition of the Year in Cars, Mac’s Motor City Garage explores a pivotal year for the Detroit auto industry: 1965.

 

 

Three important trends in the Motor City for model year 1965:

+   After its sucesssful debut at the 1964 World’s Fair, the ’65 Ford Mustang proved to be a smash hit in the showrooms, selling an unheard-of one million units in its first 18 months of production. Plymouth, Mercury, Chevrolet, Pontiac, American Motors, and Dodge piled on with their own sporty 2+2 compacts, and the pony car category was born—which lives to this day.

+   The low-priced three—Chevrolet, Ford, and Plymouth—all introduced maxed-out, luxury versions of their full-size sedans: the Ford LTD, Chevrolet Caprice, and Plymouth VIP. These models offered posh interior trim and the full list of power accessories and convenience features, but housed in a low-cost platform with a lower entry fee than the equivalent Cadillac, Lincoln, or Imperial. These new econo-luxe full-size models blurred the traditional distinctions between family and luxury sedans, cannibalizing sales of the latter.

+   In 1964, Pontiac had developed the first true muscle car with the GTO, cramming a 389 cubic-inch V8 into an intermediate-sized chassis and striking a nerve with young, performance-obsessed buyers. The idea sold well enough that Pontiac promoted the GTO from option package to stand-alone model for 1965. Meanwhile, Chevrolet, Buick, and Oldsmobile introduced their own variations on the General Motors A-body/big-block V8 theme, and Ford, Chrysler, and even AMC would soon follow. The muscle car wars were on.

Chevrolet once again topped the charts in 1965 with 2.3 million units sold, while Ford continued to hold the number two slot with 2.1 million deliveries. But Pontiac actually held the third spot through much of the ’60s, forcing Plymouth from its traditional place just behind Chevy and Ford. Plymouth would ultimately regain third place in 1970, but in the brand’s history never reached one million in sales. Poor little Studebaker, now based in Hamilton, Ontario, could not manage 20,000 units in 1965, and would soon be gone. You can find interesting examples of all these cars and more in the gallery below.

 

1965 Lincoln Continental Convertible
1965 Ford Falcon Ranchero
1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass F-85 two-door sedan
1965 Pontiac Bonneville Custom Safari Wagon
1965 Pontiac GTO Sport Coupe
1965 Imperial LeBaron
1965 Chevy Suburban
1965 Plymouth Valiant Barracuda
1965 Ford LTD four-door hardtop
1965 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1965 AMC Ambassador 990 Sedan
1965 Buick Wildcat Convertible
1965 Plymouth Sport Fury
1965 Ford Fairlane Sport Coupe
1965 Ford F-100 Pickup
1965 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe
1965 Studebaker Cruiser four-door sedan
1965 Ford Falcon Futura Convertible
1965 Chevrolet Caprice Custom Sedan
1965 AMC Marlin red silver
1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone Hardtop
1965 AMC Rambler American 440 hardtop
1965 Dodge Polara 2D Hardtop
1965 Ford Mustang Dearborn Assembly Plant
1965 Chevrolet 100 two-door sedan
1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Sport Coupe
1965 Corvette roadster
1965 Cadillac DeVille Convertible
1965 Chrysler 300L Hardtop
1965 Studebaker Daytona Wagonaire
1965 Dodge Dart GT
1965 Pontiac Grand Prix
1965 Chevrolet Corvair Sport Coupe
1965 Oldsmobile Starfire Coupe
1965 Mercurys
1965 AMC Rambler Classic 660 two-door sedan
1965 Dodge Coronet 440 Hardtop Coupe
1965 Buick Riviera
1965 Mercury Park Lane Breezeway Sedan
1965 International Harvester Travelall
1965 Buick Electra 225 Two-Door Hardtop
1965 Plymouth Valiant Signet Convertible
1965 Ford Thunderbird Landau red
1965 Jeepster Commando

1965 Lincoln Continental Convertible

1965 Ford Falcon Ranchero

1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass F-85 two-door sedan

1965 Pontiac Bonneville Custom Safari Wagon

1965 Pontiac GTO Sport Coupe

1965 Imperial LeBaron

1965 Chevy Suburban

1965 Plymouth Valiant Barracuda

1965 Ford LTD four-door hardtop

1965 Cadillac Sedan DeVille

1965 AMC Ambassador 990 Sedan

1965 Buick Wildcat Convertible

1965 Plymouth Sport Fury

1965 Ford Fairlane Sport Coupe

1965 Ford F-100 Pickup

1965 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe

1965 Studebaker Cruiser four-door sedan

1965 Ford Falcon Futura Convertible

1965 Chevrolet Caprice Custom Sedan

1965 AMC Marlin red silver

1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone Hardtop

1965 AMC Rambler American 440 hardtop

1965 Dodge Polara 2D Hardtop

1965 Ford Mustang Dearborn Assembly Plant

1965 Chevrolet 100 two-door sedan

1965 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Sport Coupe

1965 Corvette roadster

1965 Cadillac DeVille Convertible

1965 Chrysler 300L Hardtop

1965 Studebaker Daytona Wagonaire

1965 Dodge Dart GT

1965 Pontiac Grand Prix

1965 Chevrolet Corvair Sport Coupe

1965 Oldsmobile Starfire Coupe

1965 Mercurys

1965 AMC Rambler Classic 660 two-door sedan

1965 Dodge Coronet 440 Hardtop Coupe

1965 Buick Riviera

1965 Mercury Park Lane Breezeway Sedan

1965 International Harvester Travelall

1965 Buick Electra 225 Two-Door Hardtop

1965 Plymouth Valiant Signet Convertible

1965 Ford Thunderbird Landau red

1965 Jeepster Commando

7 thoughts on “The year in Cars: 1965

  1. Thanks MCG for the visual reminders of our past. As a 10 year old kid, these cars were some of the 1st cars I grew to recognize. These were cars our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles drove. I came from a middle class neighborhood, so no Cadillac’s or Imperial’s, but many of the big 3, mostly lower offerings, no fancy stuff, like Grand Prix’s or Caprice’s. One grandfather had a ’65 Chevy Impala, other had a ’65 Rambler. The old man had a ’65 Olds, where my uncle had a ’65 Catalina. Friend’s dad down the block had a maroon ’65 Ford, exactly like #20. Funny, 10 years later, these were some of our 1st cars, either hand me downs or bought for $200 dollars, that we trashed, and junked, later to be turned into Toyota’s or toaster’s. Thanks again.

  2. Nice article, thanks. I understand the LTD, Caprice, and VIP came to be when the factories noticed that salesmen, doctors, and so forth would order a new Ford or Chevy but then check every option on the order form. They got a fully loaded car for a lot less than a Caddy and took less of a beating when they traded in every year. Some of my father’s friends ordered their cars this way. The LTD and Caprice were intended for these buyers.

  3. I knew where the LTD was in the pecking order but didn’t realize that about the Caprice. I thought Impala was always top gun. And forget Plymouth…VIP, Fury, Sport Fury, Fury III, Sport Fury GT, Gran Sedan…I couldn’t keep up with their game. Although the VIP was around for five years, the nameplate never registered with me. It’s like those days when Oldsmobile named every car in the line Cutlass.

    • This was a Post Card image produced by Chrysler Canada, Ltd. It showcased the full range of colors available for your new 1965 Chrysler or Plymouth; all 17 shades.

  4. I enjoy looking back at the cars of my youth. During the 60’s we would sneak down to the dealerships to try and catch a glimpse of the new models each fall. Every make was distinct even within the different big 3 divisions. Today most GMs and Fords look so similar to other divisions and from year to year.

  5. I really like and appreciate the strong AMC showing in this article. It was memory inducing as my dad had several Ramblers during my formative years, at one point even attempting a restoration on the last year Marlin that he had acquired, I could not even list all of the different AMCs he owned. One thing I would like to see a short article on was AMCs Twin stick, only offered in the mid to late sixties. I think if I remember correctly it was a three speed manual with a extra stick for overdrive. I only ever had seen one or two of these in two door hardtop Americans. Maybe some others I cant remember. Thanks for listening to me Ramble,lol

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