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If I may be allowed to overgeneralize, allow me to suggest that American car buyers appreciate utility, but would rather a given vehicle not look too utilitarian.
Note: This article is reprinted from the October 2016 issue of Collectible Automobile
By Jack Stewart
In 1953, the U.S. economy was robust. Bestowed with fresh styling, Plymouth set a record with almost 650,000 cars built while retaining its number-three sales position behind Chevrolet and Ford—as it had since 1931. Nineteen fifty-three was also Plymouth’s 25th anniversary, but it chose not to celebrate. Perhaps with Ford and Buick celebrating golden anniversaries that year, Plymouth felt like an upstart.
Stephen Stills wasn’t thinking about the American automotive “Malaise Era” when he wrote “Love the One You’re With,” but for enthusiasts of the time, the sentiment was apt:
Plymouth became a stand-alone brand in 1929. For a year prior, said vehicles were branded Chrysler-Plymouth and sold as more affordable alternatives to the pricer Chrysler cars they were sold alongside.
I think it’s fairly typical of people to group memories into convenient categories. Most people probably look back at their lives thus far and see periods of time easily identified by markers such as childhood, high school, post-acne, and marriage—or something akin to that. But, our memories can play tricks on us.
Wikipedia describes a soccer mom as “a married middle-class woman who lives in the suburbs and has school-age children. She is sometimes portrayed in the media as busy or overburdened and driving a minivan or SUV. She is also portrayed as putting the interests of her family, and most importantly her children, ahead of her own.” Per Wikipedia, the term started showing up in the national media in 1982.
For the past nine years, the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals has taken over the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, on the weekend before Thanksgiving. For American performance-car fanatics, this unparalleled show has become an unmissable season tradition every bit as important as grandma’s turkey and stuffing.
Last year Ford sold around 20,000 vehicles to law-enforcement agencies. While the number may seem huge, it’s dwarfed by many of Ford’s retail models. The Ford Escape small crossover, for example, accounts for nearly 30,000 sales every month.