Posts from ‘Packard’
By Frank Peiler
At the dawn of the 1950s, the American new-car market was running strong. The pent-up consumer demand caused by the World War II production hiatus had not yet been sated, and sales were booming for Detroit’s “Big Three” and numerous independent American automakers. And, as Americans moved to the suburbs in greater numbers, “family hauler” station wagons were becoming more popular at Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. Ford was particularly successful—its expanded roster of all-new-for-1952 wagons would go on to be the number-one-selling wagon line for many years.
What price luxury? If you were shopping for a new car in 1955, that number was approximately $3000. It was around that dollar amount that the vehicles we might now describe as premium starting kicking in.
I recall a time, oh, 38 years ago, when my folks forbade me from driving to a friend’s house because it was raining. At the time, even if I believed that rain in any way made driving more dangerous, I wasn’t prepared to admit it. Besides, real car guys were unafraid of driving in snow, at night, and through downpours. Honestly, I still enjoy driving around through fresh snow.
The bad news is that fewer than one of every hundred cars sold in the United States is a convertible. (I will spare you the fractional math required to pass along the number of manual-transmission-equipped convertibles sold on our shores last year, but it’s fewer still.)
As you likely already know, the manual transmission is all but dead. Nothing drove home this point better than the news that in 2019, pure-electric vehicles outsold vehicles equipped with manual transmissions in the U.S.
Though American automobile industry was fully established–and thriving–by the time the 1920s rolled around, the auto business was still relatively young when the Great Depression settled upon the nation at the tail end of that free-wheeling decade. After an extended period of economic growth and prosperity, carmakers found themselves needing to retool their carefully crafted advertising to cope with the new realities of severe economic turmoil.
By Frank Peiler
It was early 1952 when Mercedes-Benz was in the midst of developing the 300SL sports car. The skeletal frame, drivetrain and suspension were beautifully engineered masterpieces. However, the original form-follows-function body looked like a half-used bar of soap with a cap stuck on top. Let’s say that in this post-WWII era of rebuilding, there wasn’t much of a design department at Mercedes-Benz that the company could turn to.
If you’re roughly my age—let’s say five decades into this whole life process—you’ve seen a fair number of automobile brands fade into the sunset.
I was probably most impacted by the demise of Pontiac, but I remember feeling a twinge of sadness at the deaths of AMC, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and—no kidding—Checker.
by Frank Peiler
In the early days of the automobile, dashboards were just that: wooden planks onto which gauges and switches were mounted.
By the early Thirties, wood dashboards were replaced by steel, and designers began to take an interest in the collection of dials and knobs located there.