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|74 Mustang - Young Car With a Tradition and a Future|
Throughout the 1970's, car sales should continue not only to rise, but also to change directions.
As recently as 1958, nearly 60 per cent of all cars sold in the United States were standard-sized (Ford, Chevrolet, and others); in 1972 that percentage dropped to about 19, largely because of the tremendous proliferation of car sizes and models, giving the buyer his greatest choice ever.
In the 1970 model year, intermediate-sized cars took sales leadership from the standards for the first time. Intermediates stretched that lead in the 1972 model year.
An increasing number of buyers, seeking primarily family transportation, was showing preference for a car slightly smaller than standard-sized. Some standard car buyers moved down to intermediates, and others to cars even smaller. Small car sales rose 60 per cent from 1965 to 1972.
Today, small car sales (all below intermediates) are the most numerous, representing 35 per cent of the market (up from 23 per cent in 1965).
Within that small car market, compacts doubled their volume between 1967 and 1972, from 564,000 to 1.2 million. An even more dramatic increase occurred in the subcompact segment where sales during that period tripled from 740,000 to 2.25 million.
American auto companies again are taking a large share of the small car market, with 60 per cent of sales going to Detroit-produced mini-cars.
Among small imports, the Japanese-built Mazda includes the Wankel rotary engine being studied by American auto companies including Ford.
Though Americans have made small cars the most popular group in the United States, and are buying more intermediate than standards their buying motivation apparently is not simply to spend as little as possible on a car. They continue to spend significant sums to "load" with options their big cars, their intermediates, and perhaps more surprisingly, their mini-cars.
In 1972 the average big Ford car sold included $850 in options. The average mid-sized Torino included $988 worth (key items standard on Ford are optional on Torino). Pinto, the $1,968 subcompact, left the dealership with an average of $412 in options.
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