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Today's options include more than basic additions, like engines or transmissions. Often the options are luxury items - fancy seats, carpeting, and woodgrain. Buyers are selecting more luxurious options for their small cars. They don't consider them merely spartan vehicles to get them to a destination.
A Luxury Decor Option introduced in March, 1972 for the Ford Maverick includes radial tires, plush seats, extra sound proofing, extra paint, and fancy carpeting - even on the package shelf. These options sell for a sticker price of $390. About a third of buyers now are selecting this package with their "compact, economy car," Maverick.
Thier motivation behind options like Maverick's Luxury Decor Option is primarily to personalize the car. Another way customers are assuring that the car they drive is tailor-made is to select what has come to be known as a specialty car.
THE SPECIALTY MARKET
Specialty cars are picked for a purpose. For example, a station wagon is picked for its capacity to carry extra people and cargo. A small car usually sells as economical, around-town transportation.
Even trucks have entered the specialty picture. The line seperating cars and trucks is fading as more people buy pickups and vans for transporting bulky items or for camping adaptation. The changing role of trucks has produced a society in which more and more men find themselves married to truck drivers. Women are discovering that trucks can be very attractive as well as useful and maneuverable.
The domestic small specialty cars have been known as "pony cars," out of deference to the 1965 Mustang which began the segment. They hit their high mark in 1967 with 10.6 per cent of the market, but now account for only three per cent. Mustang continues to dominate the segment it began. Its share of segment hit 74.4 per cent in 1966 and now holds at nearly 40 per cent.
Though the small specialty segment has continued to decline, interest in sporty little cars continues, but has taken a new form. Concurrent with the decline in domestic sporty cars of Mustang's size, smaller imported sporty cars have been gaining popularity, with promise of further gains in the 1970's.
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