Do new cars cost too much?
Here’s what the record shows
In 10 years — A typical low-priced car has gone up from $1,538 to $2,419. Increase: $881, or 57%
But: Other things cost more too. The consumer’s dollar has lost a fifth of its buying power. So, in terms of 1948 dollars, a car is up $480, or 31%.
Also: People are earning more money. An average factory worker’s pay, per hour, is up 56%. In proportion to his “real” wages, a car costs $17, or 1% more than 10 years ago.
For this added price, as shown by industry figures, here is what the buyer of a typical low-priced car gets:
A more powerful car… 66 additional horsepower
A bigger car… 231 pounds heavier, 8 inches longer, 5 inches wider, 12 inches more hip room, 12 more cubic feet for luggage, 1,446 more square inches of glass
A longer lasting car*… 73 weeks more life, 20,500 more miles of driving
NOTE: Figures are based on 4-door sedans, 6 cylinders except Ford.
For 1948: Plymouth Special DeLuxe, Chevrolet Fleetmaster, Ford DeLuxe.
For 1958: Plymouth Belvedere, Chevrolet Biscayne, Ford Custom 300.
*Assuming continuation of the long-term trend in car life.
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Publication: US News and World Report
Publication date: May 9, 1958