For 1966 cars now going on sale, US automobile companies are using the lure of luxury as they never have before. The sales pitch no longer is for basic transportation, economy or low fuel consumption. Instead, the manufacturers vie with claims of deeper pile in their door-to-door carpeting, better reproduction on their stereo sets, more comfort in their six-way tiling seats with headrests.
Prospective buyers will be told how they can obtain constant temperature winter and summer by twisting a single dial. Turnpike speeds can be maintained or adjusted by the flick of a thumb without touching the brake or the accelerator. Recorded tapes will play 80 minutes of stereophonic music. Rear-seat passengers can watch television. On frosty mornings, seats will warm like heating pads until the regular heating system is ready to take over.
Not all these features are available on any one car. But the trend is clear. The choice can be staggering. The four companies have more than 400 separate models, and one make alone lists more than 400 options and accessories which can be installed by the factory or dealer.
Stylists concentrated on upgrading the intermediate and compact lines to match the luxury of the big cars. GM expects to sell more than 4.5 million cars in the next 12 months, most of them loaded with extra-cost, optional equipment.
Chevrolet Caprice: Top-of-the-line series in four models includes two station wagons with walnut-grained exterior trim. There are 15 other standard-sized Chevrolets. New options: single-dial air conditioning-heating, adjustable headrests.
Chevrolet Chevelle: New body shell, fractionally longer, lower and wider, includes a Malibu four-door hardtop for first time. The Super Sport hardtop coupe and convertible offer 396-cubic-inch V-8 engine with 360 horsepower.
Cadillac Sedan De Ville: Smaller cornering lights in front fender panels and new grille provide only noticeable styling changes in exterior. Top Fleetwood series adds a Brougham sedan. Among the options offered for the first time are electrically heated seat cushions and backs to keep passengers warm when the engine is off or before the car heater begins to function.
Buick Electra 225: Protruding front grille is varied on each of three standard-sized series. Molding emphasizes slight rise in rear fender lines. A 425-cubic-inch V-8 is optional on Electra 225 and Wildcat.
Buick Skylark: New body introduces a two-door model with slightly recessed rear window and a four-door hardtop. A two-barrel carburetor adds performance to the V-6 engine, now an exclusive with Buick.
Chevy II: First restyling since it appeared four years ago gives this compact the roof and rising rear fender lines of standard-sized models. Seven engine options range from 90 to 350 horsepower.
Corvair: Styling, all new last year, is left untouched for this rear-engined make. Only the front panel ornament and taillight trim are new. Seven models include two convertibles and five hardtops.
Smallest of US companies, AMC hopes to increase its share of the auto market by joining Big Three in heavy emphasis on luxury and performance.
Marlin: This limited-production, two-door fastback, introduced last March, was on of AMC’s first moves to extend its product offerings into the luxury class. The styling is unchanged from 1965 except for a redesigned grille. A black vinyl roof is optional along with 15 two-tone color combinations.