Autos: Changing the Tag

Onstage at Detroit's Cobo Hall was a line of four U.S.-made compact cars and four small imports—with a wide space in the middle. Pointing at the gap, American Motors Chairman Roy D. Chapin Jr. proclaimed: "The center of this market has been unoccupied—until today!" On that cue, a shiny new Rambler American burst through a paper partition. It carried a new, low price tag, which, said Chapin, would make it a "total value superior to the imports and superior in both price and range of choice" to U.S. compacts.

With his first...

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