The first test of the 1960 auto market came last week as the new cars rolled into the nation's showroomsand the rush was on. The big sales news of the week was made by Chevrolet's compact Corvair. In its first two days of public showing, the Corvair chalked up orders and deliveries of 26,000 cars, more than 35% of Chevy's two-day total of 75,000. The news was both good and bad for Chevy: the company had hoped to sell one Corvair for every five Chevrolets; instead, it was selling one for every three, indicating that the Corvair may eat heavily into Chevy's market for bigger cars.
From Pontiac General Manager S. E. ("Bunky") Knudsen came word that in Pontiac's first three days in the showrooms, dealers delivered more than 6,000 of the 1960 models, and confirmed orders for another 17,359 cars. It was a performance, said Knudsen, that "shows promise of surpassing the 1959 model."
Every indication pointed to a banner auto year that may approach 1955's record of 7,920,000 sales. Though sales in September slumped more than seasonally, chiefly because of the extra hoopla over the 1960 cars, they were still up 36% over 1958. The auto industry at midweekwith 2½ months to gopushed its sales for the calendar year to 4,287,000, as many cars as were sold in all of 1958.
American Motors' George Romney announced that his company set a sales record of 351,317 Ramblers in its 1959-model fiscal year, a gain of 128% over last year. He predicted that for calendar 1960 total sales of compact and small cars will amount to 2,250,000 units, of which about 1,750,000 will be U.S.-built compact cars.
Fins & Tail Gates. The new 1960 models continued to pour into the nation's showrooms. American Motors rolled out the new Rambler American, followed this week by the Rambler Ambassador. For the first time, the 100-in.-wheelbase American will be offered in a four-door model. At a factory list price of $1,720, it will be the lowest-priced four-door car built in the U.S., $83 below Ford's four-door Falcon. The larger Rambler Ambassador also offers a new five-door station wagon, in which the fifth door replaces the tail gate.
Ford showed off its new Edsel, Mercury and Lincoln lines. The Edsel has been completely redesigned for 1960, has lost the oval hole in the grille. Chrysler's Plymouth hit the showrooms with a new unitized-frame construction for its 24 models, pronounced tail fins, completely new body styling. Among the year's most unusual new models was Willys Motors' new four-cylinder Jeep Surrey, which has a brightly painted body, seats in candy-striped colors that match a vinyl-covered fringed top. The Surrey, priced at $1,650, is aimed chiefly at resort and vacation centers. Checker Motors Corp. this week brought out the Superba, a family version of its Checker taxi, with wide doors, sparse furnishings, optional jump seats so it will seat eight.