14 September 2015

US Car Production By Make : 1950-59

Hudson Sedan from 1952

Car making isn't that big in the US these days, truck and SUV types becoming more popular. Back in the 1950's it was a different story. The car was king. While Europe was getting back on its feet, US citizens were out buying cars by the truck load. The figures below are in thousands so you have to add three zeros. For example GM in 1950 was 3,040,000. Which brands made up each company?

GM: Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac.

1953 Cadillac Eldorado

Ford: Ford, Mercury, Lincoln and briefly Edsel.

Chrysler: Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, De Soto and Imperial.

American Motors: Nash, Rambler and Hudson.

S-P Corporation: Studebaker and Packard.

Kaiser: Willys, Kaiser, Henry J and Frazer.

This was a period of consolidation for the smaller makers as they struggled to survive. American Motors (AMC) was a combination of brands, notably Nash-Rambler and Hudson. Studebaker and Pachard became one but the latter brand was soon deleted. Kaiser-Frazer took over Willys-Overland and briefly created Henry J cars. Kaiser got out of cars altogether in 1955 and just made the Jeep vehicle instead.

Year GM Ford Chrys AMC N-R Hud Stu Pack K-F Oth Total
1950 3,042 1,351 1,258 - 172 121 321 43 19 13 6,340
1951 2,396 1,356 1,171 - 205 132 246 101 232 6 5,845
1952 1,697 871 777 - 154 70 168 63 64 34 3,898
1953 2,698 1,594 1,273 - 122 66 152 90 87 - 6,082
1954 2,349 1,462 799 142 AMC 100 Stu 21 - 4,873
1955 3,722 1,808 1,262 142 - - 171 - 8 - 7,113
1956 3,185 1,789 1,061 106 - - 80 - - - 6,221
1957 2,776 2,004 1,300 106 - - 68 - - - 6,254
1958 2,018 1,214 711 162 - - 47 - - - 4,152
1959 2,656 1,684 748 374 - - 126 - - - 5,588

I had Dinky cars of some of these makes. A Studebaker Hawk, Hudson Sedan, Nash Fire Chief wagon, 2 x Rambler wagon, 2 x Plymouth Plaza taxis, a Cadillac Eldorado and a Packard maybe too. They have long gone but remain in the memory. The pictures here are all of those cars.

1957 Plymouth Plaza

I was surprised how well Plymouth cars sold back then, only trailing Chevrolet and the Ford brands. As for companies, GM was well ahead of Ford and Chrysler not that far behind Ford in the early 50's. However, as the decade progressed, Chrysler fell back to a distant third. 

Each make has a story and there was so much that could be written. The article is a summary only, to keep it better focused on the overall trend. It shows the reduction in car brands that took place at this time, with the big three taking shape as the local car makers of the USA. 

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