28 July 2019

Mercury USA Sales : 1980's

The 1980 US Mercury Capri, complete with Bond girl

This period could not have started worse, with sales collapsing by one third. It's hard to see how that could happen. Various factors contributed but that someone with more knowledge of that may wish to leave a message to clarify The question now is could the problem be turned around?

The Grand Marquis became a distinct model, replacing the Marquis, which in turn went down a size to replace the Cougar, which in turn was downsized and took over from the Monarch. All of that had the effect of lifting sales.

The medium sized Zephyr was replaced by the Topaz in 1984 and the Mercury Lynx did like wise with the Bobcat in 1980/81, the Lynx being a European Ford Escort and more popular than the car it replaced. The Capri was on the way out.

LN7: One totally new model was this, a 3-door sporty hatch model which didn't last long nor sell in huge numbers. I guess it was a halo car.

The good thing was Mercury brand sales had really taken off again after the 1980 disaster.

Model 1984 1983 1982 1981 1980
Grand Marquis 143,594 96,659 77,348
Cougar/Monarch 120,964 87,933 56,438 75,456 83,567
Marquis 103,722 65,184 10,645 53,145 52,644
Topaz/Zephyr 73,454 53,379 42,363 50,603 87,032
Lynx/Bobcat 67,725 78,876 95,959 94,978 45,017
Capri 17,739 22,708 31,280 47,151 62,592
4,694 13,107 18,217
Total US Sales 527,198 409,433 327,140 339,550 330,852

It was a case of steady as she goes for these five years with sales dropping slightly. The Sable name replaced the Marquis and the Mazda 323/Protege sourced Tracer model came in for the Escort based Lynx. The first Tracer model had poor sales as a new model usually lifts sales. The Capri finally was put to bed.

Model 1989 1988 1987 1986 1985
Grand Marquis 111,575 114,385 116,482 123,096 135,202
Sable/Marquis 110,962 119,218 104,518 108,773 90,274
Cougar 99,673 100,961 110,722 114,270 119,225
Topaz 85,732 92,723 63,200 67,499 73,098
Tracer/Lynx 57,966 58,921 68,938 65,497 85,871

12,647 15,389
Total US Sales 465,908 486,208 463,860 491,782 519,059

Mercury was doing OK but couldn't afford to slip further back in sales if it was to remain a viable brand worth retaining.

For the 70's coverage in this series, simply click here.
For the 90's coverage in this series, simply click here.

1984 Mercury Lynx

26 July 2019

Oldsmobile USA Sales : 1980's

The Firenza was a perfect fit for tennis

Oldsmobile had a very strong early 80's as sales past the million mark for four consecutive years, starting with 1983. Three models were in the 250-300k region, which gave a nice spread of sales. The compact hatchback Starfire was retired with a belated replacement coming in the form of the Firenza. Things were looking good.

Model 1984 1983 1982 1981 1980
Cutlass Supreme 302,087 331,179 281,120 266,070 258,789
Eighty Eight 258,293 228,770 180,839 158,662 147,997
Cutl Ciera/Cutlass 242,209 191,720 113,367 190,834 210,784
Ninety Eight 100,419 119,528 89,223 84,583 73,464
Firenza/Starfire 62,456 44,753 28,282
Cutl Calais/Omega 48,984 49,818 72,392 109,981 87,262
Toronado 41,605 41,791 34,362 38,609 37,051
Total US Sales 1,056,053 1,007,559 799,585 848,739 820,681

The only model change was the Firenza was put out to pasture and in came the Silhouette mini van to have a crack at that potentially lucrative segment. The middle 80's were strong but sales started falling and by 1989, they came down to 600,000 units. Every model was down on the 1985 figure.

Was the gap narrowing between mainstream and premium brands making Oldsmobile's position between the two less relevant? Model differentiation between divisions was becoming increasingly blurred. In the short term a profitable move, but for Oldsmobile it diluted its raison d'être.

Model 1989 1988 1987 1986 1985
Cutlass Ciera 190,720 237,386 244,607 329,930 333,585
Eighty Eight 138,357 158,205 168,853 261,260 188,128
Cutlass Supreme 99,898 116,179 92,779 191,937 217,504
Cutlass Calais 95,254 106,117 101,861 116,018 122,810
Ninety Eight 65,671 73,348 72,001 109,370 122,421
Tornado 10,125 14,887 16,667 16,762 32,093
Silhouette 2,122

9,148 17,626 34,113 49,580
Total US Sales 602,147 715,270 714,394 1,059,390 1,066,121

Summary: Suddenly things were not looking so bright for Oldsmobile. What could GM do to address the fall in popularity? Were there now too many brands competing too closely to justify this brands continued existence? The 90's would be crucial.

The Silhouette was a change in direction

To view the 1970's, simply click here. For the 1990's just click here.

25 July 2019

AMC USA Sales : 1970's (2nd Half)

The 1978 Concord

Years ago, I recall seeing AMC vehicles around Auckland, NZ. They weren't numerous but in a country where US brands were not selling at all, they offered something different. The other day, I noticed an AMC Javelin in the town I now live. Of course, I had Dinky cars of a Nash and Rambler models too when I was a boy.

The American Motors Corporation was founded by the merger of Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson (I had a Hudson sedan Dinky too) in 1954. In 1970, AMC acquired Jeep and turned it in a subsidiary company named AM General. However, this is about AMC vehicles.

In the early 70's, sales were in the 300,000+ area, so not huge but solid nevertheless. A limited budget meant that they had to target niches not exploited by the Big Three and investment dollar had to be spent wisely. Trying to sustain that over a long period is a challenge.

Model 1979 1978 1977 1976 1975
Concord/Hornet 85,431 114,764 79,508 81,884 97,841
Spirit/Gremlin 54,356 25,693 37,938 50,617 66,614
Eagle 14,101

Pacer 8,169 20,811 44,874 79,898 96,769
9,471 22,041 35,345 61,048
Total US Sales 162,057 170,739 184,361 247,744 322,272

Concord/Hornet: Starting with the Hornet, it was a compact model with various body options that ran until 1977, when it was replaced by the Concord. There wasn't much difference but the Concord had a nicer interior. 

Spirit/Gremlin: Looking first at the subcompact Gremlin, it was a uniquely styled 2-door hatchback. It sold well but it appears it was replaced far too late as sales were poor by 1978. The Spirit arrived in 1979 as a sedan and liftback, using the Gremlin platform with more conventional styling.

Eagle: This was basically a four wheel drive Concord, a crossover vehicle! AMC were having to be creative to survive. 

Pacer: This would have to be one of the most audacious car designs ever, in a positive way. It had a futuristic look, potentially polarising yet AMC had to try such things. It was however expensive to make and sales falling away after a promising start added to that. 

Matador: The large car of the range, it would have been the most profitable. The second generation model is released in 1974. The '73 oil crisis, large cars are going out of favour and it was not replaced. 

Summary: During the late 70's the loss of the Matador hurt sales and the Pacer fell away badly after an initial sales rush. By 1979, total sales were heading to half the average of just a few years earlier.

With sales falling, Renault took a 22.5% share in AMC. Renault cars would also be made by AMC in the US for local consumption. Would it give the company the financial lift needed? The 1980's can be followed by clicking here

The Pacer was apparently a chick magnet, albeit of the classy sort

23 July 2019

Plymouth USA Sales : 1970's (2nd Half)

1977 Plymouth Volare

I recall having a couple of Plymouth Plaza taxis as dinky cars. That was all I knew of the brand. Plymouth was created in the late 1920's to give the company a low price vehicle to compete with Chevrolet and Ford. If that was the case, by the late 1970's it wasn't doing that well. It was based around the Valiant and its successor the Volaré. The early 70's sales were averaging over the 700,000 mark.

Model 1979 1978 1977 1976 1975
Volaré/Valiant 167,091 210,125 306,548 386,182 234,601
Horizon 84,668 116,412

TC3 62,072 2,581

Champ 27,031 1,471

Arrow 21,829 26,825 47,345 30,430
Sapporo 12,322 3,073

Voyager 10,125 13,895 13,767 12,974 12,928
Fury 2,681 60,378 92,056 97,063 104,110
Gran Fury 746 980 31,692 48,951 62,909
Total US Sales 388,565 435,740 491,408 575,600 414,548

 The last Valiant model went from '74 to '76 and was replaced by the slightly smaller Volaré. After a sales spurt, they fell away rather quickly to under 170,000 by 1979.

Horizon: This was a car developed by Chrysler Europe with modifications for North America, so a compact hatch model. Sales were unspectacular, but solid.

TC3: It was decided to use the Horizon car and modify it into a 3 door sporty hatch. In 1979, it sold in reasonable numbers but still early days.

Champ: An unusual name for a car, it was a Mitsubishi Colt Galant made in Japan and sold under the Plymouth name. It's what the Americans call a captive import. It was still just a new model for Plymouth in 1979 but had been sold as a Dodge for some years earlier.

Arrow: Another captive import from Mitsubishi, it was the coupé version of the Lancer known as the Celeste. It sold quite well.

Sapporo: The third import, this time a Mitsubishi Galant Lambda two door, four seater coupé. It was a niche model so not intended as a volume model.

Voyager: This was a larger van introduced in 1974 which didn't sell in the numbers that the same vehicle did as the Dodge equivalent.

Fury: The 7th generation large car had been a successful model in the past but in 1975 took over the role that the slightly smaller Satellite model held up until that time.

Gran Fury: This model took over from the Fury model in 1975. Sales quickly petered out during this period.

Summary: By 1979, sales were half the 1973 total so things hadn't gone that well in a few short years. For an entry level car sales surely sales needed to be better than what the decade ended on.

The 1980's continues the series and can be seen by clicking here.

1978 Plymouth Horizon