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mowens's avatar

What were the sales points of the new cars of the past?

Asked by mowens (8392points) April 27th, 2012

So, I keep trying to talk myself out of buying a new car. But, my car is a 98. It was fully loaded for the time. It has leather seats, a sunroof, and is all around a reliable car. But I want more. I want phone integration. I want heated seats. I want ventilated seats. I want GPS, I pretty much want everything.

In my debate I realized something—what the hell made people keep buying new cars in 60’s, 70s, 80’s, or shit even the 90s!!!!

The only options I could come up with are:

Power windows
Sun roof
Leather seats

That doesn’t sound like it is worth the money you spend on a car….

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32 Answers

Charles's avatar

“what the hell made people keep buying new cars in 60’s, 70s, 80’s, or shit even the 90s!!!!”

Cars didn’t last as long back then. Also, miles were less likely to be low stress freeway miles and more likely to be high stress city miles. Getting 80K miles was considered good. Now, getting 200K miles is easy.
Also, back then, electronics weren’t available for consumers.

Also, attrition due to wear, accidents, repairs not worth it forced people to buy new cars. People didn’t buy cars because the newest iPod charger became available.

Do we have any evidence that supports people buying cars at a higher frequency now than yesterdyear? Also, there were less teenagers driving back then, so families didn’t buy another car and give the hand me down car to junior once he turned 16.

bkcunningham's avatar

Options: 440 with a 4 barrel, chrome reverse rims, pistol grip shifting lever, tachometer, air conditioning (wow), automatic transmission, intermittent wipers, built-in eight track/cassette player, adjustable steering wheel, front seats that adjusted up and down not just capable of sliding back and front and THEN electric seats (whoo hoo), cup holders, remote adjustable side view mirrors, rear view that adjusted for headlights behind you, lighted vanity mirror…

CWOTUS's avatar

“Claims of” (if not actual)
– reliabilty
– smooth ride
– luxury appointments (the first “enclosed” car was a luxury for those who drove in winter)
– power and/or speed (pickup trucks still sell “more power”)

And if your last car just wore out, then you need a replacement.

Style / fashion was always a big sell. It’s one reason body models changed so dramatically sometimes from one year to the next – every year – back in the day.

Blackberry's avatar

Well, they didn’t know any better then because they didn’t have phone integration and heated seats. They were already buying the best. I remember when I thought automatic windows were a luxury.

Salem88's avatar

The big Firebird on my first Trans Am.

thorninmud's avatar

My mom had a ‘64 Cadillac Coupe de Ville with a little torpedo-shaped thing mounted on the dash, pointing forward. It housed a light sensor that was supposed to detect oncoming headlights and automatically dim yours if you had your high-beams on. There was a little dial on the tail end of it for adjusting its sensitivity.

That had a certain “wow” factor, but it must not have caught on, because I never saw it in any other car. I know that we never used it.

gailcalled's avatar

Bigger fins and more chrome in the late fifties. The givens were plenty of leg and head room.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Rearview mirrors. :)
I remember when cars didn’t come with side mirrors on the passenger side, so that was a good (and brainless) selling point. Then power steering, then cruise control…and stuff.

bkcunningham's avatar

Power brakes.

Jaxk's avatar

It was 1970 before I owned a car with roll-up windows. Wow, was that great. What will they think of next.

mowens's avatar

@Jaxk Roll up windows—- manual?

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

From what I remember from car commercials, it was the fins, chrome, hood ornaments, and power anything in the 50’s and 60’s. In the 70’s, big and powerful – the bigger the better, both in body and engine. How much gas it guzzled was not a problem. If it has an am/fm radio, that was really cool.

bkcunningham's avatar

Oh, and the motorized antenna that went up and down. Then the antenna built into the windshield.

Jaxk's avatar


Yes, manual. I was a British car junkie and the old AH Sprites and MG midgets had side curtains. They were bolt on plastic windows that did very little to keep out the draft. Try riding around Boston with side curtains in January and you’ll see why I was so excited to have manual roll up windows in my new MGB.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I can’t tell you about the past. I will only make a suggestion for the present.

Keep in mind that any electronic whiz bang option you buy today will be a fossil in 5 years. Think back 5 years Wow! A USB port so I can plug in a 2 GB memory stick! Oooo An analog cell phone with a window antenna.for increased range! And a DVD player so I can play my mp3s! A GPS with 25 MB of maps and a black and white screen! (What did cars have in 1998? Cassette player?)
The pace of innovation is accelerating and 5 (or 14) years from now the devices we cherish today will be fossils too.
I say ignore that nonsense and get a car that is reliable, drives well, gets good fuel economy, has reasonable performance and looks the way you want a car to look.
Ignore the electronics. In 2 years, your new iPad 10 will make all the car mounted stuff irrelevant and obsolete.

zenvelo's avatar

The selling point in my ‘82 Volvo was that the radio had a cassette deck, heated seats, and overdrive in fifth gear to reduce the gear ratio even more for fuel economy.

The selling point in my 72 Plymouth Duster was it’s styling (black landau roof !). The selling pint in the 69 Ford Cortina was it was an import and it had bucket seats. (The Cortina was the basis for the Mercury Capri.)

SpatzieLover's avatar

Roomy back seats~

wundayatta's avatar

My first cassette player came with a portable air conditioner on wheels called a 1985 Toyota Corolla. That cassette player only cost ten grand. I liked it so much, I got another one in 1993. In 2005, though, I got a portable CD player. That also came with the air conditioning unit, but instead of the Corolla, it had a hybrid Highlander. That CD player is a little too big. I keep on banging into things on the corners.

Next, I hope to get something that will just take an output from my phone. Maybe it’ll be smaller, and I won’t dent all the bumpers.

gailcalled's avatar

The first car I remember is my father’s Packard, with running boards.

ucme's avatar

Fuel economy
Safety features
Power to weight ratio
Room for a good sized dog in the boot….sorta.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@gailcalled How funny! Believe it or not, my first car was a 1937 Packard Coupe with running boards!

No, I am not in my 80’s. It was an antique even then. My dad restored it and thought I would enjoy driving it. Check it out:

bkcunningham's avatar

The link isn’t working for me, @Skaggfacemutt.

bkcunningham's avatar

There it is! Very nice.

anartist's avatar

longer, bigger tailfins, more power

jerv's avatar

This question reminds me how spoiled kids are today. Compters not only exist outside of the military and universities, but even have color screens with icons and can store terabytes in a shoebox instead of 5MB being a washing machine sized thing that weighs over a ton.

Now tell me what it is about GPS, ventilated and heated seats, and phone integration that warrants car prices far exceeding inflation. I paid $30 for a dash mount for my Droid X to put in my $300 Toyota and hook up to the audio system, yet people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to add that option to their $30,000 car. For that matter, why even pay $25,000 or more for a car in the first place? Not even a sports car like a Porsche, but just a regular old Taurus or Impreza.

The selling points are the same as they always were; adding a little bauble, make people drool over it, and charge ten times as much because people like you are willing to overpay for whatever shiny trinket is offered.

anartist's avatar

Once we get done selling cars by features, let’s sell toilets
[yes it does clean your tush after]

Dutchess_III's avatar

oooo! Tickles @anartist! ooooo!

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@bkcunningham and @Dutchess_III Thanks! The boys at school thought it was great, too. It was a “man-magnet.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow! You drove that to school? It’s a wonder you didn’t get pregnant @Skaggfacemutt!

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