As a kid, whenever someone got a new car it was a real event. Of course, a new car is always an event, but for a car-crazy kid it was AN EVENT! I have known for years that 1973 set a record for new car sales in the US that stood for many years, so it was no surprise that 1973 models were well represented on our streets and highways for a long time. But in my life I can think of very few people (maybe two or three?) who bought 1973 cars because there were so many who had bought one the year before. If you will indulge me, you will see what I mean.
First off, 1972 was a new car for each of my divorced parents, one of the few times I recall that happening. The first was in the late fall of 1971 when my father picked up the first ’72 Lincoln Continental Mark IV I had ever seen. I still remember my first ride on the evening he came to pick my sister and me up for his weekend with us. He had just picked it up on the way over, so it was hard to get newer than that. I called shotgun as I opened what had to be the heaviest car door I had ever experienced. After sliding into that dark brown leather seat I was positioned to look out over that long, perfectly painted hood as a few snowflakes hit and slid off. And the new-car smell is always better with leather, which was not seen then but in the most expensive cars. This photo, by the way, is an almost identical car, right down to the colors and the front bumper guard. As far as possible, each picture hereafter will show as close as I can find in trim level and color to the car of my life in 1972.
My mother tended to hold off until late in the model year and so her new car was one of the last before the ’73 models came out. Our 1964 Cutlass hardop had been a fabulously reliable car. However, at 8 years and 60,000 miles it was getting old – at least by the standards of the day. And by 1972 she was more than ready for an air conditioned car. Mom was not much of a gambler so there was never a serious alternative to a ’72 Cutlass. It was late enough in the year that she could not find her preferred color combo of Baroque Gold with a black vinyl top and interior. And my suggestion that she settle for one of the two convertibles on the lot (a blue one with white top and interior and the Indy Pace Car replica) was completely ignored.
She was holding out for buckets and a console like our ’64 had and the salesman at Collins Oldsmobile in Fort Wayne finally located a light green (Pinehurst Green) car with green vinyl roof and interior. And a 4 bbl 350 Rocket V8. The catch – it had power windows. Mom hesitated but agreed because pickings were so slim, so the deal was done. Boy did I feel like a rich kid in a Cutlass Supreme with both air conditioning and power windows (even if I despised that color at the time).
My three best friends also got new cars in their families. My first best friend came from a Studebaker family. From the time we met as kindergartners the two cars in his family’s driveway were a white 1960 Lark VIII 2 door sedan and a red 1964 Avanti with the supercharged R-2 engine and the 4-speed. Not two weeks after Mom brought the new Olds home Tim rode his bike down the street and told me I had to come to his house. I had no idea they were contemplating a new car, but in place of the old Lark was a 1972 AMC Javelin AMX painted the brightest red I had ever seen. Although it did not have power windows, it had about everything else including the gold stripes that faded to black on the hood that covered the 360 V8, cool wheels with white letter tires, buckets and air. Only later did I find out just how rare that car was in AMX trim – one of 3,220.
Did you ever have a short-term best friend? I did during my 6th grade year in 1971-72. Jason’s father was an attorney who was younger than most of the other dads. So it seemed fitting that he brought home an orange ’72 Corvette with black interior and a 4 speed. Jason and I worked it out so that my Dad would drive us over to his house one Friday evening so that each of us got a ride in the other Dad’s cool new car. The dads each got a turn behind the wheel of the other car as well, if I remember correctly.
In September of 1972 I moved on from my old elementary school to a junior high school and met a bunch of new kids, one of whom was Dan, who would become my new best friend. His father loved buying cars and had owned more than I could count. 1972 was the year that he bought a Chrysler Newport Royal 2 door hardtop. Two-door Chryslers were not that common, and I have never seen a twin to this car – solid black paint (with no vinyl roof to mess up the flow of the “fuselage styling”) with black cloth interior. The car had a vaguely menacing look to it, especially after Dan’s father swapped a set of slotted aluminum wheels and white letter T/A radials onto it. I knew that something was wrong with me when I was way more impressed by the big black Chrysler than by an orange Corvette. But I didn’t care. I eventually got to drive this one and loved it. Dan’s dad kept it until trading it on a 77 Newport 4 door hardtop. The first thing the dealer did was glue a white vinyl top on the car, completely ruining it.
Dan’s Aunt Connie was a frequent visitor at his house and also sported a new car in 1972, a bright gold Ford Galaxie 500 two door hardtop. Although she did not pop for the fancy wheels that the pictured car has, because that would simply not have been fitting for the principal of an elementary school. I recall that ’72 Galaxie as an attractive car with its dark brown vinyl top and interior.
My 6th grade teacher Mr. Domrow was another who traded a ’64 Oldsmobile for a ’72, only in his case it was a pair of 88s. His new Delta 88 was the exact color combo as our Cutlass Supreme, though his was a four door. I cannot recall if it was a hardtop or a sedan. As I think about it, a cousin of my Mom’s got an identical Delta 88 sedan, same Pinehurst Green, same green interior. Can you see why I might have gotten sick of Pinehurst Green Oldsmobiles?
That miserable color was everywhere that year. Including on the Chevelle Malibu hardtop that some family friends drove over in to show off on the way home from the dealer. I remember thinking (but not saying) that the car was not as nice as our Cutlass and that it was a huge comedown from the white ’66 Buick Electra that they had traded in. And no, they did not pop for the rally wheels (like 97% of actual buyers of new Chevrolets back then).
A good friend of the family who owned a paint and drywall business bought a ’72 Chevy pickup in the very top trim level (with the woodgrain in the side moldings), and which came complete with air conditioning. I still remember it as the nicest pickup truck I had ever seen up to that time – and the first one I had ever seen with air conditioning. I had no way of knowing where pickup trucks were headed in our world, but that one should have told me.
Getting a little farther from my orbit was my sister’s best friend Sally. Sally’s mother had been driving a gold ’66 Plymouth Satellite convertible that I was in love with. Her husband was a Mopar man and replaced it with a red ’72 Satellite Sebring Plus hardtop with black bucket seats and a console for the floor-shifted Torqueflite. A friend of our family later bought it for his son around 1980 or so when it was getting a little crusty around the edges. As with so many of these I never liked it quite as well as the car it replaced. Oh well, time moves on and we have to move on with it, right?
As I think about it, I remember that Sally’s dad may have bought his gold ’72 Plymouth station wagon at the same time. His had the normal wheelcovers and was painted with logos of the brands that he sold in his heating and air conditioning business.
In our neighborhood the three houses across the street fell in line with a smurf-blue ’72 Pinto runabout, a metallic blue ’72 Ford LTD 4 door and a brown ’72 Pontiac Catalina sedan. Nearly half of the ’72 big Fords I remember were painted that medium metallic blue. They must have rusted faster than the others (no small feat) because this was the only shot I could find of one in that shade.
The aunt of the kid next door visited often with her ’72 Pontiac Luxury LeMans (in the same shade of dark gold that my mother tried to find on a Cutlass). Yes, the Luxury LeMans pictured is the wrong color. Do you know how hard it is to find a picture of a ’72 Luxury LeMans 4 door (with fender skirts) online? Sometimes we have to take what we can get.
There were a few others among the parents of some school friends: a brown ’72 Mercury Marquis wagon, a gold ’72 Pontiac Safari wagon (both of which were sans wood paneling) and a second orange ’72 Corvette, this one with tan interior. Those were really not close enough to me to have much impact, although I did get at least one ride in each. Certainly not everyone in my circle of family and friends bought a new car that year, far from it. But an awful lot of them did, more than any year I can recall, before or since, and by a whole lot. So for 12-13 year old car-obsessed me, 1972 may have been the best year of my young life.
How about you. Is there a year that stands out above all others as one of the great new car years of your life?
The next door neighbors bought a 1969 Sedan de Ville – my father thought that it inconceivable that someone would spend that much money on a car. Think it was around $5,000 or so. Used to go sit in it when they were out of town. Who locked their car or garage in that time?
Wow! That was a good year. Never thought of it like that. One of my best friends in school got these cars – maybe not 72s but close. He had a Malibu 4 dr hard top in that atrocious green with a white painted top. 6 hole rallyes. Then he got a Javelin. Blue. Backed in to a fire hydrant and cave the whole rear in. Then a Rallye Nova, which was cool in it’s own right. We sorta lost contact after that period with college and such. I had a 73 GrandPrix as my first car. Eventually I had a 71 dart swinger w 318, which was a great car. My mom had a 72 torino base. So that was a good era of cars for me.
While the ever increasing emissions regulations were beginning to push cars towards becoming malaise-mobiles, the ’72s were the last year before the bodies started being spoiled by the new bumper regulations, culminating in the massive rubber or chrome ‘park-benches’ in 1974.
So, to me, 1972 is the last ‘good’ year for cars that were still mostly like they used to be.
As for new cars, the last one in my family was Mom’s 1970 demo Volkswagen Squareback, which turned out to be the biggest lemon ever, and has colored my opinion of Volkswagen to this day. My dad continued to drive our ’67 Malibu Concourse wagon until the late ’70s. Around 1978, he did buy a 1972 car – a Mercedes 250 Coupe, which I still have.
In 1978, I also bought a 1972 car – my first Audi Super-90 wagon – now long-gone.
Happy Motoring, Mark
My next door neighbor growing up had a ’72 Cutlass Supreme in the Baroque Gold, but with white/cream vinyl top and interior. I rode in it a few times and other than being a little cramped it was a nice car. He kept that car a long time. I think he might have finally sold it in the early 1990s when he bought his wife a new 88 and took her 1976 Cutlass Supreme as his.
Our Cutlass was cramped as well. I did not know until later that it lost 2 inches of wheelbase compared with our 64. My mother got buyer’s remorse very soon. The 2 door had worked great with grade school kids but turned out to be a pain with young teens (who had a habit of bringing friends along). It got traded on a 4 door Luxury LeMans 2 years later. It would have been a 4 door Cutlass again but Mom waited too long and her salesman couldn’t get his hands on one that late in the model year.
Dad bought a new Mercury Marquis Brougham “pillared hardtop” four-door in 1972. It had the same color scheme as the pictured car – dark metallic blue with a white vinyl roof – plus it had the 429 with a boatload of options. The interior was medium blue cloth/vinyl (leather wasn’t even an option back then) and the FM stereo sounded great – I loved listening to the local “progressive rock” FM station in the car. Dad didn’t let me drive it very often, but I remember that while there was lots of torque, the car took corners like a pig and was a handful at 100 mph. I got to take it to my senior prom in the spring of ’72.
Nice car! Mercury seemed to be on a real roll then, especially with the big Marquis that had become very respectable. That navy blue and white is a combo I would have loved then in a world of earth tones. 🙂
I can’t really say that any stood out like yours. Living in a university town, most of the people we knew tended not to buy a lot of nice new cars like in your neighborhood and family circle.
I guess it would be 1960, inasmuch as that was the year we moved to the US and I was overloaded with so many cars to identify and learn about. That alone took some doing.
1972: In the fall of ’72 (at the end of the model year) I was determined to buy a new ’72 Volvo 145. I found the best deal at Volvo store on the south side of Chicago and I took a bus to the city and then a CTA train to within a few blocks of the dealer. But I got a 1973 MY 145 as the deal was better on the ’72s anywhere else.
However I have owned two 1972 MY cars bought later in life. In 1982 I bought a ’72 Buick LeSabre convertible and in 1997 I bought a ’72 Ford Ranchero – both vehicles now long gone but both were good cars and were enjoyed.
72 is also one of my favorite new car model years, despite the end of ‘supercar’ era [as it was actually called then]
2.5 mph bumpers were fine this year, but had to go over board. EGR wasn’t required yet.
And of course, the ‘classic’ GM A body shell [with roll down coupe windows] was around for another year, due to delay from UAW strike. But, the ‘muscle car’ trim levels were reduced to option packages, due to insurance surcharges on VIN codes. [More responsible for decline of super car sales than anything I think].
For Ford fans, it was the ‘clean’ Gran Torino and still had Falcon based Mustang, with 351 HO available.
Mopar still had Cuda and Challenger, but the “go-go” days were over.
Meant to add that ’72 was a banner year for sales. The recession of ’70-’71 eased, and buyers wanted new metal in garages. Seemed like new cars were all over Chicagoland, also into the ’73 MY.
We all know what happened Oct ’73. But Motor Trend predicted another hot sales year for the 74’s, just before OPEC. Cover of MT’s Oct ’73 [before Oil shock] issue had headline “Why GM will sell 5M cars for ’74!”. Cool if someone could scan it and do a CC post about this, btw.
Spring ’71 was also a god sales era. Once the GM strike ended, 1971 models started filling the streets. While enthusiasts dislike the bigger GM B/C bodies, John and Jane Public loved them and bought by boatload. [before oil scares]
Nice article. I recall being car – obsessed as a kid. 1972 is memorable to me as well. At 7 years of age, I was fascinated with the new models and the concept of styling continuity. One could tell a 72 Buick from a ’71, but they were both easily identifiable as being a Buick.
I also distinctly remember the Coke -bottle styling, where virtually all cars had a little kick-up on the body right by the C-pillar. It was so ubiquitous I wondered if it was somehow a necessary part of automotive engineering. I was surprised the first time I was a mid-60’s Chrysler Newport that has straight body lines, and no kick. It looked so unusual to me.
I thought Oldsmobiles were the best cars in the world because my Dad had one. I could tell the sound of an Olds V8 just by the sound, although I didn’t know the unusual firing order dictated this.
These days kids don’t care about cars. My son and his friends have no idea what cars their dads have, and don’t care. Maybe modern cars seem as generic to them as they do to me. Or, more likely their lives simply have more distractions and more things to hold their interest than we did growing up.
I read a lot that modern kids don’t care about cars but that isn’t universally true. The only high-school boy in my immediate neighborhood seems to be a real gearhead and is in the auto shop program which is still offered here (we also have high school surfing and mountain bike teams). My son is 26 and while not a car buff in the conventional sense, he is very aware of car technology and brands, and provides me with interesting curbside shots and narrative from his various global travels. Our 24 year old daughter is more of an enthusiast, and is involved with at least one interesting group in the PDX car culture.
Never really thought about it, but there were quite a few new cars in my orbit back around 1972. Being 9 years old in ’72, I was getting to know my post-1960 cars quite well, and rode my bike up to the local Chevy-Olds dealer a lot. Let me start by saying I consider ’72 to be my favorite year in cars, well, at least most. It may have something to do with it being when the “wonder years” began for me.
Dad bought a leftover demonstrator ’71 Comet 4 door. He wanted a new ’72, but all they had were coupes, the demo ’71 was the only 4 door available, in spring green, no less. Dad wanted a Comet, as he was smitten by my friend’s brother’s new red, with black vinyl top, ’72 Comet 2 door that came by to jump off our old ’65 Bel Air. My friend Pete, whose dad worked at the Ford plant in Blasdell, bought both a new ’72 Pinto sedan, in green, for his commute, and as soon as they came out, bought his wife a new ’73 LTD, in white with a black vinyl top. They gave their ’68 blue LTD 2 door to their oldest son in high school. Freddy, the recent high school graduate across the street I shot hoops with frequently, he bought a new ’72 Hornet 2 door, which he promptly exchanged for a 4 door, I can’t recall the color. Dave’s mom got a green on green ’72 Montego 2 door (Motor Trend car of the year I think). There were others, but I don’t really recall them all, but I rode in all the cars listed above. And once 1973 rolled around, like the statistics attest to, there were a lot more new cars in the neighborhood.
Wow I can really relate. I’m a year or 2 younger. When the 73’s came out I realized things where going in the wrong direction. Ugly bumpers,reduced HP, Increased fuel consumption and weight. It was the beginning of the end of US manufacturers dominance of the market. BTW, I loved the organic looks of the 71-72 Satalite 2 door
We had one as a dealer loaner for a couple days, my mom thought it was of poor quality, she was right except for the powertrain.
While I had 3 cars from the 70’s, I don’t think that the 70’s were that great. I had two cars from the 80’s, both with electronic fuel injection, which was a big advance, although the cars are not perhaps that great. Then I had three from the 90’s, which were much better designed, although interiors had too much plastic with ugly finish. I had two more from the early 2000’s, which were improved. I think perhaps the current models are the best yet.
I remember the 1965 and 1966 model years as watershed years (I turned 11 when the ’65s came out). The Big Three all brought out new full-size platforms, and Chevy brought out an all-new Corvair to boot. My parents didn’t buy a new car in those years (although Dad bought his infamous 1961 Mercedes 190Db in 1966), but my brother did buy a brand-new 1965 Corvair Corsa, in yellow with a black vinyl interior, the 140hp engine, and a four-speed stick. It was a cool car! And I was seeing these new GM, Ford, and Chrysler full-sized cars everywhere; everyone wanted one!
By 1972, I was in college and focused on that, driving my ’62 Valiant wagon, and (like some of my college friends) pretty much deriding the big boats that Detroit offered us.
Like Paul, I grew up in a university town and new cars were a rarity. In my own family, the gap was from 1964 to 1986. But I do remember two new (well, one was used, but exuded newness and novelty) cars from that year. Our neighbors, in my lifetime had owned a ’53 Chevy and then a ’64 Chevy, both plain and simple 4 door versions, the former supplemented by a 1960 or ’61 Valiant. In 1972 they bought a new Ford to replace the Chevy; a two door LTD with vinyl top, full wheel covers and white walls. Not really my kind of car, but pretty fancy for our neighborhood. It lasted till long after I was grown and gone, replaced by another Ford, this time a pretty basic ’90’s Escort. The other “new” car was in fact 1 or 2 years old, purchased by my high school friend’s father: a green BMW 2800CS. 4 speed, tan leather, and an FM radio on which I remember hearing Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” for the first time, or at least the first time I heard and understood some of the lyrics. I did get to drive the CS once or twice … it seemed wonderfully powerful, comfortable and refined. Come to think of it, our high school principal must have also bought a new car that year, as he came to our school in the fall of ’72 and drove a Lincoln Mk IV. He was not well-liked, and I have forever associated those cars with him. The previous principal had driven a VW Beetle.
Love the pictures in this article; our family had two cars from ’72, both in the customary pea green color. One was a ’72 Olds Ninety Eight LS and the other a ’72 Dodge Polara Custom station wagon. Both were just cheap used cars- of course my fave was the wagon : ) Here’s a picture of it after a bath.
Around 1981 my friend Dan (who was by then my college roommate) found a really clean 72 Polara wagon in that awful light butterscotch color with brown vinyl interior – which did nothing to help the otherwise homely looks of the car, especially from the front. The a/c worked and everything. It was real luxury after the 3 different Dusters he had driven (a 71, a 72 and a 73) but he was not happy with how much it cost him to run during a period of very high gas prices. His father traded it in on something the next year, I was sorry to see it go because I liked it quite a bit.
I like this wagon quite a bit .
Did the wagon have a 440 Magnum? And sets like cop suspension.
Would have t be 63. I was 11 when the 63 models were introduced….In October of 62, my Mom got a 63 Grand Prix, in Midnight Blue, ith all the bells an whistles, including the 8 lug wheels. Dad id like Pontiac and in early Spring of 63, he bought himself a new Bonneville 2 dr hardtop. in Gold with a white painted roof. Good riends of my parents showed up in a new Olds 98, in white on white. and another couple bought a new Olds Starfire, Red, in and out. (she was a blowsy blond of the era, and had gotten a new Thunderbird every year up until that first Starfire, and got a new Starfire every year thereafter until the Toronado came out. Also red, of course. Best friends family bought a new Buick wagon. An aunt and Uncle (my dads brother) Bought a 63 Buick Wildcat, 4 door HT. red with a white painted roof and red and White interior, it also had the Buick SportWheels. Another friends mother had a new 63 Mercury Breezeway, in a powder blue. I also remember a new Mercedes sedan, had fins of a sort. Driven by a profeesorial type who lived down the street. His wife drove a Blue-gray Volvo (the Amazon style) and they also had an lder Renault Dauphine in a most unfortunate shade of elephantine gray. Seems 63 was a good year for auto sales in the western St. louis suburb I grew up in.
Our neighbors across the street bought a new ’89 SWB Caravan, medium blue and matching cloth interior. 2.5T/3A, with both woodgrain sides and a nearly Porsche-like “turbo” script in the woodgrain. I always liked it, and they kept it until after they moved away. I turned 12 that year, and I consider ’89 to have been a good car year, as everyone struggled out of the malaise.
I fondly remember time spent in a Lincoln-Mercury showroom when the ’72s were new. A friend of my parents’, until then a Pontiac sales manager, bought an L-M dealership and put his name on it, and soon after we had a former dealer demonstrator ’72 Continental sedan with black leather upholstery (non-Town Car type), Copper Moondust Metallic paint and black vinyl roof. Took regular gas and accelerated well; I drove it a few times as a teenager.
As for the 1972 Continental Mark IV, I prefer the non-opera window variety and recall seeing one in the showroom, although even photos of them aren’t easy to find today.
Yup, the opera window was optional at first. One thing I had considered cool on the Mark III Dad traded in was how the rear quarter windows went straight back into the C pillars instead of down into the quarter panel like every other 2 door car I had ever seen. In the Mark IV with the opera windows the windows worked the same way but only had a travel of about 1 1/2 or 2 inches because the opera window cut into the accommodations for the opened window. The most worthless power windows ever? I may have seen one or two Mark IVs without the opera window. At the time I thought the opera window was cool because it was such a novelty. Today I might be inclined to agree with you. I definitely prefer the 75-78 Lincoln sedans without them.
BTW I was in love with the regular Continentals in 72 and wished Dad would have gone that direction. But I was not consulted (and probably would have been ignored even if I had been). That one your family had sounds beautiful.
My ’68 T-bird had the back and forth windows, which tended to get stuck open. After a few times I unplugged the rears.
Very enjoyable read! My very young car mania kicked into overdrive around 1972 and 1973 when I was around 5/6. In 1972 my Pop bought a Wilderness Green Pontiac Grand Prix with a tan top and saddle tan vinyl buckets. It had power windows and rally wheels, and I thought it was amazing. My mother’s mother got a ’72 Cutlass Supreme 2-door hardtop in Saturn Gold with a white top and white vinyl interior (no power windows though). Granddaddy Will’s wife, Momma Dora, got a Ford LTD 4-door pillared sedan in Medium Brown Metallic with a matching top and brown vinyl inside. Our next door neighbors got a Mercury Montego sedan (brown) and a Chevrolet Kingswood Estate (also brown).
1973 was also a bonanza, as Pop got a loaded 1973 Buick LeSabre Custom 4-door hardtop in Taupe Metallic with a beige top and beige vinyl interior as a company car. His mother got a 1973 Century Luxus sedan in Willow Green with dark green vinyl inside. Her sister, my Great Aunt Berta, got a Chrysler New Yorker Brougham in Golden Haze with a matching top and gold brocade cloth interior. My maternal grandmother’s husband got a 1973 Buick Electra Custom 2-door hardtop in Medium Blue metallic with a matching top and blue brocade cloth. And at the end of the model year, Granddaddy Will bought a Ford LTD 4-door pillared hardtop in Medium Copper Metallic with a beige top and beige brocade interior.
I was at such an impressionable age, I remember all these cars so well, like it was yesterday. And there sure were a lot of earth tones going on…
Don’t recall too many from 1972. My family moved from San Diego up to Orinda, in the Bay Area, in June of 1972. The long narrow forested winding street only had eight houses on it and in all the years there never went to the top of the street. Come end of August back to San Diego and in the dorms for the school year. The only 72 I recall was a friend, my age, who bought a 1972 gold Chrysler Newport for himself. Being 20 years old that made an impression on me because it was so atypical.
Wow, you could have known the only 20-year-old guy in the history of the world who bought a new Chrysler Newport.
As a kid we usually had a brand new car on a regular basis every time the model changed my fsather replaced his ride so we often had the only Holden wagon that model in town and at one point in oct 71 the only HQ Kingswood wagon in New Zealand a pale yellow 202 powered manual shift car but bought in OZ on the dealers tour and delivered before NZ wagon assembly got underway and considering how popular those cars became it was odd to not see another one for many weeks on the downside and probably why it was replaced by a local assembly car it had the dreary brown vinyl headlining and plastic floor covering NZ cars all had carpet even the poverty level fleet model Belmont not so in OZ you had to order a Premier to not have carpet on the checklist, but good times for a car mad kid.
This one is a tough question, because outside of direct family, details get fuzzier. I’d have to say 1985 was pretty memorable because Dad bought Mom her Cavalier Type 10 coupe that summer, and then come fall, bought himself an Isuzu Trooper II two door (One of the first 86’s, however). For my parents, who weren’t exactly the type to splurge on themselves, that was a BIG deal then.
My father replaced a ’66 VW Squareback with a Mercury Monterey. Our next door neighbor bought a Marquis Brougham around the same time. While our Monterey was pretty plain–grey with a black top and red vinyl interior, AM radio, no AC–the Marquis was loaded. I remember how its faux leather dash looked so much richer than the Monterey’s faux woodgrain, and the power windows that looked “built in” instead of just switches where the cranks would be. Even the automatic air conditioning (you could set a temperature, just like in a house) made our non-airconditioned car’s controls look sad by comparison. The folks up the street bought a 72 Buick Skylark 4 door hardtop, which turned out to be pretty rare.
I find it interesting that you used a render of a ’72 Newport Royal done by Robin’7t4…that guy makes some amazing models. Used to put them in NFS Most Wanted (2005) until he threw in the towel in early 2012. You should probably credit him.
Thanks, I will do that. I had not clicked through his site beyond that one picture. I had thought that it was an actual photo. His stuff is indeed amazing.
I find it interesting you used a render of a model done by Robin’7t4 (the ’72 Newport Royal)…that guy makes some amazing meshes. Used to put some of them in Need For Speed titles – Most Wanted ’05, Carbon and Hot Pursuit 2. He threw in the towel in early 2012 and now models as a hobby. You should credit him.
Apologies for the double post, but I couldn’t for the life of me get the comment to post – kept getting a 503 Service Unavailable.
I had very little firsthand experience with new cars as a kid, as my parents bought exclusively well-used cars. My mom has never owned a brand-new car in her life and my dad just one (a Nova, ’72 as it happens, well before my time). I’m 37 now and the newest car I’ve ever known them to have in my lifetime would be a couple that were 3 years old. Not many friends whose families bought new either.
I’ve bought precisely one new car myself (following in the footsteps of my folks I guess), so I guess that would have to be the year. 2011, in which I bought a ’12 Kia Forte Koup. Still have that one six years later, so it’s been a good choice.
“How about you. Is there a year that stands out above all others as one of the great new car years of your life?”
Well, the 60’s were big new car years in our family and our little town. 1966 MY was certainly a memorable one – my aunt got a new LTD, my uncle a new Impala, and another uncle a new AMC Ambassador.
I got a new Maverick LDO in 1972 and the uncle with the Ambassador traded it in for a new LTD in 1972. I moved to California that summer and I certainly recall seeing a lot of new 1972 and 1973 cars on the road. The fuel and financial crises of the 1970’s would start to change habits and buying a car became less pleasurable and more utilitarian for many – until the boom years of the mid-80’s made it fun again.
Your mother’s reluctance to get a car with power windows is a good reminder of how uncommon they were at the time except on luxury cars and how hesitant many people were to buy them (“just another thing to break”).
Y’all can keep all those cars…but I’d take that aunt in a heartbeat. Dang, she’s attractive! 🙂
The heck with the cars…I’d take that aunt in a heartbeat. She’s hotter than a branding iron… ~
Here’s how much of a car geek I am, I had to scroll back up to see the woman you are lusting after 🙂
Here’s how much of a car geek I am, I had to scroll back up to see the woman you are lusting after 🙂
I’d rather have the car
1972 was a good year for cars in my neighborhood, also. We got a new 1972 Mercury Montego in light metallic blue. With my immigrant father’s penchant for saving a buck or two, ours was a two door coupe, no vinyl roof, cloth interior, 250 ci six and automatic, poverty caps, too. It would have been fine if it only would have held my one brother and I, but my oldest brother still lived at home for a while and did not have his own wheels. Anytime we went anywhere as a family, all three of us boys crammed ourselves into the backseat. Since I was the youngest and smallest, I got the hump. Every. Damned. Time.
Our immediate next door neighbors traded his beautiful but rusty 1968 Charger R/T for a small block Monte Carlo. It was brown with a black interior and vinyl roof. My oldest brother’s friend got a new Fiat Coupe, which felt it like it came from another world compared to most of the other cars in the neighborhood. One of the steelworkers in my neighborhood bought a Datsun 510 sedan. THAT was a mistake. It wasn’t too long before local troglodytes smashed out his windows and spray painted “traitor” on the sides of the car. This happened in steel country. I heard first person accounts of this kind of thing still happening in Detroit through the mid 1980s…
For a car-crazy 9 year old, 1972 was a pretty decent year.
Looking back over the cars I highlighted it amazes me how many of them were 2 doors. Most of these were cars for families, too, as was the case with the Mercury your Dad picked out.
To my parents a 2 door car was stylish and youthful. In the era before child safety seats it was the easiest thing in the world to open your door, let the kids clamber into the back then get in and drive knowing that they couldn’t fall out. I knew many families with a pair of 2 doors, even as their kids got older.
My Mom finally turned into a 4 door buyer in 1974 because of teenage kids and she never bought another 2 door car. My Dad didn’t make the change until the mid 80s.
I think for many years two things applied: Two doors were the cheapest car you could buy and they were considered somewhat safer than four door or wagons. No extra doors to pop open in accidents. A lot has changed in the last 45 years…
Probably my favorite car year would be 1968. I was five and dad had arranged for us to tag along with a friend when he traded his 66 impala coupe for a new 68 Impala .
This was the first “new” car transaction I had ever been involved in so it was super cool.
At least until 5 year old I did my best art Linkletter impression and asked why he was trading the old car (black with a red interior) for the new one when it looked so boring !( Brown with a brown interior)
I was right but learned a lesson on the spot about the right time and place!?
Great post, JP!
1972 sticks in my mind for the brand new K-5 Blazer my Dad bought as our family hauler. Decent room for a family of 5. It was his first time around for such now-ubiquitous features as P/S, P/B, A/C and an A/T. On the way home with it, I remember asking why he wasn’t shifting because I was used to him and my Mom rowing the three-on-the-tree in our 1966 Ford Custom 500. The K-5’s became quite popular in my hometown as they offered 4-wheel drive for winter and had way more room than a Bronco or Scout. (I seem to recall even the larger Scout II only fit 2 across in the rear seat) In 1984, I bought the Blazer from Dad and proceeded to mess it up with a lift kit and large (for the time) 33″ mudders. The 69-72 GM trucks are the best looking ever, IMO.
I remember a lot of this generation Cutlass running around town. The fuselage Mopar wagons were popular with the larger families, although folks tended to go with the standard wheel covers. Those Magnum 500’s add a nice touch to the Galaxie, though.
When I see a picture of almost any Olds of this vintage, I can hear that distinctive, burble-y Rocket idle, perhaps more pronounced with the big block 425/455’s. (Other distinctive-to-me engines sounds are IH 392’s and GMC 305/351 V-6’s)
Thanks again for the trip down memory lane.
1972 might not have been the best overall automotive year, but it was certainly the last good year. And the reason can be summed up in one word: colonnade. The ‘bumper-rific’ 1973 GM cars really killed car styling. Oh, sure, some weren’t so bad (Regal, Monte Carlo, Grand Prix) but, overall, they just looked like hell relative to the previous year GM intermediates.
After being so thoroughly immersed in 1972 Cutlasdom I was taken completely aback when I saw my first 73 a couple of months later. Some neighbors bought a 73 Cutlass Salon. It seemed so foreign in almost every way. It took me years to warm up to them.
Imagine if the GM Colonnades, with smaller bumpers, had come out when planned, 1972 MY? Would there have been more ‘performance’ versions? Back issues of Collectible Automobile has pics of prototypes. Such as GTO badges on later Grand Am endura front end. The would be ’72 Malibu had a big grille, with smaller bumper under it.
I’d think they would be like the ’72 Gran Torino, considered part of the ‘classic muscle car era’, but not the later big bumper/brougham versions.
I bought a 72 Monte Carlo in Dark Brown with a Saddle interior in 1999 sadly we had to part ways.
Next up in that time frame was a 1973 Dodge Monaco Station Wagon, Gold with Saddle interior a 440 and restrained Di-Noc woodgrain trim in 1979, during fuel crisis II in 79. car had 50K on it and I paid $800 cash. Sold it 2 years and 20K miles later for $1200.
I also bought a 72 Super Beetle in ’87 that I kept for a short time until a ’78 Saab caught my eye.
I consider 1972 to be the last year where vehicles still had that sporty 60’s look to them and the last year where good performance and acceleration can still be found on these cars before the Emission Control Devices, Smog Pumps and 5mph bumpers came to an effect on these cars, I consider 1971-72 to be a transition period from the powerful era of automobiles to the Malaise era of automobiles.
Overall I consider 1970 to be the zenith of the automotive industry.
Only new ’72 in my family was my Grandfather’s new Chevy Biscayne….it ended up as the last car he ever bought. I only remember driving it once, after he had passed, alongside my Father with my Grandmother and Mother in the back seat. I liked the car in general but the back seat seemed too low for me (we were used to Fords by then). We went on an excursion down route 115 to the Effort Diner, I think we were planning to visit one of my Grandmother’s brothers at the time. The other ’72 I remember driving was owned by the wife of another of my Grandmother’s brothers (she came from a big family) for some reason they wanted me to buy some unpasturized milk at some dairy…drove their ’72 Pinto, I was a pretty new driver (1974) and it was a big deal to me at the time (not sure why in retrospect).
My Dad ended up trading our then current ’69 Country Squire for a ’73 Country Sedan (really a wagon). It was the first optioned up car we owned, being better equippped than the Country Squire despite being the next model down. Not sure if my Dad was tired of the wood trim on the outside but the Country Sedan had power locks (but crank windows), AM-FM Stereo, Air Conditioning (our first car with it) and Trailer Towing Package…..with the 400 CID 2bbl. We had a pop-top camper at the time and I’m sure that’s part of the reason he bought that car….and it was same color Brown as your Dad’s Lincoln…still a big fan of that color. That was his last Ford for awhile, he bought 2 GMs then 3 Mercurys (middle one was leased) then back to GM for 2 Impalas (which ended up being his last car as he died last year).
Can’t think of a specific “big” year when lots of people seemed to be buying cars…they were all pretty big back then, for those interested in cars.
I remember fondly the 1972 Lincoln Town Car my parents brought home one day. It was a deep green with the white vinyl roof. After my elder brother rear ended a Plymouth Duster it was replaced with a 1973 model in burgundy\black as pictured in the link. My personal favorite was the 1975 model in brown\creme they had when I became licensed .
Matthew, I think the 72 and 73 are my very favorite big Lincolns of the post 1969 era. It is too bad that the buying public didn’t agree because that car didn’t really hit the big time until around 1976 when sales really took off. The early 70s cars are so much harder to find now.
Actually the 1972-73 Lincoln Continental non Mark’s sold a lot better than the 1970-71 non-Mark Lincoln’s, especially the 1973 Lincoln, I consider 1972 to be my favorite year of the 1970’s Lincoln’s, I like how it could run on regular gas yet performance and acceleration was still good.
For me it was 1956-1957. Dad started the landslide by getting the 56 Fireflite, then my cousin bought a white 56 New Yorker sedan with black and red inside, full power and A/C. An uncle with a large ranch got a 56 New Yorker T&C wagon in red and white, I was seven then, but a close friend, a girl from schools parents, both doctors bought a pink and white 56 Plymouth Sport Suburban, a deep green Chrysler Windsor sedan, and a Persian pink Imperial coupe. Then in 1957 things really got rolling; aunt and uncle, ’57 Belvedere sedan full power, A/C 2x4bbl Fury engine, wing tip bumpers, gold and white, aunt and uncle ’57 Belvedere 2 dr ht, power pak, most power turquoise and white, aunt and uncle TWO ’57 New Yorkers convert and 4 dr ht, same ranch uncle a new ’57 New Yorker T&C solid white full power A/C, cousin green 300 C ht, cousin white 300 C convert, uncle black 57 New Yorker six window , full power A/C, cousin black Saratoga coupe with single side trim, looks like single trim New Yorker, full power A/C, aunt and uncle 57 DeSoto Fireflite Explorer wag, their son 57 DeSoto Adventurer convert, their other son, 57 Firesweep sedan in apple green w/white roof with P/S, heater and whitewalls. cousin 57 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer 4 door red and white full power A/C, aunt and uncle Custom Sierra, gold and white full power and DUAL A/C aunt and uncle black Imperial LeBaron six window sedan,fully equipped., cousin 57 white Imperial Crown full, aunt 57 gold Imperial convert. uncle 57 Cadillac sedan de ville That was relatives, Neighbors; 57 Ford Fairlane 500 2 dr ht in starmist blue and while, 57 Dodge Coronet 2 dr post black, 57 Plymouth Savoy sedan, 57 Packard Clipper sedan black, 57 Pontiac Star Chief 2ht bronze/white, 57 Mercury Montclaire 4 dr ht, 57 Hudson Hornet sedan, 57 Plymouth Sport Suburban, 57 Vauxhall Victor sedan, 57 Olds 98 4 dr ht, 57 Buick Roadmaster 75 4dr ht, and 57 Century convertible, 57 Lincoln Premiere Landau sed black, 57 DeSoto Fireflite six window sedan apple green and white. In the next block a 57 Cadillac Coupe deville and two imperial sedans. Seemed everyone was driving a new or one year old car. Any wonder my first cars at 15 were a ’57 Belvedere convertible and a 57 Morris Minor 1000 coupe.