We’re doing it a bit different today: three CCOTY Nominations on top of each other, and now your opportunity to chime in with others. Hopefully, that’ll keep us going all day, as there may not be any more posts. I could write a few more nominations, like the ’62 Fairlane, but it’s your turn now.
Your Alternate CCOTY 1962 Nominations Please
– Posted on December 4, 2012
When I think of American cars of 1962, the Chrysler 300H springs to mind. Yes, I rather liked the “plucked chicken” look, especially in black, and motivated by a 413 V-8 burbling through twin pipes. However, the real news of 1962 was the MGB, the first unit body car from Abingdon, and creator of a supporting industry that continues to this day.
Although I was a big Mopar fan for a good many years – still am, for that matter – I was pretty much unaware of Chrysler letter cars until the 1970’s. My own 1962 Chrysler was on the other end of the model range – a Newport 2-door hardtop with a factory 3-speed manual transmission with floor shift. I liked it quite a bit – the 361 engine was probably the easiest-starting big-block Chrysler I ever owned. I think that 1962 was probably the year when there was the least difference between the letter cars and the lesser models, particularly the plain 300 hardtops and convertibles.
The 1962 downsized Dodges and Plymouths were, in restrospect, years ahead of their time.
They offered big-car room in a tidier package with superior handling and performance – 15 years ahead of the downsized GM full-size cars.
Strange styling helped derail their acceptance by Americans. Some of the details were right, however, particularly the C pillars that flowed smoothly into the quarter panels, and sides without wide “shoulders.”
The 1963 facelift – particular with the Plymouth – hit the sweet spot.
Sometimes I wondered if the downsized 1962 Dodge and Plymouth got a design more closer to the ’62 Fairlane and ’63 Rambler Classic & Ambassador if things could had been different?
Part of the problem was that the ’62 Plymouth and Dodge had essentially full-size car price tags and midsize dimensions. Less awkward styling would have helped, but they also didn’t seem like good value by the average car buyer’s standards.
Given that the downsized 62’s basically became the midsize 63’s (didn’t they?) I wonder how they explained what must have been a noticeable reduction in price for what was essentially the same car? I guess the resale of the 62s just dropped like a rock, and the effect would easily have been rationalized as due to the styling.
The 1962 platform wasn’t recycled as the intermediate offerings for Dodge and Plymouth until the 1965 model year. That is when an all-new full-size car debuted for Plymouth, Dodge and Chrysler.
For 1963 and 1964, heavily facelifted models were still sold as full-size cars by both Plymouth and Dodge, although Dodge rush the Custom 880, based on the Chrysler body shell, into production for the middle of the 1962 model year.
Thanks for the correction – did the ‘problem’ exist in 64-65 then?
I’ll have to go with the ’62 Fairlane. It was the first “real” intermediate that was marketed as such, and it proved more popular than GM’s “senior compact” concept. The car itself was rather unremarkable, but it was the first. By the end of the ’60s the intermediate was a huge slice of the market. The new 221 V-8 which spawned the Windsor line of engines was just icing on the cake.
It also was another example of Ford identifying and exploiting a market trend well before GM, who followed up a couple of years later. Maybe it didn’t seem to matter in ’62, when GM had over half the market, but by the end of the ’60s there was no denying that GM had become a follower and not a leader.
I suppose an argument could be made that Mopar helped establish the intermediate trend with thier ’62 lineup, which eventually became thier intermediate line, but that was really a case of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
I agree on all points and there is no denying that the “intermediate” cars became the meat of the market as time wore on.
I agree that Chrysler just got lucky that Ford “invented” the intermediate market and they just jumped on the band wagon.
The baby Fairlane was a hit here it was more right sized in this market and the little V8 was popular for transplants as bigger options found their way in. Those little Ford engines go well in Hillmans Carroll Shelby showed how with the Tiger which is only a Hillman in pretty clothes
One other idea that has been mentioned elsewhere – the 1962 Studebaker GT Hawk. What is amazing to me about this car is how closely it follows the design concepts of the 1961 Lincoln, even though the car was being designed with an extremely small budget and at a time when the Lincoln was just starting to become widely seen. Nobody knew at that time how influential the Lincoln’s design philosophy would be, yet Brooks Stevens picked up the language and applied it to an old car in a unique way. The GT Hawk picked up on a new trend before it was really a trend, and should get some recognition for this.
I also see the point of the Fairlane, for the reasons stated by others.
OK, one last one – the 1962 Dual-Ghia 6.4. This was noteworthy as one of the very last coachbuilt cars connected to an American manufacturer. Dual Motors was an American company that had a relationship with Chrysler, which provided the running gear and several other pieces for these. The bodies were fabricated by Ghia. Sinatra, Dean Martin and other Hollywood luminaries were the customers. A beautiful, rare car.
The l6.4 is rare, but I know about these thanks to the Corgi version. I have one in gold with a yellow interior and corgi dog sitting on the rear parcel shelf. I sense a Mini CC coming…
VW got a fuel gauge in 1962, replacing the reserve tap. All liquid-fueled cars have had fuel gauges ever since.
1 millionth VW sold in US that year.
Oh yes, the VW fuel gauge…. our family was so excited to get that when I was ten. The way we talked about you would have thought we had purchased a car with built-in GPS…..
Only on the more deluxe models. My old Canadian Custom still had the reserve tank. The European Standards too.
Volvo P1800 – 1962 was the first full year that the company’s flagship GT was sold in the U.S. Also the first year of the indestructible B18 engine.
How about the first Pontiac Grand Prix? In the 1960s those were quite the vehicle.
I’m kind of surprised nobody brought this vehicle up. I guess that proves that maybe the GPs didn’t leave much of an impact. Oh well, SOME of us recognize greatness 🙂
The 1962 Fairlane is only important because it created the intermediate class. The car itself was nothing more than a big Falcon. Styling was nothing to write home about, and neither was performance. The best part about this car was the Ford “Windsor” small block V8’s, arguably Ford most succesful V8 engine, certainly light years ahead of the ancient Y-block.
The downsized Mopars were still considerbly larger than the Fairlane and larger than many other 1960’s intermediates, so I don’t think they are really comparable.
Not only did it create the intermediate class it marked the first case of true platform engineering, the basis for most cars today. This is not to be confused with re-skinning an old chassis to keep up with styles or creating a long wheel base version, but creating cars aimed at distinctively different market segments and sharing only the basic chassis components. So I’d say that was pretty significant. It also gave us the Challenger V8 that Ford used extensively during the coming decades.
Very true about the platform engineering, Ford did become quite good at using that old Falcon chassis. Although GM sort of did this with it’s compact lines in 1961, since the “senior compacts” used a modified Corvair body shell. Further, it was used on the Corvair vans and pickups.
I did mention the V8 though.
The new for 1962 B body Mopar platform lasted until ’78, and then was reworked into the short lived R body of 1979-81. Can list many iconic cars from it, from Charger to Road Runner…
May have been a flop “big” ’62 car, but ChryCo got full money’s worth in long run.
AMC Ambassador Wagon. Just because it was the only new car we had growing up.
I’ll go with the turbocharged Oldsmobile Jetfire, since the Corvair has already been choosen for 1960, though the turbocharged Corvair Spyder would be a close runner up. The first turbocharged car(s) available to the public.
1962 VW Beetle… truly groundbreaking. Compared to the ’61 it had a spring-loaded hood, larger taillights, sliding covers on the heat outlets, a compressed air windshield washer, seat belt mounting points and a gas gauge instead of the former reserve fuel tap.
Of course the ’63 had a leatherette headliner, Wolfsburg hood crest dropped, folding handle for sunroof, foam insulated floor, fresh air heating and nylon window guides. So maybe the Beetle should be CCOTY for ’63 instead. 🙂
“compressed air windshield washer”
Isn’t that also know as a spare tire?
Eventually (around 1967) they used the spare tire as an air source, but the models starting in ’62 just had an air valve on the plastic fluid reservoir. So if the fluid level was high and the air volume low, the air pressure would drop very quickly. Not very effective, until they ran a hose to the spare tire for increased air capacity. I think there was a valve to stop the air pressure in the spare from dropping too low.
Lotus Elan, does the argument need to be made?
Definitely the ’62 Corvair Monza Spyder Convertible, even though the Corvair was already picked for ’60. The ragtop Spyder was the full realization of the Corvair as an affordable everyman’s sports car. Without the Spyder there may not have been a Mustang — or a Camaro.