Consumer Reports’ Automotive Dot Charts: Every Dot Has a Story, Part 2 (1960-66)

So here we go with the second installment of our analysis of Consumer Reports magazine’s dot charts of late model used car repair incidence.  (Here’s the first one, in case you missed it).  We are now solidly into the 1960s, and the results remind us of the old proverb, “The first shall be last, and the last first.”

Pages from Consumer Reports, April 1966. (Click images to enlarge)



–The most reliable used car now is . . . the 1963 Plymouth Valiant with a six.  (The legends are true!)  So Plymouth goes from worst to first.

–Among big cars, the 1961 Buick Le Sabre is tops in reliability.  (Big improvement over ’57).

–1960 Pontiac and Olds also have excellent records (except for carburetor).

–The biggest turkey . . . 1961 Thunderbird (8 black circles)  <Yelp!>

–Most trouble-prone new car . . . 1965 Chevrolet full-size V-8.  Shocking because Chevy in the ’50s used to make some of the most reliable cars of their time.  Cadillac quality isn’t quite what it used to be either.

–Ford Motor Company products (Ford, Mercury, Lincoln), generally fair to poor in the ’50s, are still giving owners more problems than other makes.

–Foreign car ratings, included in the 1964 issue, are strangely absent in 1966.  But that omission will be corrected in upcoming years.

Tried and true–1963 Plymouth Valiant.


1961 Buick Le Sabre–the quality is there.


I remember a few 1960 Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles still tooling around in the 1980s. (And some 1960 Chevrolets too!)


Looks so nice here–hard to believe this ’61 T-Bird is such a bomb!


Chevrolet for ’65 “has the look that time cannot wash away.” However, new car buyers are discovering a lot of hidden problems under the sheetmetal.


Fords, often below par in reliability and rust resistance in the ’50s, continue to have a large number of dark circles in the ’60s. Hence the unflattering acronyms for F O R D which we all know and I won’t repeat here.


Technically, Studebaker is still selling cars in 1966, and many early ’60s Larks and Hawks would still be on the road. However, CR doesn’t even include a Studebaker chart this year. So CR is saying:  A used Studebaker?  Worthless! Don’t even bother!


1966 new cars:



Consumer Reports tested the new 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado for this issue.  Despite enthusiasm for this model among car collectors, the CR staff wasn’t too impressed.

Front wheel drive and looks–that’s about it.



Best luxury car: 1966 Imperial


CR prefers the 6-cylinder Mustang over the V-8! Interesting . . .


Did you know that Consumer Reports rated movies? Best movies of the year include: Dr. Zhivago, The Eleanor Roosevelt Story, The Great Race, My Fair Lady, Sound of Music, and That Darn Cat. Some of the worst-rated movies are: Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster, Harum Scarum (starring Elvis Presley), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, Planet of the Vampires, Plague of the Zombies, Ghidrah the Three Headed Monster . . . oh, and Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine–hmmmm, that sounds interesting!


Next in the series:  the late 1960s and early 1970s.