Consumer Reports’ Automotive Dot Charts: Every Dot Has a Story, Part 3 (1964-70)

We now move solidly into the 1960s with this automotive issue of Consumer Reports.  The winged, chromed monsters of the ’50s are now heading into the junkyard en masse, and a whole new crop of Detroit iron has been produced.  But how do we separate the wheat from the chaff . . . ?

With this, of course:

We have a new set of symbols (green = good). And new categories (explained in the text).



*Click images to enlarge*


Compared to previous years, there is more uniformity–few cars are outstandingly good or bad.  Foreign cars (to my knowledge, last rated in the October 1964 issue) still are not included.  However, we now have ratings for vehicles that have not been listed before:  Checker, Chevy Van and Suburban, Dodge Sportsman Wagon, Ford Club Wagon, and Jeep.


–Most reliable used car (full-size):  1965 Plymouth Belvedere with a six.  Valiants and Darts from the same era also continue their winning ways.

–Most reliable new car:  1970 Ford Maverick.  Really??? (You could knock me over with a feather!)

–Least reliable used car:  1968 Corvette.  Also bad:  Thunderbirds (all years) and Chevrolet, once the quality King of the low-priced field, has a lot of black circles.  (What’s up with Chevelles in particular?  Body, exterior [paint, rust, corrosion] much worse than average.)

1965 Plymouth Belvedere with a six–one of the best used cars of the ’60s.


1970 Ford Maverick–a flawed machine in many ways, but less likely to break down on you.


Maybe simplicity . . . leads to . . . reliability?


And it’s CHEAP! ($1970 for 1970)


1968 Corvette–here comes trouble!


” . . . where exhilaration begins at dawn.” (Until something on it breaks!)


1969-70 Pontiac Grand Prix. Consumer Reports says: “It gives the impression of a big car without being really gross outside.”


CR: Do not buy a Subaru at any price. If only Subaru dealers and customers knew what was coming in the years ahead!


1970 Subaru 360


“Here comes another one!”


Writers at Consumer Reports could never understand the concept of “cool”.


As one Ralph Caplan, writing in the April 1965 issue of CR stated:  “The cars of [this era] are not ugly;  they are merely boring and charmless.”  “A world full of  Volkswagens could be a pretty dull place, but the 1965 American models have found other ways of achieving the same sort of anonymity.”  That’s a completely understandable position given what had come before:  the Magic, Rocketing ’50s;  the Art Deco/Airdreme 1935-40s;  and the revered Classics of the 1920s-early ’30s.  Typical cars from 1964-70 are boxy and plain, although there were a few sparks of inspiration seen in various specialty models.  Caplan singles out the 1965 Corvair as “far and away the best looking car of this year’s lot.  Sculptured to a restrained swell, it combines voluptuousness with an air of intelligence and some conviction;  it looks well thought out, as if it were designed from an idea instead of from pressure.”

1965 Corvair: Special.


In other news . . .

Vigilant Consumer Reports readers making sure that a package contains the stated amount of parsley; and a 100-pill bottle actually contains 100 pills! If a shortfall is detected, readers are advised to contact their local office of Weights and Measures.


1964-70 was really “the calm before the storm.”  The next decade would see the emergence of gas shortages, hyper-inflation, plunging product quality and low morale at U.S. auto assembly plants;  “Deadly Sins” (GM’s and others’), market fragmentation, the rise of imports, increasing regulation, the Great Brougham Epoch, and a general sense of alienation and defeatism broadly defined as “Malaise”.  We’ll see what Consumer Reports had to say about those cars in our next installment.

Previous entries:  1954-63, 1960-66