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(Sub)compact cars in US and Canada in 70s and 80s

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GrudgefromSanAndreas
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#1

Posted 01 June 2017 - 05:27 PM Edited by GrudgefromSanAndreas, 01 June 2017 - 05:44 PM.

Ciao a tutti GTAFrutti!

I was wondering how popular were the small cars in America. Judging by old movies from 70s and 80s, it seems they were much less popular than big cars, but there was AMC Pacer, the iconic small car with 280,858 units sold (i calculated that from amcpacer.com), which seems like a small number compared to the US population and the number of cars available in USA and Canada both then and now. There is also the dangerous/unsafe Ford Pinto, apparently featured in Driver 1. Then Chevrolet Chevette, first gen Buick Skyhawk, 1988 Pontiac Lemans, Mercury Lynx etc.

I can't post this on a car forum cause i cant drive and i'm not much a car expert.


Mukkus
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#2

Posted 01 June 2017 - 06:11 PM Edited by Mukkus, 01 June 2017 - 06:28 PM.

My father had  a Vega. Not exactly subcompact, but little turd of a car. http://www.popularme...t-destroyed-gm/

 

/Strange-Restomod-V6-5-Speed-1972-Chevrol

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GrudgefromSanAndreas
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#3

Posted 01 June 2017 - 06:22 PM

I heard bigger is more affordable in America. Guess back then it was definitely true.


DOUGL4S1
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#4

Posted 01 June 2017 - 11:20 PM

Roads in Japan and Europe, both places known for compact cars, are very narrow and/or have lots of traffic, so it makes sense to own a compact car instead of a diesel truck that's longer than a bus there. In America, roads are much more open and clear (with a few exceptions) so a compact becomes pointless.


JRC99
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#5

Posted 02 June 2017 - 01:16 AM

My father had  a Vega. Not exactly subcompact, but little turd of a car. http://www.popularme...t-destroyed-gm/

 

/Strange-Restomod-V6-5-Speed-1972-Chevrol

Can't deny though, with a V8, they're kickass cars that look pretty good. 


GrudgefromSanAndreas
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#6

Posted 02 June 2017 - 07:44 AM Edited by GrudgefromSanAndreas, 02 June 2017 - 07:45 AM.

Roads in Japan and Europe, both places known for compact cars, are very narrow and/or have lots of traffic, so it makes sense to own a compact car instead of a diesel truck that's longer than a bus there. In America, roads are much more open and clear (with a few exceptions) so a compact becomes pointless.

And what about South America?


DOUGL4S1
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#7

Posted 02 June 2017 - 11:31 AM

 

Roads in Japan and Europe, both places known for compact cars, are very narrow and/or have lots of traffic, so it makes sense to own a compact car instead of a diesel truck that's longer than a bus there. In America, roads are much more open and clear (with a few exceptions) so a compact becomes pointless.

And what about South America?

 

Roads here aren't as tiny as Asia/Europe's but not as big as 'Murica's, so you can find both big trucks and small cars, but compact cars are more popular because they're cheaper and more economic.


DerangedCrackhead
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#8

Posted 02 June 2017 - 01:08 PM

The two gas crisis and the tightening of emission standarts took a toll in the traditional American automotive industry. You'd had monstruous cars with underpowered engines and a increasing reputation of being unreliable, while the foreign automakers had smaller, more efficient and reliable vehicles. This way, by the late 1970's and 1980's, Japanese and European automakers were already positioning and strengthening withing the American market, a tendecy which would continue throughout the decade.

 

Now, judging by footage and stuff from the 1980's, by the mid and end of the decade compact and subcompacts cars were already heavy on the streets. You can see a lot of Datsun, Escorts, Tempos, Chevettes, Horizon/Omnis, Golfs, Excels, Colts, Corollas, Tercels, Civics or Accords, Mazdas, or even compact pickups, like Nissan/Datsuns, Toyotas or Chevy S10. Some American automakers significally resized their product lines as well, like Chrysler with their K car derived cars.

 

I think there are geographical area of the country also had some influence. The West Coast seemed to have a bigger presence of foreign cars, that is, compacts and subcompacts, I think due in part to the locations of the maritime ports where foreign automakers would unload their vehicles and to more severe emission laws, while the Midwest, home of the American auto industry, was still heavy on American cars. 

 

This footage from 1988, featuring a Californian highway, show how large compact vehicles were already in number by then, while in this one, shot in New York City in the early 1980's, compact vehicles are harly seen.

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GrudgefromSanAndreas
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#9

Posted 02 June 2017 - 04:54 PM

DerangedCrackhead your answer - best so far. 

 

Btw i saw some pics of 1988 Lemans and at the same time i LMAOed and was glad they made the car. Then i read this and i was like - American industry sucks at little things. But today, they seem to get closer to world tastes, if you know what i mean.


DerangedCrackhead
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#10

Posted 03 June 2017 - 10:14 AM

To be fair the Lemans was a rebranded Opel Kadett, manufactured by Daewoo and imported as a Pontiac. I still see the original European version over here from time to time. In 1980's, GM had a fixation for naming rebranded imports like classic models that nothing had to do with them, so people would see them distrustfully.

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