Why Aren’t Sedans Selling?

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Sedans aren’t selling well anymore – but it’s not really because buyers have lost interest. They have lost interest in undersized sedans – which are effectively the only sedans still available at prices most people can afford.

If you have about $20,000-$25,000 to spend, what options have you got?

One option you haven’t got is a full-sized sedan.

There are none available for $25k. There are only two available for less than $30k – just barely. They are the base trim versions of the Chevy Impala ($28,020) and the Dodge Charger ($28,995). Add a few options and you’re well above $30k.

Lots of people can’t afford that anymore. Not even with seven year financing deals. (Assuming zero interest, the monthly payment on a $30k car loan is $357; the current interest rate is actually just over 4 percent – so your payment would be substantially more.)

But they still need a vehicle with room for their family – and their family’s stuff. A smaller sedan – which they could afford – won’t cut it. Even though some have surprisingly roomy back seats, none have much in the way of trunk.

They are also effectively three-seaters – because the government mandates that small children be strapped into saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety seats and these can’t be placed in the front passenger seat because it faces the airbag, which is a saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety hazard for small kids especially. So the kid gets strapped into a seat in the back seat. Which leaves only one other small-child-viable  (and small child legal) seat in the small sedan.

If the family has two kids, the car is full-up. If their kids have friends, the car is useless.

And that is why sedans are sitting unsold.

Not because they are sedans.

Big sedans with three-across seats that could accommodate six passengers – and which had trunks big enough to carry two or three more – did sell. And were affordable, too. The base price of a 1970 Chevy Impala was $3,132 – equivalent in today’s devalued currency to $20,880.

There were also wagons based on those sedans, and these could carry as many as nine people – more than any current minivan and most full-size SUVs, too.

Such cars were the typical cars owned by 1970s middle and working class Americans.

So what happened to them, if they were so popular?

The government decided they used “too much” fuel. Rather than let the market sort that out, mandates and regulations issued forth to distort the market. Your car’s gas mileage somehow became Washington’s busybody business – and big sedans and wagons went from being popular and affordable to increasingly unaffordable and so less and less popular.

The sedans which could still be sold for not-too-much money were – and are – the ones without enough room for most families.

But most families still needed the room, and the car companies figured out a way to give it to them without giving them big sedans.

They gave them crossovers.

Most of these are also small – in terms of overall length. But they have more vertical space and so more room inside than a car of the same length. Most of them actually are cars – just taller-roofed and jacked-up, to make them look like SUVs (hence the term, crossover SUV).

The Toyota RAV4, for example, is descended from the same platform, or underlying chassis, as the Camry sedan. Both have about the same first and second row legroom, but the RAV4 has almost five times the cargo space (73.4 cubic feet vs. 15.1 in the Camry’s trunk) and that space is much more versatile because it isn’t isolated space. By folding a crossover’s backseats flat, you create a full-length cargo floor big enough to accommodate the things which you could never even partially fit inside a modern sedan’s purse-sized trunk.

Crossovers are also available with a third row of seats – which is the modern way of dealing with the problem of child saaaaaaaaafety seats and the fact that current sedans aren’t even five-passenger capable when small kids have to be transported. It wouldn’t be a problem in a full-size (six-passenger) sedan, but  . . . they don’t make them anymore.

Ironically, these crossovers ascendant – which have become popular because they offer buyers the things which big sedans used to but don’t anymore because you can’t buy them anymore – use more gas than the small sedans which aren’t selling.

The current RAV4 averages 23 city, 30 highway. The new Camry – with a more powerful version of the same 2.5 liter four cylinder engine – averages  28 city and 39 on the highway.

It does so because it’s lighter, lower to the ground and much more aerodynamic than the high-riding/SUV-looking RAV4.

Even the full-size Charger almost matches the crossover RAV’s MPG stats: 19 city, 30 highway – and that’s with a much larger 3.6 liter V6 under the hood.

Uncle tries – but he rarely succeeds.

In the name of forcing us to drive “more efficient” cars, he inadvertently prompted the development of less-efficient crossovers.

Well, he did succeed in mostly killing off the big sedans. Give him credit for that. And because of crossovers, smaller sedans are probably on the way out, too. Which leaves . . . . crossovers.

Uncle’s next target.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. If no one bought the crap being sold in the new car market, what is there would not be there next year.
    It is simple supply and demand. However, ignorance prevails in America. Most of our fellow countrypersons are happy with the growth of socialism, the nanny state, and the illegal fed.gov running and owning everything. Crap cars that run themselves do not bother the stupid.

    After being screwed by GM to the tune of 58 billion in that bailout, only an idiot would buy their products. I do not even want to befriend anyone who would work for Government Motors. Ditto the fed.gov and all of its agencies. ©2018

    • The people who diss GM for their bailout are short-sighted. They probably don’t remember when GM bailed out Chyrsler….with no govt. help.

      It was a win-win situation since the Big 3 all used the same suppliers to some extent so the more parts produced, regardless of brand, the cheaper suppliers could produce them and more reliable too.

      If Chrysler had folded, just imagine how many people would have been out of work. It doesn’t stop at Chrysler but works it way down through the entire nation. Those people buy cars and not necessarily Chrysler so it benefits all 3 companies to keep the other afloat.

      I’ve been through the boom and bust cycles of oil and the bust cycles are hell on the economy. In 2015 Texas lost over 25,000 non-ag jobs but they weren’t all in the oilfield but the oilfield jobs supported the other jobs. The next quarter and the next 4 quarters saw significant job losses which reverberates all over the nation.

      I don’t recall the press(MSM)even mentioning when Ford got an $8B bailout in ’08 and once again, it wouldn’t have been a feather in anyone’s cap, not GM or Chrysler if Ford had failed nor would it have been for me or you and we didn’t even work for a car company.

      Shit rolls downhill and you can never underestimate the costs to a country if even one major job producer fails.

      GM was screwed by Obama who performed a quite illegal act of removing Rick Waggoner as CEO, a guy who’d done much to revamp the UAW contracts that were high on the list of too much overhead, yet he inherited the shitstick from his predecessors and same goes for all car makers.

      Be careful of what you wish for because GM going under would be the equivalent of a major meteor strike in a geological sense….or maybe in a sense of all the jobs in every sector of the workforce.

      Try to think of any industry or profession that won’t be negatively affected by any of the Big 3 closing it’s doors. It’s such a big picture it’s hard to realize the damage that would be done to the entire US workforce…..and even the GD bankers would suffer and you know they’d pass that on.

      Seriously, focusing on one company who you see as “evil” can only result in the diminishing economy of the entire country. I have never wanted to see a company go down. I learned that back in the 50’s when GE began screwing their top management and the ensuing debacle shook companies all over the world…..and GE wasn’t in trouble financially at all, it was doing all the good but bailing on an entire generation of workers about to get their retirement was disheartening to say the least. What goes around comes around……to every one of us.

      • Correcton: In 2015 Texas lost over 25,000 non-ag jobs IN THE FIRST QUARTER. Every quarter after that saw big job losses including mine eventually. I had a friend who worked for a drilling company. He was a “pusher”, the highest paying, most coveted job in drilling. Eventually he was bucked down to floor hand and finally laid off. He wasn’t celebrating ultra-low oil prices and neither was I.

        Refineries reach a point where their work costs the same regardless of oil prices so refined oil products can never reach a low indicative of the price of oil. Oh, I get that some people don’t understand it but wise up, some processes prices reach only a certain level.

        If you think those people on the refining and distribution end can work for next to nothing, get a job there and try it.

        I’m reminded of everyone addressing illegal immigration as a straight line type thing but the Congress critters who write law “giving” illegals things that natural born citizens don’t get are killing the country and the bust and boom cycle will finally work it’s way down to what we have now, a country in a crises, a financial crises.
        Certain industries like Big Ag are the ones who really benefit the most from cheap labor(illegals). They aren’t willing to lower prices nor take less profit. It’s much cheaper to buy a congressman(they really do come ridiculously cheap)than to pay a decent wage.

        I hear people say “Well, American workers are just lazy….and to the extent Americans aren’t willing to live 20 people to a small house, that’s true and they shouldn’t have to. But for starving S. Americans it’s a dream come true. They don’t give a shit that their spot on the floor is now in the US when they’re making more money than they’ve ever seen. They might have emigrated(and I know some who did)from Guatemala where they “worked” at “killing Communists”…..as they believe they were doing because govt. told them that’s who they were killing…..and not simply their fellow countrymen.

        The worst workers I had when roofing were the former soldiers. They felt entitled to good wages and not having to work….and this last go round in the patch it was the Iraq vets who were worthless. Entitlement and simply telling everyone else what to do, no matter they had no clue themselves, seemed to be their mantra. It was truly an eye-opening experience for me. They bitched about everything including working in a record setting heat year and never noticed I was nearly twice their age and was busting ass before they got on the job and well after. Damned if the grass doesn’t always look greener on the other side of the fence.

        Now the Millenials complain of not being able to find a “good” job after college since the myth is a degree automatically makes you eligible to make a good living and have it made. They don’t realize it’s a myth and always has been. Plenty baby boomers had degrees and lived hand to mouth their entire lives. The patch is still covered up with illegals or green card holders but white people, even the ones with college degrees(probably won’t help you on the application)can get a job. Don’t tell them about your soft, smooth hands and your mother bribing you to bring a sack of groceries from the car…..when you were involved in a game of Warcraft with your soft, smooth hand friend.

        Maybe I should write a book. About to turn 69 and I’m on top of the world getting hired to an oilfield trucking company today. I’ll have my 389 Peterbilt by the end of the week if I can pass the tests. I’ve been boning up on mathematics, English lit, animal husbandry and pharmacology to make sure I can. Evan Williams and the Spoetzl brewery have committed to helping me get there. Then they threw in pissing in a cup. Hell, I’m an old trucker. Hitting a cup is a hell of a lot easier than a gallon jug. I’m not complaining.

      • GM bailed out Chrysler because it didn’t want fedgov’s FTC or whatever three letter agency shows up when the controlled competition drops below its prescribed level.

  2. I can live with these utility vehicles as long as they’re RWD-based for good proportions. The FWD-based ones are the equivalent of an orthopedic shoe.

  3. Eric, certainly there were plenty of BIG, and relatively CHEAP full-size sedans many moons ago…hell, that ’66 Plymouth my boy and I are restoring is, IMO, the epitome of when Detroit had it ‘right’ IAW free market principles…big ol’boat, can seat SIX honest-to-‘Gawd’ adult(erers), BENCH seats, a V8 under the hood (the 318 ‘Poly’, which the machine shop sez looks fine, no cracks, and they can line bore the mains to make it take an LA engine 360 crank, so with doing nothing over than an .090″ overbore, betcha can’t do that with a ‘modern’ engine, we’ll have a “360 Poly” with 10.3:1 compression with ordinary TRW 360 pistons, and expect to get 325 horses with even the stock manifold, Stromberg 2 barrel, with a MANUAL choke, go figure, and the stock exhaust manifolds)…we’ll paint this beast a mint metallic green which is actually a 1998-2014 paint code that is close to the metallic green available in ’66, that way we can easily touch it up as needed).

    Sure, this ‘beast will be a throwback…which is the IDEA. To enjoy ‘Murican motoring as it once was, before “Uncle” decided to get involved for reasons of s-a-a-a-a-a-a-f-t-e-e-e-e-e, energy efficiency, and the ‘environment’. We’ve got several hood pendants in mind, once being the ‘duck’ from “Grindhouse”, another, if we can find a suitable sculpting, would be the “Flying Fickle Finger of Fate” (fans of the old TV show “Laugh-In” know of whence I speak).

    Eric, if there’d been a DEMAND for minivans and crossovers in the 1960’s, Detroit would have produced them. Something like a Ford Bronco or a Jeep was a guy’s vehicle, if he lived in the mountains and/or as a vehicle to go hunt and fish, or for a rancher to tool around the range, a sort of latter-day steed. Families if they needed something more than the typical large family sedan bought a STATION WAGON. That was the thing…pile the kids, and Grandma into the “Family Truckster” and head down the road. It’s not that I miss station wagons, they had their day, but it was a vehicle that hearkened to a time when a man’s salary was more than enough to support a family in a middle class lifestyle…and the wagon was “Mom’s” car, IF Dad was well off, he had the ‘sporty’ one, or, he drove a pickup or a ‘beater’ to work. There was one advantage of a wagon, besides the obvious cargo space…they were heavier, and usually didn’t come with the ‘stock’ 6-banger or smallest V8. Sure, in the Chevys, which my folks bought when my Dad was transferred to Andrews AFB in ’67, you could get the ‘Biscayne’ model, with a 307 2bbl and three-on-the-tree, but my folks bought the Bel Air, which had the 327 4bbl and, of course, a TurboHydro 350. They drove that beast all over hell and for fifteen years before an accident finally totalled it, once which the party at fault, in a Toyota Corolla, when to the hospital, while my mother didn’t suffer so much as a scratch. On a car without air bags, just the ordinary five-point seat belts. Kinda belies what all the safety nazis and environmentalists were touting even then, don’t it?

  4. They say, “If you can’t do, then teach.”

    They should add, “If you can’t do anything useful, then mandate.”

    These mandates have replaced legislation, because it’s much easier for government apparatchiks to agree when the group is smaller. A group of one doesn’t require consensus.

  5. So the geniuses who have appointed themselves guardians of the village’s children have inadvertently forced parents to put the kids in the very back of a crossover, where they will be the first ones crushed when some crybaby clover tailgater who fancies himself a racecar driver plows into them from behind. Nice.

  6. Saying that you support freedom does not mean that you are a pedophile.

    Saying that you support gun rights does not mean that you think people should murder.

    Saying that you think baseball hats should be legal does not mean that you think people should wear ugly clothes.

    Saying that you think drugs should be legal does not mean you think people should be junkies.

    Saying that you think there should be no minimum wage does not mean you think people will work for free.

    Saying that you think there should not be seatbelt checkpoints does not mean you think people should not use seatbelts.

    Saying that you think there should not be NSA wiretapping does not mean you think terrorism is okay.

    Saying that you oppose Trump does not mean you support Obama.

    Saying that you think there should not be TSA groping does not mean that you are a Russian shill.

    Saying that you think there should not be food stamps does not mean you think people should starve.

    Saying that you think the US debt should be reduced does not mean there should not be roads.

    Saying that you support free speech does not mean that you are a Nazi.

    The government is not your daddy. The government is not your mommy.


  7. One simple fact for me, if a vehicle does not have a full frame, it is temporary and disposable. Unibody will rot eventually. Full frame cars can be rebuilt until the frame rots out, which will take a lot longer than a unibody.

    The same place I found the Fords below, there are tons of 2005+, low mile, good driveline vehicles with significant rot around the wheel wells and sills, most for <$2000 because Unibodies just are not cost effective in to rebuild. Anyone ever do a full body resto on an MGB? It is MUCH more complex on newer vehicles.

    New cars of any sort (in North America), I just don't get the appeal or see the financial sense.

    By the mid-late '90s cars had achieved a level of comfort, economy and reliability that was the sweet spot to me. Everything added since about 2005 has just been added useless shiny crap for the iPeople and over-complex drivelines for uncle.

    $30,000 + Tax + financing + higher insurance?……. for what is essentially a reasonably well equipped (and not particularly desirable) base model mid size?

    Very good late '90s to early 2000s Crown Vics, Grand Marquis and Town Cars are everywhere, reasonably cheap. Just saw two low miles (under 100,000) Town Cars for $3000obo and $4500obo. Not new but very clean and basically as new condition with decent maintenance history. Will have issues eventually (like all cars), but can be bought for around 1 to 2 months wages (5-10 new car payments), get very decent fuel economy for a land-yacht, has pretty simple mechanical that are mostly DIY friendly, no tracking black-box……. Rebuild-able until the frame goes.

    Again, not new. But I can come up with other uses for the remainder of the $45,000+ that a new 'full-size' car would end up costing vs. something I can pay cash for and insure as I see fit. And $10,000 would easily rebuild/replace anything and everything that could go wrong before the new car is off warranty. Worst case, I can go buy another Town Car and still be ahead.

    I must be odd.

    • No, there’s a REASON why taxi and limo companies LOVED those cars! When I drove part time for a local limo service, the Grand Marquis had 300,000+ on the clock and was still going strong…

  8. I would like to add to the discussion. When the big sedans where cafe’d away, most of us went to trucks in the late 80’s because at the time they were not cafe regulated. So the extended cab’s trucks became crew cabs, and now that’s all you see. My family did exactly what Eric said, we went suburban and tahoe that got 12-14mpg, hahaaaaa……. F uncle.
    Uncle realized what was happening and brought the trucks into the cafe fold, and that’s how the crossover was born.
    I would like nothing more that to be able to buy a new ’73 Caddy Fleetwood.
    One of my favorite sedans that lasted I think to 2005 was the Buick Park Ave. Ultra Big everything and pretty fast. Didn’t like the FWD aspect though.
    The Chrysler 300 seems to be the last man standing. V8 too. RWD-only avail. too.

  9. I dislike crossovers. When it came to trade my wife’s ’11 Nissan Rogue (low mileage, but I was concerned about the CVT,) this spring, she mentioned she liked the new Accord but was unsure about going back to a car. Enter your Accord review, calling it ‘sexy,’ which it is, and she was sold! The Accord is pretty much the coolest car I’ve driven (got the 2.0/10 speed/touring) but yeah, it would have been way too pricey if we didn’t get a good offer on our trade.

    Thanks for helping me get a CAR to drive on family trips, Eric!

    • Jeff: My 2015 Hyundai Tuscon was marketed as “sexy” on one ad. This is my third one. Still haven’t been propositioned for being in a sexy car @ 73. The next one will be a sportage (Kia). We save and pay cash, drive it until 5 yr warr. expires. Good on gas and lots room for groceries, etc. and luggage for two of us. Husband drives a 2018 Sorrento (kia). We are retired. I never thought big sedans were cool, but some retirees like them, and see them riding around in the Marquis sedans in my subdivision.

      • Laura, I saw a local Marquis for sale recently. It was tempting but we’re pickup people. A trip down the dirt road to our driveway and you wouldn’t wonder why we’re pickup people. If it comes a really good rain(oh, how I wish it would), the Z 71 is nearly perfect since you can get sucked off in the deep ditch and then the locking front and rear diff’s really pay off…..but, my neighbor a mile away, a good 10 years older than me, drives a Marquis every day. It does pretty well in any weather too but the big hill before you get to pavement is often challenging.

        If it makes you feel better, I haven’t been propositioned in a while either. Of course it doesn’t make you feel better nor me either. In my old age I have become invisible to most everyone under 60. That big smile that young good-looking woman has pointed my way…..I realized I needed to turn around and see the person she was smiling to. Now if the law and order crowd didn’t see me it would all be worth it.

  10. The center console is a problem too. If you’re driving a manual transmission it makes some sense to have a large gear lever. But these days that’s basically just a multi position encoder to tell the computer which direction you’d like to go. Back in the 1950s and 60s Chrysler had push-button gear selectors on some of their higher end cars. It was considered a high tech feature. It took up almost no room (on the dash). These days we have the same thing, but because everyone wants “sporty” we have these ridiculously oversized gear change levers right in the middle of prime derrière space. Not that it matters because bench seats are out of favor too. Because of the cartoonishly large gear change lever in my Jeep, the center console is much wider than it needs to be, but there’s no place to put the phone when it’s charging (although there are 2 USB ports), and very little useful storage overall. Oh and the cupholders are basically worthless because they sit right under your arm, especially bad with two people and their drinks. And it’s not like the Cherokee is a small vehicle with limited space either. But I’m not just picking on Jeep, my A3 was even worse.

    Again, I have to fault the dealers for the lack of imagination with car design these days. Sure, Uncle has his heavy hand in the mechanicals, but the looks and most of the functionality of the thing are squarely in the dealer’s domain. They want to push vehicles off the lot in a hurry, with the least amount of thinking possible. Most salespeople put more effort into figuring out financing than the do actually finding out what the customer might need. So cars become all about the first impression, not what it might be like to live with a poor layout over the next 10 years.


  11. I said this several weeks ago and I’ll say it again, cars WERE the physical extension of individuality and freedom. The new form of travel is the internet. It is the same reason sprawling shopping malls and department stores are dying out. It has become more convenient and accessible to sit on their fat asses and do everything on the sail fawn! It is the same reason I am out of touch with my own family, I don’t participate in the electronic social media bullshit. I have telephone, an E-Mail, a REAL Mail address, even, but no matter. Apparently if one doesn’t make him/her self conveniently available, they are labeled a “recluse”, which is horseshit in my book. The cheapness of the sailfawn vs. the unaffordability of “useful” transportation is killing everything we once knew and trusted. This goes for communities as well. Thousands of strangers packed in dense urban areas and totally isolated by a modern, hand-held, brain-sucking box! All this interaction without effort, or consequence has corroded dialog like battery acid. The energy is consumed and the sulfated lifeless hulk of humanity is being discarded.

    • Me too, gtc. My nephews probably think of me as “poor old reclusive Uncle Ed”. I email them from time to time and they reply, but to have an ongoing conversation with the younger guys in my family, I’d have to have a facebook or twitter account.

      I still view my cars as the physical extension of my own individuality and freedom. I can still load the car and just go, get out of bed in Virginia and go to sleep in Georgia or Kentucky. It’s a car guy thing. The younger guys don’t really understand it.

      • That wouldn’t work for me. I don’t Face or Tweet much because I’m in their coolers 90% of the time for “offending” SJW snowflakes. I got out of the Feces Book cooler yesterday. Let’s see how many days I can last. It won’t be easy with the traitor MexCain news.

        • If there were only some way to have USENET newsgroups work properly again without the spammers and cross posting trolls. Decentralized without moderators. Most everyone decided to flee to their respective echo chambers and those who didn’t need an echo chamber simply get banned one way or another no matter how well reasoned and supported their arguments are.

        • I don’t use those platforms either, Bob. Staying relevant to the younger generation of my family isn’t worth that much hassle to me.

          • Hi Ed,

            Ditto – and there’s no point trying, anyhow. A “generation” nowadays is five years, at the outside. Think how fast everything is changing. It used to take 20 years for the culture to shift profoundly; not anymore.

            Besides which, most of the changes are irrelevances. New PC orthodoxies or some new idiot-minded social media thing. Who cares? I care about the things which endure. Ol’ Marcus Aurelius will still be read when I am long dead. I expect that by then, Caitlyn will have been forgotten.

            One hopes.

            • Ah…..Marcus…..he’d be one in a few billion now. I’d bet Ron Paul would agree. Anyone have his number? I’d like to call and get his opinion. Probably he’d give it….

  12. I couldn’t agree more. We have a van for the family but I also drive a 05 Lesabre that I love because of how spacious the seating is, front and back. I wish there were more cars that had a front bench seat still, it’s great because I can fit five kids with me if I’m not using a car seat (those effectively take up two seats). I’ve looked at newer sedans to replace my aging Lesabre but I don’t really see anything that works well. I don’t buy new, can’t afford it, but even the used crossovers are expensive, and even minivans have become too luxury priced nowadays.

  13. I do miss my 66 Buick Super Wildcat 4dr hardtop. THAT was a full size car. Honest to god 3 x 3 (in comfort) seating, 120mph highway power, and a trunk you could invade a drive in with. The back seat was useful for dating.

    • Actually the Wildcat was the small, sporty car of the day. The LeSabre and Skylark were the bigger brothers, and the duce and a quarter (225, longer than many trucks) was full size.

      • True. My Mom’s ’65 LeSabre 2 door was long and low and would cruise at 100 for a whole tankfull, silent and steady. I loved that car.

      • RK, no, The Wildcat was the same body as the Lesabre with the full size 401 or 425 nailhead. The Skylark was the sporty one which became the GS. The 225 as I recall was a bit bigger, but I never owned a 225. All great machines, with hundreds of pounds of chromed metal and comfortable bench seats. The real treat was Dad’s GS Riviera with the factory dual quad/dual snorkel/cast iron headers and that magnificent crisp styling. That was the first car I ever drove 120 in, and the sound of 2 AFB’s gulping air through all 8 barrels was intoxicating.

  14. Back in the 70’s, GM had large, powerful wagons with cool clamshell rear doors that could tote a ton of people, stuff, and tow a trailer. Most of the families I knew had one, or a Ford equivalent. My favorite was the Olds vista cruiser. The raised rear section of roof, transitioned by a glass mini windshield was cool.

    Many of these families replaced these cars with full sized vans back in the day. If I recall, they were cheaper, had a nuclear crap-ton of room. They were rated as trucks, so no high back seats (initially), and from what I recall – regular fuel.

    My recollection was that long trips up the east coast were far nicer in the van than they ever were in the wagon. That combination of price/utility probably helped kick off the van craze of the time.

    • Techie, just yesterday morning after doing the Hut Hut Hut thing at the DPS office(stand against that wall and here’s your number(pointing at the wall….yawohl, mein Fuhrer!), my best friend called while I was marveling at the overpriced bs at Harbor Freight(no wonder they have extra-special sales)and I lamented being in that rough pickup in the godawful wind(howling, 30-35mph from the South, blowing us all over I 20) and lamented it wasn’t in a Vista Cruiser or the Buick equivalent. He, having owned a few of these said, Naw, you’d be going crazy with all the squeaking. No shit I said, I never heard one squeaking. He says, Well, if you have a person in every seat they’re fairly quiet but the seats squeak like crazy in either of those vehicles when not loaded. If you lay them all down they’re fine. Fine by me since CJ would rather lay on a blanket on the floor than anywhere else.

      So I buy a moving blanket, throw it in the Z 71 and squeak my way back home(back seat squeaks like a bitch if folded up and so does the driver’s door panel). 94 is my cutoff date for vehicles….pre-airbag.

    • My Dad had a couple of mid ’70s Ford LTD wagons bought new and they had jump seats in the rear that would fold up and face each other. My brother and I would ride back there at times, but I bet such seats are outlawed now for safety reasons.

      Both were powered by 351ci V8s and had plenty of space with a fold down rear seat. I bet you could have fit a 4×8 sheet of plywood in the back with the seats down.

      • That was the whole point in my view of a station wagon. It was the poor man’s way to do it all. I guarantee it could hold a 4X8 sheet of plywood and a lot more. I loved riding in the back of my dad’s 57 Chevy wagon on a big aluminum cooler…and that was just because I wanted to ride on it. There was plenty enough room to ride anywhere you liked.

        No doubt I could make a Vista Cruiser quiet as you’d desire. That 455 would get you and a lot of other people 500 miles into west Tx. in a short day no problem.

        Extended family vacations involved several vehicles doing about 90-100mph for hours. It got us where we wanted to be and not in the dark or even close to being in the dark.

        Sure, my mother bitched about the speed and my dad turned a deaf ear to it. It was only a couple years later my dad turned the wheel over to me(at 14)…and why not. I was a phenom at the wheel and got us there toot sweet and he could cruise(asleep)in his own way while we all cruised in another. Hell, I was driving trucks at the time…in the middle of the night. I loved when my uncles turned me loose to drive 30 miles one way to deliver a load.

        I was working the midnight run one year when I was about 18 when my uncle Buster said “When you get there, they’re leaving a machine for you to unload and just unload wherever and leave was their instructions.” I got there the first night, figured out how to unload with a fork truck rapidly and went on my way. Nothing was ever said about it again. It’s not like it’s rocket science. Other than govt. bs, why is there anything different today? You don’t need to be of some certain age to operate a forklift.

        But I’ll bet even people on this site are shitting their pants thinking about their little 200 lb 18 year old boy operating a forktruck in the middle of the night. There’s something bad the matter with this bs. 14 years old as a common age of boy and girl tearing off for the Indian held plains in the Ok. sooner days. The faster you traveled and further you went the more land you could claim….and people of that age were very capable of every day life.

        Due to govt., we now raise pussies…..of both sexes. When I was 14 or earlier, me and my best friend would go fishing and frog gigging and come back and prepare the bounty for our extended families and not think twice about it. All I ever needed in the way of help(everybody sitting around licking their lips)was someone to heat up the lard and fry the fish I had caught and was getting ready to be cooked. Again, this ain’t rocket science, just plain old elbow grease. Once sated, we’d be ready to clean up(kitchen and self)and drink a couple beers and go to bed. What are we missing out on now?

        No shit…..can people really not gut and skin or scale a fish and fry it up along with a lot of taters and hush puppies(just a few ingredients)? It was generally a smorgasbord of catfish, perch and bass and some crappie if the water was deep enough. Hell, I’m slobbering just thinking about it.

        So, what’s happened? It’s almost always something to do with govt. For one thing, small farms were being knocked off left and right starting in the 30’s and continued on into the following decades. How much land does it take to make a living? More and more and more as chemical farming and CAFO farming grew. I’m tempted to get into that but I’m tired and will let those who don’t know figure it out. One thing govt. has pushed is…..greed……

        • Today a driver must be 21 to get a CDL and cross state lines. This requirement came from the feds. One day, as self-driving vehicles and ride-sharing become more common, the feds will push states to make the age for all drivers’ licenses 21. Mark my words. States have already made licensing requirements for teen drivers harder all on their own without fed influence.

  15. I drive a 2014 Chrysler 300 “full size” sedan and I love it with one exception: the trunk is too small. The car looks malproportioned. The trunk space is decent, but no larger. Not cavernous like one would expect.
    Another thing is AWD. I feel many people who live in the snow belt want this feature, and for that, one typically needs to buy a crossover.

    • My 300 has rear seats that will fold flat, making the trunk size much bigger for carrying long loads. I think they all do as my much older one did too.

      As for AWD, you are correct. A friend of my I recently visited in Montana told me, to my surprise, that Subaru was the best selling car in that state. I figured it would be Jeep or something. But he told me that their superior AWD made these extremely popular there. Also fuel efficient (Montanans tend to be, uh, thrifty..)

  16. Your explanation is exactly correct. But I don’t think the absence of Big Sedans for Small Prices is a very big deal. Sedans were always about utility. They was never much romance associated with them. Few people really miss them.

    There “was” a certain, Reverse Cool Factor associated with Crown Vics and Caprices. And I do bemoan their absence at say, the more realistic $40K price point, where they are also hard to find. The reason almost nobody makes large sedans cannot (for once,) be blamed on the feds. It’s because most folks would rather buy big assed SUVs…lower and more aerodynamic be damned.

    • The big sedans and wagons had their mass extinction event in 1985. In 1985 CAFE notched up and they were purged big time. Many had already fallen but for 1985 that was too much to keep them going. For a year or two GM kept offering the full size olds 88 wagon on some sort of double secret probation but other than that only the Panther platform at Ford and the Caprice at GM saw the other side.

      Money could not be spent making new generations. Just updates at best. GM made soap bar versions but it was still the same car underneath. Then GM pulled plug in 1996. Ford continued until 2011 if I remember correctly. The Panther platform had been designed in the late 1970s. It was a run of over 30 years and Ford couldn’t make the next round of fed gov crash safety regs with it. So the axe fell.

      Eric mentions the unibody intermediates are still around but the big standard line cars that regular people could afford are gone.

  17. I wouldn’t call the current Impala anything near “full-size.”

    Hell, it’s about the same size as the old Nova/Chevy II !

    • I couldn’t agree more. We rented a 2018 Impala for the annual “look at me, I’m an idiot!” drive across the Gadsden Purchase to the bad driving Mecca of Houston, Texas. If I were to put pen to paper and compose an honest review of this “full size” car, I’d probably be receiving ticking packages from GM. From the 70’s era Brougham exterior dimensions to the cabin space (and build quality) of an ’87 Hyundai Pony, to the anemic engine and abysmal handling, I really felt like I got ripped off by the FREE upgrade to it.

      My ’63 Comet (“compact” according to 1963 Detroit) feels absolutely cavernous alongside these new FWD abortions. I lost gobs of time, stopping no less than every hundred miles to stretch myself back to my regular shape and/or fill the overly thirsty thing up. By the time I got home I was truly thankful for the fact that I had refilled my scrip for Tylenol #4 prior to departing on the adventure (I also refused to drive anything other than my Polaris Ranger for a few days
      based on the easy ingress/egress).

      • Hi El Guapo,

        You are not alone in re the current Impala. GM is cancelling it after 2019, so the word is, on account of poor sales. Also its Cadillac Cimarron’d cousin, the XTS!

      • Bet your Merc’ “Vomit” has a 170 or 200 CID Ford Six, absolutely reliable, if a bit ‘staid’, but you could just about stand in the engine compartment! Car’s then rarely had “bucket” seats, unless they were a “pony” car like the Mustang that would come out the following year…a ‘coupe’, or 2 door model, had a bench, or “SOB” (Slide Over, Baby) seat where the backs flipped to accommodate entry into the rear.

        Don’t give it up. And if, like Walt Kowalski, you don’t have confidence in your heirs to appreciate a fine piece of automotive history, the executor of your estate can always make me an offer.


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