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TexRiv_63

1948 Car Production

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I just read an article in an old Hemmings Classic Car magazine called "Rearview Mirror 1948" in which they discuss the events of that year from an automotive standpoint. Part of the article is a chart showing American passenger car production figures by manufacturer and the total of this is 2,656,531 cars produced. which is believable since they were still in the postwar bull sales market. But when I looked at that total it hit me that I almost never see a 1948 model from any maker today and I look at a lot of car related stuff both in print and online. My mom drove a 48 Ford back in the 50s but I can't remember the last time I saw a photo of one or an article about one. I don't know what a realistic survival rate would be for 70 year old cars but even if it was just one percent that would be almost 27,000 cars. Assuming that most of those surviving cars would be owned by car people today where are they? Apologies to anyone owning a 48 but it just hit me as strange, what do you think?

IMG_0001 (2).jpg

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Just my opinion but I think that due to the post WW2 car shortage most 1948 cars would have been driven into the ground.  There were not a lot of 'exciting' or 'collectible' cars built in 1948 either.

 

There, that'll stir 'em up.

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1948 was the last year of the postwar seller's market. By early 1949 the car shortage was over, used car prices were down and there were plenty of flashy new cars to go around.

 

Then from 1948 to 1958 you had perhaps the biggest leap of improvements of any 10 year period in auto history. You went from the average car having a flathead six of 80 or 90 HP to V8s with up to 390 HP. Lower, longer, wider, flashier with unheard of luxuries like air conditioning, power windows, power seats, power brakes, power steering, auto trans which were limited to the most expensive cars of 1948 or were not available at any price.

 

A big change was the new super highways that became available from the mid fifties on. Many cars of the early fifties and earlier simply could not keep up a 60 -70 MPH pace without blowing up or feeling unsafe and uncomfortable.

 

This led to a lot of cars of the period before 1955 being scrapped because they were functionally obsolete as well as those that were old and worn out.

 

Cars from the mid thirties back stood a chance of being saved by collectors. Cars from 1941 to the early fifties were scrapped wholesale.

 

So now you have this phenomenon of vintage cars being mainly from the thirties and earlier, or the mid fifties and later. Not many people are even interested in run of the mill cars of the late forties and early fifties.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Although a small amount compared to other makes, 1948 was Crosley's biggest year with over 31,000 cars produced.  (Compared to 5,000 in 46 and 22,000 in 47). Agreed they were not "exciting" cars, but they are a lot of fun, and the 48s make up a pretty good percentage of our national show field every year.   And speaking of Hemmings Classic car, there is a 48 Crosley convertible on it this year!

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My 1948 Plymouth with 84,000 miles on it and original upholstery.

 

When I was a kid the family had a '48 Chevrolet Fleetline. After it went to the Junkyard I was happy to see it on the road for many more years driven by one of the employees.

48 ply.jpg

Edited by JFranklin
Addendum (see edit history)
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That 1948  production total sounds low. 3.9 million is shown in  The Last Onslaught On Detroit . It also shows the totals for nineteen US makes.

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Very frequent for writers to get sloppy with 'model year' vs. 'calendar year', despite what they write. Plus, frequently 'monkey wrench' tabulating goes on.


My source book says 'model year', also includes 1949 First Series for Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler & DeSoto but has "estimated" after those AND after Nash.
This book source numbers agree with the O/P numbers except for Ford; above : 247,772, my source : 430,198.

19 makes : 3,414,745

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1946 and 1947 models are much rarer today than 1948. All are very similar but with some differences.  Chrysler did not even bother to break out production numbers from 1946-1948.  Here's my 1947 Buick Roadmaster, unrestored, original, 62,000 miles.

 

He111 and 47 RM AdjX.jpg

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17 hours ago, WQ59B said:

Very frequent for writers to get sloppy with 'model year' vs. 'calendar year', despite what they write. Plus, frequently 'monkey wrench' tabulating goes on.


My source book says 'model year', also includes 1949 First Series for Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler & DeSoto but has "estimated" after those AND after Nash.
This book source numbers agree with the O/P numbers except for Ford; above : 247,772, my source : 430,198.

19 makes : 3,414,745

So this underscores my original question even more. What is a realistic survival rate for a 1948 car?

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1 hour ago, TexRiv_63 said:

So this underscores my original question even more. What is a realistic survival rate for a 1948 car?

 

No one knows.  Historically, about 1% of the cars from a given model year survive 20 years later (well, at least for cars of that vintage).  Naturally this survival percentage is higher for more desirable models and lower for less desirable ones. I really only search for Oldsmobiles and I have seen a number of 48s for sale over the last few years, but frankly, everyone wants a 49 or newer Olds for the V8.  About the only 1948 cars that stand out are the Tuckers, of course. Clearly a few more than 1%  of those have survived.

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1946-1948 cars are mostly the same as the prewar cars, mechanically and in styling, as that was the quickest way to get cars back into production.  In 1949-1955 all companies began offering new, overhead valve V8 engines, true automatic transmissions and other very advanced features over the 1948 models.  The 1946-48 cars became technically obsolete very quickly and no one wanted one.  They were mostly driven into the ground, because they were worth little as a trade-in.  In the early '60's, I remember only a very few 1946-48 cars still on the road and they looked very much like antiques to me at that time.  We're talking 12 to 14 year old cars.  I only remember two in my very middle class neighborhood.  One was a 1948 Plymouth coupe and the other was a 1948 Dodge four-door.  The ones that remain are true survivors from a period that pasted them buy quickly.

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An 'apples-to-oranges' scenario, but interesting all the same IMO :: according to a 2012 count, 192 out of the 532 1953 Eldorado's were confirmed as surviving, or 36%. Obviously, that's a very high priced, specialty car.

 

Tucker has an incredible survival rate of 92%.

Edited by WQ59B (see edit history)

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I just looked back at the AACA National Meet results from Hershey in 2017 though the recent Grand National in Greensburg, PA.  There were a total of 26 1946-1948 cars shown in Classes 26A, 26B, HPOF and DPC.  Some of these may be the same cars at multiple shows.

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