John's Journal: John McElroy's multimedia blog about the automotive industry

AUTOMOTIVE INSIGHT: Comparing 1960s Cars to Today

June 2nd, 2008 at 5:11pm

As heard on
WWJ Newsradio 950

Listen to this story:

If the car companies were able to dust off the blueprints for the cars they made in the 1960s, what would it cost to make it today?

Forty years ago the average car cost a little over $3,000. Sounds pretty cheap, doesn’t it? Well, we really have to factor in inflation. $3,000 in the late 1960′s is $8,800 in today’s dollars.

Of course, automakers couldn’t legally sell a design from the 1960s today. It would not meet any of the safety or emissions standards. So, if you add all that equipment to a 1960s car, it would cost about $13,400 today.

But most people wouldn’t buy that car. In the ’60s cars didn’t have the kind of standard equipment most people expect today, like an automatic transmission, power steering, power windows, locks and mirrors, reclining seats, FM radio, and a whole lot more. And that’s why the average price of a new passenger car today is a little over $23,000.

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