25 pct. mortality seen in Wisconsin
Manufacturers had war contracts; dealers had nothing to sell but service and a few used cars. The New York situation noted above was the same throughout the country. With no new cars, the present car was all-important.
A Ford advertising jingle summed it up like this:
There's a Ford in your future,
But the Ford in your past
Is the Ford you have now,
So you'd better make it last!
Retaining technicians was a problem. The war plants paid higher wages and, of course, many of them entered the armed forces. Some dealers set up their own mini-war plants. They bought equipment and became subcontractors to companies with government work.
There were bizarre moments during the war, such as Cadillac outselling Chevrolet 9 to 1.
It happened in 1943. GM posted sales of 502 Cadillacs and only 56 Chevrolets. GM sold 102 Oldsmobiles and 21 Pontiacs that year, for a total of 681 cars, all built before production was halted in February 1942. Factory sales in 1944 were 69 Cadillacs, 27 Chevrolets, 10 Pontiacs and 1 Oldsmobile. No Buicks either year.
Dealer mortality was high. In My Years with General Motors, Sloan reported that GM had 17,360 dealerships in June 1941. The total slipped to 13,791 in February 1944, a loss of 21 percent. Automotive News found that the count had grown to 15,360 by 1950.