SALES ON TEETER-TOTTER
It was the lowest total in the 11 years that Polk has been compiling such figures. It compares with 1,908,016 in 1931; 2,626,068 in 1930; and 3,848,937 in 1929.
The 1935 Chevrolet Suburban looked swell in this elegant setting, but the dark clouds in America's economic sky in the 1930s had most people thinking about survival, not affluence.
As the 1920s ended (and the stock market crashed), the auto industry enjoyed its greatest year: 4,339,694 new cars and light trucks were sold in 1929. Fewer than 3 million vehicles were sold in 1930, and about 2 million were sold in 1931. But the worst was to come.
In 1932, Americans bought 1,096,399 new cars and 159,819 new trucks for a total of 1,256,218 - down 71 percent from three years earlier.
Stated another way, the 1,256,218 vehicles sold in all of 1932 were considerably fewer than the 1,501,901 new vehicles sold in April 2000.
The picture began to improve after 1932. Sales topped 3 million in 1935 and edged past 4 million in 1937. Then came the recession and a 45 percent decline to 2.2 million in 1938.
During the 1920s, 79 makes of cars were sold in the United States, some for the entire period and some for only a year or two. In 1939, 20 makes were sold. It was truly survival of the fittest.