What kind of car would a well to do family drive in the year 1968?
January 12, 2012 1:12 PM   Subscribe

What car would a well-to-do family drive in the year 1968?

I'm trying to create a list of cars that correspond with people of different social status and class in the year 1968.
I suppose that today, a well-to-do family would drive a Mercedes or a BMW.
A slightly less well-to-do family might drive an Audi or a Lexus
Moving down, a Subaru, a Toyota, a Honda, etc.

Anyway, what were the nicer cars that families drove in the year 1968?
posted by foxinsocks to Technology (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In the US, or elsewhere?
posted by downing street memo at 1:16 PM on January 12, 2012

posted by Wordwoman at 1:18 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cadillac or Mercedes.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:21 PM on January 12, 2012

Cadillac, Lincoln, or Imperial, in the US.
posted by procrastination at 1:23 PM on January 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

European imports were relatively rare and expensive at the time, so Mercedes and Porsche would be on that list.

For domestics, Cadillac and Lincoln were the big boys.
posted by brand-gnu at 1:23 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

In the US Midwest in 1968 my dad drove a Mercedes 280 SE, my grandma drove a Lincoln Continental, my grandfather drove a Cadillac Eldorado. My girlfriends' parents drove a Volvo p1800 and a Chrysler Imperial.
posted by Floydd at 1:25 PM on January 12, 2012

I think we need to know more about the family. Mom's car with kids would be a station wagon. Muscle cars were introduced then. too. Could be a Buick Electra.

Why not look through the ads and stories in period magazines?
posted by Ideefixe at 1:27 PM on January 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Mercury line was really popular as a higher mid-range selection. The fancier people I knew of as a kid had these and they had cooshier, couch-like seats and fancy hub-caps.
posted by readery at 1:29 PM on January 12, 2012

I was 11 in 1968 and a car nut to boot. For US makes, Cadillac and Lincoln for sure. Chrysler, perhaps, but to a much lesser extent.

The only foreign luxury make that I recall actually regularly seeing on the road was Mercedes.

Volvos were around but we considered them oddballs. Their advertising of the time touted their ability to survive the crappy roads in Sweden, hardly the approach a "luxury" car would take. VW was still a bargain brand just starting to introduce something other than the Bug. Porsche and Ferrari were rare and not anyone's idea of a family vehicle. BMW was more of an enthusiast's car and much smaller than any US sedan of the era, although a well-off family might let a son or daughter own one. A family down the street was really into Peugeot, but they were an anomaly.

Japanese cars didn't appear until much later and were decidedly low-end.
posted by tommasz at 1:42 PM on January 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

I agree with the Caddy consensus, but for an added POV, here is a list of print ads from 1968, that contain a few car companies.
posted by timsteil at 1:48 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Peugeot was really more of a college-professor car in most of the US (folks who might today have one Subaru and one SmartForTwo or a Prius)--pricey, but also a little hippie-dippie. Agree that Volvo and Saab were marketing themselves as "roadworthy in super-snowy weather" rather than performance or luxury cars at that time (and through the 1970s).

You can't go wrong with having them drive a Cadillac or a Lincoln.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:48 PM on January 12, 2012

Cars used in Goodfellas might give you some indication:

1967 Cadillac DeVille
1965 Buick Riviera
1967 Chevrolet Camaro
1965 Chevrolet Impala
1968 Pontiac Grand Prix
posted by KokuRyu at 1:56 PM on January 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

If the novel Middlesex is in any way historically accurate, definitely a Cadillac.
posted by Sara C. at 2:20 PM on January 12, 2012

In the Mad Men episode "The Gold Violin", Don Draper buys a Cadillac Coup DeVille to show his success. Although this episode is set circa 1962, Wikipedia says this car was still very popular in 1968.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:28 PM on January 12, 2012

Volvos and Saabs (though I don't remember Saabs til a few years later, mid-seventies) were really popular among the Northeast back-to-the-landers some of whom were fairly affluent. The Volkswagon class of hippiemobiles [bus, bug] were more owned by people of various classes and were more popular on the west coast.
posted by jessamyn at 2:51 PM on January 12, 2012

I hear family - so no two doors/sports

If it was the UK.

Rolls Royce
Astin Martin
Humber Snipe / Super Snipe

if Australia

Holden Premier / Holden Brougham / Ford Fairlane / Ford LTD - as well as the English cars
posted by mattoxic at 3:01 PM on January 12, 2012

We were straight down the middle class and my dad yearned for a Cadillac DeVille.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:11 PM on January 12, 2012

In 1968 my suburban upper middle class parents had a Cadillac (for mom) and a Lincoln (for dad).
posted by Pineapplicious at 3:37 PM on January 12, 2012

Don't forget these luxury cars of '68: Bentley, Rolls, Mercedes, and Lamborghini Espada.

And a '68 Jaguar XJ6 would've shown more sophistication than any Caddy in my neighborhood.
posted by artdrectr at 4:28 PM on January 12, 2012

From the affluent old wasp perspective it was Mercury (squire option) or Mercedes station wagons for the women and kinder and something sporty for the pater (lol). My dad had from 1962-1970, a Karman Ghia then a BMW 1600 Alpina and finally a Porsche. (Later more BMWs, he loved 'em.) His own father had estate cars from England: a Hillman then a beauty of a Humber. There was also a postwar Willys for the beach house and a Land Rover for taking wet dogs to the woods etc. (Honestly no one we knew then would have had a Cadillac, that was what the middle class bought when it got money.)
posted by henry scobie at 6:50 PM on January 12, 2012

Anybody I knew (East Coast, DC and points north) with both class and money in '68 had "foreign cars" (Volvos [P1800!], Jags, MGs/Triumphs/AustinHealys, Saabs, Citroens, Mercedes…). And/or old American station wagons. Ditto henry scobie: NO one we knew would have had a Cadillac. And brand-new cars were rare; quality didn't need constant updating.
posted by dpcoffin at 8:47 PM on January 12, 2012

I seem to recall better off families in 1968 Michigan driving well-appointed station wagons; Mercurys, Buicks, and Chryslers were fairly prevalent back then. At least in Michigan then (well, the Wayne/Washtenaw County areas) foreign cars weren't seen much, as many people were directly or indirectly employed by the domestic automotive industry.
posted by motown missile at 12:04 AM on January 13, 2012

Coming from a relatively conservative area, most of the more well off people I knew drove Buick, Chrysler, or Mercury automobiles. Cadillacs and Lincolns were generally seen as too ostentatious.

Anybody who drove anything foreign was seen as quirky, and I hardly ever saw a Volvo. Even Mercedes sightings were rare.
posted by imjustsaying at 4:21 AM on January 13, 2012

Agreed. I'd say Buick or Cadillac. Maybe an Oldsmobile, but ...

Don't forget these luxury cars of '68: Bentley, Rolls, Mercedes, and Lamborghini Espada.

...only for the extremely well-to-do.
posted by Rash at 8:27 AM on January 13, 2012

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