One thing is certain. Fleet users will have a wide choice of models to choose from in 1964.
According to Automotive Fleet's calculations, the auto industry is offering a total of 323 models. While this is down from the 336 models that were available at the close of the 1963 model year, it still makes vehicle selection a difficult task.
Practically all of the new models are longer than a year ago, reflecting the trend of the past several years. Even American Motors Corp.-the original advocate and chief exponent of the compact car, has increased the size of its cars.
As the auto industry sees it, the general public wants and demands bigger cars with more convenience and luxury features. While this may seem a throwback to the early 1950s, the sales figures of the past two years support the contention that the public is getting what it wants. The industry has put together back-to-back 7,000,000 car sales and nothing on the horizon indicates anything different for 1964.
From a fleet buyers standpoint, the increase in size is not necessarily bad. Basically, the cars that have grown in size are now better suited for general fleet purposes. And, with the use of lightweight materials, the bigger cars should be just as economical to operate as in the past.
One fact sticks out about the 1964 model cars. While compact cars last year accounted for better than 30 per cent of all sales, it seems that every automaker is striving to turn out compact cars that don't look so compact.
Studebaker Corp., for example, said at its national press preview that its new line "has lost all traces of the compact appearance it once had." The new Studebakers are almost six inches longer than in 1963.
At General Motors Corp., Buick Special, Oldsmobile F-85 and Pontiac Tempest are all on a 115-inch wheelbase, compared with 112-inches a year ago, and are nearly a foot longer. The B-O-P cars almost fall out of the compact car range.
The only brand new car for 1964 - the Chevrolet Chevelle is also on a 115-inch wheelbase.
The Chevrolet line illustrates the wide choice available to fleet buyers in 1964. Chevy is offering 43 models in five series-standard size Chevrolet, intermediate Chevelle, in-between Corvair and the Corvette sports car. A total of seven engine options are available on the standard line alone, ranging in horsepower from 140 to 425.
"The options and custom feature accessories represent the most complete range in Chevrolet history, permitting a 1964 Chevrolet to be virtually custom-built to personal tastes or specific requirements," said S. E. Knudsen, general manager of Chevrolet and a vice president of General Motors Corp.
The Ford division is offering 44 models in four series while the Chrysler-Plymouth division has 55 models.
All of the 1964 cars have Tyrex tires and just about all use a two-ply cord. Seat belts will be standard equipment after Jan. 1 with the purchaser picking up the tab.
Again, the auto industry is stressing maintenance free service with extended lubrication and oil change intervals. The use of special alloys should cut down on rust and corrosion. More than half of the cars are designed to operate on regular grade gasoline.
General Motors: More And More
General Motors Corp.'s philosophy for 1964 seems to be "more and more."
The giant automaker, currently accounting for more than 50 per cent of all new car sales, hasn't drastically changed the styling of its five car lines, but rather has concentrated on offering more and bigger cars.
The Chevrolet division has brought out the only brand new car line for 1964. Chevy's new car, the Chevelle, is aimed against the Ford Fairlane, and to a lesser extent, against GM's Buick, Pontiac and Oldsmobile compacts. To soften the impact on the B-O-P compacts, GM has lengthened them, and, to all practical purposes, taken them out of the compact-car field. In addition, Oldsmobile has added a new low-priced standard-sized series, the Jetstar.
The 1964 Buick Special, Pontiac Tempest and Oldsmobile F-85 all use the conventional body-bolted-to-frame method of construction instead of the unitized construction featured in the past three years. The B-O-P cars also feature curved glass side windows, pioneered by Ford Motor Co. but discontinued for 1964.
Chevrolet, currently accounting for nearly 30 per cent of all new car sales, is offering the broadest lineup in its history for 1964.
Fleet users will be able to choose from more than 40 models in four different car lines, including the only brand new car to be offered this year.
Chevrolet's newest entry in the auto sales race, the Chevelle, will be offered in 11 models in three series. The car is all Chevrolet, with front, side and rear styling similar to the standard Chevrolet. From a fleet standpoint, the Chevelle offers the fleet user more than the smaller Corvair or Chevy II models.
Built on a 115-inch wheelbase compared with 119 for the standard Chevrolet and 112 for the Chevy II, the Chevelle has a perimeter frame chasis. Front suspension makes use of coil springs and rear suspension is the coil spring four link type.
Fourteen inch wheels, self adjusting brakes, and an alternator are standard equipment on all models. Four engines-two six cylinder and two V8s-arc-available along with four different transmissions.
To make room for the Chevelle, Chevrolet has downgraded the Chevy II. A total of six Chevy If models will be available, five less than in 1963. The models that were dropped were in the middle of the line.
For the first time, a V-8 engine will be offered with the Chevy II. Rated at 195 horsepower, it teams with three other engines in the power plant lineup. Two six cylinder engines at 120 and 155 horsepower will be available with all models and a four-cylinder 90 horsepower engine is available with two- and four-door sedans in the bottom 100 series. Self-adjusting brakes are standard on all models.
The standard Chevrolet is largely unchanged although styling refinements give the ear a longer look. Seven engines ranging from 140 to 245 horsepower are available. Optional for the first time on 409 cubic inch engines is a full transistor ignition system.
The Corvair is now being aimed at the sport car set, or as Chevrolet puts it "to a group of buyers who like something sportier and less conventional in a small ear." All Corvair models will feature a new larger displacement 164 cubic-inch engine that delivers higher performance and better economy. Horsepower ranges from 95 to 110 to 150.
Chevrolet will offer three special taxicab models for 1964-a Chevrolet Biscayne, a Chevrolet 300 and a Chevy II. All are four-door models. Heavy duty equipment available includes a heavier frame with heavier gauge metal in the front cross member, brakes with special lining and a 61-ampere, 12-volt battery.
Three special police ears are available in the standard Chevrolet line and three in the Chevelle line in addition to a Chevy 11 police car. A new heavy-duty bench-type seat is an inch lower than previous heavy-duty Chevrolet seats. A new heavy-duty bucket seat is available with standard-size models. In both the Chevrolet and Chevelle police models, police packages are available with provisions for siren and Hasher in the roof.
Tempest Gets Bigger
The 1964 Pontiac Tempest is 8.7 inches longer than last year's model with a 3 inch boost in wheelbase to 115. A new six cylinder engine is standard equipment, replacing the four-cylinder power plant offered last year. Rated at 140 horsepower with a single carburetor, the six cylinder engine is 7 per cent lighter than previous Tempest engines.
Valves in the engine are in line and at an angle of nine degrees to the vertical providing a modified wedge shape for the combustion chamber. The valve train is similar to that of the regular Pontiac V-8 with actuation of the valve by means of a stamped rocker arm and ball mounted on an individual stud. Two V-8 engines are offered as options, one rated at 250 horsepower, the other at 280 horsepower.
Available for all Tempest engines is a new two-speed torque converter type automatic transmission that is fully hydraulic. Basically, the Pontiac J40 horsepower engine uses a 2.8:1 torque converter for optimum performance characteristics and is air cooled by a varied shroud attached to the front of the outer surface of the torque converter. The V-8 engines use a 2.4:1 torque converter ratio transmission that is routed to an oil cooler in the radiator lower tank.
Both transmissions are designed with aluminum die cast ease and rear bearing retainer for light weight construction and a cast iron valve and pump body for minimum distortion and durability.
In the suspension system, both the upper and lower ball joints have been redesigned. The upper ball joint is a steel full ball stud in a phenolic-teflon lined housing. Lower ball joints are of sintered iron half bearing and metal-to-metal housing. The new Tempest joints are pre-lubricated and with a fixed boot grease seal, 12,000 mile or one year lubrication is recommended. The ball joint seal has a built-in, one way relief valve so that lubrication can be performed in the normal manner when required.
Standard equipment includes front and rear arm rests, sun visors and a cigar lighter. New options include power windows, rear seat speakers, limited-slip differential, a breakerless ignition system and a back window defogger.
The standard Pontiac line is largely unchanged although all models appear longer, lower and wider. Body style sculpturing has become more pronounced.
One of the most significant design changes in the rear suspension is the introduction of composite universal joints-joints that are said to be perfectly balanced during their manufacture and remain so at all times under all conditions. The universal joint's new needle bearings are tapered for better load distribution and longer life. They are held with preload into axial alignment with respect to all joint parts with an injunction molded plastic lock ring. This retains the bearing caps to hold all parts in plane for the life of the assembly, Pontiac says.
The injection molded ring secures the bearing caps to the fixed weld yokes at each end of the propeller shaft and at the slip joint at the front. Attachment to the companion flange is in the same manner as past-years with a U-bolt which requires a snap ring to retain the bearing caps to the companion flange shoulders. Tapered needle bearings are held in position with a plastic ring at the upper inner end of the bearing cap. This new composite universal joint permits the joints to be secured to the propeller shaft for an assembly free from vibration.
Up front, suspension tie rods have been improved to provide a smoother, more spherical seal surface during the forging process to permit the use of a larger improved seal. The new seals have a longer skirt length for increased and better sealing surface which gives maximum protection from dirt and results in longer maintenance-free service.
The brake master cylinder has a new design that features a rubber diaphragm covering the brake fluid reservoir to hermetically seal the brake system from contamination and prevent corrosion and subsequent leakage. The diaphragm is held in place with a new heavy duty stiff wire clamp.
Offered as an option for the first time is Electro-Cruise automatic speed control. A back window defogger is also optional.
A new lower-price standard series coupled with a larger compact car highlights Oldsmobile's offering for 1964.
The new series, the jetstar 88 has the same over-all dimensions as the Dynamic 88 and Super 88, but it: is more than 200 pounds lighter. It is designed to give Oldsmobile broader appeal in the low-medium price field and could serve as a suitable fleet car for those fleets who use a vehicle as a fringe benefit.
Powering the Jetstar 88 is a cast-iron V-8 engine with a 10.25 to 1 compression ratio and 245 horsepower. An optional automatic transmission has an automatic gear shift and torque amplifying feature which permits extra performance without down-shifting,
Styling of the jetstar is similar to that of other standard-sized models.
Other standard-sized models have a new rear quarter panel treatment, but otherwise they are unchanged.
The front suspension has new pivot bushings on the upper control arms for longer life and improved ride characteristics. Single piece construction of the rear suspension lower control arms permits bettor alignment of the differential for quieter operation under all load conditions.
The heater utilizes an air-mix principle by which inside temperature is better regulated and more precisely maintained.
Like the Pontiac Tempest and the Buick Special, the F-85 is on a 115-inch wheelbase and is nearly a foot longer than in 1963. Two new engines are available, a cast-iron V-8 that develops 230 horsepower and a 155 horsepower V-6 engine. A new automatic transmission has a variable torque converter which automatically increases torque output whenever it is needed.
New seals in the front suspension permit relubrication without seal replacement. Capacity of the gasoline tank is 20 gallons and an oil filter is included as standard equipment.
The new Buick lineup features two new super turbine transmissions providing up to 43 per cent more wheel thrust, three new engine's and a larger, roomier Special.
Like the Pontiac Tempest, wheelbase of the Special has been increased three inches and over-all length nearly 11 1/2 inches. The front bumper wraps around and curved glass in the side windows integrates the lower body with the upper. Frame construction and the increased length should provide a better ride and readability.
The standard size models have a wider, lower front appearance although styling is much the same as in 1963. New features include a die-cast grille and new-front fenders and hood. Horizontal taillights extend from the back panel into the rear quarter panels.
The new turbine transmissions represent the first basic transmission change since Buick introduced Dynaflow in 1948. In addition to an improvement in performance and economy, the transmissions are lighter due to the extensive use of aluminum.
The transmissions have two forward speed ratios in addition to Buick's famed "switch the pitch" feature which increases torque multiplication for added performance in passing. The Super Turbine 400 is standard on Riviera and Electra models and optional on the Wildcat and LeSabre series. The Super Turbine 300 is optional on all Special models and all LeSabre models except the station wagon.
Two of the new engines have particular merit for fleet users.
One a V-6, has a 225-cubic inch displacement, up from last year's 198-cubic inch displacement, for better performance, economy and reliability.
The other is a compact aluminum V-8 engine with a cast-iron block and displacement. Buick claims it is the lightest V-8 on the market. By using a cast-iron block, Buick engineers were able to increase the displacement to 300 cubic-inches without increasing the block size. Aluminum is used on the cylinder heads, water pump covers and intake manifold.
Aluminum four-wheel brakes are continued on all standard Buicks and brake drums on the Special are finned to increase cooling capacity.
The adjustable steering wheel and cruise control options, introduced in 1963 as options for standard models, have been extended to the Special. Special has a new front and rear suspension system similar to that of the Pontiac Tempest.
Cadillac Stresses Comfort
Cadillac is being offered in If models, one less than last year. Over-all length has been increased ½ inch.
Highlights of the new Cadillac line include a new engine and transmission and accessories advances. Horsepower on the standard Cadillac engine has been increased to 340 from 325. Displacement is 429 cubic inches, a boost of 10 per cent. With a torque increase to 480 at 3,000 RPM, the performance gain is in the most used driving range-20 to 50 m.p.h.
The engine displacement results from increases in both bore, 4.13 inches, and stroke, 4.0 inches. Although pistons are larger, they weigh loss because of a more efficient design. Modifications have also been made in the crankshaft and camshaft and the capacity of the starting motor has been increased to correspond with the engine increases.
Two automatic transmissions are offered-the conventional Hydra-Matic and a new Turbo Hydra-Made. The Hydra-Matic has been modified to adapt to the high performance engine and is offered in the Sixty-Two series and the Seventy-Five sedan and limousine. Turbo Hydra-Matic, offered in the deVille series, the Sixty Special sedan and the Eldorado convertible, has a torque converter which replaces one of the geared ratios.
An exclusive feature with the .1964 Cadillac is a completely automatic heating and air conditioning system. The driver merely sets a dial thermostat on the instrument panel and the unit, Comfort Control, does the rest, supplying cooled or warm conditioned air at the temperature specified. The result is a constant, comfortable atmosphere within the car regardless of the variable temperatures and humidity outside. Another new option is Twilight Sentinel, an automatic headlight and taillight control.
Checker Marathon Has the Same Look
One car that is not changed for 1964 is the Checker.
In line with a company policy, Checker Motors Corp. relies on running changes rather than year-to-year model changes.
The new Checkers now on sale features a new rust-proofing process and acrylic paint.
On a 120-inch wheelbase, the Checker Marathon is offered in four-door sedan and station wagons models. A jump seat, similar to the type used in taxicabs, is standard on sedan models. Also standard is a 12-volt, 50-ampere battery and a Motorola alternator. A six cylinder 141 horsepower engine is designed to operate on regular 80 octane gasoline.
An outstanding feature of the Checker is its completely flat floor and walk-in, walk-out door openings.