“Time it was, and what a time it was, it was” (Bookend lyrics, Simon & Garfunkel).
The consolidation of American auto parts and options leaves little to the memory these days. Reflecting back in time, there were so many more options and combinations of exterior and interior design choices for American made automobiles. I suppose the consolidation of automobile models and sub-models created a huge savings for the Detroit manufacturers. But then again, what has become of Mercury, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and lost others?
Let’s rewind to 1965 with Chevrolet. The Biscayne, Bel Air and Impala were the same body style and chassis. The Biscayne was the base model with no exterior chrome trim, basic wheel covers and basic interior décor. 2 Taillights were mounted on each side of the rear.
The Bel Air was the next up trim level from the Biscayne. The differences included seat coverings, door panels, floor coverings, interior and exterior chrome and stainless trim. 2 Taillights were mounted on each side of the rear.
The Impala was the top of the line. It had the best seat coverings, door panels, floor coverings, and the most interior and exterior chrome and stainless trim. Unlike the previous 2 models, it sported 3 taillights on each side of the rear. The Impala also had a sports addition, named the Impala SS Super sport. My parents bought a new 1965 Super sport and handed it down to me in 1973. It had buckets seats, a rear speaker, twin rear exterior radio antennas and spinners on the hubcaps….wow!
Regarding all American cars, there were many more options and choices. Ordering a new car was common, everything was A la carte, and the usual wait time was between 6-8 weeks for it to come off of the production line. Available interior colors were black, white, brown, red, green and blue. You could order these interior colors with any exterior color. Power windows, power steering, power brakes, rear window defroster, intermittent wipers, et al were each ordered separately.
Circa 1980s, Package options became available. Each package offered a combination of optional features. Package I usually offered the least amount of options and Package III offered the most. Presently, most cars are equipped with all the bells & whistles, including various interior and exterior upgrades. If the dealership doesn’t have the exact vehicle in the color and options that you prefer, they can usually locate one from another dealer.