1976 Automotive History

Introduced: October 3, 1975. Model year production: 1,861,537 (incl. Mustangs). Total production for U.S. market of 1,714,258 units. (incl. Mustangs) consisted of 342,434 four cylinder, 390,750 sixes and 981,074 V8s. Calender year sales by U.S. dealers: 1,682,583 (incl. Mustangs); total sales gave Ford a 19.9 percent share of the market.

Ford sales had declined sharply in the 1975 model year, down over 21 percent. That left Ford with only a 22 percent market share. Full size models had sold best. Even the success of the Granada (new for 1975) hadn't been as great as anticipated. Continuing their interest in small, economical cars, Ford had introduced Pinto Pony and Mustang II MPG models late in the 1975 model year. Sales swung upward again for the 1976 model year, even though few major changes were evident in the lineup. Part of the reason was Ford's new "California strategy," which offered special option packages for West Coast buyers only, in an attempt to take sales away from the imports. It proved quite successful this year. Prices took a sizable jump as the model year began, then were cut back in January. Production fell for Pinto, Mustang II and Meverick in the 1976 model year, but overall production zoomed up almost 19 percent - especially due to Granada demand. Model year sales followed a similar pattern, up 18.5 percent for the year. Major changes in Ford personnel had taken place late in the 1975 model year. Henry Ford II, Lee Iacocca and B.E. Bidwell were top Ford executives. Pinto was once described as "a car nobody loved, but everybody bought." This was the last year of the allegedly unsafe Pinto gas tank and filler neck, which had resulted in a number of highly publicized and grotesque accident-caused fires that led to massive product-liability lawsuits. The new Maverick Stallion was meant to look like a '60s muscle car, but offered no more performance than other Mavericks. Granada, on the other hand, had proven to be one of the fastest Fords, at least with a "Windsor" 351 cu. in. V8 under its hood

Cadillac builds the last U.S. ragtop, until the 1980s revival.

Kia takes over Asia Motors Company, and establishes the Kia Machine Tool Company, Ltd.

Porsche is the first manufacturer to offer standard, hotdip, galvanized bodies. The Porsche 924 with transaxle chassis arrives as the successor to the VW Porsche 914. Porsche is World Champion for Makes again; a first time for the 935 turbo race sports car which dominates until 1981.

Hyundai begins exporting its Pony subcompact model.