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The 10 Best Automobile Brands in 1975
by James Bleeker

Content Summary

This page provides a ranking of the 10 best brands of automobiles sold in North America from model year 1971 to 1974. Other web pages of this section provide two rankings; however, the numbers required for the second ranking are not available, that is, they do not exist.

The statistics used in the computations for rating and ranking the brands are those found within the April 1975 issue of Consumer Reports. The section providing the necessary statistics is CR's reliability charts. Reliability is defined by the magazine as the infrequency of serious problems, which it measures annually by a subscriber survey.

The ranking of the car brands is based on the average of the overall reliability ratings of each brand's models. It provides a measure of how well a brand's models performed over the entire model-quality spectrum.

Auto Brand Quality by the Average of Overall Reliability Ratings: The Top 10 of 1975

To compute brand-quality ratings and assemble a brand-quality ranking using Consumer Reports' overall reliability ratings, a number is associated with each rating. A +1.0 is ascribed to a rating of Much Better Than Average, a +0.5 to a rating of Better Than Average, a 0 to a rating of Average, a -0.5 to a rating of Worse Than Average, and a -1.0 to a rating of Much Worse Than Average. Then an average is taken over all of the brand's model years and models offering an overall reliability rating. CR's 1975 overall reliability ratings are found in the Overall-Record row of its reliability charts.

For this measure of quality, the range is from -1.0 (the worst possible) to +1.0 (the best possible).

The 10 best car brands by this set of computations, together with their quality ratings, are given in the bar graph below. Only those brands with at least 5 overall CR reliability ratings are included.

The Bar Graph of the Top 10 of 1975

In the graph that follows, the order of the car brands is with the best on top.

The 10 Best Auto Brands in 1975 by the Average of CR's Overall Reliability Ratings

Summary and Analysis

The ten best brands in 1975 were, in descending order (best first), Mercedes-Benz, Nissan's Datsun, Toyota, Ford's Lincoln, VW's Volkswagen, Ford's Mercury, GM's Oldsmobile (off-loaded in 2004), Porsche, Ford's Ford, and GM's Buick.

Some interesting points from the above graph are:

1. Mercedes-Benz maintained its engineering excellence into the 1970s.

2. By 1975, the Toyota brand had already achieved a high standing in overall reliability.

3. In 1975, all three of Ford's North American brands were within the Top 10, a more distinguished achievement than what it attained in 2010.

Additional Resources

To view the 10 Worst brands of 1975, click Go.

To view the graphs showing the ratings and rankings of all brands, click Go.

For a Google Knol that summarizes the changes in auto-brand and auto-manufacturer ranking by these quality measures from 1990 to 2010, click Go.

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