The Society of Automotive Historians

J Kelly Flory, Jr.

Society of Automotive Historians – Details of Books Written by Our Members

American Cars, 1946–1959

Brief Description: 

This comprehensive reference book details every model from each of the major manufacturers (including independents such as Kaiser-Frazer and Crosley but excluding very low-volume marques such as Tucker) from model years 1946 through 1959. Year by year, it provides an overview of the industry and market, followed by an individual report on each company: its main news for the year (introductions or cancellations of models, new engines and transmissions, advertising themes, sales trends etc.); its production figures and market status; and its powertrain offerings, paint colors and major options. The company’s models are then detailed individually with such information as body styles, prices, dimensions and weights, standard equipment and production figures.  Published 2008.


            Number of Pages:       1,047   Number of Images – Color:    None   Black and white:  948

            Price:                           $75      ISBN:  978-0-7864-3229-5                            

            Publisher:        McFarland

            Link to Website:

Table of Contents:       

Abbreviations ix
Preface 1
Introduction 5
1946 15
1947 69
1948 126
1949 184
1950 250
1951 318
1952 391
1953 469
1954 545
1955 621
1956 700
1957 777
1958 855
1959 938
I. Minor Makes from the Immediate Postwar Period 1011
II. Transmission Types 1016
III. Engine Types 1020
IV. 1950s Dream Cars 1021
V. Milestones 1030
Bibliography 1033
Index 1035

Reviews of Book: 

Order this book, lift it out of the shipping carton, and you’ll immediately be struck by what must have gone into organizing and writing it.  This is the companion piece, a prequel, to a similar reference volume that Flory assembled for McFarland on car from 1960 through 1972.  It cleanly and compactly reports on each make year by year, including models, production, market share, pricing, options and colors, plus some very obscure statistics.  It’s enormous, running to 948 pages.

The statistics to which we refer include overall width and height – exceptionally useful numbers for anyone doing serious automotive research.  The book pretty much covers all the makes of its assigned era that built cars in any significant numbers.  For instance, it addresses Allstate and Crosley, but not Tucker.  The last is relegated to a separate, anecdotal chapter on minor makes, which also ties in Playboy and Willys (Jeepster).  Another chapter happily handles 1950s dream cars.

Each year’s coverage begins with a concise but readable overview, as does the book itself, with an anecdotal take on the state of the auto industry as this pivotal decade commenced.  As with its predecessor, this Flory volume is one to which you’ll return many times, and is vital to any committed student of cars in the Fifties.

Jim Donnelly, Hemmings Classic Car, November 2008

…You may not have seriously looked at them thinking they were similar in content to The Standard Catalog of American Cars.  And thus you have shortchanged yourself.  John “Kelly” Flory’s approach is different so while there is some overlap of information, essentially Flory’s American Cars books picks up where the Standard Catalogs leave off.

The format for the American Cars books arranges everything chronologically.  Then within each year, makes are presented alphabetically with individual sub segments for each model.  Each section and segment commences with a few words placing what follows into context of the industry and times.  Particularly fun and but instructive too are the quotations that open each segment.  Each was culled from period factory marketing and advertising documents that are one of the primary source materials for Flory.  …they are quite revealing about the culture of the time.  For every model tables, and lists enumerate specifications, available powertrains, prices, standard features, options, production numbers, market status and other facts.

American Cars 1946-1959 includes multiple pages on Studebaker in each year noting of course its coupling with Packard.  …With each volume Flory has refined and tweaked the presentation of information.  Some of the refinements include addition of appendices to cover topics such as…dream and/or concept cars.

Helen V. Hutchings, AVANTI Magazine – Issue 161, Winter/Spring 2013

American Cars, 1960–1972

Brief Description: 

The automotive industry underwent great change in the 1960s and the early 1970s. The continuing trend toward market consolidation, the proliferation of sizes and nameplates, and the “need for speed” characterized this period, loosely labeled as the muscle car era.

This is an exhaustive reference work to American made cars of model years 1960–1972. Organized by year (and summarizing the market annually), it provides a yearly update on each make’s status and production figures, then details all models offered for that year.

Model listings include available body styles, base prices, engine and transmission choices, power ratings, standard equipment, major options and their prices, curb weight and dimensions (interior and exterior), paint color choices, changes from the previous year’s model, and sales figures.

Also given are assembly plant locations and historical overviews of each model nameplate.

The book is profusely illustrated with 1,018 photographs


            Number of Pages:       944      Number of Images – Color:    None   Black and white:  1,018

            Price:                           $75      ISBN:  978-0-7864-1273-0                            

            Publisher:        McFarland

            Link to Website:

Reviews of Book: 

“I love this book. I’ve been writing largely about pre-World War II cars for a long time, so long that  a lot of the cars that were new when I began have become history since. It’s about time I lean more about them, and this is the perfect book for me.

That the author is a technical accounting analyst (until 2009) shows in the splendidly well-organized presentation of this volume.  Finding a reference is super easy.  Listings – literally “Every Model, Year by Year – are impressively complete:  body styles, base prices, engine and transmission choices, power ratings, standard equipment, major options with prices, curb weight, dimension interior and exterior, paint choices, changes from model previous, sales figures, assembly plant locations.  More than a thousand photographs provide visual documentation.

The ‘60’s and early ‘70’s represented significant change as well as both consolidation and proliferation in the automobile industry.  A lot of people call the period the  “muscle car era”, those rambunctious years when horsepower was king before the gas crisis hit with a reality check.  Obviously [the author] loves these cars. His enthusiasm shines through in the introductions preceding each model segment, which are written with authority and clarity.

This book is highly recommended to everyone with even a modicum of interest in the cars of this era.  Kelly is an SAH member.  On a personal note, I can’t tell you what a thrill it is for me to see so much fabulous automobile history being written by the Society that has long been so close to my heart.

Beverly Rae Kimes, SAH Journal, July-August 2004

It sometimes seems as though Detroit had nothing on their minds other than performance during the Sixties.  But that period had many other defining moments worth mentioning.  The author seemed to have the entire spectrum of the Sixties events in mind when compiling this black-and-white, 937-page hardcover compendium.

For each model year and marque, Flory gives brief overviews of the trends affecting production, style and performance before launching into the pertinent measurements, prices, color, options, advertising slogans and engine selections.  The facts and figures are extensive, but not complete, as Flory concedes in the introduction.  But when many other “reference” materials offer more flash than fact, it’s refreshing to have a well-organized, nearly comprehensive book such as this.  As for the accuracy of the figures, we have yet to find any inconsistencies or errors after using the book for several weeks here a Hemmings.

Let’s just hope volumes covering trucks and other decades (the Fifties and the remainder of the Seventies would be welcome additions) are in the works.

Daniel Strohl, Hemmings Classic Car, November 2004

I have spent hours in this book and had to have it forcibly removed from my hands.  Why mow he lawn when one can relive the glory days of the American automobile?  J. “Kelly” Flory, Jr. has complied complete stats on every car built in a way that makes each one come alive.  He includes the sales slogans, production figures and price lists, the year the nameplate was introduced, body lifestyle spans, the competition, standard equipment, options and the year-to-year changes.  But best of all Flory analyzes the market, recording how each particular model fared from year to year and this is the good part – actually shows the percentage changes.  Weighing in at more than two (!) kilos, this book is pure filet mignon for car fans.  With nearly 1,000 pictures on 938 pages of meaty information, no self-respecting automobile nut can live without this one.

James May, Old Autos (Canada), June 5, 2006

American Cars, 1973–1980

Brief Description:

The 1973 oil crisis forced the American automotive industry into a period of dramatic change, marked by stiff foreign competition, tougher product regulations and suddenly altered consumer demand. With gas prices soaring and the economy in a veritable tailspin, muscle cars and the massive “need-for-speed” engines of the late ’60s were out, and fuel efficient compacts were in. By 1980, American manufacturers were churning out some of the most feature laden, yet smallest and most fuel efficient cars they had ever built.

This exhaustive reference work details every model from each of the major American manufacturers from model years 1973 through 1980, including various “captive imports” (e.g. Dodge’s Colt, built by Mitsubishi.) Within each model year, it reports on each manufacturer’s significant news and details every model offered: its specifications, powertrain offerings, prices, standard features, major options, and production figures, among other facts.

The work is heavily illustrated with approximately 1,300 photographs.


            Number of Pages:       959      Number of Images – Color:    None   Black and white:  1,381

            Price:                           $75      ISBN:  978-0-7864-4352-9                            

            Publisher:        McFarland

            Link to Website:

Table of Contents:       


Top of Form

AcknowledgmentsBottom of Form

Abbreviations and Terminology ix
Preface 1
Introduction 6
1973 21
1974 121
1975 219
1976 325
1977 433
1978 545
1979 661
1980 772
I. Minor Makes and Replicars 883
II. History of Captive Imports, 1973-1980 890
III. Pace Cars and Motor Trend “Car of the Year” Winners 893
IV. Option Groups and Packages 896
V. General Motors Engine RPO and VIN Codes 928
VI. Tire Sizes, Identification and Recalls 929
VII. Aftermarket Convertible Conversions 931
VIII. Concept Cars 935
IX. Model and Body Style Codes 939
X. Manufacturer Logos, 1973-1980 942
Bibliography 946
Index  Bottom of Form 947

Reviews of Book: 

When the editorial staff at Hemmings needs to verify something hard and fast, where do we go?  Plenty of times, to the exhaustively researched, year-by-year reference books of Kelly Flory.  This is his third, following earlier volumes covering the years 1946 through 1959 and 1960 through 1972.

The latest work by Flory is appropriately large, to cover the years of upheaval in the American auto industry.  It’s enormous, in fact, at 959 hardcover pages and nearly 1,400 photos.  The book is organized year and then alphabetically by manufacturer.  This volume also includes the captive imports that were then coming into vogue, such as the Mitsubishi-built Dodge Colt, and the short-lived Plymouth Cricket, a rebadged version of the British built Hillman Avenger.

How detailed is this book?  Let’s look at Ford in 1976, There’s a historical lead0in that details such minutiae as the coming of the somewhat desperate MPG model tag for four0cylinder Pintos and Mustang IIs, plus the end of the Maverick Grabber and its replacement by the Stallion.  A data box then outlines production, market share, assembly plant locations and VIN data.  Next are tables with powertrain options and data, including pricing and MPG ratings.  Options and paint selections are similarly broken out.  Individual models are then addressed with year to year changes, full measurements (including for instance, overall width and height of a Ford Granada), and sub0classes within the model range.  Flory’s works are our go-to books.  They’re incredibly good.

Jim Donnelly, Hemmings Motor News, March 2013

At a cursory glance, American Cars, 1973 to 1980: Every Model, Year by Year is a massive statistical outpouring of vehicle measurement, pricing for the vehicle and it various available options, and other specifications and information, including where the vehicle was built, what its colors were called, and how to unravel the VIN (vehicle identification number) coding.

But what we think sets it apart is Flory’s prose, from the Introduction in which he discusses the impact of fuel crises and environmental and safety regulations that were thrust upon the auto industry to the industry’s own negligence in both anticipation and response.

The book includes only the American Big Three automakers (and American Motors), their domestic products and their so-called captive imports, such as the Opels sold by Buick and the Capris by Mercury.

And there are Appendices that cover minor makes such as Bricklin and Checker, that go into more detail on the captive imports, that list Indy 500 pace cars and the cars of the year as selected by Motor Trend magazine, that explore various option groups and packages, General Motors RPO (engine) codes…aftermarket convertible conversions (OEM’s were out of that business until 1982), concept cars of the period, even the evolution of automotive logos.

The book spans nearly a thousand pages in an 8 x 10 format; includes 1.381 usually very small, black & white photographs; and is a trove of wonderful information for the auto enthusiast or historian.

The $75 suggested retail price seems a bargain for such a volume, and for Flory Jr’s narrative and some of the tales he shares.

Larry Edsall,, 2013

Australia currently has more different automotive brands on sale than any other country in the world, but one glance at this impressive volume shows just how much choice Americans have always had.  1973 was a watershed year for the American auto industry with the oil crisis, stiff foreign competition, tougher regulations and a change in consumer demand.  This book details every model from each of the major American manufacturers, including what it calls “captive imports” (such as the Dodge-badged Mitsubishi Colt).  It isn’t a book you’ll read for light relief (although I found myself dipping into it over and over again).  It is a year by year summary of a changing industry, with specifications, powertrains, prices, standard and optional features, production figures and lots more about every model.  If you own (or wish you owned) and American car from this period, you’ll want this book.

Michael Gasking, Wheelspin, Spring 2013