Companies that had formerly produced horse drawn vehicles became car manufacturers or built bodies on chassis produced by others. Many of the expensive 1920s cars were custom built for their wealthy owners.
Meanwhile, Americans fell in love with their cars. The 1920's cars brought people to different places, touring towns all over the country. Autocamping became a national fad and pastime. 1922 saw 15 million autocampers on the road, a relatively safe and inexpensive way for families to go out and have fun, as well as see the countrysides.
Young people, who before were restricted to meet in their porches, now found themselves in the privacy of their cars, which scared most parents.
The rapidly growing automobile industry led by Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company produced new and better models every year. Increased wages and lower cost vehicles through mass production made cars increasingly affordable, although 3 out of 4 cars were bought on installment plans which is basically how people today finance their cars.
Henry Ford, who was awash with profits of his Model T, became complacent. He was unwilling to acknowledge the changing nature of the marketplace and it almost proved to be his undoing.
People wanted a different car than the Model T. America in the 1920s was a rich and ambitious place. Its consumers wanted more than functional cars - they wanted their cars to reflect on their status, they wanted to feel rich.
Although the 1920s was a difficult time for many small, independent car makers, it was a great time for some of the larger independents: Packard, Willy-Overland, Hudson, Nash, and Studebaker.
The most successful of the independents were Errett L. Cord and Walter P. Chrysler
Cord, a former race car driver and salesman, joined the Auburn Automobile Company in 1924 which was sagging at that time. He turned the company around. He understood what the consumers wanted, therefore he built 1920's automobiles which were sturdy, sleek, reliable, and more expensive than the rest. But they were popular.
He soon joined forces with the Duesenberg brothers, Fred and Augie, to produce a line of passenger cars that would be the envy of the entire industry, including the modest Model A Duesenberg and later in the 1920s, the lavish Model J.
One of the biggest motoring events of 1927 was the release of the "new Ford", the Model A,
which replaced the long-standing Model T after 18 years of production.
New makes of 1920's cars proliferated - from the low cost Model T Ford through to the expensive and even more expensive Rolls Royce (now owned by Volkswagen
). Most of the carmakers no longer exist or have been amalgamated but many of the old car names like Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet (all owned by GM Motors), Dodge (owned by Chrysler
), Fiat, Ford, Lincoln (Ford), and Oldsmobile (GM) live on today. Others like the Auburn, Cole, Crow, Davis, Dixie, Durant, Elcar, Grant, King, Kline, Lafayette, Kurtz, Marmon, Mercer, Overland, Peerless, Pilot, Roamer, Saxon, Stearns, Velie, Wescott and Winton are only seen in vintage car shows today.
1922 Studebaker Roadster