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1980 Automobile Manufacturer Quality Ratings and Rankings
by James Bleeker

Content Summary

This page provides two rankings of the manufacturers of automobiles with more significant sales in North America from model year 1974 to 1979. Each ranking employs a different method of computation.

The statistics used in the computations for rating and ranking the car makers are those found within the April 1980 issue of Consumer Reports. The two sections providing the necessary statistics are CR's Some-Used-Car-Models-To-Avoid list and its reliability charts. Reliability is defined by the magazine as the infrequency of serious problems, which it measures annually by a subscriber survey.

The first ranking of the car makers is based on each manufacturer's infrequency of trouble-prone models. This ranking provides a measure of how well each manufacturer's models successfully avoided the bottom end of the model-quality spectrum.

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

Auto Manufacturer Quality by Infrequency of Trouble-Prone Models

To form a car-manufacturer quality measure from the 1980 list of Some Used Car Models To Avoid, the first step is to count each manufacturer's entries on the list. Each model year of each model is treated as a separate entry.

Next, as the number of automobile models sold by a car manufacturer varies greatly from maker to maker, it is necessary to take account of the fact that a manufacturer with more models has a greater opportunity to have more model years of low quality. To compensate for a possibly inflated, or deflated, frequency of trouble-prone model years of a manufacturer, as well as a variability in model data sufficiency, the number of a manufacturer's entries in CR's 1980 Some-Used-Car-Models-To-Avoid list is divided by the total number of overall reliability ratings for the manufacturer found in the reliability charts of the same issue of Consumer Reports. The overall reliability ratings are found in the Overall-Reliability row of the 1980 reliability charts.

By the method of computation, this quality measure begins with 0 and may run to a value some greater than 1. The value of 0 is the highest quality rating attainable by a car manufacturer and is achieved only when a manufacturer has no entry on the Some-Used-Car-Models-To-Avoid list.

The quality ranking of the automobile manufacturers by the foregoing computations, together with their quality ratings, are given in the first bar graph below. Only those manufacturers with at least 5 overall CR reliability ratings are included.

Auto Manufacturer Quality by the Average of Overall Reliability Ratings

To compute car-maker quality ratings and assemble a 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 manufacturer's model years and models offering an overall reliability rating. CR's 1980 overall reliability ratings are found in the Overall-Reliability 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 quality ranking of the car manufacturers by this set of computations, together with their quality ratings, are given in the second bar graph below. Only those manufacturers with at least 5 overall CR reliability ratings are included.

The Bar Graphs of Auto Manufacturer Quality in 1980

In both of the graphs that follow, the order of the car manufacturers is from best to worst.

When two or more auto manufacturers have no entry in CR's list of Some Used Car Models To Avoid, the companies are listed in descending order of number of overall reliability ratings (a manufacturer with a greater number of overall reliability ratings appears above a manufacturer with fewer ratings), as those companies with a greater number of ratings would have a greater opportunity for a trouble-prone model year to be found.

Automobile Manufacturer Quality in 1980 by Infrequency of Trouble-Prone Models Automobile Manufacturer Quality in 1980 by Average of CR's Overall Reliability Ratings

Summary and Analysis

In 1980, the Top 3 auto manufacturers by infrequency of trouble-prone models were, in descending order (best first), Toyota Motor Corporation, Daimler-Benz AG, and AB Volvo. Although all three of the automobile manufacturers had the highest possible quality rating by infrequency of trouble-prone models, Toyota had the more distinguished record as it had many more overall reliability ratings and consequently had a greater opportunity for a bad model to be uncovered. Daimler-Benz had 11 overall reliability ratings and AB Volvo had 10.

The Bottom 3 auto manufacturers by frequency of trouble-prone models were, in ascending order (worst first), Fiat S.p.A., Saab AB, and American Motors Corporation.

In 1980, General Motors Corporation and Chrysler Corporation were rather average by infrequency of trouble-prone models. Ford Motor Company was above average.

In 1980, the Top 3 auto manufacturers by overall reliability were, in descending order, Daimler-Benz AG, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (Subaru) and Toyota Motor Corporation, and the Bottom 3 manufacturers, in ascending order, were Fiat S.p.A., American Motors Corporation, and Saab AB. By this measure of quality, Ford and General Motors were rather average and Chrysler below average.

The two car manufacturers that are common to the Top 3 of both quality rankings:

Daimler-Benz
Toyota

The same 3 car manufacturers are common to the Bottom 3 of both quality rankings:

Fiat
American Motors
Saab

Two interesting points that the graphs show are:

1. In 1980, the legendary Daimler-Benz AG, bearer of the automotive-engineering excellence mantel for all of the 1960s, still placed higher than Toyota Motor Corporation by overall reliability.

2. In 1980, both General Motors Corporation and Chrysler Corporation were not among the worst, and Ford Motor Company was about where it would be 30 years later.

Additional Resources

To view the graphs showing the 1980 ratings and rankings of the brands of automobiles, 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.

AutoOnInfo.net: The auto-quality website with the Open Directory Cool Site Award.

 

Additional Resources

Detailed information on auto reliability and car, truck, brand, and manufacturer quality, as well as changes in U.S. car and light vehicle market shares, are given in the car guides below. These are available as Kindle ebooks and may be purchased for a small fee on Amazon.com. Links to the Amazon pages offering the books are provided.

Icon for AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series, Volume 3: Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2012 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 2002 to 2005

AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series, Volume 3: Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2012 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 2002 to 2005

Volume 3 of AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series offers quality ratings on car and truck models, brands, and manufacturers using Auto Reliability Grade Point Averages (GPAs) and Grades. With these measures of performance, this e-guide brings to the aid of auto consumers a convenient, anywhere, anytime source of automobile information on enduring reliability. As a further aid, this book provides graphs depicting both automobile brand and manufacturer spectral signatures and density functions.

Ratings and rankings of vehicle models, brands, and manufacturers are for North American model years 2002 to 2005 when the cars and trucks were between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. Used car buyers may use the Reliability GPAs and Grades as a valuable shopping tool for earlier and later model years as well. New car buyers looking for models and lines that have withstood the test of time may use the GPAs and grades as a guide for what runs well over a multi-year time span. Motor vehicles graded and ranked include small cars, family cars, upscale cars, luxury cars, sport cars, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, large SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks. For each of these body styles, the best and the worst are listed in separate chapters.

Icon for AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Quality Series Volume 2: Brand Quality for Model Years 1985 to 2006 and Effect on Brand Market Shares from 1985 to 2009

AutoOnInfo.net's Car Quality Series, Volume 2: Brand Quality for Model Years 1985 to 2006 and Effect on Brand Market Shares from 1985 to 2009

This volume of AutoOnInfo.net’s car guide series offers consumers and researchers an historical summary of the reliability and durability of car and truck brands and examines how these brands have fared in their U.S. market shares. It uses 6-year-old model entries in Consumer Reports’ Used Car to Avoid – also termed Vehicles to Avoid and Worst Cars, Year by Year – and CR’s reliability charts to ascribe quality grades to automobile brands for model-year groups 1985 to 1989, 1990 to 1994, 1995 to 1999, 2000 to 2004, 2005 to 2006, and 1985 to 2006. In addition to ascribing quality grades to each brand, it provides a chart that plots the number of the brand’s 6-year-old model entries in CR’s vehicles to avoid. To examine the effect that a brand’s reliability and durability has had on sales, two or more charts depicting the brand’s U.S. market shares for calendar years 1985 to 2009 are given. These grades and charts and the author’s comments impart an historical perspective that sheds light on the present condition of surviving vehicle lines and their future prospects, individual and institutional shortcomings, and what effect these may have on the U.S.

Icon for AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2009 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 1999 to 2002

AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Guide and Shopping Companion: The 2009 Reliability GPAs and Grades of the 6-to-10-Year-Old Cars and Trucks from Model Years 1999 to 2002

AutoOnInfo.net’s Car Guide offers quality ratings on car models, brands, and manufacturers using Auto Reliability Grade Point Averages (GPAs) and Grades. With this guide, GPAs and grades, familiar by common-place use in educational settings, are brought to the aid of car consumers seeking a convenient, any-where, any-time source of automobile information on enduring reliability. Car models rated are from North American model years 1999 to 2002 when the cars were between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. Used car buyers may use the Reliability GPAs and grades as a valuable shopping tool for earlier and later model years as well. New car buyers looking for models and lines that have withstood the test of time may use the GPAs and grades as a guide for what runs well over a multi-year time span. Motor vehicles graded and ranked include convertibles, coupes, sedans, wagons, hatchbacks, minivans, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

Also visit www.CarsOnInfo.net and www.CarQualityInfo.net for more car and truck quality tables, charts, graphs, and information.