2019 Accord Touring

What’s important to note is that is an article written in the modern era, looking back. By the standards of today, of course a 1976 Accord is an econobox. A 1976 BMW is an econobox by today’s standards. By the standards of 1976, it absolutely was not. Of more relevance is this actual 1976 review:

in which R&T is extremely impressed, especially by the high-end features such as remote hatch release and 5-speed transmission, neither of which were generally found on “econoboxes” of the time.


Here are some luxury items that distinguished the upper trim line automobiles from the lower line econoboxes back in the late 1940s and early 1950s that were factory installed and have dusappeared:

  1. Lighted hood ornament
  2. Rear fender skirts
  3. Whitesidewall tires
  4. Warning buzzer that let you know when the you exceeded a preset speed.
  5. Locking glove box
  6. Underhood light
    I haven’t seen these features for years. I bet some of you in my age bracket can think of more.

I occasionally see underhood lights. Oftentimes in Buicks that were marketed at people who grew up in the 40’s/50’s. :wink:

Current-day BMW’s have a speed-exceeded warning chime.

And the skirts might be making a comeback!:

They showed up in full force in the early 2000’s on the Insight:

but owners found them annoying, especially since they had a nasty habit of getting torn off in automatic car washes.

My 1973 Toyota Corolla was, relatively speaking, an econobox. Four overworked hamsters engine (1.2L, 73hp if I recall), no power steering, no radio, no a/c. On the other hand, for a small basic car it was far more comfy than a VW Beetle, easy to get in and out of, had a three-speed automatic transmission, and a generous easy to use trunk. So compared to the 1956 and 1965 Oldsmobiles I was used to, it was an econobox but a nicer one than it might have been. We always called it The Toy.

Good light-hearted, interesting discussion. Whitewall tires turns an econobox into a luxury car? I can see that. I usually bought whitewalls for my truck years ago, when they were commonly available, so it appears it was a luxury vehicle at that time anyway. Now the truck is 4 wheels of black-wall Michelins, back to non-luxury. I installed an under-hood light and a trunk-light in my Corolla, so maybe it’s now a luxury car … lol . As there is no official def’n of econobox, the issue of whether a car is or is not of course can never be resolved. Can we at least all agree that the Acura sedan line, and the Toyota Avalon and Lexus sedans are not classified as econobox?

The ultimate U.S. econobox of the 1950s was the Henry J. In second place was the 1957-58 Studebaker Scotsman.

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A true econobox lacks outside access to the trunk–like the original Henry J!
A true econobox lacks a passenger-side sun visor, like the Scotsman!

@VDCdriver George Mason who was president of Nash motor company, was instrumental in the development of the Rambler, which came out in 1950. The first model was a convertible followed by a station wagon. Standard equipment included a radio, a heater that brought in fresh air from the outside, and I believe turning signals. The Rambler was small by 1950 standards, but the price was about the same as a lower trimline Chevrolet. The Rambler was not an econobox. The Rambler lasted into the 1960s while the Henry J which was about the same size, was gone by 1954 after having been introduced about the same time as the Rambler. Mason reasoned that there were buyers for a small car, but not an econobox.

About 20 years ago, there was a used car lot located in the town that is our County Seat, and they seemed to specialize in cars of the '50s. One night, I stopped there to see what they had available, and they had a pristine-looking Rambler convertible, which looked more or less like Lois Lane’s car, from the Superman TV series of the '50s.

A few weeks later, I returned to that lot during business hours with the thought of possibly buying that Rambler convertible. It was not there, and when I asked the proprietor about it, his answer was something along the lines of…
I decided that I just had to keep it for myself, so I took it off the lot.

I think that this guy was more of an old car lover than a really good businessman, because a couple of years later, he had to close his shop. If he still has “Lois Lane’s Rambler convertible” in his personal collection, I envy him.


George Mason, who was CEO of Nash motors, had innovative ideas. He wanted to merge the independents, Nash, Hudson, Studebaker, and Packard to fight the big three-GM, Ford and Chrysler. He believed that such a merger would provide a car in every price range. Studebaker also made pickup trucks, so that base would be covered as well. Unfortunately, Studebaker and Packard wouldn’t go along with the idea. Mason died in 1954 and George Romney became CEO. The merger of Nash and Hudson had happened and the company was called American Motors. Romney did follow the plans laid out by Geoge Mason. The Ramblers weren’t stripped down econoboxes like the Studebaker Scotsman. While Romney was CEO of American Motors, the company was making money.

Makes me wonder if George would classify the 4cyl Mustang of today an econbox.
It’s listed as a sub-compact car and gets nearly the same gas mileage as the 2L turbo Accord 21/32 v 23/34.
Hell, the Civic is listed as a mid-sized car now.

If you are referring to the me-George (rather than George Mason in the post above), no , I’ve never considered the Mustang an econobox.