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Cost of a car the year you were born

Posted April 22

You never forget the cars you grew up with. Whether it’s the car you learned to drive on, the first car you bought, or the well-kept classic that still gleams in your garage, that memory is likely one that you will hold fondly for the rest of your life.

AxleGeeks, a vehicle data site and part of the Graphiq network, was curious to see how much the average new car cost in the year you were born. We also wanted to see how much car those same dollars might buy you in 2016 given the new features and technology available to today's car buyer. Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, we calculated the average expenditure per car (considering sales of both domestic and foreign models) for each year since 1967. Then, using the national consumer price index, we adjusted for inflation and calculated the price of each car to determine its value in 2016 dollars.

We also compared the difference in price each year to see how much it went up or down. Turns out, though we enjoy a lot more bells and whistles today, the price of your average new car has remained fairly consistent. Car prices in the U.S. reached a peak in 1999, the same year the average family income peaked at $57,000, according to the Federal Reserve. National GDP growth also hit a 25-year apex in 1999, reaching a whopping 4.79 percent. As GDP growth declined in following years, average car prices followed suit.

The BEA data we used provided the average month-to-month price of purchased cars, so we took the average of all 12 months to determine the yearly cost average.

1967

Car Cost: $3,215

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $22,807

1968

Car Cost: $3,407

Change From Previous Year: +$191

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $23,189

1969

Car Cost: $3,556

Change From Previous Year: +$150

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $22,946

1970

Car Cost: $3,543

Change From Previous Year: -$14

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $21,625

1971

Car Cost: $3,742

Change From Previous Year: +$200

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $21,881

1972

Car Cost: $3,879

Change From Previous Year: +$137

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $21,977

1973

Car Cost: $4,052

Change From Previous Year: +$173

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $21,616

1974

Car Cost: $4,441

Change From Previous Year: +$389

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $21,344

1975

Car Cost: $4,951

Change From Previous Year: +$510

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $21,810

1976

Car Cost: $5,416

Change From Previous Year: +$465

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $22,552

1977

Car Cost: $5,813

Change From Previous Year: +$397

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $22,728

1978

Car Cost: $6,379

Change From Previous Year: +$566

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $23,180

1979

Car Cost: $6,848

Change From Previous Year: +$469

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $22,356

1980

Car Cost: $7,574

Change From Previous Year: +$727

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $21,787

1981

Car Cost: $8,910

Change From Previous Year: +$1,335

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $23,234

1982

Car Cost: $9,903

Change From Previous Year: +$993

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $24,317

1983

Car Cost: $10,607

Change From Previous Year: +$704

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $25,238

1984

Car Cost: $11,374

Change From Previous Year: +$767

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $25,948

1985

Car Cost: $11,838

Change From Previous Year: +$464

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $26,067

1986

Car Cost: $12,651

Change From Previous Year: +$813

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,338

1987

Car Cost: $13,383

Change From Previous Year: +$733

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,916

1988

Car Cost: $13,933

Change From Previous Year: +$550

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,918

1989

Car Cost: $14,372

Change From Previous Year: +$439

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,479

1990

Car Cost: $15,045

Change From Previous Year: +$673

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,292

1991

Car Cost: $15,473

Change From Previous Year: +$428

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $26,936

1992

Car Cost: $16,334

Change From Previous Year: +$862

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,608

1993

Car Cost: $16,829

Change From Previous Year: +$495

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,616

1994

Car Cost: $17,803

Change From Previous Year: +$974

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $28,473

1995

Car Cost: $17,900

Change From Previous Year: +$97

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,848

1996

Car Cost: $18,525

Change From Previous Year: +$626

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,982

1997

Car Cost: $19,214

Change From Previous Year: +$689

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $28,370

1998

Car Cost: $20,238

Change From Previous Year: +$1,024

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $29,412

1999

Car Cost: $20,686

Change From Previous Year: +$448

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $29,416

2000

Car Cost: $21,047

Change From Previous Year: +$360

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $28,944

2001

Car Cost: $21,478

Change From Previous Year: +$431

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $28,733

2002

Car Cost: $21,866

Change From Previous Year: +$388

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $28,791

2003

Car Cost: $21,663

Change From Previous Year: -$203

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,883

2004

Car Cost: $22,068

Change From Previous Year: +$404

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,656

2005

Car Cost: $23,013

Change From Previous Year: +$945

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,893

2006

Car Cost: $23,629

Change From Previous Year: +$617

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,752

2007

Car Cost: $23,892

Change From Previous Year: +$263

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,297

2008

Car Cost: $23,429

Change From Previous Year: -$463

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $25,787

2009

Car Cost: $23,252

Change From Previous Year: -$177

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $25,696

2010

Car Cost: $24,899

Change From Previous Year: +$1,647

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $27,082

2011

Car Cost: $25,498

Change From Previous Year: +$599

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $26,873

2012

Car Cost: $25,552

Change From Previous Year: +$55

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $26,377

2013

Car Cost: $25,581

Change From Previous Year: +$29

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $26,017

2014

Car Cost: $25,464

Change From Previous Year: -$118

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $25,489

2015

Car Cost: $25,332

Change From Previous Year: -$132

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $25,332

2016

Car Cost: $25,449

Change From Previous Year: +$117

Car Cost in 2016 Dollars: $25,449

Overview

These summary visualizations illustrate two visible trends between the absolute and inflation-adjusted costs of a car since 1967. Though the absolute price of a car has steadily risen due to inflation, the inflation-adjusted price has remained relatively stable. This means car buying over time has likely had a similar impact on American budgets, regardless of the year of purchase. In other good news for the American car buyer, the cost of the average new car in 2016 is the lowest it has been since 1983.

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