2013 Chevy Spark Vs. 1973 Full-Size Car: Helpful Infographic

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2013 Chevrolet Spark minicar

2013 Chevrolet Spark minicar

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We luv us some cheerful infographics, as we often say.

Today's specimen comes courtesy of Chevrolet, which is preparing to launch the smallest Chevy it's ever sold, the 2013 Spark minicar.

The infographic compares the Chevy Spark to a full-size 1973 U.S. sedan (using data for unspecified "popularly priced" 1973 sedan models from three U.S. manufacturers), and serves up the four following factoids:

  • The 2013 Spark is "50 percent smaller" than a full-size 1973 sedan
  • But the front and rear headroom and front legroom is just as good in the new minicar as in the 40-year-old sedan
  • The driver sits 6 inches higher in the Spark than in the old sedan
  • Both cars use the same size of wheels, with a 15-inch diameter

We did some thinking about these assertions, and think a bit of discussion is in order.

Our added comments:

2013 Chevrolet Spark minicar vs. 1973 full-size sedan [infographic: Chevrolet]

2013 Chevrolet Spark minicar vs. 1973 full-size sedan [infographic: Chevrolet]

Enlarge Photo
  • It depends how you define "smaller," but presumably Chevy is referring to the car's overall volume, since the 144-inch-long Spark is about two-thirds the length of larger 1973 sedans; it's definitely narrower, but it's worth keeping in mind that the big 1973 sedan had a small cabin but a very long hood and trunk
  • Americans are fatter and taller these days than they were in 1973, meaning even small cars have had to get bigger
  • The "H-point," or hip height in the driver's seat, is a major contributor to a feeling of safety in a world with very tall pickup trucks and SUVs that drivers can't see through
  • The 15-inch wheels on the 40-year-old sedan likely had taller, lower-pressure tires than the Spark's more modern tires, and they may even have been bias-plys rather than radials

The Spark's 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine puts out 83 horsepower and is fitted with a five-speed manual transmission (a four-speed automatic is optional).

Its power output is perhaps one-half to one-third that of the straight-six and V-8 engines three to five times the size used in 1973 (though horsepower was rated differently back then).

As for fuel efficiency, which the infographic doesn't address, the 2013 Chevrolet Spark will likely get a combined EPA rating somewhere in the 30-to-35-mpg range.

(That's about three times as efficient as that 1973 car, designed well before the 1973 fuel crisis drove gas prices temporarily from 12 or 15 cents a gallon to a terrifying, unsustainable 40 or 50 cents.)

MORE INFOGRAPHICS: herehere, here, here, and here

It's actually tougher to get the highest gas-mileage ratings on the smallest cars, since it's easier to reduce aerodynamic drag on longer, sleeker cars (think compact sedans) than shorter, stubbier ones (e.g. the Spark).

We'd like to see other infographics that compare the Spark both to a 1973 "subcompact" like the 140-inch-long Honda Civic and to a true minicar, perhaps the 120-inch-long original 1959 Morris Mini-Minor.

In the end, the 2013 Chevrolet Spark is a prime example of what we call "bracket creep" in car sizing. In 1963, for Europeans it would have been a mid-size car; in 1973, it might have been a compact car in the U.S.

But today, with interior room taking precedence over exterior length, it's a minicar on the outside--even though it's more than enough car for the one or two people who will ever likely occupy it.

As for that unnamed 1973 full-size sedan, sic transit gloria mundi.


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Comments (9)
  1. No word on how many dead bodies can fit in the trunk of each?

  2. I thought the Spark was supposed to be an all electric and made in China, now here it is an ICE and made where? ...Korea.

    It sorta looks like a Leaf after having a stoke; reason the eyes are now on the side instead of on the top. Can't GM go back to having original ideas like they did in the 60s and 70s?

  3. They have just had one ,the Volt!

  4. Come on, James, before displaying your ignorance yet again, how about you actually take the time needed to look things up? Oh, that's right, it's you...

    There are ICE and EV versions. The ICE is made in four countries, S. Korea, Uzbekistan, India and Colombia.

    It's not made in China now, I don't believe, but so what if it eventually is? That would be for the Chinese market. Oh, that's right, you probably don't even want GM to sell there, either, right?

    You seem to have a lot of free time, so how about actually researching things instead of being wrong in almost every comment you make?

    The best quarterly profits at Chrysler in 13 years announced yesterday must be killing you!

  5. You are exhibiting a little bit of ignorance there yourself, aren't you buddy? You apparently did not read the article on this site where GM representatives were meeting with China representatives to discuss building the Spark in China and to a design that will be pleasing to the Chinese people. I know you have more free time on your hands than I do on mine, so I understand you not having the time to have read that article.

  6. Typical nonsense from the King of it... Yeah, you were blatantly wrong about the EV versus the ICE Spark, but rather than admit your obvious mistake, you prove you're even more lazy. GM already makes this in nine countries, so who cares if it's made in China to be sold there?

    In your xenophobic (look it up...) world, you simply can't get that all OEMs manufacture in China for the Chinese market. The US market will not be supplied from China, or did you manage to miss that very obvious point as well?

    I read the article, James, but unlike you, I also understood it. You, on the other hand, are obsessed with Chinese conspiracies that don't exist. GM's profit in China doesn't harm the U.S. and other OEMs do the same thing... but if GM, bad?

  7. I'd rather own an all-electric version of a massive "Yank tank" but alas, I can't afford the batteries!

  8. The Spark is too small for my tastes, but I wish Chev would bring out a Sonic BEV version.

  9. Roy, agreed. I wonder what made them choose the Spark? The Sonic is a decent small car and would have made a better choice, I think. Perhaps looking at the Sonic for another future EV, perhaps...? Just wishful thinking, I'm sure...

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