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- Baseline CPI 1962 – 15.9
- Today’s CPI (June 2016) – 129.1 (up 0.3 from May)
- 1962 prices in today’s dollar – 1962 price X 8.12
The front cover of the Eaton’s Summer Sale Catalogue for 1962 features a lawn mower on the front cover (shown above). It’s your standard push gas mower and was selling for the seemingly cheap price of $62.99 back then. Only $6 a month on the installment plan! But in today’s dollars, that would be $511.48. A similar mower today at Sears would set you back anywhere from $199.95 to $499.99, both by Yard Machines.
Technologically, rotary mowers haven’t changed much. A rotating blade under the housing powered by a gasoline engine on top. Some of the top models today have electric start. And most of today’s models have a grass catcher bag as a standard accessory.
Back then there were some models with a drive system. Self-propelled. The model at left went for $101.87 which is $827.18 in today’s dollar. The cheapest at Sears today is their Craftsman house brand at $399.95. The most expensive, also from Craftsman, goes for $549.99.
The 1962 catalogue also featured self-propelled reel type models $94.50 for the economy model or $121.95 for the deluxe model. That’s $767.34 and $990.23 respectively in today’s dollar. Sears doesn’t have them nor does Canadian Tire. But I did find an electric one at Home Depot Canada for $599.00.
However, push reel mowers have come into vogue again as a way to keep fit. In 1962, push reel mowers went from $13.49 to $19.87 or $109.53 to $161.34 in today’s dollar. They range from $109.99 to $179.99 at Sears today.
You could also get electric mowers in 1962. At $89.95 and $55.66, the ones shown above would cost $730.39 and $451.96 in today’s dollar. Similar products at Sears today run from $229.99 to $449.99.
For larger yards, you could get a riding mower back in 1962. But they were pretty simple affairs compared to today’s models.
At $169.50 and $249.50 for the deluxe model, they would set you back $1376.34 or $2025.94 in today’s dollar. Sears doesn’t carry them but you can get them from $1299.99 to $2999.99 at Canadian Tire. They range up to $6707.00 at Home Depot Canada. You can get even pricier models at specialty shops. Toro and John Deere are the leading manufacturers of riding mowers today.
While the technology for basic lawn mowers hasn’t changed much since 1962, there are some things available today that weren’t even invented yet in 1962. Most notable of these, of course, is the weed whacker.
You can find the products shown here on the full catalogue pages 174 and 175 as well as the front cover.