Have you ever wondered why the model year and actual calendar year of production vehicles rarely coincide? Do you ever notice American-made cars have a tendency to come out almost comically early? Have you ever wondered why?

The answer is as uniquely American as the question itself, revolving around agriculture, consumer culture, and television.

Like daylight saving time, the automotive model year owes its antiquated existence to the needs of this nation's farmers.

"The automotive model year started back in the teens. Farmers would harvest their crops and sell them every fall, and that's when they had enough cash in their pockets to go out and buy a car. And that's how the model year started, and eventually that's how the fall introduction of new cars started," John Wolkonowicz, an auto analyst and historian, told The Detroit News.

Production limitations also made those first companies product-heavy by the third-quarter and left them lean by the spring.

"In the early days, assembly plants in northern states had trouble with lighting and heating in the winter months," says Bob Kreipke, Ford Motor Company's Corporate Historian, "so they mostly produced in the summer months and then put the cars out for sale in the fall."

The automotive industry eventually agreed upon October 1st as the official start of the new model year. It followed previous sales schedules and coincided with the autumn launch of new television seasons, as A.C. Nielsen dubbed it as the perfect time for advertisers. Automotive companies took notice and began building hype on-screen and off.

"The new model year in the '50s and '60s was designed to bring excitement in cars. Cars were shipped to dealers covered in canvas tarps and dealer showroom windows were painted over to hide the cars until preview night. Dealers had parties in their stores on the night the new cars were shown for the first time," Wolkonowicz told Detroit News.

Automakers know there is a level of prestige that comes from telling your less auto-savvy neighbors you've somehow managed to snag a car an entire year early. That's why the first cars in the showrooms tend to arrive generously equipped; they know first-round customers will pay more for the opportunity to act smug for a few months.

While fleet has remained important to manufactures, more staggered introduction schedules have become routine with the sales model year pushed ahead even further.

Year-round new-model introductions are the norm. The NHTSA permits vehicles to be designated the next model year if manufactured by January 1st of the preceding calendar-year. For example, a car produced on January 1, 2017 can be sold by the OEM as a 2018 model. This has resulted in even larger model year gaps and the main reason so many vehicles appear in advertisements during the Super Bowl.