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Four Fun Friday Forties And Fifties Kodachrome Car Images

Number Eighty-one of the “Kodachrome Image Series” begins this week with a photo of a residential neighborhood that appears to be in either the Sea Cliff or Outer Richmond sections of San Francisco, California. The Golden Gate Bridge stands out in the background along with a US Navy vessel. This mid-1950s photograph shows the two-tone and pastel blue and salmon colors that were in vogue during the era.

As is the usual practice in this series, we ask our readers to tell us the year, make, and model of all of these vehicles along with anything else of interest in the photos. You can look back on all the earlier parts of this series here. The photos are via Americar.


  • This scene appears to be showing a proud father, who may have bought his daughter this convertible.


  • This large luxury car was apparently photographed out in front of a campsite.


  • This station wagon image is included as a contrast to last week’s interest in door lock location.

39 responses to “Four Fun Friday Forties And Fifties Kodachrome Car Images

  1. The large luxury car is a 1949 Cadillac 60S and back in the shadows to the left is what appears to be a ’49 Cadillac Coupe deVille which was the first year for that model. Is the site perhaps a vacation cabin construction project?

  2. I think that I enjoy the view of the past as much as the cars. What a nice neighborhood, what did those properties cost, even then. No smiling allowed in the photo of the Mercury convertible. No need for a tent with that Cadillac sedan, sleeps two with plenty of trunk storage. Mom and Pop motel, office downstairs, apartment up top. Yellow brick architecture is as 1950s as the Chevrolet. The boxer reminds me of my own Ginger, brought home in a 1958 Ford wagon.

  3. Let’s schlap some more chrome on that ’46 Ford and call it a Mercury. Boy, those late 40s cars sure looked slow and stodgy.

    • Actually this is a 1948 Mercury, the final year of this body style (1942 to 1948) before the Bob Gregorie designed models in 1949.

    • A ’46 Mercury was my first car, and I recall that it had slightly more displacement (or compression?) than the equivalent Ford. Can anyone advise?

  4. Talking about the top pic ,my brother owned a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere V8 Torqueflite in a two tone Salmon and Terracotta outfit it was a wonderful car .Once in the estreets everybody turned to stare at it!

  5. Colorful California,,, I think the photo was recolored.
    Yeah, it may have been a stodgy time, but look what was across the street. (Nash?) That Merc convertible was THE sharpest car on the street, I bet. ( although, if it is the daughter, she doesn’t look too surprised) And what’s with the high waistlines back then?
    If it is a campsite, it’s pretty rustic for a Cadillac and Chrysler(?) owners.
    I too remember mom and pop motels (none we stayed at had courtesy cars though) I can remember, coming in late to one of these, ring a doorbell, and usually, an older woman in a night gown and curlers would answer the door, hand the old man a key, and say, “we’ll settle up in the morning”. Try that today.

  6. I love Google Maps! The San Francisco shot is the intersection of El Camino del Mar and Lake St. in the Sea Cliff Neighborhood. The House with the shutters on the far right is still there and it appears the tile roof house across El Camino del Mar is there in modified form. The stone clad house with the trellis in front appears to gone and is now the yard of the Tile roof house.

    What a beautiful shot. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities but I could never afford it!

    • Nicely done Andy. Looking at the Streetview today the neighborhood seems to have transitioned from upper middle-class to near-millionaire’s row. I have to say I liked it better in its original form.

    • Beautiful views indeed. Just for kicks, Zillow says houses on that street are $3-5M, with a top end of $8M a couple blocks over, on lots 2000-4000 sq-ft. That’s a foreign economy to us in Middle America. To each his own, but with that nest egg this midwesterner would have a rambling estate without a neighbor in sight, and shops enough to hold every car pictured here plus a dozen more, along with a life income to allow time to enjoy them all. I would spring for a pilgrimage to the Old Motor shop, too. Bet the foliage is a sight to behold about now.

  7. Andy did a good job indeed. But nobody caught that Navy Cruiser in the background! It’s probably headed to Hunters Point Naval Yard. Both my parents worked there. I grew up watching those ships come in.

  8. My two cents, please:

    1) In the first picture, imagine what those hoses would be worth, with that view. Looks to be a 48 Buick Roadmaster in the garage. A 51 or 52 Chrysler Windsor going down the hill. There’s a 52 or 53 Ford Customline peeking out, mounting the hill. Beautiful 53 Victoria in coral and white. The 55 Customline Fordor must be parked pretty far away from the curb. It doesn’t appear to have a driver.

    2) As Bill Mack above has noted; no smiles allowed in the Mercury photo. The fender shields add a nice touch, though.

    3) Interesting how the Chevrolet has wheels that match the two-tone blue of the roof.

    Again, thank you so much for the blog. I really look forward to it every day.

  9. The Merc convertible is a loaded car, with skirts , bumper ends, spotlight, bumper guards, and whitewall tires. The car across the street is a 1937 Hudson

    • John, you raise an interesting point. In the period immediately after the war, when people stood in line to buy anything with wheels a lot of dealers made a lot of extra money by loading every car with as man accessories as possible. Perhaps this was one of those.

  10. I heard that owning a car in Frisco was rough on clutches and brakes cuz of the steep hills but that might be an old wives tale.

    • I was there in 1979 with my girlfriend, and her Ford Pinto. I can tell you it was white knuckle experience, and she came close to a panic attack. Brake shops must do a great business in San Francisco.

      • Try Frisco with a VW Van! Now that is an experience in sphincter control! And for Undertaker, the 239 was introduced for Ford in 1946. You must be thinking of the Y-block, OHV that was introduced in 1954 and soon grew to 312 c.i. in 1956 for all Mercs.

    • I am sure they get more use than say Florida. In a trip there in 1989 with my stick shift VW rabbit pickup I manged to parallel park on a fairly steep street on Telegraph hill. I was quite proud and took a photo of it!

  11. I love that ’55 Ford Crestline coming at us in the first photo.
    I’ve always thought that the ’55 Fords were better looking than the ’55 Chevies, but what do I know? That was the second year of the new OHV V8. I think the salmon and white Ford is a ’53. What a beautiful scene! Those homes must be worth an absolute fortune today.
    One more thing. Those ’55 Fords had a neat circular radio in the dash. It was a one year only radio though.

  12. Lived for several years a block or so from the SF site. Yes, there is a lot of fog in that part of town. Also yes as to wear on clutches (less so on brakes). While our ’66 Mustang and ’74 Alfa clutches did well, some cars could be burnt out in a day–won’t mention names.

    • I was stationed at Travis AFB for several years in the mid-seventies and often drove to and in San Francisco. As several have mentioned the hills can be tough on clutches and brakes; in addition taking off uphill can be quite an adventure with a manual transmission car. I can remember being in a friend’s car that slid thru an intersection in the rain because of the steepness of the hill. Fortunately there was no one coming the other way. I still remember crossing the Bay Bridge during rush hour, 17 lanes of toll booths that narrowed down to 5 lanes on the bridge. Fortunately I was driving my Nova with the Corvette motor so I was able to get ahead of the traffic 🙂

  13. Yes, the fog drove me out of S.F. years ago, but as one sees there are some gorgeous days there. There are many microclimates as well- dense , chilly fog near the ocean, and at the same time banana boat weather in the eastern neighbourhoods.
    Contrary to popular belief, S.F. has many flat areas, but some (not all) of the hills are extremely steep. Natives (including myself at one time) get used to them. The two Studebaker Starlight Coupes I drove in college days had hill holders, which made the hills inconsequential.
    The Sea Cliff area has always been well maintained, lovely, and expensively exclusive. I drove down this street last Monday after visiting an exhibit at the nearby Legion of Honour museum.

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