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Four Fun Friday Forties and Sixties Kodachrome Car Images

Number Eighty-two of the “Kodachrome Image Series” begins this week with a photo of a Corvette with New Hampshire license plates out on a winter day. Many of the Chevrolet fiberglass sports cars were stored during the season here in northern New England, but wearing snow tires, and at times tire chains some of them were used year round. This lead to the frames and rear crossmembers rusting out on many of these cars and shattered rear fenders if a chain got loose.

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.


  • Kodachrome and other types of film from the period were known for the deep color saturation as is seen on this blue Buick. In addition to the car, tell us about the license plates.


  • Live from WPOM, a station affiliated with ABC is this pair of compact Chevrolets.


  • Two top-of-the-line automobiles from different makers are in this view along with a red compact car and a pair of Chevrolet pickup trucks.

46 responses to “Four Fun Friday Forties and Sixties Kodachrome Car Images

    • John,

      The BUICK SPECIAL most likely is either a 1947 or ’48, but Buick carried over this same Special for a short 1949 run of less than six thousand.


    • 1946 distinguished from 1947/1948 by narrower grille
      The plate appears to be Hawai’i
      The “red car” is a Plymouth Valiant (1961?)
      The compact Chevys: Corvair, (1961, distinguished from 1960 by (convex )sheetmetal between headlights)(1960 was concave ??)(anyone: is that correct ??)

  1. The 1957 Mercury. An example of the design philosophy of that period – “if more is better, too much is just enough”.

  2. CHAIN’S ON A CORVETTE??? Good heavens, what’s the matter with you people? We’re forecast for our 1st snow in N.Wis. this weekend. Ugh, not much, but still, it begins, I suppose. Those things have a habit of drifting east, so might want to take note. ’47 (8 ?) Buick photo almost looks colorized. I just don’t remember seeing vibrant colors on cars like this. I remember when radio stations had vehicles like this. Apparently, WPOM was out of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. And the last one, looks like Mr. Castle ( or his son) is doing ok with a new ’62 Starfire in the drive. ( not buying any new company trucks, though. Looks like the street paving is still coming to “pressboard estates”.


        The rapidly adoption of road salting in the winter caused an epidemic of rot due to the relatively unprotected metals used by auto manufacturers. Even in southern states the use of calcium chloride for dust control could have the same effect.

        Rumor has it that a sharp drag racer noticed the weight reduction caused by all the corrosion (not to mention the little bits of car falling off in his driveway every time the kids slammed the doors) and suggested to the engineers that it would save time to dip the drag car bodies in acid at the skunk works rather than having to wait a year or two for the corrosion to work the weight off. 🙂

        • Be it road salt or calcium chloride, the four or five year older Merc has no signs of rust compared to the Valiant, while both cars are being used in the same conditions… I guess the Valiant’s body metal was VERY inferior…

          • Hi LUK, I really don’t think it’s rust. The rest of the car is too nice. It’s either a poor photo or, the street is dirt, so it could be mud.

    • That’s a ’62 Olds with the wider c-pillar.

      The ’61 “bubbletop” had a very narrow c-pillar and a lot more back and rear side glass, giving them the “bubble” name.

    • It’s a ’62 Olds. Not a bubble top, a hard top. Side trim looks like Starfire, but it seems to lack the dual tail light assemblies, maybe an 88.

  3. The color is similar to New Jersey plates in the 50s but the number, letter, number combination was used in the 50s and 60s in Florida.

  4. The license plate on the Buick looks like it is from Hawaii – early 50s. The plate attachment could be Barbers Point – lots of Navy housing.

  5. Lead photo: Buick Special might as well be a 1949 model. This entry-level Buick skipped the all new styling seen on Supers and Roadmasters. In fact, the body was shared with the Pontiac streamliner and Oldsmobile 76/78 and dated back to 1941 (apart from the long front fenders which came in 1942). just like the Cadillac 75 limousine. In contrast, it was the first to wear its 1950 outfit halfway 1949…

  6. Just a guess on the Buick, maybe a police car with a spotlight, blue color too. The lower plate is B over P (bureau of prisons) with an E at the end (enforcement). The car is parked in a fenced area with barbed wire at the top.

    Corvettes are not good winter autos, ask me how I know. Frozen locks, terrible traction, just for starters.

    WPOM, a Corvair sedan (62?) and a Greenbriar wagon? Same chassis, only a couple more years for the swing arm rear suspension.

    The construction scene is a study in design change between the early 50s pickups and the Mercury convertible, the 59 or 60 Valiant and the 62 Olds.

  7. Picture #2 has a Hawaii 1952-1956 licence plate. Google vintage Hawaii licence plates and you will find a picture of them.

    • Lincoln and Nash used quads in 1957. All 1957 Chrysler products were designed for quads, which would be legal in all 48 states in 1958. I believe Mopars sold in those states where it was legal got the quads in 1957.

    • Hi Tommy, from what I’ve read, most states allowed quad head light’s, some did not until ’58. Mercury made a ’57 with single head lights too. Not sure how that worked. Same fenders, changed at the dealer, maybe? Several car makers “pushed” the limits. The Mercury here, the DeSoto, Nash ( stacked) could be ordered either way, I believe. Apparently, several 1957 cars were slated for quad head lights, but pulled at the last minute.

    • 1958 was the year for quad. If you look at some ’57s ( mopars inparticular ) there is room for four. However the bulbs were yet to DOT approved .

      • Here in Canada the Mercury’s (and Monarchs) were built with single headlights to satisfy the feds. They were made legal for the 58 products.

        Brian in Ontario CANADA

  8. I don’t care what anyone says,the early 60s Valiants were the ugliest cars ever made hands down.Looked like frogs.
    I heard Chrysler hired a Italian company to do the styling for them.I wonder whom.

  9. The winter Corvette picture reminds me of a friend of mine that had a almost new Corvette in 1970. it was his only car so it was driven year round, even on the salt crusted roads in Ohio. We were hanging around at the Gulf station one cold winter night, he went to leave and gave the big ice glob behind his front wheel a kick and half the fender broke off. Every one but him thought it was pretty funny at the time!
    The blue Buick brings back memories of my Dad, when he was on the “list’ for a new Chevy after he got out of the military in 1946 he drove his 40 Chevy convert until 48 when his salesman buddie called him to look at a 46 blue Buick Roadmaster that he had a lead on. Dad ended up buying it and never owned anything but a Buick until the day he died. the Roadmaster was alot more classy than the Special in the picture but the Buick quality was there in all series!
    I wonder if George Nader tried to ban WPOM radio station because they had those Corvairs? The Valiant in the driveway ahead of the 58 Mercury convert could very well be rusted, I think most of them rusted out sitting in the Plymouth show rooms. The 62 Olds was one fast automobile, a high school friends mom had one and she let him drive it sometimes, it would peg the speedometer any time you had a long enought road to turn it loose!!

  10. The CHRYSLER slant SIX ENGINE is an example of a combination of amazing durability — with one exception: A single point failure: the Distributor Shaft’s HEXAGONAL SHAFT portion to drive the oil pump. REPLACE THIS NOW, — if you own one ! The Hex material is softer than NEED BE — thus, it disconnects the oil pump!!! Otherwise, IF you’ve already done this (with a responsible part, (or parts) as necessary, then examining these KEY parts at major tune-ups, and replacing them, or it , — IF necessary — will result in a 250,000 mile minimum of engine life, — BEFORE ” have to be opened “!!!( IF everything ELSE is also maintained responsibly!!! A Mileage Champ!!! ONLY IF IF IF you do YOUR part!!!

  11. THREE BUICK FEATURES from past STRAIGHT EIGHT years — that remain ICONIC ARE: 1 . Smoothness WITH TORQUE!!! 2. Accelerator floored engine starting. 3. Later on — the HOOD’s “EACH SIDE can OPEN!!!” for Service or Maintenance has always impressed me (and my back!) NOTE: The removable side panels on ’37/’38 Fords also allows easy access, – but requires hardware removal. NOTE: “PORTHOLE” Hood BUICKS: NAME: Port-A-Vents . 3-holer = lesser price , 4-holer = Luxury price .

  12. The Buick is a 1946 Model 41 Buick Special Four-Door Sedan. I don’t remember such a bright blue on them from my childhood but the color is probably Canterbury Blue Metallic, since the only other blue available was Nightshade Blue Metallic, which I assume was darker. They sold for $1,580 new but I think they have increased in value in the past seventy years, especially since only 1,649 Model 41 Specials were built in 1946.

  13. Re: Mike Carter’s above aside about “George Nader.” Ralph Nader didn’t write anything in “Unsafe At Any Speed,” or elsewhere, about the Corvair that the buff press, including the precursor to Car and Driver, “Sports Car Illustrated,” hadn’t already pointed out. Most of these shortcomings were addressed in the second-generation Corvairs, which were dropped simply because they weren’t competitive in the marketplace against Mustangs, even entry level Camaros.
    The Corvair Club themselves invited Nader to their national meet in the early ’90s.
    Commenting on Ralph Nader’s 2016 Automotive Hall of Fame induction for his pioneering work in automotive safety, Keith Crain, Automotive News’ editor-in-chief said no one in the industry is responsible for saving more lives than Ralph Nader.

  14. I bought a ’60 Corvette in the fall of that year. When winter came (Washington, DC) I had pretty much worn the tread off the OEM tires. A local tire rebuilder (remember them?) made a snow tire re-cap with ground-up walnut shells in the tread. As the tread wore, the shell pieces added tough grabbing power. This was before studded tires were routine.

    • I do recall my grandparents having ‘sawdust’ tires. Snow tire tread with sawdust mixed into the rubber for added traction.

  15. Late response, but thank everybody for the quad light information. I thought there were none until 1958 until I saw this Merc’. I remember some choice words from my dad when we would meet four headlights on bright.

  16. WPOM 1470 was a radio station located in Tamarac, Florida, outside of Fort Lauderdale. The call letters changed to WRBD in the mid 1960’s, so this photo was taken in a narrow window of time. The station office supposedly fronted onto the Florida Turnpike, which was east of town. That entire area of the Turnpike has been redeveloped over the decades, so most likely the offices are gone. There was also a used car lot across the street, from the reflection in the office window.

    • Found it, the office was at 1101 Rock Island Road in Lauderhill, FL, just east of Tamarac. Looks like the building is gone and the area has been rebuilt. There are no flat roofed buildings in the area.

  17. I read that the reason Slant Sixes were so durable was simply because the engineers made sure critical internal engine parts got more than their fair share of oil,in short,a well designed lubrication system.
    But the article didn’t go into specifics.

  18. Regarding the 63 Vette with the snowy background: I have a 64 purchased in 69 (traded a new Maverick and $200 for it) and drove it many winters and found it to be remarkably adept at snow-covered roads, especially with studded snow tires. When it’s your only car, you do what you have to. I would put my skis with the tips on the dash between the seats and head to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It had a “tank heater” that circulated water through the radiator, engine, and heater, and would even defrost the windshield and melt the snow off the hood.

  19. My Dad bought a 60 Valiant new in 1960. Red as the one in the photo. It was so ugly, it was cute. After Dad had put 170,000 miles on it, he passed it off to me. With the manual floor shift 3 speed, the little 170 CI engine would spin the tires and scoot around pretty good. As a teen, I put another 50K of hard miles on it, and with the exception of spinning the bronze gear off the distributor numerous times, it never let me down. I finally “upgraded” to a 1964 International 1/2 ton pickup. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the oddball little Valiant and would love to find a 1960 Valiant Wagon.

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