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Four Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Car Images

Number Eighty-Six of the “Kodachrome Image Series” begins this week with a late fifties photo of a scene looking like it could have been taken here in the Vermont Green Mountains. The cabin appears to be a weekend and vacation getaway spot and in the winter may have required the Willys Jeep station wagon to access it. Tell us all about this four-wheel drive vehicle.

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 image was taken in San Francisco in front of KSFO, a conservative talk and news station that first went on the air in 1925. 


  • The combination of this step-down Hudson and the streamlined trailer almost gives this scene the look like it was taken on the Twilight Zone.


  • Another winter scene with plenty of snow taken through the windshield somewhere in “Main Street” America.


39 responses to “Four Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Car Images

    • Doesn’t that Jeep have front hubs that you need to lock by hand? Would seem odd to have to yank a hubcap every time you wanted to go into 4WD.

      • I think if you look closely you can see the locking hubs protruding from the center of the hub caps. They are prominent enough that very few hubcaps would actually cover them.

    • If those are Lancer wheel covers, that means those are 14″ wheels… if that wagon is a 4WD with the six, it should have 4.88 final drives, and with 14″ wheels it would be S-L-O-W- !

      Would climb a tree though !

      • My guess on the wheel covers on the Jeep in the first photo would be 15″ reproduction look alike Lancers from somewhere like J.C.Whitney. With the centers cut out to clear the front hubs, used to be a popular up grade.

  1. 1st pic. I owned a 61 and a 56 Willys wagon. The 56 had a 4 cyl OHV engine, the 61 had a 6cyl flathead engine. I have always loved this body style and would like to have a pickup of this vintage.

  2. The Willy’s ( sporting what looks like Dodge wheel covers) was what most people bought these for. They weren’t the best vehicles to travel long distances with ( I had one) but it was the only way to get a bunch of people to this kind of destination. Now, it’s just the opposite. People live in these areas and use the 4 wheel drive to get to the city.
    2nd, “Air Raid Shelter?” We know when this was taken. Plymouth cabs look pretty new, they rarely looked like this for long, so I’d say ’55, ’56.
    Hudson appears to be puling a early 50’s Airstream Liner and the rear jacks are down, so either we’re spending the night or it’s lunch time. I remember, we had to “level the trailer out”, so the stove would work ( or something) Light the gas fridge, maybe. As a kid, I never understood, why the old man had to light a fire to use the refrigerator.
    Lastly, could be anywhere north of Kentucky. I think the car the picture was taken from is a Buick. We’ve got this going on in Wisconsin now, maybe a foot, so you easterner’s might want to be ready for that. Thanks for the pics.

  3. Nice cars in the first photo. A Chevy convertible and an MGTD. The last photo reminds me of winter driving in the 50s when we had to use chains to get around, particularly on hills. The roads were “salted” with cinders rather than road salt. Cinders were plentiful with all the steam locomotives running in Western PA. A lot of people had coal furnaces and used the cinders for their sidewalks.

  4. Second photo, I mean. KSFO is a San Francisco radio station. The cover photo on the stations Facebook page shows the same building and marquee as in the photo above.

    • The caption calls KSFO a “conservative” station (talk/yammer format). At the time this great photo was snapped the station played contemporary mid-Fifties music with outstanding. radio personalities. Rock ‘n roll was in infancy, and the music was pretty much easy listening with hit parade tunes. Del Courtney was a famous big band leader who played mellow swing music. I woke up to the smooth but irreverent Don Sherwood for years. And yes, there are still lots of convertibles in S.F. ( I suspect mostly rentals), and at this time British sports cars were becoming ubiquitous. The closest cars here today are the also-plentiful Miatas with increasing numbers of Fiat 124s. Great ohoto – thanks for posting!

  5. In the 2nd photograph, coming down the hill behind the 1955 PLYMOUTH taxicab, is a 1953 or ’54 PACKARD Cavalier.

    In the 3rd photograph, the HUDSON looks like a 1951 Peacemaker Custom.

    • Also in the 2nd photograph, parked on the left, at the top of the hill, appears a black 1953 or ’54 PACKARD PATRICIAN Corporate Limousine; parked on the left, near the ’55 PLYMOUTH taxicab, is a two-tone green 1954 BUICK RIVIERA hardtop, unsure of the model.

  6. Love these pictures of cars of the 1950s when every car was a work of art and color. Today we all drive Italian running shoes in four basic colors and black and white. Where have the good times gone?

  7. I do so love these “Fun Friday” photos ! Not only because of familiarity with all these great old cars and times, but the color film and color TV was just coming in during my youth and it made so much difference ! I noticed the Plymouths too, and as we’ve seen a few lately on here, am amazed at their frequency. I remember ONE in the town in Tennessee I was raised in ! Again, as always David, thanks so much for your site …

  8. Is this two-tone combination a factory paint job on the Hudson? Most two-tones were divided between roof or above beltline and below beltline, at least prior to 1955…

    • That is how Hudson separated the side color on the ’51 two-tone models… there is a contour line where the color changes.

      I think after the 1948 model year “top & bottom” beltline two-tone was considered old-fashioned, and other designs were tried, eg: 1950 Ford Ctrestliner.

      The beltline / windowsill does make for a “clean” place to break the color…

  9. Last picture I can hear the snow squeak under foot and under wheel.

    I also hear a starter grinding as the owner attempts to start a flooded engine. Two hits on the throttle was one too many at 5 below…gas fouled spark plugs don’t work very well.

  10. Looking at the Hudson pulling an Airstream, I was surprised but it makes sense. Those early 50’s Hudson six engines were durable, powerful and the car overbuilt. I wonder if it had the “Twin-H-Power” dual carb option. Airstream trailers were not light despite the aluminum cladding. Also noticed the jackstands in the rear. Obviously meant to stay for night. Peculiar place to stop.

    • Hi Dale, while the picture gets a bit fuzzy on JUMBO vision, it appears to have an insignia behind the front tire, which may indicate “Twin-H”. Maybe she was running a little hot. That location does seem a little lax on accommodations. Check out the funky mirror setup on the drivers side.

  11. Me thinketh a Siver Streak travel trailer. Manufactured from 1948 to about 1988. Heavier frame than a Airstream and more hand crafting. The shell was built into the rig instead of dropped down on top of the rig. Comments?

  12. Love all the cars in the second photo. Would be hard to pick a favorite. My dad was an oldsmobile man. We had a black ’49, I think that’s a ’50 in the pic. Also had a ’52. Body style like the red and black one. Looks like a ’55 or ’56 going away. And the drivers must be a long time in San Francisco, all wheels turned into the curb on the downhill side of the street.

  13. I think that Plymouth is a 55 and is the newest auto in the picture.del Courtney is featured on the marque Del “The Old Smoothy” Courtney played in the Tonga Room of the Fairmont Hotel. KSFO was in a annex building to the Fairmont.

  14. Based on the license plates in the last photo, this scene appears to be somewhere in New York in 1953. The curbside Mobil gas pumps are an interesting holdover from the early days of the automobile.

  15. That last photo was taken through the windshield of a post-1948 Buick. That was the year, as I recall, that Buick first had the ‘rocket in a ring’ hood ornament. They had to put the little crosspiece in because boys were yanking the rings off to give to their girlfriends as bracelets!

  16. What a great selection of cars in the SF photo! I would take any of those in the foreground -not the cab – just as long as I did not have to live in SF. It would be an especially hard choice between the color and styling of the Olds and the droptop on the Chevy. In addition to the MG TF there appears to be a Sunbeam Talbot parked at the front of the second group of cars on the far side of the street. The photo isn’t very clear, but little else looks quite that frumpy. N.B. – In the early years of the last century the Sunbeam Talbot Darracq manufacturer was known as S. T. D. Motors Ltd., a name that would likely find little favor today.

  17. A 52 Packard is my daily driver,I’ve driven down that same SF hill in it ,same grill and metalwork as the 53 in the picture , but in now s pic it would be surrounded by a flocks of priuses,hyundies ,kias,all headed to congested on ramps for some grueling bay bridge commute traffic .The big Packard has a comfortable roomy cabin ,a
    floaty suspension ,and the torque feel of that 327 Thunderbolt inline 8 .The 53 had a square bore 4 bbl carter carb,to replace the 2 bbl carb on the 52 ,I adapted this to fit my 52 ,made quite an improvement going up those SF hills .Since then I found an old original Ollie Edmunds dual 2 bbl aluminum intake ,.”put wings on that Packard “was the original advert line .Now she’s a rocket up,those hills ! Those drum brakes in that heavy car fade fast ,comming down some of those biggie hills ,” gee it’s not stopping,smells like “ray- bestus “,hope the lights green at the
    bottom ” I had to sacrifice the drivers side fresh air vent hose firewall real estate ,to install a disc brake booster .I never figured out the 4 consecutive parking places required for docking ,so moved to Texas

  18. The highway IS Abandoned — or the jack-stands WOULDN’T be DOWN !!! The rear wheels MIGHT be SNOW or Studded Tires on different colored rims — Everything is brown — as the scene is one of DESERT Wintertime. Take look at STOCK car racing of THIS TIME PERIOD —and you will see mostly ALL HUDSONS , the vehicle of choice for anyone who wanted H.P. , Monster six-cylinder large cubes TORQUE and TROPHIES. Giant Bathtub Hot-Rods, — right from the factory , — Plus speed equipment was available for them! Driving and working on Hudsons was special and a reminder that the “BIG THREE” were JUNK in most any comparison – especially racing or high speed road comfort !!! An engineering Masterpiece from very early on , way before WW-2 “SHOULD your oil pump FAIL, REDUCE speed to 20 to 25 MPH and take your Hudson to your nearest Hudson Garage to have the oil pump SERVICED”!!! (Early Hudson Owner’s Manual Instructions, [not verbatim] ) . (Change your oil, you cheapskate!!!) Q: Does any OTHER manufacturer make THIS statement??? (NOT that I know of. Howzabout you guys???)

  19. Interesting shot of the 50’s Jeep Station Wagon. My father swore by these cars and always had one until the Wagoneer appeared. Yes, you did have to get out and change the hubs to engage the 4-wheel drive, which was a real pain on a cold rainy day. I wrecked one of Dad’s green Jeeps on Route 7 just north of Burlington, VT in March of 1960, trying to pass a slow sand truck. No seatbelt or padded dashes in those days! I was lucky not to be badly hurt…

  20. In the winter street scene the prewar car looks like a 1938 Chevrolet. Note the elm tree lined street. Remember elms, the perfect street tree.

  21. From the windshield for the Buick it looks like a 41 Ford coupe on the right side of the street. A 1950 model Ford to the left of the 41 with the engine running. A 49 Ford across the street on the left side of the street where the man is standing and down the street in front of the filling station appears to be a pilot house cab Dodge truck. The car in the street looks to be a bout a 50 Plymouth.

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