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Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Car Images

Number Eighty-seven of the “Kodachrome Image Series” begins this week with a fifties photo of a scene that apparently was taken at an amusement park. In the foreground, a Ron Howard look-a-like is checking out a miniature locomotive, and behind him a customized mid-fifties Chevrolet convertible is passing by. The small engine is distinctive enough that hopefully, the park is in will be identified.

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.


  • A main street view of a western town with a wide assortment of vehicles spanning three decades.


  • This mid-thirties Ford sedan appears to be the base of operations for two young women on a camping trip.


  • Just yesterday we covered we covered a train passing through the middle of a town. This Western Pacific locomotive is pulling a passenger train on a street in an unknown location with two sets of track.   


45 responses to “Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Car Images

  1. The beautiful replica of a GM diesel in the first photo is a product of MTC (the Miniature Train Company) . Founded in Glen Ellyn, Illinois in 1932 as the Miniature Train and Railway Company by machinist P.A. Sturtevant, the popularity of his excellent products grew over the years. As it did, he moved production first to Addison, Illinois and later to a larger facility in Rensselaer, Indiana.

    While there were some imitators, no other manufacturer equaled the quality or attention to detail of the MTC units. The one pictured shows a top-of-the-line big scale G-16. The “16” refers to the sixteen inch width of the track. A smaller line that ran on twelve inch track was also produced, but the G-16’s were the best of the best.

    The first G-16 was installed at Griffith Park in Los Angeles in 1947 where it would run for the next thirty years. Similarly, they became fixtures at the bigger amusement parks across the country during the 1950’s and are fondly remembered by patrons of a certain age like myself.

    • Thanks for the info! I wonder if Howard A. or others ever visited the 41 Twin outdoor theater in Milwaukee and would know whether the tracks that used to be there were ever used for such a train (I would guess the 16″ size) or were for something else. That was quite a theater in it’s day, I believe the biggest screens either in the nation or at least the Midwest. They were back-to-back and after you paid for your tickets, you’d drive in two lanes over the railroad tracks then the long way through wooden tunnels that formed the base of the double screen, then around to the south or north to park. By the time I was going there in the ’90’s right before it closed, the tracks were un-used and mostly gone.

      • i worked there in 1965. they were not going to hire i was too small, i was 6 ft 185 lbs of high school steel…. i has to prove i knew how to box. wonder how the h.r. dept. would handle that today? i remember that there was 1100 cars on one side 900 on the other side. i would make hundreds of hamburgers then as it got dark i would put on my white coverall with red coned flashlight and become a “ramp man”. for this i was paid .95 cents per hour. with that princely sum i bought my first car, 56 hillman husky., which i had to hand crank start until i could afford a battery…. i would not trade that summer of 65 for anything……

    • I agree with that. I just spent way too much time trying to figure out if that was a factory trim package, or maybe a Canadian trim level, and I came up with nothing.

  2. I can’t comment on any pictures but the second one. On the left side of the street is a ’55 Studebaker with the regal trim, but too far away to see if it is a President, Commander or Champion. It is interesting in that with the top level trim it still seems to have the small dog dish hub caps. Next to the Stude is a pickup that I cannot make out, but then there is a ’61 bubble top Chevy and a Cadillac with its incredibly long rear section. The right hand side of the street begins with a first generation Corvair then what looks to be a Dodge , maybe a ’54. Then a Willys Overland. Beyond that I am lost. Besides the autos in the picture the time period can be alluded to by the Coors sign. The mountains seem to say the picture is out west somewhere. Coors at this time was not available in the east.

    • As stated by Eric and Aaron, Dodge 1953 with custom side trim and paint-work. The ’54 used the same sheet metal but had protruding taillight lenses, and a simpler grille bar ( not shown ). Both years were members of the family.

  3. From what I can decipher, the train appears to be a ” Miniature Train Co.” engine made in Rensselaer, Ind. and was powered by a V4 Wisconsin motor, modeled after the F7, with GM’s permission. They were very popular, and just about every amusement park had one. The kid is clearly impressed.
    2nd pic, obviously west of the river, as Coors wasn’t sold east of the Mississippi, which was the whole story line behind Smokey and the Bandit. Jeeps were king, the one farther down, appears to have a spare “jerry” can of gas on the side.
    The Western Pacific train, I found, is the “California Zephyr” shown here, I believe, at the 3rd St. station in Oakland, Cal. on it’s way to Chicago. 1967.

  4. The third Photo is 3rd ST (between Clay and Washington) in Oakland, CA. The Western Pacific train looks to be taking on passengers at the old 3rd St Station (Closed in 1970). From the train colors that could even be the famous California Zephyr. The building the right is still there as is the Brick peaked building two buildings down, which is formally the Oakland Machine Works now sadly boarded up and used for storage.

    • Good selection of Kodachromes for the Holidays, David…
      First two fotos, deserve a comment as I too… on every car I’ve ever owned have “touched ” them to make them my very own- unique, some just a discreet little dash plaque- others a little more than. Some , in retrospect over the years, maybe a little more “ametuerish”, than others- but I stand by them.Those creative “touches”are attempts by me to make them mine , to set them apart from the rest of the assembly line they started their journey from into my world. I’m not George Barris , nor can I afford Deitrich, Murphy, Darri n, or others equally re-knowned. Sooo, like, witness the Simplex’s headlamps… Lead article, David’s Holiday Greetings to us all- pretty distinctive those aftermarket “touches”- but green?. Oh, right – with red, the Holiday Spirit!
      Last foto, I remember arriving “there, 3rd St.” the first time on the Zephyr from Chicago and the east as a young man, after a fabulous trip across the west and thinking “Where’s San Francisco, this’s Oakland ?”

  5. The picture of the two girls is neat. They look like mother and daughter. So casual. They are with one of my favorite 1930s Fords, the 1936 Coupe or Coach…hard to tell. The Ford is the less expensive standard model and you can tell by the single windshield wiper, the blacck painted grill and no bumper guards. Happy camping girls.

  6. 1st pic: The customised Chevy seems to be 1956 model (due to the chrome side trim below window), but one can not be sure… It’s a cool and well executed job, though. If I didn’t know better, I could assume it’s stock from the factory…
    2nd pic:… Which cannot be said of the 1953-54 Dodge in the 2nd picture. Very amateurish, and what about the light blue hub cab? While the newest car is the 1961 Impala across the street, there’s also an about 20 year old coupé further on. I think it’s a 1941 Chevy, but again, I’m not sure. My favourite car is the 1st year 1960 Chevrolet model 700 coupé!
    3rd pic: a 1936 Ford, no doubt
    4th pic: Turquoise hardtop sedan is a 1964 Ford Galaxie, parked behind a 1967 Chevy Impala. At the right, a 1967 Buick?

    • The Chevy is almost certainly a 1956 model – quarter panels and tail lights were unique to that year. Looks like a second quarter panel side molding has been added above the original which ends at the rear bumper as original to those cars..

  7. I really enjoy the photos of the trains and vintage automobiles together. Both of them played such a major part in American transportation, especially before air travel took over. There is nothing like the romance of steam travel and vintage American automobiles. Keep these photos coming.

    Thanks for another great year of The Old Motor. I check in daily and enjoy your hard work.

    Merry Christmas to the Old Motor and it’s staff!

    Seth Swoboda

      • I agree with Seth, Great work! Anybody that has a couple of Labs is a lucky one, I have a black lab, would not trade him for any collector car, not even a Crosley!

        hoosier crosley

  8. The subject of the second photo may be the main street of Silverton, Colorado. Nowadays the town often serves as a coffee stop on the Colorado Grand, a 1,000-mile tour for pre-1960 sports cars. This year’s event raised about $500,000 for small Colorado charities.

    • The mountains are still pretty green, with no snow on the peaks, so due to the Corvair and Chevy across the street, I’m thinking 1961 or so.

    • I’ve participated in vintage motorcycle rallys which also pass through Silverton. Often beginning in Durango, our route on the the old bikes pass through Silverton on the way to a lunch stop in Ouray and then on to our stop-over destination in Telluride.

  9. I *think* the train in the first photo is in the B & O’s “Royal Blue” livery. If that’s the case, perhaps it was shot near Baltimore?

  10. May you have a wonderful Holiday Season, and please accept a very big “Thank You”. I look forward to this blog every single day! Thank you!

  11. A very Merry and Wonderful Christmas to all the Old-Car geeks out there and to the management and staff (both bi and quadrupedal) of Old Motor! Your site makes every week Christmas to me!
    Oh, and about the use of “we” in your comments: years ago either Brock Yates or Warren Weith explained that referring to one’s self as “we” was the right of, “…ruling monarchs, editorialists and people with tapeworms”. So pick whichever best suits you and have a Happy New Year!

  12. Best wishes to you and yours, Mr. G. You have given me much pleasure reminding me of the cars I grew up with, those I have owned and those that came before. I have learned a lot from your postings.

    Thank you!

  13. The G-16 at Griffith Park , in Los Angeles very near the Park’s Riverside Drive/Los Feliz Blvd entrance , (Next to Mr. Wright’s Pony Ride), —( I went to High school with his Daughter, Joy). The G-16 Train Ride was done in S.P.R.R. colors , as the ride, itself was about 1.5 miles away from the SPRR Glendale Train Station and about 2.5 miles from The SPRR North Taylor Freight Yard & Roundhouse, South of Atwater Village. I was age 8 in 1947 and I only rode it a few times as I was growing OUT of its size for the younger kids. This G-16 Children’s Ride was personally Installed by Mr. Robert Beach of Grand Island, N.Y., where he was also a Sales & Installation Representative for the Herschell Merry-Go-Round Company of Tonowanda , New York. He has passed, but has been a personal friend since 1986 , where I first experienced : “The Beach Tour” (Beach’s Motor Cycle Adventures) that in those days, toured in 6 Countries , in the Alps in Western Europe. A FAMILY Owned business , Since then, and their areas of touring have considerably expanded Top many other world sites . I find this interesting , because of BOTH your article and how it relates to Touring Motorcycles , Merry Go Rounds , and a TRAIN Simulation Amusement that has been Extremely popular for 7 decades, — ALL of this having to do with early & late transportation methods , be they miniatures or full sized vehicles. , PLUS the opportunity to SHARE with “youse Guys” WHO the GUY was— who Installed the G-16’s , all over the USA and Other Countries !!! Regards, Edwin Winet (“Robert Beach Parkway” on Grand Island , N. Y. , (2 miles up-stream from Niagara Falls ), – has been re-named for him .

  14. The two ladies in the third picture may be engaged in some kind of motorcycle activity. The one in front of the car’s sweatshirt appears to show a v-twin cycle engine; the other is wearing a leather jacket and there is another leather jacket resting on the fender.

  15. Kiddie trains, just think about that concept. What a wonderful and prosperous place the USA was in the 50’s and 60’s that there where permanent children’s concessions such as this. I’m sure they were relatively expensive to purchase, install, maintain, and staff. Two of the Kiddielands near where I grew up ( Gary, In. ) had them. Of course liability insurance was not a huge consideration then as it is now. As far as trains on the street are concerned, I am still fascinated to this day when I see ancient street car tracks exposed by worn or broken pavement. Can’t imagine what it would have been like dodging hustling street cars with the 2 wheel brakes some of the old flivers had! If you ever want to experience the mixture of street cars and automobiles, New Orleans has a fabulous traditional street car line that still operates through traffic.

  16. The black and white vehicle in picture #2 does look like a ’53 Dodge. My dad bought a new ’53 Dodge to move his family from Farmington, Michigan to Arcadia, California in the summer of ’53. It was a model D44 with stick shift, 4-door, blue with white roof. It had Dodge’s first V-8 engine, a hemi. That was a terrible engine. The engine was worn out at 30,000 miles with .017″ taper in the cylinders and was bored out and rebuilt. Worn out again at 59,000 miles, bored again and rebuilt. At 98,000 miles it was worn out again. I attempted to rebuild it and did a poor job (my first engine rebuild, I failed to clean out the oil passages after hot tanking so the main and rod bearing did not get oil and froze up after about 30 minutes running time) so we put it on the street with a ” FREE CAR” sign on the rear window. The car disappeared while we were away and never saw it again. Many years later I read an article about the engines in the ’53 Dodges and the article stated that the iron used in the engine blocks was too soft for some reason and that is why the engines wore out so quickly.

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