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Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Car Images

As this is feature was put together yesterday we were in the middle of a snow storm here in Vermont, so number eighty-eight of the “Kodachrome Image Series” this week is filled with winter scenes. The lead photo taken in the mid-sixties in Portland, Maine during a snow storm shows a busy street in the City filled with cars, a city bus and a Woolworth’s department store on the far-left.

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.


  • If you have wide whitewalls on your Cadillac then you need to have wide whitewall snow tires.


  • A Plymouth, a pair of Fords, a Chevrolet, and a young man in a wintery scene as the snow is falling.


  • The Fire Department has arrived in this 1960s wintertime residential street scene.

A number of readers were interested in the miniature MTC locomotive in last week’s lead image. Contributor Gene Herman sent in the photograph below of his brother and himself with one of the machines in the mid-fifties at the Palisades Amusement Park that was located in New Jersey across the Hudson River from New York City until it closed in 1971.


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

  1. 1st pic, some brave soul ( like me) drove their MGB in the winter ( in front of the Nova), 2nd, hmm, there used to be a driveway here. I think this snowbank is a bit much for the mighty Caddy with the “Town and Country’s”. 3rd, ’57 Chevy looks pretty new, I wonder what Ford wagon is in the garage and last, the kid looking up, I bet there’s a cat in the tree. Good luck trying to get them to do that today. Is that banged up Olds smoking up the area, and the ’63 Tempest looks pretty new.

    • Speaking of cats in trees, I asked my firefighter friend if he often responded to calls regarding cats in trees. He said no, they did not, as cats will invariably come down on their own eventually. When someone voiced doubt in the correctness of that belief, my friend responded with the question “Have you ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree?”

  2. First photo, the little guy with mom doesn’t seem to be enjoying the winter wonderland a whole lot.
    Fourth photo….Cat up a tree? No sign of a fire or fire-truck for that matter

  3. Thank God it’s Friday!

    My thoughts, please;

    1) It must be snowing very heavily, judging by all the snow on the back window of the 58 Ford. In front of the 58 Ford is a 59. (I can’t make out the trim levels on either). The cars parked at the curb are a 1963 Galaxie (not Galaxie 500 or XL) a VW Beetle, a 1962 or 63 Chevy II.

    2) The Cadillac must have been just driven out of the garage.

    3) It’s a 50=52 Plymouth, a 56 Ford wagon in the garage, a 1953 Ford (with Fordomatic) and a 1957 Chevrolet.

    4) Looks like the fire-fighter is about to mount the ladder, but the other fellow will be having a tough time as the ladder isn’t leaning on anything. Love the 1961 Dodge.

    As always, thanks again for Kodachrome Fridays!

    • The Cadillac must have been running for a while, at least, since the exhaust damper has opened and is allowing that water vapor to exit on the passenger side. My grandfather’s 1956 Cadillac’s dual exhaust system lasted only three years in the Michigan climate and I think it cost several hundred dollars to replace. Big dollars back then!

  4. In the snowy garage scene the Plymouth and Ford are sporting 1957 New York license plates from Essex and Otsego counties, both in the upstate snow belt.

  5. Last pic: the cream car behind the 1955 Olds is another Olds, same body style and maybe same year (too few clues to be sure it’s a ’55 or ’56).

    • The hooded headlight marks it as a ’55 or ’56, not a ’54, and the chrome sidespear extending forward over the front wheel well marks it as a ’55, not a ’56.

  6. Number 4 looks to have two cars from my past. One is the 1961 Dodge Dart and parked across the street looks to be a 1963 Pontiac Tempest.

  7. Sharp eyes, Howard – spotting that MGB. Yeah, I was another one. My first new car was a ’63. It actually drove fairly well in snow except for driving quickly in slush. The front wheel would, somehow, throw it into the engine compartment – right on the distributor. The first winter I had that car I needed to bring a Christmas tree home. My only solution was to put the top down and place the tree beside me. It did attract attention at stoplights.

    • Numerous cars used to be “blessed” with distributors that were guaranteed to get wet in a heavy dew. My 1963 Plymouth (with the 361 CID “B” block engine) had the distributor located at the bottom right front of the block. Not only was it awkward to get to, it would drown out going through even a moderate puddle. Just one of more example of when cars came with “quirks” you had to learn to live with.

      I brought several Christmas trees home in the back seat of a Mustang convertible. It was certainly easier and less trouble than strapping it on top of my wife’s Camry. As long as you didn’t have far to go, and could go reasonably slowly, it wasn’t bad at all.

    • BMC continued the good work with the Mini, placing the distributor immediately behind the radiator grille so that it could cop maximum water spray and fail at the most inconvenient time!

      • My own list of water-cooled distributors includes the otherwise super Mopar slant six engine, early ’70s VW beetles with horizontal slots in the engine cover. Park one of those overnight in the rain and you had to ride the bus to work in the morning. Also the 70s Ford V8s with the distributor right behind the fan. They ended up having to put a metal shield in front of the distributor.

    • When going to UCLA, my roommate, buddy had an MGB. Big LA winter rainstorms would have us stalled on Olympic Blvd going home. He would get under the hood to dry things off as I watched the lightning strikes get closer and closer! Prince of Darkness madness.. On similar note, I used to have an air-cooled Ducati 750 and would go riding with another buddy with a similar 900SS. We went up behind Nikko Nat’l Park (Japan) in the Fall for some pleasant riding and ran into dropping temps, snowfall and icy roads, not fun on a semi-race bike. On the way to the tunnel that would lead us out of the pass and into warmer weather, we saw a compact sedan that had slid sideways into a guard rail, knifing under it to be stopped by the rail catching on the top of the windshield keeping the occupants from enjoying an impressive ride down to doomsday! The air was so my engine stalled twice despite being thoroughly heat soaked and I drove with both boots out doing duty as ‘training wheels’! My buddy with no off road experience was just freaked about the whole situation and almost turned around, but I told him he would never make it back up the road we had just come down, a scary thought. We drive around with studless tires here in Japan (plus 4wd for me), but on trips to the US I am always amazed at how many people brave the highways with normal tires and at how many people fail in that endeavor!

  8. My belief is the other fellows are correct in the first photo, except I think the left-hand car in traffic is actually a 58-60 Lincoln, based on the rear greenhouse and apparent fin. Those do indeed appear to be Town and Country snow tires on the Cadillac, a 57-58. I had a pair like those on a ’55 Roadmaster. Noisy but effective. In the next scene down, I think that is perhaps a ’51-’52 Plymouth at left and a ’54 Ford behind the young man. The one in the garage would be
    55-’56, with the nose of a ’57 Chevy at right. In the final shot is the ’55 Olds, complete with dent. My gut says the one in the street is a ’56, with little substantial to support me.

    • The 59 Lincoln had the oval tail lights, but the bumper surrounded a panel with the tail lights. It is a 58 Ford. I would guess that it is a Custom or a Custom 300 and not the Fairlane by the lay of the fin.

  9. The firefighters are doing a 2 man ladder raise, most likely something or someone in the tree, maybe an ice coated branch on a wire?

  10. THANK YOU very much for yet another fantastic year. Like every reader here, I look forward to receiving The Old Motor every week. Thought-provoking, smile-producing . . . not much else like it out there. And the photos, I’ve found, help me stay connected with my aging father, even my 87-year old pediatrician! We all share, remember, which inevitably brings-up additional sharing, and remembering. The Old Motor is a gift that really does keep on giving. Again, thank you.

    • So heartlily agree with your words Eric. Thank you for expressing my feelings of appreciation for the weekly Old Motor email!

  11. AGREED! NO cat skeletons , but plenty of bleeding hearts that apparently are not aware that climbing & DESCENDING trees — is built into every cat since way before measured time! AS to the ladder: it is a hardwood extension ladder: Easily a two man job, especially if erecting it to climb a tree in the ice & snow! Hardwood ladders ARE extremely heavy, as compared to a modern Aluminum Alloy ladder — which also doesn’t have ROUND RUNGS 1/4 ” support rods, dished washers, nuts & lockwashers! plus cast iron “extender stays”. In one word: HEAVY!!! As to COLD weather driving : We were returning home to Southern California from Navajo Country in our ’67 VW Squareback, in cold weather: Ice & mud had packed up underneath the fenders: This was in the days of Station Attendants: The request was: “fill ‘er UP! The attendant had made the mistake of resting his hand on a clean fender with ice packed underneath it: Without knowing it, — his hand was apparently wet —and his HAND froze to the fender and he started screaming !: I quickly calmed him and Picked up the RADIATOR filler’s Rubber tipped nozzle and ran water over his hand while the gas-tank was filling ! As his hand became free, I suggested that he keep his hand off of fenders in Wintertime, especially!!! —as ALTHOUGH the temp. at the station was about 50 degrees (!) We had travelled from a way colder starting point. Lesson learned!

  12. Hey Dave,

    No smart aleck comments from me (this time) just a wish that you have a Happy &Prosperous New Year filled with interesting new projects that can be smoothly completed. And, if you do not have any drop by my garage! (I tried, but “the devil made me do it!”)

    Thanks for an informative and entertaining year!

    All the best and no frozen nuts, (Oh, that devil in me, just can’t help it)

    Mr. Motometer

  13. The rear of the Plymouth looks to me like a 1950. The rear window of the 1951 was a bit wider than the 50.
    I think the fourth picture has a 1961 Dodge Dart.

  14. Here’s a couple of anecdotes for all of you folks who are familiar with cold climate driving;
    In 1980 we flew to Boston from Los Angeles to spectate at the winter Olympics at Lake Placid, about 20 miles from my home town. We took a red-eye, landed at Logan Airport mid-morning and set out for northern NY via the Mass Turnpike and then north from Albany via I-87. A major snowstorm had hit during the night, so our drive from Boston to Albany was an adventure in itself , with cars off the Interstate left and right. We were about the only car still plowing ahead.
    Then, on I-87, determined to get to home before dark, again , few cars on the road, it was windy but I was “pushing it” at about 70 MPH when I realized that minor inputs to the steering wheel had little effect, we are being blown off the road by the gusts. Slowed to 50 and we arrived safely later than planned but better off late than dead. Not smart.

    A few years later on tour to Austria, the day before we were scheduled to leave, a bunch of us decided to rent a van and venture in to southern Germany. Snowstorm again, but I volunteered to drive. Conditions were awful, and when we approached a one-way bridge and stopped to let the the oncoming vehicle cross, the combination of the wind and the high-crowned roadway actually started to push our stopped van sideways towards the river bank. Scary , I told the other occupants to leave the van via the left side door and that stopped the slide and we eventually made it back.
    ( Tour guide , back at hotel , was about ready to “write us off”.)

  15. I do like these fantastic Kodachrome photos. A bit before my time so it is great to get a glimpse the “lost” America so many recall fondly.
    Winter driving: My father often told the tale of coming back from Syracuse in the family’s ’69 Fairlane 500, when it was so cold the engine would lose temp on the downhills and stall. I remember a Thanksgiving trip in the same car to Montreal. There were so many wrecks from the freezing rain I started a game of “I spy” …a red Chevy smashed…a blue Dodge spun, etc.
    My own most memorable stories about driving in Winter happened in Alaska: The Air Force sent our crew to Fairbanks in January (two years straight). When cars would drive by I wondered what the flapping noise was that I was hearing. It was the flat spot on the tires. It would take the rubber a mile or so to warm up and start flexing. Still, lots of people had tires come off rims and had to change them at -65 degrees (not the wind chill). The temp was also too low for road salt to work -black ice everywhere. Those Alaskan drivers were good, though. Got to drive on a frozen river, too. Weird seeing banks and boat docks pass by from your car.

  16. Best wishes to you and your ‘editors’ for a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
    Many thanks for a most enjoyable site. So glad I discovered it on my way to
    somewhere else. Please keep ’em coming.

    On my screen the ’63 Impala is on the top left of the 3rd picture. Not the last pic.

    BTW – Been re-reading my old Hemmings Classic Car mags. What a surprise to
    find a feature all about David . Had either forgotten about it or over-looked it.
    Would not have meant anything special to me at that time as I was unaware of
    the Four Friday Kodachromes at that time. Happy to learn more about this fellow
    who brightens each Friday for me. If interested it appears in the April 2007 issue.
    Vol. 3 issue 7, #31.

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