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Four Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Car Images

Number One-hundred and four of the Kodachrome Image Series begins this week with a photograph taken in Hollywood, California at some point in the early fifties. The location is at the intersection of Selma Avenue and Vine Street and includes a number of 1930s to ’50s automobiles.

The area was a very desirable location for businesses at the time; ABC Headquarters is seen on the left-hand side of the photo, and in the right-hand foreground is the KNBH Television Channel station known at the time as “NBC Hollywood.” Just past the Broadway Hollywood Department store building in the left center of the image is the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine.

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 This Was Americar.

  • Expandable version of today’s lead image at Selma Avenue and Vine Street in Hollywood, California. 

  • This gentleman apparently left his prized Cadillac in the garage for special occasions.

  • A view of a young woman posing with an early forties Ford convertible with a shaved hood in Southern California. The Ford sedan behind it is outfitted with a small plastic bug deflector in the center of the hood. 

  • Maud, who always had a cigarette in her left hand never really did like being photographed.


39 responses to “Four Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Car Images

  1. You can almost hear Maud “OK you gots your picture. Now can we get to the track before the end of happy hour?”

  2. Do my eye’s deceive me or is that a 52 Kaiser Virginian Club Coupe? Upscale trim model with the rear mounted spare tire . . . I’ve never seen one in the 2 Door body style. Nice!

    • An interesting story about the ’52 Kaiser Virginians……….
      Kaiser had so many leftover ’51 Manhattans that for ’52 it added to those ’51s a continental tire mount, blacked out the hood ornament as shown, and sold them as ’52 Virginians.

    • The ’51 and ’52 Kaisers came in 4 different body configurations- all sporting a Darrin signature (of 30’s 40’s coach built bodies fame) affixed to the left rear deck, as follows 4 and 2 door sedans – both having rear quarter vents, a club coupe sans the rear window vents with a smaller cabin, longer deck and a Traveler, a 4 door w/ a combination fold flat tailgate and lift deck/ backlite and inside a foldup back seat and that gave you with the flat tailgate an inside/out flat storage deck from Luxe to basic utility depending on the several different series given the seasons and or the years. There were Specials, Deluxes, Dragons, Virginians, Manhattens and they were fitted out w/ wild colors/fabrics like brocades, snakeskin , crocodile, bamboo exotic vinyls inside and on the roofs, too , some with standard “continental” kits as well. what can I say… they were pretty awesome. Mechanically , they couldn’t get out of thier way… “til in ’53 they added an optional supercharger, which gave them adequate performance. Lord knows they tried. Like the other “Independents”, they “soldiered” on for another few years , then left for Argentina where they became a staple and Brook Stephens “tweaked” their design in the 60’s…and David do they continue to present day ? Or am I somewhere in the clouds again?

  3. My son used to work near here, on Sunset and Vine, you wouldn’t recognize it from this photo. The guy in the Kaiser (54?) could very well be a star, of some sort. 2nd one, didn’t give this guy a hard time, for sure. ’55 Buick looks pretty new, just got off the highway, note white exhaust pipe. Not sure which is prettier, the sharp ragtop Ford or mom. Yeah, I’d like to hear the rest of the conversation, if any, after that picture was taken. Had little to do with the ’59 Impala, I bet. Across the street, that new VW doesn’t fit in front of the sprawling house. And for the record, Maud IS smiling, that’s all you get, now LET’S GO, already,,,

  4. The newest car appears to be 1953 and that would fit the time line , for on the ABC marquee it says “listen to Chet Huntley”. He was with ABC radio at that time

  5. The bug deflector on hood of blue Ford in pix 3 may have come from Western Auto. W.A. and J.C. Whitney had all the neat stuff like plastic clip on vent window wind deflectors. Remember neckin’ knobs and pinstripe water decals. As I recall these were displayed on tables with clear glass dividers. Western Auto was my favorite source
    because you could touch and see hot parts like these and no freight.

  6. Third photo is a 1941 Ford convertible, nicely done small modifications. Shaved hood and no parking lights atop the front fenders.

    Is it just the angle or does it appear the Cadillac Convertible has a flat front left tire? Could be just the camera angle.

  7. In the 1st photograph, parked in front of Station KNBH is an early 1950s either PLYMOUTH or DODGE beach-wagon [power blue over robin egg blue].

    In the 2nd photograph is a 1955 BUICK convertible that’s a super Super !

  8. In the last photo with pouty Maude, I see a `60 Olds 88 wagon escaping on the right. Behind Maude is a family pulling into traffic with their `58 Ford Custom 2dr. In the first photo with the Kaiser 2dr., I see a blue `53 Olds Super 88 sedan driving away from the camera, along side a battleship grey `49 Chevy.

    • The 58 Ford is a Fairlane. The Custom had the chrome trim above the crease in the fender. The Fairlane had the chrome below the crease.

  9. Photo # 1 is older than I first thought.
    Chet Huntley left ABC in 1954 and the last year of station KNBH was 1953.

  10. 1st pic: The oldest car here is the rusty coupé right behind the Kaiser… Not sure, but I think it’s a 1935-1936 era Mopar, (Plymouth or Dodge).
    3rd pic: across the street two interesting ‘independent’ cars: a 1946-47 Hudson and at the very right just visible a concealed front wheel that can only be from a 1949-1950 Nash (of maybe a Rambler compact)
    4th pic: From right to the left across the street: 1957 Plymouth, VW Beetle and 1957 Ford wagon. The Ford at left is a 1958 model, at the very right a fairly rare 1960 Oldsmobile wagon.

  11. A while back someone, commenting on another iteration of this great photo series, mentioned the oil stains of yesteryear on the tarmac/concrete and from then on I can’t help but notice the streaks and spots. Lots of gunk around the brown Ford convertible and the pavement adjacent to the Impala even outdoes the oil stripes down the center of the road.

    • That oil thing was me. The point I was making at the time was how the up-grade went from mild to steep. As a youngster I would marvel at the blackness expelled by the sump vent ( breather, or road draft tube ) on a hill. Under load, the older ( worn out ) motors would spew ugly black smoke from under the motor onto the road. As soon as the throttle was released the ugliness ( blow-by )would stop.

      PCV valves took care ( ’63 I believe ) of rerouting blow by. I have also been informed that positive crankcase ventilation reduces oil loss from leakage, by pulling blow-by pressure into the intake plenum.

      • Back in the seventies I refreshed a ’52 Cadillac and when rebuilding the engine replaced the road draft tube with a PCV valve. I may have been overly proud of myself because someone pointed out, correctly, that Cadillac had introduced an engine vacuum type crankcase ventilation system on their then new V8 in 1936! Don’t know if it was also present on the V12 and/or V16. Of course, as we know, eventually Cadillac, like everyone else, apparently, used the road draft tube until emissions regulations starting in the late sixties inspired the PCV system. Perhaps the early Cadillac system couldn’t keep crankcase pressures low enough and engine gasket leaks became a problem (in which case the road draft tube wasn’t a takeaway after all).

  12. I did quite a bit of painting and detailing on one of the Kaisers one time for a good friend. I had forgotten how big that car was ! The roof and door-top frames alone would be enough sheet metal to form another car, ha ! David, as always, thanks so much for these and all the other photos ! That big blue Buick is especially gorgeous ! Still loving “The Old Motor” site , John.

  13. Interesting the 55 Super Convertible is wearing black wall tires. The ’41 Ford Conv., is a nice clean mild custom. Looks like the ’59 Impala is sporting curb feelers just in front of the front tire. Nice pictures.

  14. Henri, I also noticed the oil spots. It seems to me back in the day engines were prone to leak after getting a little aged. More so than the engines of today. Probably seals, ‘o’ rings, and gaskets are now made of better material. And as I remember, the old transmissions and differentials were also afflicted with the same malady.

    • Tommy,

      Up through the 80’s cars leaked engine oil from the minute they left the assembly line. It was normal to put drip pans under the engines of cars in the new car showroom.

      • I have six old cars ranging from a ’53 Buick to a ’74 Firebird, and they all drip oil from somewhere. I’ve not yet found a way to completely seal them up, although I’m sure it could be done (at least temporarily) if I wanted to spend enough money and take enough time (or maybe it’s a lack of talent!). Of course, one mechanic for six cars keeps me quite busy, so sometimes the minor things take a back seat. I try to console myself by remembering that these things were rarely oil tight. When they start leaving drops bigger than a coin, then it becomes a major issue I have to deal with.

    • In addition to better sealing materials at least some of the reduced leakage can be attributed to emissions regulations. Some states Ohio, for example, won’t do the required smog test if a vehicle is leaking fluids. And the EPA says that it is a violation of federal emissions regulations if a vehicle can’t pass an EPA approved state smog program. Gotcha, because the automobile manufacturer is required to fix, under the emissions warranty, most of the things that cause a vehicle to fail an emissions test so they are much more diligent about preventing leaks of any sort.

    • Hi Tommy, adding oil back then was a standard procedure. ” 5 bucks regular, and check the oil”( which always needed adding) the old man would say. Aside from better gaskets, I think better machining helped. We always wondered why Asian cars never leaked oil. Folks marvel at the wonderous “Chrysler Hemi”, but several neighbors and friends had them in old DeSoto’s, and such, and I remember, they were oily, dripping messes. The spark plug tubes had gaskets on them, that would deteriorate ( or go missing), Slant 6 too. @ 10 cents a quart, it was much easier to add oil, than rebuild the motor. I ALWAYS remember a puddle of oil in my folks garage. It helped us make cool smokey burnouts with our go-kart. 🙂

    • Service stations used to sell bulk oil in quart jars, kind of like a Mason jar, with a stamped metal lid incorporating a funnel. You could buy a six pack for around 50 cents a quart, maybe less, and I always had a few quarts in the trunk of my ’53 Chevy, which smoked like a Chicago bus. IIRC, the MPQ was about equal to the MPG.

  15. In the late ’70s Ford sealed up their engines so well they started a new level of aftermarket business. You can now buy reconditioned oil pans for Fords. These oil pans now rust out from the outside. And there is a “core charge”

    • Philip, the late ’70s Chevies were bad for that too. It was on account the Terne coating on the pans was too thin. I was the only guy didn’t have that problem because I had an ex-police car and they had thicker coating.

  16. Another nice group of cars, although I always thought the Continental kits wee hideous. I agree that the Buick convertible appears to have a flat on the left front. The Caddy in the garage appears to be a ’55 or ’56.

    Someone did a nice job on the ’41 Ford; the one behind it is a ’50. Everyone seems spot-on about the final photo, including Maud’s sour look.

  17. One aspect of all that oil leakage was the hell it played on motorcycles. Don’t ride in the center of the lane, be careful after it rains in California (all that oil accumulated in the center would washout to the rest of the lane, make sure you took a line that looked oil free, etc., but one of the real killers was anti-freeze, a slippery evil that could not be readily seen at intersections and in a curve. Even putting a foot down to stop a spill could be useless as the shoe played slip and slide as well.

  18. on my 13th birthday, my dad bought a ’46 ford with a flathead v-8 for me. He paid $35.00 for it. I was super excited. I jumped in it and took off down the road. Smoke boiled in under the dash so bad I could hardly see. I took it back home and bailed out and told my dad it was on fire. He laughed and said it just used a little oil. That was an understatement. It burned so much oil I would get it from service stations after they drained it from other cars. I finally figured out it wouldn’t smoke if I didn’t put oil in it. That’s how I drove it until it self-detonated. (It went a surprisingly long time)

  19. As a kid growing up in the 40s and 50s I always thought cars looked better with black tires. When I reached 17 off to the USAF and spent time in England. No whitewalls anywhere to be found in the UK.

  20. The older gentleman with what appears to be a 55 Coupe DeVille and a 55 /56Buick Special or “Super”? Is a well healed guy who has a very nice ranch home but likes cars clean on a Sat afternoon

  21. NBC west coast headquarters and studios was on Sunset at Vine St. Selma was next street to the north. My father’s office was in that NBC headquarters at this time period. 2 both my brother worked as NBC pages there o I know the location well.

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