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Austin Texas: Sinclair Rocket Power High Test Gasoline

Today’s feature takes us to a Sinclair service station located in Austin, Texas photographed on opening day in 1955. A female model and one of the attendants are posing with a 1955 Dodge Coronet; behind them is a 1949 to ’51 Ford station wagon and another gas pump jockey who is wearing an odd helmet-like hat.

The “Rocket Power” banners displayed in the office windows refer to Sinclair’s high test gasoline. A series of Goodyear tire banners in one of the corner windows promote the Company’s new tubeless tires. B.F. Goodrich was the first to announce the development of the new type of tire without a tube in 1947, that later in 1955 were introduced on many of the US automakers new models.

A Dodge promotional film shot in 1955 of the assembly line and the new 1956 Coronet models can be viewed at the end of today’s post. Tell us what you find of interest in this photograph by Douglass Neal, courtesy of the Austin Texas Public Library via The Portal to Texas History.

 

17 responses to “Austin Texas: Sinclair Rocket Power High Test Gasoline

  1. I think the other gas pump jockey’s helmet like hat is actually a hat with earmuffs. He is also wearing a parka and possibility gloves. It must have been a cold day in Austin.

  2. The lead picture seems like a promotional picture for the Dodge ” LaFemme”. All the pieces fit, Dodge LaFemme, female model, attendant smiling ( that’s the clincher right there).

    • Googling some images of 1955 Dodges, I find a white over dark blue over light blue color scheme as well as the same order in green. Also that era’s highly popular white over charcoal over coral combo. My mom even had the bathroom decorated in those colors – pink fixtures, white tile and charcoal wallpaper with pink and white boomerangs! Kinda defined an era.

      Austin is not that far down the road from San Antonio and that jacket does look like an AF flight parka, so possibly an airman pumping his own gas? Why he might still be wearing a helmet is a good question.

  3. Time to brag, as a teen I bought a ’56 Dodge from an old retired man. The mileage was about seventy thousand. This was my second car, I knew very little. The engine was a 315 Hemi. In time I came to learn that this option was Nascar limited series. It featured a Carter WCFB, Mallory dual points distributor, solid lifter camshaft and duals. Factory rated at 270 horse. The car was quick.

    Reality: Less than a year later I lost it, learning the hard way about distracted driving. As I motored by a gas station one Saturday night I espied an AC roadster that I though to be a Cobra. By the time I recovered my stare, I had driven my prized Dodge into the now stopped traffic ahead. I still miss that chariot.

  4. The 1955/56 Dodges were the last of the quality cars build by Dodge, in my humble opinion. Thereafter styling substituted for quality for all Chrysler products.

  5. A number of years ago I was slogging across the endless miles of Interstate 80 in Wyoming when a brightening sky and a strong desire for a hot breakfast and a billboard announcing “The West’s Most Modern Refinery” all collided with each other. The refinery was of course the Sinclair oil refinery in Sinclair, Wyoming, and there virtually at the front gates was a open diner.

    I queried the cook, as it was just the two of us at that hour, about what had happened to the old refinery and he pointed at a picture on the wall of the veritable Towering Inferno that was the old refinery, and said, “Knocked me right out of bed when it blew up”.

    The Town of Sinclair is an artificial construct, sort of like Celebration, Florida, because Harry Sinclair was a wheeler-dealer from Away who was deeply involved in the Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920’s. Although Harry did a small amount of jail time for Contempt of Court, of all things, it was Secretary of The Interior, Albert Fall, a former Rough Rider with T.R.( and who actually wanted to be Secretary of State) who took the real hit when he was convicted of accepting bribes from Sinclair’s syndicate which sent him to jail, and thus the term “Fall Guy” entered the vocabulary.

    • Great story, David; thanks. I’ve driven past the old Sinclair refinery a number of times and am always reminded of the Sinclair service station I knew when I was a young man which was located out the Governor Printz Blvd. outside of Wilmington, Delaware. In the 1960’s the station was operated by my friend, Carlie Klim’s father. As kids we always wanted to climb up on the roof of the station and remove the the “c” from the sign but we never did.

  6. One of the last of the good looking Dodges, understated lines, nor real ostentation, with a hemi option! Their designs went down hill after that IMHO. Also, I think Texas must have been the V8 capital of the US as all my uncles in West Texas had them in their sedans to offset their more staid coterie of pickups, generally Fords. Maybe the ladies drove dodges, but the menfolk I knew all had Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs and a few Buicks. Chevies were for kids.

  7. My favorite three toned cars, the ’55 Dodge. Especially those done up in Jewel Black, Heather Rose and Saphire White. The light colored top on the one shown here tells me that it’s not a La Femme. Those were Heather Rose top and middle sections over Saphire White, although I wouldn’t rule out a special request by the buyer. That was something that could be done then.

  8. The Ford woody behind the Dodge would seem to be a ’51 Country Squire by the style of hubcap on the covered spare tire.

  9. I know this is before my time, but I don’t ever recall seeing lights on top of an air meter like that. Probably a pricey item for collectors today.

  10. I love this photo. It is very, very 1956! I only wish there was a better view of the beautiful 1951 wood-bodied (sides only) Ford Country Squire station wagon. The Dodge Coronet was stylish in a way but not a pleasant front end “fish mouth lips“ treatment to my eye. Mercury had already outdone the Dodge styling back in the 1952-1954 year models. The Dodge grille was pretty much a left-over copycat design from both Mercury and the Studebaker which was simpler yet snappier. But it did extend the life of the old Dodge body a while longer. Chrysler was running out of ideas in their styling studio, so Mr. Exnar really geared up and went nuts in 1957. Luckily, the Chryslers were kept fairly conservative (except for excessive rear overhang like most luxury cars of the period).

    I notice a couple of things about the station:
    1) Lots and lots of cans of oil right at the busy but cramped closely spaced double islands with tiny aisles between the pumps for the attendants. Guess there were plenty of oil burners in Austin then (which doesn`t say much for quality engine lubricants back then, does it?).
    2) Unusual use of vertical fluorescent lamp tubes inside clear cylinders to protect the fragile tubes on the posts at both ends of the very busy looking islands. I can only imagine the glare from them when driving in at night! What a silly idea. Hopefully, there was an easily reached ON/OFF switch on the dumb things. More overhead lighting would have been much better (notice how skimpy the overheads are).

    The AIR and water dispenser “machine“ with a meter (presumably for air pressure ?) is really an “old“ looking and needlessly probably costly “ gadget“. Who are they trying to impress? I always hated the crummy little gauge strips on the air hoses (still in common use), but looking back over your shoulder to see the PSI ?!, that is odd. Maybe it was more sophisticated and actually shut off the compressed air if you pre-set it to say 28 lb. Anyone know how they were supposed to be used? Of course the attendandt should have done the job for the customer by first asking “What pressure do you carry in your tires sir? “

    Great photo, a feast for the eyes.
    Thank you Old Motor!

  11. The Bell System (“Ma Bell“) hanging sign up high on station wall outside the walk-in office doorway was a welccome sign that there would be a working pay phone just inside. Dirty outside phone booths were perhaps more “private“ but usually reserved for film makers back in those days. Those signs have not been seen in probably in over thirty years. They silently faded off into the sunset as the monopolistic phone system was broken up into Baby Bells. Then we entered the era of private enterprise pay phones (that seldom worked) and finally buried the pay phone concept with the new cellular telephone systems that ironically rely heavily on wired “copper“ or “fiber optic“ land line connections and switching systems for call completion. But they are more or less perfected now. If only we could keep them out of the “hands“ of drivers fiddling with them while driving!

    Anyone remember the luxurious “IMTS“ phones in cars? Wow! (as in expensive), you could dial from your car! Just like Paul Drake in his T-Bird convertible back to Perry or Della (from a stake out).

    Telephones and cars have had a love-hate-neccessity life for a very long time!

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