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Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Car Images

Number One-Hundred and Twelve of the Kodachrome Image Series begins this week with an early-1960s postcard image of a parking lot next to one of the many large sand dunes and beaches found in various parts of Michigan that are near one of four Great Lakes that surround much of the State. The parking lot is filled with a wide variety of 1950s to early-1960s cars of all shapes and sizes.

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.

  • A well-equipped Chevrolet station wagon with a GOV 404 license plate parked at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.

  • One of the popular early-1950s Studebaker Coupes and a Ford sedan parked behind it.

  • A mid-1950s Cadillac posed for a photograph with a late-1950s Buick station wagon parked behind it.


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

  1. First photo appears to be Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore which are located on Lake Michigan near Traverse City. Actually the area didn’t become a National Lakeshore until 1967 – about 10 years after this photo was taken.

    • Thinking it over a bit I may have that location wrong because the license plates are Indiana color, not Michigan, of that period which tended to be white.

    • You are right. This is the Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. It’s on county road 109, a loop off Michigan 22 (M22) around Glen Lake just north of Empire. Sleeping Bear is on Lake Michigan.

  2. In the lead photograph, parked a little to center right in the foreground, is a blue 1959 EDSEL with the passenger door open.

    In the 4th picture, parked in the background on the left, is a 1958 BUICK “hardtop” station-wagon, either a Century Caballero or Special Riviera Deluxe.

  3. I saw dunes like that when I took a trip down the Pacific Coast highway back in the early 70s. But there were a lot more trees in the mix so I’ll go along with Henri.

    I was just at the Petrified Forest last fall. The station wagon was long gone although there is still the remains of an old Studebaker not too far away, and they’re almost petrified too. I might add that I’d like to have a wagon like that but I might find myself living at another zip code.

    Studebaker sure came up with some great designs back in the day. Too bad they couldn’t have held up.

    I’m not good at identifying Cadillacs of that vintage so I’ll just back off and say: I like the car!

  4. 1st pic, Ramblers, Valiants and Edsels, oh my. Research shows, it appears Henri is correct, Sleeping Bear Dunes in Glen Haven, MIch. Almost this exact photo ( with a tree) Lots of Indiana folks go to Michigan.
    2nd pic, 1959 Chevy Parkwood(?) wagon. I think I see a “P” on the fender. Certainly not a KIngswood or Nomad. I doubt it’s a government car, way too fancy, and those wheel covers don’t look correct, later model, perhaps?
    3rd, I think it’s a ’54 Champion, and if this guy doesn’t typify the usual Studebaker driver, nothing does.
    Last, pretty sure it’s a ’55 Caddy. Beautiful car.

    • Not sure what your comment about the Studebaker driver means? BTW: It is a ’53 model. The tri-star emblem on the trunk was ’53 only. Seems some company called Daimler-Benz protested the similarity and they dropped it. Studebaker would later become the authorized distributor of M-B cars in the USA. 🙂

  5. People who visit sand dunes preferred ’59 Fords and the Edsel, at least that day. Five cars have roof rack carriers, something so much more common then.

    The young buck had one of the best ‘chick magnets’ of the day: a ’53 Studebaker Starliner hardtop.

    The lovely Cadillac is a 1956 Series 62 Sedan de Ville four door hardtop, the first year for that popular model. The 1958 Buick four door hardtop station wagon in the background is either a Special Riviera or Century Caballero . Those bodies were subcontracted to Ionia Body Company for construction.

    • Given the huge trunks that the ’59 Fords and the ’57 Olds had, it’s amazing that the owners still needed roof racks

  6. Definitely Sleeping Bear before it became a National Lakeshore. My family could be in this picture including me. I see Fords, a Nash Rambler, an Edsel, a Studebaker. The Ford convertible is iconic. I couldn’t recognize any of today’s cars. Great colors back then. Now silver, white, dark red and black reign. Boring.

  7. I had a 56 series 62 Cadillac coupe, I think the up line deVilles were series 63s, at least that coding was also present for the 59 series 62 I had, and the deVilles were series 63, but the point is minor- love the Sedan deVille in the photo, and the Buick wagon.

  8. Once again, thanks for the Friday pics. Look forward to Friday A.M.

    Not wanting to be too picky, but in the opening paragraph I noticed that
    we now have only three Great Lakes. What became of “HOMES” ?

    Ah yes, ‘The Dunes’. Growing up in northern Indiana made many many trips
    to the dunes. Think the location is southern Michigan, possibly northern Indiana.
    As often as we went there I cannot remember the name of the park, but for sure
    we went to southern Michigan, north of the South Bend, IN area. Always had to
    climb the ‘hill.’ What great memories.

    Last pic, think the ’58 Buick is a 4-dr. hardtop wagon, thus a Century Caballero.
    The Specials were only available as 4-dr. sedan type, no hardtops offered.

    Keep up the good work, always appreciated.

  9. Having been at Sleeping Bear Dunes lots as a kid from Indiana many years ago, I vote for Sleeping Bear. Lots of Indiana folks summered there. Legend has it that Mother Bear was along the lake with her two cubs. A tall wave washed the cubs out into the water, where they drowned. The heart-broken mother died of grief and was covered by sand – thus Sleeping Bear Dune. The two Manitou Islands, just out from the dune, represent the drowned cubs.

  10. I’m pretty sure these are the Sleeping Bear dunes near Traverse City , Mi. As a kid , we vacationed Up North a lot. As an adult, we still make the trip about every 3 years. It looks different now because you have to leave the dune grass in place. I might add, that the Great Race will be finishing up this weekend in Traverse City.

  11. As usual, all the pictures are great. My two favorite cars are the ’57 olds on the beach and the ’56 caddy. Check out the faux bricks on the house behind the caddy. Fake siding was common back in the day.

    • Those are not “faux” bricks. These are what is known as “cinder blocks” Very common in Michigan.

  12. The first photo seems filled with Ford products, although there is a ’57 Chevy up there in front. It appears to be a late ’50s Plymouth wagon in white, a Valiant or Lancer, which came out in 1960, Moving on left, there is a ’55-’57 Nash or Hudson, a blue ’57 Olds and a ’53 Pontiac at left.

    I would agree on a Parkwood Chevy wagon from ’59, and a ’53 Studebaker Starlight Coupe with a ’51 Ford behind it. I also agree the Cadillac is a beautiful example of a ’56 model.

    • I think that’s a Valiant, not a Lancer. Lancers had round taillights and lacked the faux spare tire carrier on the trunk lid.

    • Just to toss in my 2¢. The 1959 black wagon sports a chrome tipped exhaust. Also full dark tint windows, to set off a super-duper wax job.

      Howard A. I agree with your call on the wheel covers

  13. 1st photo – 3 ’59 fords and each had a roof rack including the ’59 station wagon. Not a single convertible in the bunch though.

  14. I’m sure glad these Fun Friday photos are almost always from the 50s and early 60s.
    Bouffants and Beehives and Madras shorts-yum-yum!
    Don’t forget the Rheingold and Ballantine ale!

  15. Sleeping Bear was the location for the 1954 Lincoln Prestige Brochure, a large format piece featuring the entire product line with color foto spreads that featured all the cars- Capris/ Cosmopolitans- front side and rear views produced by the local McCann Erickson Advertising Agency office in Detroit , it among other national agencies designed, housed/ production and worked hand in hand with the major auto manufacturers GM, Ford and Chrysler as well as the independents. It was a lovely piece and I imagine would be worth quite a lot today

      • Campbell Ewald did GM’s advertising since WWI. A high school friend’s uncle was in charge of the Lincoln shoot at Sleeping Bear. I can’t remember the name of his agency.

  16. That ’53 Studebaker is called the Starliner, which is what Studebaker called their 2 door hardtop.
    In the first photo, it looks like a treasure trove of ’50s cars. On the left is a Rambler. Next to it is a ’59 Ford and a ’60 Edsel. In the row along the sand, is what looks like a ’50 Pontiac, a ’57 Olds, a ’56 Nash, ’59 Ford wagon, Valiant, what looks like a ’59 Plymouth wagon (I think). There is also a ’57 Chevy and ’59 Ford. Eye candy.

  17. 4 of the Great Lakes surround Michigan, not three. Hence the saying “four out of five Great Lakes prefer Michigan” 🙂

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