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Four Fun Friday Forties, Fifties, and Sixties Kodachrome Car Images

Number One-Hundred and Nineteen of the Kodachrome Image Series begins this week with a photo that demonstrates how Kodak Kodachrome and other brands of film with a similar makeup over-saturated colors. This image of a late-1950s Chrysler with over-the-top styling parked at a motel with a woman and a young girl next to it clearly demonstrates how Paul Simon in his hit 1973 song “Kodachrome” sang “they give us those nice bright colors.”

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 below are via This Was Americar.

  • Recently we featured at a photo of a rear view of a Buick laden with polished metal trim produced in the same model year as this Oldsmobile; this front view of the car shows a mind-boggling amount of chrome plated and stainless steel trim and moldings.

  • This Cities Service filling station is filled with GM built cars that include a pair of early-1960s Corvettes out for a cruise.

  • This 1964 photo of a Cadillac hearse converted into a motor home, shows a low-cost form of traveling.  


37 responses to “Four Fun Friday Forties, Fifties, and Sixties Kodachrome Car Images

    • In the lead photograph, parked behind the two-door 1958 IMPERIAL Southampton, is a four-door 1955 OLDSMOBILE Holiday, unsure of the model.

      • Agree this is an Imperial and NOT a Chrysler. Imperial was a stand alone brand from 1955 to 1975 and again from 1981 to 1983. In other years, an Imperial was a Chrysler but not the car in the photo. Also, with regard to the car in the photo, it is the lowest price ’58 Imperial, the Custom (Crown and LeBaron were the mid and high priced series). Southampton refers to all of the 2 or 4 door hardtop model cars regardless of series.

        • KE,

          Thanks for the information concerning IMPERIAL cars in general and that the ’58 IMPERIAL being a Custom. Don’t know enough about such cars to go beyond knowing the car was a Southampton.


  1. That Caddy-Camper would be a low cost form of traveling until you pulled up to the gas pump… And, I’m sure that car had to make frequent stops at ‘fillin’ stations’… LOL

    • I have a New Yorker cartoon from the mid-50’s. There’s a large car (somewhat Cadillac-looking) at a gas pump. The pump jockey is saying to the driver; “Sir, would you mind turning off the motor? It’s outdrawing the pump.”

    • Judging by the parking lamps the Cadillac is a 1941 model and, yes, would have been thirsty. Less so, perhaps, if equipped with a 3 speed synchromesh transmission which was available throughout the forties. If the pictured car were a 1949 model series 75 (same body style as was the ’41) it would have been powered with the new 331 CID overhead valve V8 that was a sensation due to its performance and its fuel economy as compared to the engines used previously.

      • The Cadillac is a ’49 and I believe an S&S body. With its newer 331 ohv it should get much better mileage than th old “L” head.

    • My now-deceased brother invested in a company back in the 60’s that made what they called a “Car Camper”, an over-the roof sleeping compartment with a “leg” that sat in the trunk – the trunk lid removed of course. I don’t think they made very many, or even if it reached market, but whatever he invested went down the drain.

      • OOPS ! I Googled “Car Camper” and see a pic of a similarly styled unit on a car with foreign plates, no idea where.

    • Certainly Ohio, but could be west central as well. I cannot tell from that plate, but in those days, Ohio plates could be nailed down to their area by the suffixes. The small city where I lived had plates that included UF, UG, UH, UJ, UK and UL suffixes (there was no UI) Other towns in the county used the other U alphabet.

    • As a kid, I lived on a farm in northwest Ohio, in the early 1960s. Dad was an Ohio State Highway patrolman. We had a party- line telephone, and indoor plumbing. Yes, flat land, too, and plenty of it. Dad said “you could see a hundred miles in every direction, and if you stood on a tuna can, you could see two hundred.”

    • 1957 would be the first year that Ohio instituted the “point system” against an Operator’s License. Plate number groupings were generally issued by County. As a youngin’ We lived in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and My Father would order His plates out of Akron, Summit County to always get “D 202 M”. I have many of Dad’s old plates on My garage wall and all of them are D 202 M. The 1957 color combination would be recycled for 1962 and again in 1966. My 66 VW Type 1 wears Dad’s old 1966 D 202 M plates registered under it’s Historical Vehicle registration.
      I now live in northeastern Ohio, south of Cleveland in Medina County in a rural area, and see almost the same scenery when I look out from My front porch. Two of My property lines are corn fields along with farmhouses, barns, and silos. Last year, a neighbor’s cow got loose and ended up in Our backyard….. grazing.

  2. Wow…the colors on that `57 Imperial Crown coupe are vivid, and so is Mom’s outfit. The pair of Vettes at the gas station appear to both be `62 models. I wonder who supplied those wire wheels; it wasn’t Chevy! One of my favorite Oldsmobiles, a `58 sure looks new in the photo! It’s a Super 88 hardtop with the standard hubcaps/trim rings rather than the color-coordinated spinners that were optional.

    • Wire wheels were manufactured for the Corvette in the early sixties by a small company in Xenia, Ohio, Dayton Wheel Products. I can remember occasionally seeing a late fifties – early sixties Corvette with wire wheels back in the day. Dayton wire wheel company has had a long history starting in 1916 and continuing in business to this day.

      • I had the opportunity to tour the Dayton Wheel facility when I was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB.
        All still triple process chrome plated quality products at the time.

  3. In the second image behind the Corvettes sits a 1958 Cadillac Series 62 and a 1955 Oldsmobile on the fence. That camper on the is very professional looking on that 1946 Cadillac Hearse body by Miller-Meteor Coach Works.

    • Those grand old funeral coaches were proportionately built, as well. Look at the motor hood: raised, completely different from standard, so to look correct with the enlarged rest of the car. Very elegant, proper, given the original intent of this Cadillac.

  4. Not sure those are real wire wheels on the Corvettes. I do not see any overlapping lacing on the wires. In the sixties there were wheels made that were a smooth, concave chrome disc with a wire basket that gave a quite realistic wire wheel look and were A LOT easier to clean. Do not remember the Mfgs name, but I had a set on a ’67 Firebird.

  5. I’m guessing the 57 Imp shot was taken in front of an old Florida Tourist Court given the jalousie windows, croton plants, the scruffy cabbage palms in the background and the triangles that appear to be some sort of sail motif. We still have loads of them, all Mom-and-Pop’s with wall AC and jalousies that simply don’t seal and let the cool air out and the bugs in. They would be Palmetto Bugs as we do not have Cockroaches in Florida.

  6. When I was a teenager, my mother had a Desoto wagon with the same color combo as the Imperial. The seats were so slippery that you HAD TO use the seat belts or drive in a sane manner, neither of which I wanted to do.

  7. 1st pic, someone had a decent job in the late ’50’s. I read, the ’57 Crown coupe cost this family $5, 269 dollars ( and weighed almost as much) or over $46,000 today. So gas station attendants probably couldn’t afford one. Wasn’t this the car with the stainless steel half roof? I don’t think it’s brand new (rusty rims and faded whitewall, worn tires), but rest assured, this family rode in style. The ’58 Olds had all the glitz of the other ’58 GM’s at the time. Again, our grandchildren will be astounded, this is what we drove ( or rode in ) in the late 50’s. I still say, that’s a good 5 mph ( or more)bumper. 3rd, folks on a spin in their Corvette’s. It’a bit ironic, since the ’58 Olds was featured, a ’58 Caddy, which doesn’t look too old, having problems. GM build quality in ’58? Shows, even the fanciest cars broke down back then. I think the Caddy camper would be a hit today.

  8. The first car is an Imperial, but I don’t know the year. The second was easier, a ’58 Olds Hardtop. Can’t figure out it it’s an 88 or 98.

  9. The Cadillac motor home is a 1947 Series 75. The Maine Commercial license plate fits the pattern for 1955, 1964 or 1967. I suspect it’s 1955.

  10. Kodachrome was designed to have “pleasing” colors, not necessarily “accurate,” that was Ektachrome’s job. Thus Kodachrome found favor with editorial photographers like NatGeo and Life but was not suitable for photographing products for catalogs, where the picture needed to match what the customer would receive.
    Fifty years later tho, Kodachrome does seem to have the best longevity in terms of maintaining its original appearance. It’s worth noting that over-sarurated colors like those in the Chrysler shot can be induced in the scanning process as well.

  11. Working with color slides, Kodacolor was the more accurate color wise but was very slow. Kodachrome was faster and the colors were less accurate but still acceptable. I have just finished computerizing over 400 slides from the mid 50s to early 60s and the difference is notable.

  12. An excellent After-market use for a Cadillac!!! Older Lincolns, Cadillacs and Packards made excellent RE- purposed vehicles for Motorhomes and “the like” — including: Service Cars Tow Trucks and Heavy Duty Pickups or Flatbeds. A Factory example would be: The Hudson Pickup , or the early Ford Coupe conversions (Some were factory options!) Lastly, some were “pressed into” Doodlebug ” (Shortened frame) service on the farm or in Industry. A Pioneer in these ‘Experiments in Utility was: Henry Ford himself!!! Another lesser know utilizer of huge sized Limousine Vehicles at the time of WW-1 was Madame Curie , (Polish/French) Physicist Doctorate who used her known: “Office of Science” to Promote the Re- Purposing of the Limousines of the very rich to have their normal car-Body stored at home — and deliver the complete running Chassis, Driveline & hood for re-construction — to be: “Front- Line Combat Emergency X- Ray Clinics on Wheels” — to : X- Ray Soldiers And Process the X-Ray Film “On the Battlefield”! After the War, (and with Factories cooperating!) — the Body and Chassis would be completely Overhauled (as necessary, with upgrades if needed) — and re-united to/for Limousine Service!!! So: An early British or European Limousine sitting in a Museum (or private garage) today — might also be: A World War One WAR Veteran!!! Thank – you Madame Curie and the Fleet of X- Ray “Limousines” ( in disguise!!!) Edwin W. (Who would have imagined this vital service !)

  13. Notice the Dayton Wire Wheels on the Corvettes – also I believe one of the Corvettes on Route 66 television show also featured Dayton Wire Wheels (and they are still available today).

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