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Kodachrome Friday: The Old Motor Goes to Las Vegas for Labor Day Weekend

Since Labor Day weekend begins tomorrow, number One-Hundred and Twenty of the Kodachrome Image Series takes us to Las Vegas, Nevada to see the sights and the action in the casinos during the Holiday. The lead image of South Las Vegas Boulevard gives us a view of the Fremont, the Horseshoe, and the Mint on the right-hand side, and on the left the sign the Golden Nugget sign is partially visible above the stores. The cars and a pickup trucks are for the most part 1950s models, but parked and in traffic appear to be at least two 1960s cars.      

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.

The Old Motor will return after the Labor Day Holiday on Tuesday morning September the fifth.

  • A sea of clubs and for the most part 1950s cars dominate this street scene.

  • The Sands Hotel and Casino, “A Place In The Sun” (1952 to ’96) was a popular destination to see the best entertainment in Vegas.

  • The Thunderbird Hotel and Casino (1947 to ’81) and its large eagle sign which was bathed with colorful neon at night.

30 responses to “Kodachrome Friday: The Old Motor Goes to Las Vegas for Labor Day Weekend

  1. Great pictures !!

    In the lead photograph, parked in the foreground, is a white 1959 CHEVROLET.

    In the 2nd photograph, driving away, on the left of the picture, is a blue 1954 PACKARD Clipper Deluxe.

    In the 3rd photograph, parked on the street, is a white over red 1954 NASH Ambassador country Club Coupé.

    In the 4th photograph, parked on the far right, is a white over gray 1953 BUICK, parked next to a two-tone 1951 NASH.

    Wishing all a safe Labor Day Weekend !!

  2. Been to Vegas many times,,,,in the carspotting series on Hemmings. 1st pic, ’60 or ’61 plates on the ’59 Chevy. I don’t see anything newer than 1960. 2nd pic, we’ve determined that is Hank Kimball on vacation from his county agent job in Hooterville. 3rd, “Sands,, A place in the sun”,,,what a profound statement, and the ’56 (?) Pontiac, I’m sure the subject of the photo, sure looks nice. Looks like somebodies hat is going to get flattened.

  3. Great color shots that have me thinking of anywhere besides home! In the lead photo, 3 of the cars at the curb in front of us are 1960 models; a Chevy Impala, a Rambler wagon, and a Pontiac Catalina all behind the lead `59 Impala.
    The image of the Sands Hotel I’ve seen before; shot in 1954 I believe. The red `54 Nash Country Club coupe at the curb, while dated in comparison to other `54 models sure looks appealing in the sun! The photo of the Thunderbird Casino/hotel is great! The `56 Pontiac Chieftain hardtop sedan in the foreground looks about a week old! Across the driveway, the two-tone `51 Nash sedan sure looks dated compared to everything else parked there. Shows you how far car styling changed in about 5 years’ time!

  4. 1st picture. A young girl behind the girl on the left. Almost invisible unless you look at the reflection in the store window.
    Strange to see so many people and not one looking down at their cell phone. Oh yeah. Weren’t any then. And parking meters? Surely not for the gamblers, unless they could be set for 24 hours. Or maybe they worked like slot machines and a person could win free parking.
    2nd. I owned a ’55 chevy with a mild custom job with those identical Packard tail lites. Any time I needed a push I would usually have to go looking for more lenses.
    4th pic. Beautiful Pontiac. What has happened to the myriad of colors once used to give cars character?
    Good job! I look forward to Fridays.

  5. Wow, that is as basic a 59 Ford as you could get in the 1st pic I believe ! Same with the Packard in the 2nd pic. Always loved the “sleeper” look myself. In the last pic, I have never seen a Pontiac with those colors….Fords, Studebakers, an occasional Merc and Chevys, yes…but never a Pontiac. Very neat ! That little MG sure looks out of place, I would have wanted to be him just to be different, ha ! As always, thanks for this great start to my day David ! Now, get us some shots of that sporty “new” 1800s you teased us with in your AACA post !

    • First got I ever had in my own name was a 5-year old 59 Custom just like that one, mine was a light brown. Six cylinder manual, radio and heater. Basic as it comes!
      Thanks you for the memories these Kodachrome Fridays bring to all of us!

  6. And the ’59 Impala in the first pic is equipped with the largest optional engine, a 348 CI 250 HP Turbo Thrust V8. (Above the Chevrolet script on the hood is the gold “V” with a set of crossed flags above that.) Made quick work of the drive across the desert I’ll bet.

    • Good eye to catch that emblem. One thing my weak eyes show me, it was warm. Virtually none of those cars had AC. I was commenting to my wife just the other day that we often did not close up and or lock our cars in such heat. Two reasons I cited were, people weren’t like that and, and, we didn’t have stuff.

  7. Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy were famous radio personalties in New York City during the Fifties and Sixties. They would broadcast from their apartment in Manhattan interviewing Stars of Stage and Screen.

  8. Phantom grey and camellia on that pillarless four door hardtop Pontiac. My favorite era when there was so much color. Pinkish and blackish colors just one of the popular combos on cars, appliances, clothing and so much else.

    • Yes, what few people realize is that the pink & black and pink & gray combos were all the rage in the mid-1950s. There were even father/son and mother/daughter clothing outfits in these colors. Another reason why so many cars were painted in these hues back then.

      And… for 1955-56, the other rage going on in automobiles was the four-door hardtop. It was considered the ultimate in cool–especially if you had a family and wanted/needed four doors but didn’t want a stodgy old sedan body. Four-door hardtops were just making their debut so this 1956 Pontiac in gray & pink with four-door hardtop body and whitewalls (despite not being the top model Star Chief) was a very, very cool car to have in those days.

      Of course, nobody back then–especially in Las Vegas –would have ever referred to the bird atop the Thunderbird Casino & Hotel as an “eagle.” It was the native American Indian symbol known as “Thunderbird” and that was its only designation.

      Beautiful photos of an age and time and place long gone now. At least as it existed then.

  9. That Chieftain in the last photograph? Made me feel like a kid again. Honest. Don’t know how, or why, but that car and color combination took me back. Way back. Thank you, Dave.

  10. THE American Telephone and Telegraph Company was “in the neighborhood” -in the late 20’s, during the time when they were installing an early – on (Transcontinental) telephone & telegraph set of “lines”, over the desert. This required a very large crew , which included my Dad & Uncle. The Mode of transport into town, – for “R & R” (Las Vegas) was: ’28 Model AA Ford Stakebed Trucks!!! Not by any means — a NEON Jungle or many gambling casinos & etc., (yet), the Vegas “claim to being” was that it was also: A Railroad town. A Mr. Matheison broke a NEON sign (baseball accident) -(in the Los Angeles area) when young, -and had to “shell out” $75., for the repair of the sign, ( a fortune!) He made up his mind then & there — that he would “go into the sign business” and thus: Pacific Neon Maintenace was formed – and became a major player in design, fabrication , repair & installation, of signs – and yes, this company made most of the (first & later NEON signs for Downtown & the “Strip “, (most of which — you will see in your fun pictures of an earlier “Vegas”. Edwin W.

    • There are many stories today of neon’s start in the USA… many conflict. Some are fiction. Most are snippets of the reality. The first commercially successful neon sign came to the USA in 1923 in Los Angeles (yes there are those who will argue that ad hoc examples previously existed). This neon sign said “Packard”(as in Packard Motor Cars) and was one of three (3) first imported by west coast Packard distributor, Earle C. Anthony (the internet and books today will swear there were two signs and offer numerous prices they supposedly cost at the time). The REAL Packard neon was erected on a billboard atop a building at the corner of 7th and Flower (and there are those who will argue this into the ground too, but it was NOT at Mr. Anthony’s dealership, nor was it mounted on his building as shown today in Internet photos).

      Mr. Anthony was first in the USA and southwest to form a neon company licensed by Georges Claude of France where the sign company originated. Claude Neon Company division formed by Mr. Anthony and partners had the exclusive rights to produce and license sub-contractors for neon signs in the southwest USA for many years.

      Of course any neon broken in L.A. in the 1920s would have been serviced by the company (or subcontractors) owned/licensed by Earle C. Anthony’s operation.

      The real story of neon’s commercial beginnings was featured a few years ago in “The Packard Cormorant” magazine, the glossy magazine of The Packard Club. Issues of this publication are still available via their web site. Earle C. Anthony was founder of KFI radio which was a very powerful clear channel (not the brand, but the operation) pioneer radio station located in Los Angeles. Mr. Anthony was a great entrepreneur, inventor, and business man. Some of his other endeavors included ownership of one of the predecessor companies to Greyhound Bus Lines and a predecessor company to Chevron Oil gas stations (National Supply Stations) which he sold out to Standard Oil. Chevron stations to this day bear the original colors and French chevron symbols of his early company. And these are just a few of Mr. Anthony’s many accomplishments. Of course he was also known for having three of the world’s most beautiful car dealerships. These were located in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, California and designed by a famous architect.

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