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The Pacific Coast Highway: Surf Rider Beach Malibu, California

Today’s postcard image seen in its entirety in the lead image was taken by Los Angeles photographer Bob Plunkett circa 1950. Just to the right of this photo is the location of the Malibu Sport Fishing Pier, a southern California icon and Surf Rider Beach, both located on California State Route 101.

The two sectional enlargements below show this scene in detail that includes an open-air Texaco filling station with a lift for oil changes and lubrication services. The many vehicles visible in the parking lots and on Route 101 give us an excellent view of pre and post-war vehicles that tourists and local travelers were driving in this period.

Tell us what you find of interest in this photograph courtesy of the Huntington Library.

30 responses to “The Pacific Coast Highway: Surf Rider Beach Malibu, California

  1. In the lead photograph, parked in front of the ANCHOR INNN CAFE, is a 1941 STUDEBAKER President Land Cruiser [with dented rear fender] and parked on the side of the café is an early step-down HUDSON.

  2. 1950 sounds about right. Just on initial glance I don’t see anything newer than that. By the cafe in the foreground, a `41 Studebaker President sedan with a crushed rear fender is parked next to a `46-`48 Ford woody, and facing us on the side of the restaurant I see a `47 Lincoln Zephyr sedan sits next to a `50 Hudson coupe.

    • I think the Woody is newer, ’49-’51 Ford. Only one I see unless that’s one across the street towards the beach with only the rear end visible.

      • Oops, missed the Woody parked in front of the restaurant. Yup, that is a ’46 Ford Woody, directional lights are mounted high up on the fenders. The other one is parked on the street.

  3. What a horrid use of a beautiful coastline! Lumber yard, concrete products business and what ever else being built along the way. How is it that we placed so little value on something so unique and irreplaceable?

  4. It appears that the Anchor Inn Cafe customers were targeted for accidents. The one parked in the lot has damage to the driver’s side rear fender and the coupe parked on the street has damage to the passenger’s side rear fender.

    • I can’t get over how close people parked their cars to other vehicles back then! With manual steering and big ol’ bumpers no wonder there are some dented cars in this shot….

  5. PCH is SR 1 nowadays. US 101 (Ventura Freeway) is inland and you wont buy a 2×4 in Malibu these days. Look at those empty hillsides going cheap!

    • Incorrect. There is a hardware store behind the Cross Creek shopping center which opened a few years ago after the lumber yard on PCH closed down – that is now a high-end shopping center.

  6. I was thinking the Olds 88 was a 1949 which had less pronounced chrome trim and no backup lights on top of the rear fenders.

  7. I only see one pickup truck and that is in the second shot. It is a ’47- as new as it could be in the year of this pic. It looks heavy duty possibly a 3/4 ton.

  8. Just above where Las Virgines Canyon Road ” tees” into PCH (the “four lane” in Malibu), there is a long hill going North on the Pacific Coast Hwy. The wind was a brisk: “Santa Ana” blowing out to sea. I had stopped to buy Gas for my ’37 ford 85 HP V-8 Business Coupe: (Circa: 1956) , — while filling the tank, I looked up the hill and I saw 2 House -Trailers slowly ascending — and the S/A wind was yanking those trailers around! — something fierce! I was headed North, so I figured that I could see what was pulling those House-Trailers: Oh, my! Each Trailer was being pulled by a ’48 Crosley (miniature!) “Station Wagon!!! Talk about Road Adventure!!! I quickly passed them as they needed t almost the whole road to navigate the high cross- wind, — in Low Gear, engines screaming !!! As to parking in Malibu: Choose wisely: The local Eagles perch on the High Voltage Power Line (Pole)Cross-Arms and I recommend The area between the poles and not under the pole Cross Arms! Edwin Winet . The PCH was a wonderful way to enjoy Inexpensive Touring , Camping and Swimming for a 16 year old boy and his Older Reliable Ford. The same road, the Ocean, and the same Wind — are still there! Farther North, — look for: ” Jalama Beach”, — a small Special Campground on a small road off of HWY 1 . The Coast Road has many treasures and it’s great for Our Older Cars!!!

  9. As my late dear friend of 50 years used to say “Looks like
    a dog from every alley”. Lots of what I (and others) call
    orphan cars Studebaker, Kaiser/Fraser, Hudson, Mercury,
    Pontiac, DeSoto, Oldsmobile, Nash . Maybe (probably) more
    than these 78 yr. old eyes are seeing. What history. Too bad
    so many are gone. Loved ’em all. What I love about Friday
    mornings. Thank you David

  10. I may have mentioned this before, but I saw a movie on TCM called “Drive a Crooked Road”, ( 1954) with Mickey Rooney, and many scenes took place on the PCH in Malibu, and could have been this stretch. And btw, it’s THE 101, or THE 405 or THE PCH,,,the only place I know, that “the” precedes the highway number. Malibu is not for the faint of wallet, and on a visit a few years back, decided to try a restaurant right on the beach, I checked the menu, the cheapest thing on the menu was Fish & Chips,,,$29.95. Needless to say, we left.

  11. The lumberyard depicted was actually the warehouse and car barn for the Malibu and Southern Railroad which was built by the Rindge family (then owners of the Malibu area) to thwart the ambitions of the Southern Pacific Railroad to build a route up the coast to Santa Barbara. Heading north up the coast with some extensive earthworks and at least one viaduct, it reached as far as Encinal Canyon (about 15 miles) before being largely abandoned in the 1920’s. The Rindge family were less successful in stopping the government from building the Pacific Coast Highway through their lands, taking their lawsuit all the way up to the Supreme Court. The cost of which forced the Rindge’s to sell land that became the Malibu Colony. and subsequently the establishment of Malibu town. The lumberyard in the picture burned down in 1983 and a new yard built a half mile north of the pier.

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