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Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Car Images

Number One-Hundred and Thirty-One of the Kodachrome Image Series begins this week with a mid-1960s photo of motorists caught in traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. According to Daniel Strohl at Hemmings Daily, this photo was taken by Richard C. Clark, who at the time was the Public Relations Manager for the structure. According to a reader’s comment, the scene contains traffic leaving San Francisco during the evening rush hour.

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.

  • It appears the owner of this early-1960s Pontiac was proud of the new chrome exhaust pipe tips and the Esso “Extra” gasoline “tiger in your tank” give-a-way.

  • Sky King’s older brother preferred to drive a Lincoln instead of the Chrysler’s that Sky drove.

  • We would hazard a guess that this smiling woman is posing for a new car photo.

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

  1. The B uick , last foto… Wasn’t ’66 about the final year the car industry offered spinner type centers on their accessory wheel covers… Safety, no more twinkling sparkling brite accents as the wheels went ’round and ’round in the sun!

  2. 2nd photo is a 1960 Pontiac Catalina Sport Sedan, as I have one now for 25 years, and in better shape than the photo. 389 v8, 4 speed hydra-matic ,transmission, tri-power, tri-tone interior, record holders of the old days.

      • The Pontiac has a tiger tail in its tank. I believe EXXON sold them at their gas stations. I remember them in their commercials attached to a GTO.

        • ESSO was the Brand name then – EXXON came later! We also gave out Zippo lighters with a small plastic roundel of the Esso Tiger on them.

  3. That’s a Beechcraft Bonanza Model 35 in the third picture. Sky King flew a Cessna T 50 (I had one ) and later a Cessna 310B. Both aircraft were names Songbird.

      • Little Rock – they’ve been there since 1939 and are still operating as an MRO/charter/training facility. I would guess the photograph is from 1948, when CFS received Beechcraft Bonanza number 23.

        • I’m wrong about the photo date – assuming my poor eyes are correctly reading the registration number (N3385C), the photograph’s 1955 or later

    • I remember Sky King flying the radial-powered airplane but I was fairly young when the program was on, so I didn’t recognize it except to think it was like a Lockheed Electra. I also remember when he flew the 310. Back then the ‘International Flying Farmers’ club was gaining popularity so a lot of people (including myself) were looking skyward.
      Those Cessna T-50s were used extensively out west as trainers during the war. When the war ended there were numerous surplus T-50s ending up on farms stretching from Great Falls, MT, into Canada. They bought them for as little as $200. I think they were also referred to as a ‘Crane.’

  4. The first photo could not be ON the Golden gate Bridge – it is only 3 lanes in each direction. It must be one of the approaches

  5. The Beechcraft may still exist though not registered. The registration ran out in 2013, according to FAA record s. Wouldn’t it be nice if auto records were as easy to find.

  6. Photo #3 looks like a ‘57 Lincoln Premiere. I remember Sky King and his niece Penny fondly. Don’t remember him driving a Chrysler, but he flew a twin engine Cessna called “Songbird”. The plane in the photo is a Beech V-tail and had a somewhat notorious reputation in the hands of an inexperienced pilots. I believe Buddy Holly died in such a plane.

    • The Beech was called a Doctor and Lawyer killer. That is who could only afford them when they came out in 1947. They were the first private airplane with retractable gear available to the public. That was the problem.

  7. Third photo is picturing Chris Finkbeiner, of local meat packing fame, in front of the historic hanger of Central Flying Service at the Adams Field (Little Rock, AR) airport. The hanger still exists, but sadly the control tower and terminal in the background were demolished and replaced with a much larger modern jet terminal on the east side of the field.

    • Found online:
      “The owner of the company Chris Finkbeiner was also a professional wrestling entrepreneur. Finkbeiner ran a gubernatorial campaign against Orval Faubus in 1958. The Finkbeiner Meat Packing Company invented the cheese dog in 1956.”

      No wonder he could afford a Beech and that dandy Lincoln. Wonder if this might have been some kind of campaign photo?

    • Jay, thank you very much for the interesting history lesson. Having grown up in southern Missouri and Arkansas I remember Finkbeiner hot dogs as a kid and grew up with Arkansas politics. Once in early 70’s even got to meet Orval Faubus and hear his views, very different times. Again thanks for the memories.

  8. I’d say that’s not much of a Public Relations department. I mean, this photo of 7 lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic is not doing much of a “You’ll want to drive the Golden Gate Bridge every day” message.

  9. In the first pic top center I see a Ford Econoline van. I spent a lot of time in one of those sitting on the engine cover traveling to and from the job-site at my first job. I remember one long grade (not steep at all) if you weren’t traveling at max speed at the start of the grade you would have to down shift the 3-speed to make it to the crest.

    • And speaking of sitting on that engine cover………In the late 60s we had an Econoline like that in the Fort Lewis Motor Pool. I was dispatched to leave the post, pick up a WAC, and bring her to the fort. Arriving at the pick-up location, I found that there was not one WAC but 12! I drove back with 10 in the back, one in the front seat, and one (with the nicest legs) on the engine cover. You should have seen the guys back at the motor pool when I arrived with 12 WACS in that thing.

    • My Dad had a ’64 passenger van, and I sometimes sat on the engine cover with the aid of a special pillow that kept the heat off my butt. He had bought it for his electrical business, but the van was such a lemon that it had to have the generator replaced 3 times. Dad sometimes had to go to his electrical jobs with our ’58 Ford or our ’64 Dodge 880 that we traded the ’58 for. His electric shop went out of business, so he went to work at Becton-Dickinson as an electrician. He finally traded that van for a ’69 Dodge A-108 Sportsman and had no trouble with it.

  10. The driver in the first car in the second from the right lane… may be making an emphatic point to his passengers….or… about to fire off a one finger salute to another commuter.

  11. There is a certain tasteful majesty radiating from that black (or is it dark green?) 1966 Lincoln Continental behind the ’67 Chevy in the center lane. And it has AutoDim!

  12. First photo….toward the top left. An MGB with detachable hardtop. Must be hardtop, don’t think the MGB-GT had come along yet.

    • The GT debuted in ‘65 so that’s a possibility but pix of the GT show a top that extends pretty much straight back from the top trim of the windshield whereas this one seems to have a bit of a hump right there. So I think your surmise of a roadster with hardtop is correct.

      • I beg to differ, Jay. If you sit an MGB and GT side by side you’ll see that the GT has a taller windscreen. Thats where Paul suggests better outward vision in the hardtop model. I believe it to be a GT…any slight hump in the photo might be from grainy film or pavement heat distortion???

  13. Lauesen Buick reportedly sold plenty of cars to celebrities. They were located in West L.A. on Sepulveda Blvd, close to various studios. Leonard Nimoy’s well known pic of him with his Buick Riviera shows a plate frame from the same dealer.

  14. The V-tail bonanzas also earned a bad rap as ‘doctor and lawyer killers’ , the reasoning being that doctors and lawyers could afford to own them but did not have the time to learn to become proficient in them. The airplane was so aerodynamically clean that a slight nose-down attitude would cause them to rapidly build speed and go beyond the ‘never exceed’ airspeed, resulting in a failure of the tail assembly. In later years they were recertified with a tail strenghtening modification and they were placarded on the instrument panel with a lower ‘never exceed’ speed. The V-tail was not one of Beechcraft’s better engineering ideas. The design of the V-tail incorporated the elevator and the vertical stabilizer into a single unit. The bonanza was a roomy, comfortable, relatively fast airplane. I spent many hours in one. The back seat passenger usually noticed the plane seemed to slowly fishtail during flight. That design was finally phased out and the two-part tail was used on future planes.
    Hope I didn’t bore everyone.

    • You didn’t bore me, Tom. I spent a fair amount of time in the Navy training version of the Bonanza, the T-34B Mentor. The “Bravo,” as she was called, was extremely stable and a very fine aircraft. She had a conventional tail, which made all the difference. Many of them are still flying.

  15. Anybody have any thoughts on what the green pickup in the 3rd row from the left might be. It`s the one sort of between the Corvair and VW bus . Is this an early Japanese import ?

  16. 1st pic I guess the year is 1965 or late 1964 as I see just one Mustang and the red full-size Ford would be the newest car?

    • The first pic is at least late ’67. There are two ’67 Chevrolets in the pic and what appears to be a 1968 Chevy in front of the white VW bus.

  17. The guy in the 1st white car, in front of the ’65, the next frame would show an obscene gesture. The 60 Poncho, in the early 60’s, it didn’t get much cooler than that, 2 door and with “twice pipes” out the back, it was no 2 barrel. Clearly, the flying service was doing pretty well. I remember Sky King, ( I believe that show started the trend for aviator sunglasses) and to a lesser extent, the Whirlybirds. The last photo, the ’64 Skylark. In HS a friends mom had a car just like that, only brown. My buddy absolutely killed that car. V6, 2 speed, and worn front shocks. He’d stab the gas in low and let off, and after about the 4th or 5th stab, I swear he got the front wheels off the ground. It took the abuse, until he T-boned another car. I wish they made cars like that today.

  18. But about Kirby “Sky King” Grant. He was a regular attendee at the Dayton, OH Airshow in the 1970s. He would sit in a lawn chair beside his Cessna 310. He was always affable and gracious with we kids. He was a fine gentleman.

  19. No comments on the cars today, except to say Thanks for another
    round. Am interested to find out about your new guy “Stanley”.
    He’s probably found lots to do. by now. Send a pic sometime
    if you can

  20. The red w . / white Pontiac : Neighborhood troubles: Wheel covers gone !!! Just when I was going to photograph the new Aluminum (sore thumb) paint on the PIPES!

  21. I enjoy these photos. Thank you for the entertainment! I believe there is a guy sporting in his 66 Corvair on the left by the bus. And then Grandma with her Ray Bans in the 63 Impala, third row from right, 8 back. My dad had a turquoise 4 door. My 12 year old self thought it was the finest car on the road!

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