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Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Car Images

Number One-Hundred and Thirty-Six of the Kodachrome Image Series begins this week with a photo of an attractive postwar Ford station wagon. The publicity photo taken for the Ford Motor Company is one of several showing the wood trimmed car at an airport used for promoting this model.

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 at all the earlier parts of this series here. The images are via This Was Americar.

  • Early-1960s view of a parking lot at the 340th Combat Squadron Headquarters.

  • The Ford hardtop and a VW juxtaposed together makes for an interesting view of big and little. 

  • And finally, it has been said that people can look like their dogs, but can a person look like their car?


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

  1. Great pictures again !!

    In the 2nd photograph, 4th car from the left in the foreground, is a white 1955 OLDSMOBILE 88 Holiday Coupé: parked on the other side of this parking lot, 7th car from the left, is a 1955 OLDMOBILE convertible with what looks like a rear flat tire.

    • That Olds coupe in the foreground is a 98, not an 88. Three factors lead to the identification.
      1. Note the extended trunk lid on that car compared to the red and white ragtop with the flat tire facing the street.
      2. The “sweepspear” descends from the back edge of the vent window. If you will notice the convertible again, that sweepspear starts its descent from the beltline dip, at the rear edge of the door.
      3. A bit hard to see, but the “Holiday” badge in script form can be seen on the front fender, just behind the headlight. The smaller Olds 88s had the chrome “88” insignia in that location… the Super 88 had a similar 88 but was encircled in a round badge.
      I learned to drive on my father’s ’55 Super 88 Holiday Coupe. After retiring from his service station, he became an Oldsmobile salesman for the remaining years of his career.

    • A close friend bought a similar looking Starliner. It had the high performance engine. He saw a road test of the HP Ford in Hot Rod magazine and just had to have one. Special ordered it just like the one featured in the article. It was and is a great looking automobile. It was very fast. They are both gone now. Lots of good memories in that car. JWL

      • I have loved those Ford Starliners, ever since I saw my first one at the age of fourteen. They were built for two model years, 1960 as the one shown here and 1961. I think I like the 1960 a bit better, but the 1961 has a more refined look, not quite as radical of treatment on the fins. Very clean car all around.
        If I had the means to buy one like that today, I’d be on it!

  2. When I was a little kid in the early 60s my old man had a 60 Galaxie quite similar to the Starliner albeit not as good of shape. At the time the car was only 5 or 6 years old but very clapped out. The part that amazed me the most was that it would run without the ignition key. The lock cylinder was just worn right out. Thanks for the wonderful memory!!

  3. In the second photo I believe the ’55? Olds convertible in the second row center has a flat tire.
    Is that a Ford Falcon parked between the ’60 Chev wagon and the Merc convertible?

    • I think it’s a 600. The 500s had a hood that was the full width of the car, where that one appears to have a hood that fits between the headlights.

        • It doesn’t look like a 500 Nuova to me. The Topolino and the 1990s Cinquecento had hoods that went between the headlights, but the Nuova from 1957-75 had the “toilet lid” front hood that sits entirely on top of the front bodywork (I was trying to think of a more flattering description for the hood, since it isn’t ugly, but that’s the image that stuck). As far as I know, even the Abarth versions kept that distinct front hood. The seam on the blue car passes inside the headlights, where a 500’s seam would pass over the headlights.

  4. As a coincedence I have an 8×10 copy of the `49 Ford wagon image! The dapper young man looks fitting with the very latest Ford had to offer!
    The second photo I estimate was shot about `62, as I spot a `62 Tempest coupe in the close up lot, with a `62 Bel Air wagon in the far lot. One of my faves, a `60 Mercury is parked up front on the lower left.
    The `60 Starliner in the third photo is probably brand new! These always looked best in lighter, single-tone paintjobs for some reason. All `60 Fords (to me anyway) looked better than the Chevies that year.

  5. I the second shot a FIAT 600 and a Dauphine are the only non US cars I can see.Seem to a be a few parked for the duration machines too.

  6. 1st pic, I highly doubt people dressed like this would drive a car like that. These were family cars. Most probably only looked like this once, picking it up at the dealer. 2nd, pretty typical of a military installation, cars of all kinds. The Olds ragtop has a flat tire, possibly driven in the lot like that, and always a hood open. Soldier doing “double time” rounding the corner. 3rd, again, very typical of the “burb’s”. A beautiful 1960 Starliner for the finer moments, and the ubiquitous VW beetle for the commute to work. And lastly, I agree dogs can look like their owners, but I don’t see the rationale with cars, with only exception being an A-H Bugeye Sprite. Happy people drive Bugeye Sprites. Not even sure what this last car is.

    • My opinion is people more often than you would think dressed a lot like that with their new Ford Woody in 1950 – perhaps it was a second car for their family, they had it at the weekend house, or …. And, still an era where people dressed more formally. Agreed, a family car and probably then three or so years later they became second hand workhorses.

  7. Love that 60 Ford ! In Anderson County, Tennessee where I grew up, they had to put a stick-on reflector on the edge of each bumper as there was a width rule then. (only lasted that year) Seems like these were even a tiny bit wider than the “wide track” Pontiacs ! Nice selection of convertibles in the parking lot photo !

  8. The 1949 Ford Station wagon looked particularly attractive in 1950 Mercury form, and the1949 Fords had many issues that were corrected in the 1950 model year.
    Weather stripping on the ’49 was so poor that dust actually entered the car around the doors. By 1953 Ford, got everything right and our ’53 was good for 100,000 miles.

  9. In the 2nd picture there’s an MG A one car away from the Fiat 600 and what looks to be a Peugeot 403 Break (station wagon) at the top left, facing the camera.

  10. In the parking lot first row is a 1956 BelAir conv., next to a 1957 Ford convertible. Down a couple of cars is a Valiant station wagon

  11. I’m not sure people can actually look like their car, but there is an affinity between what some people drive and the clothes they frequently wear. The young man in the final photograph looks like the sort of lad who would be driving this car and you can infer from the way his hand is draped over the window sill that he’s likely, too, to have real affection for his car. His rumpled chinos and shirt go nicely with the worn rubber insert on the running board and we might imagine that he’s even given his car a name, perhaps something like “Egbert” or “Roger”; given the lad’s appearance, it’s unlikely to have been a woman’s name.

  12. I couldn’t help but notice at the 340th HQ parking lot the number of missing hubcaps. Reminds me of the old rock & roll parody – While the kids are watching Dion singing about the stars. The Belmonts are out in the parking lot stealing hubcaps off of cars.

    • My dad speaks of frequently taking off his 56 Oldsmobile Spinners and trunking them – said there were certain places you could just not have them on your car because they would not last long. Last year, when I put the proper flipper-bar hubcaps on my 1955 Buick Roadmaster, I cannot tell you the number of people who said “those did not last long.” And, it looks winter (no leaves on trees) – after a flat a hubcap is much more fun to re-install in spring, summer, and/or fall – not a fun winter project.

    • A neighbor in the late 60s had a 51 Ford with most of the wood rotted out. He removed what was left, trimmed large pieces of galvanized sheet metal, and attached it with sheet metal screws to cover the holes left under the wood. Then a coat of Rustoleum brown primer was brushed on. It was functional for his TV repair service calls. There did not appear to be any structural quality to any of the trim.

      • When I was a little kid a colleague of my dad’s parted his Mercury woody in my grandparents garage – I recall it had some piece of wood that was loose and I was always getting fussed at for fiddling with it. Dad tells of going to look at a Buick woody with his mom and her asking what to do with it in an accident – she did not like “you have to find a furniture repair person” answer to the question.

  13. The Ford Starliner is not brand new. The license plate is from Oregon with either 1962 and 1963 renewal stickers or 1963 and 1964 stickers. The “Pacific Wonderland” slogan is at the bottom of the plate. The VW next to the Starliner has similar stickers on its license plate. The “Pacific Wonderland” plates were only used from 1961 – 1964.

  14. The ’49 Ford Tudor Wagon was the “opening shot” of Newer V-8 engine’s H.P. , Overdrive available, and better economy, due to the New distributor /carburetor combination! If tuned properly — good economy or More horsepower were now available, but a few new model glitches needed to be ironed out, including the front end Single “Jet Engine Intake looking: Too “Studebaker- like”, 1951 cured that styling copy with Two jet engine intakes! ’51 also included the (proven by earlier Fomoco brands!) “Fordomatic” transmission and Ignition key Starting! Even though our own ’51’ Fordor V-8 Automatic’s Owner’s Manual “apologizes for the chrome plating being a bit less shiny” — “due to the Korean War Effort “, The car has been very reliable, in every respect, since we acquired it in 1984, at 37 K- miles. The ’51 wagons & sedans were very popular in our neighborhood, in ’51, and they are good to own as an earlier automobile, nowadays!!! (I’m thinking about adding : “Antique Air” and “Twice- Pipes”) Long Live the Shoebox!!! Edwin W. ( We love this car “on the road”!, freeway competent and steep hill competent).

  15. David, I have a copy of my older siblings and me with our mom standing beside our dad’s ’50? woody wagon like the first picture. I was probably two. I can send a copy if you wish. Just a tad of history…

  16. In the first picture, the gent’s outfit matches the car. First, and foremost, the pants (and the steel body of the car)! Then the jacket and the wood…almost painfully obvious. Further the pants are structural — you wouldn’t appear in a shot like this without’em. But the jacket? Just like the wood, decorative. What didn’t nicely align, however, were the two tone shoes…
    This is a great series! Keep it up…

  17. The cars in the second picture may be at “Parade Rest” but the Airman sure is leaning into his turn with the proper Military squared-off maneuver… or did he learn that watching Gymkhana events in Europe?

  18. Hi guys,
    RE: Second photo. That AFB facility is a jungle of overhead utilities, poles, towers and most unusual horizontal white conduit in the background going clear across the image. What on earth is that thing mounted on all the white poles creating a sort of dedicated conduit for some electronic cabling, or…….? I don’t believe I have ever seen anything quite like it. I can’t tell if there is some chain link fence hanging down (barracks security yard behind it?).
    Just a little weird. Many of the cars look like they are suffering a long winter stay while their owners are away on duty. Hope the ones with hoods up haven’t had their batteries snatched out.

    One might also wonder what that curb-like white gutter near the office frontage is all about too. Looks like a prototype of someone’s goofy idea of an above ground water drain with the u-shaped trough molded into it. Maybe something was being re-cycled for this innovative foot tripping mechanism?

    Overall, the facility looks pretty run down and shabby especially with those haggard old wooden WWII leftover barracks in the background. The enormous high rise hangar in the background is huge! Maybe for bomber maintenance. The large tower in middle of the photo probably was loaded wth microwave dishes and VHF/UHF antennae. It is not guyed so probably is the wide footed self supported type and not too tall for fear of aerial hazard at the base.

    What is that very wide paved area through the middle ? An old abandoned runway?

    A peculiar photo wth no specific subject in it except for the ratty parking lot prior to some proposal for remodelling of the base. Hmmmm?

    • Those white lines are asbestos covered steam pipes from a single source delivering heat throughout the complex. Worked well in warmer climates when construction for “temporary” facilities were needed in a hurry. Story goes Steve McQueen credited his fatal illness to helping remove this stuff while in the Marine Corps. Who knew?

    • The 340th was at Sedalia Air Force Base/Whiteman Air Force Base (the name changed in 1955), Missouri, from 1952 to 1963, and was located at Bergstrom, Texas, from 1963 to 1966.

      In the early 50s, they were responsible for modernization of Whiteman, but that’s too early for this photo (some of the cars post-date the renovations). The photo’s probably of Whiteman in the early spring of 1963; the runway was mostly unused after early 1962 because the 340th’s outdated B-47s were being replaced by Minuteman ICBMs of the 351st Strategic Missile Wing and the aircraft were distributed to other SAC bases during that year.

    • I spent most of the 1980’s in the Kentucky Army National Guard. We frequently trained at both Fort Knox and at Fort Campbell and those “haggard old wooden WWII leftover barracks” were still in use, at least for reservists. As you might guess they had not been updated much, if any, since they had been slapped together in the forties. The worst feature was that they were poorly insulated, if they were insulated at all. Most of our training was in the warmer months so it wasn’t that bad but we did have our annual training at Fort Knox one year early in April. It was cold enough at night that we were all sleeping in our sleeping bags on top of our bunks. There was no heat in the buildings but there was plenty of hot water; the first man to get up in the morning was tasked with turning on all the showers and letting the hot water run. Then we could at least get warmed up before getting dressed.

  19. RE: Photo with the old black Chrysler Royal sedan.
    Are those aftermarket “port-a-walls” or some other Chrysler accessory white painted trim rings on the wheels? Looks like they were the type put on during WWII when real white walls were unavailable until finally sometime in 1947. They do dress it up a little, but sort of look exactly like something out of a cartoon like the wrinkly-dressed fellow standing next to the car.

    Kit has given us some info on the NJ plate, but it is an odd format of vertical and horizontal lettering and only a two digit number. Perhaps a special or commercial type?

  20. Wonder how many would be surprised to learn that
    there was a name for those two-tone men’s shoes.
    They were called “Spectaters” (womens version
    called the same). They must have been popular, as
    a 4-5 yr. old during and after WWII seem to remember
    seeing them often. The ‘stylish’ dudes always had a
    pair. Even an older uncle wore them on occasion.

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