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Four Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Car Images

Number One-Hundred and Forty-Three of the Kodachrome Car Images Series begins this week with an photo of a marina and parking lot located in an unknown area on the coast of California in the late-1950s. The majority of the vehicles are domestic 1950s cars, but there are a number of imported automobiles in the mix including a rare one that appears be pre-war.

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.

  • Racing around on the military base in the background may explain why this cycle lost a part of its rear fender and seat. Check out the bumper on the continental kit in the background.

  • A springtime outing in an attractive Oldsmobile convertible to show off the newborn baby.

  • Who can identify the location of this California scene photographed in the early-1950s?

68 responses to “Four Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Car Images

        • I don’t recall ever seeing, or even knowing about, a two-door Ford wagon of that era. Did they have a catchy name for it as Chevy did with the Nomad?

          • Rob,

            FORD had two-door station wagons during the entire 1950s. There were a number of names, but Ranch Wagon was used often.


          • It appears first in 1954 called the Ranch Wagon. It seems to go into the 1960 models. I was surprised as well, so I googled it.

        • Graham,

          Thanks for your comment.

          You’re correct about the colors and that the wagon may be a PONTIAC Safari. Firegold was a Safari color. CHEVROLET Nomad wagons had a similar color. If we could see more of the vehicle we could make a better judgment.


      • That looks like a 2-door Post Wagon, not a Nomad. (assuming you’re referring to the one in the back closer to the water & facing to the left, perpendicular to the cars in the lot )

        The Studebaker up front is still timeless to this day.

  1. A little CC (46-48) Crosley wagon looks ignored on the right side of the picture, the Continental and Imperial are keeping their distance

  2. Of the imports in the first photo, I see a black over red VW Karmann Ghia, a 54-57 VW Beetle, Citroen DS, a Renault Dauphine, and what may be an early Renault Fourgonnette.

  3. The 1st picture is a foreign car lover’s delight. English Ford Consul at the curb, Renault Dauphine in the second row, a Blue Citroen in the 3rd row on the right with a VW on the left of the row. A Karmann Ghia on the left in the fourth row with another Beetle about 5 cars over. Not sure about the Green convertible in row 4 or the little white car on the right in row 2.

  4. Cant make out the emblem on the bike, it’s got twin fillers, looks Italian. Judging by the cars, it’s too early to be a Jap bike. Any bike experts out there ?

  5. My Dad’s repellent little Ford Consul commuter is in the first shot.
    The bike is a Sears Allstate, otherwise known as a Puch twingle. Genuinely weird bike.

    • Ah, the Allstate bikes! I remember the Allstate moped advertised “Knife the wind at 35 miles per hour!” (Went faster than that on my bicycle) I think the tail pipe was about the diameter of my thumb!

    • Anything named a “twingle,” Jeff is always put in the category of “weird”; when a twingle is coupled with a word that is pronounced like “pooch” you’re definitely heading down a slippery slope.

      • The Puch split single could go very well indeed.The engineering and general quality was second to none.The Maxi moped was as bombproof as a Honda Cub,and much cheaper you will still see them in daily use throughout Europe.The Sears superped was the Corsair?

      • Puch is an old and famous name, just a bit disconcerting to Yanks at the time. The Twingle was on my list of potential buys back in 1964, but the Japanese were already out in force by then. Narrowed my choices down to a Montesa 175 or Suzuki 80, but Dad was wary of too much HP in my hands and I ended up with the Suzuki. The Twingle just failed to impress as there was so much good stuff coming out of Japan by that time. Yamaha had great bikes in the YDS2 and 3, Suzuki was about to bring out their X6 (six speeds!) Hustler 250, and Kawasaki with their A-series, all of them with auto-lube oil injection and different ways to manage fuel charge and exhaust, so the benefits of a Twingle set-up paled in the face of outstanding performance and quality. I imagine this guy did a bit of off-roading and hence removed the tail assembly as many did in that era. Oh yeah, Puch also built a licensed version of the Fiat 500m rebadged the Puch 500. Sears also sold a variety of Italian iron, a whole series of re-badged Vespa 125’s (great wheelie machines) and Gileras up to 125 cc, but I never saw any Gilera on the road.

  6. In the first pic, I spotted the black `59 Lincoln Premiere sedan parked too close to the pass. side of the `57 Imperial next to it; THAT driver’s going to get steamed! Facing us, a lady getting in/out of a `58 Mercury Commuter wagon, next to a rather beat-up `51 Nash with a bent fender! In the last image, a beautiful scene–probably `52 or so, shows a nice `51 Ford cvt. driving down the hill in ‘sportsman’s green’!

    • That Imperial and Lincoln are 2 birds of a feather – I bet they are owned by the same family. That’s why they are parked so the drivers of both cars can get out easily.

  7. We certainly didn’t have that variety in the Midwest. Oddballs include the Renaut Dauphine and the Fish (Citroen DS), also a Willy’s 2 wd woodie wagon( although it was all metal) and the crumpled Nash, today, that impact would have totaled most cars. What are the odds the Lincoln and Imperial owner know each other. On one of their yacht’s, no doubt.
    The 2nd pic is a late ’50’s Sears Allstate Puch 250 “Twingle”. It was a 2 cycle with 2 small pistons in one bore. It was probably a pretty fast bike for the time, and the rear fender was removed, possibly in a wipeout. 3rd pic, nothing says Spring like a new baby, an ( almost) new Olds convertible and budding trees. Won’t be long now, folks (60 in Colorado today) and finally, that Trailways bus has to be a late 40’s. Research shows, in the’50’s, Trailways switched to a United States outline on the side, and did away with the “wings”. I think they were called the “Thru-liners”. Gene?

    • ’46-’49 Willys wagon in the first shot. I believe these were the first all steel station wagons and one of the first all new post war cars. The original SUV. The first ones were painted maroon and orange in kind of a faux wood look and the body stamping looked like wood panels. Another style had a wicker pattern in the recess of the top row of panels, marketing to the beach crowd. They were very practical and popular in rural New England.

      • Bill, the “wicker” model you referred to and was called a “Greenbrair” and marketed to a suburban niche type was as you described with Ivory wicker and a dark foresty green… chic for the time.

  8. Your “unknown area of Northern California” is Sausalito, CA, taken from Bridgeway Ave. near the center of town and looking eastward to Belvedere Island with the Tiburon Peninsula just beyond. Pictured are the now lost and unhurried days and bare hilltops of circa 1957.

    • I thought Sausalito. Is that the area near the Garage restaurant, or is that further out? Wondering also if the California Street scene might be in the East Bay – looks a bit like Albany Ave…

  9. on the first picture , the green little 4 doors is a british ford zodiac . the small turquoise car between the cad and the lincoln is a french renault dauphine , and at the back another french citroen DS and near the seafront few germans karmann and VWs

  10. In the right side of the lead photo, there’s an interesting slate blue Citroen (iD or DS), parked just to the right of the back of the 1955 Pontiac wagon. It’s guaranteed to be the most technologically complex vehicle in this week’s pix, by a country mile. I can’t identify the white car just behind it. Could it be a Crosley?

    Also, even though the bumper is a bit skewed, I’d still keep the sharp black 1956 Sunliner (second photo) if it followed me home. Good lookin’ car.

    • Yes that’s a bit more likely than a Riley RM; the bumper is more Mercedes-like. Both their convertibles could have external top irons – is the sun glinting on the right hand iron?

  11. Way, way back in those early fifties, late forties…there was an actor of considerable talent , who used to star in the “Black Noir” films of the day named Sterling Hayden… he was also a yachtsman of considerable talent as well , who sailed when sailing required a bit more physical effort than it does today… He had a large yawl, clipper bow , bow sprit, etc and called Sallsulito his “Home Port”… I wonder if one of those large “sailers” at the end of the docks could be his? May be the Crosley is his “land jitney”!

  12. The last photo in California almost looks like it could have been a staged sun visor promo since nearly all of the cars headed toward the camera are sporting those add-ons.

    • Looks like it’s wearing a 1951-52 New York license plate from Monroe County, the Rochester area. 1952 validation tab was placed on the rear plate only.

    • Memories of Fresno, in the central valley of California; my first serious car; a dark green ’50 Olds convert, bigs & littles and cut springs in the front for that “California rake”, most of the original green & ivory real leather upholstery, a leaky hydraulic cylinder for the top, obnoxiously loud dual glass packs, badly welded, leaky exhaust cutouts under the front doors (did the welding myself with a borrowed torch, lying on my back on the ground….), 3 -2’s on an Edmunds manifold, a Hydamatic that I manually shifted so it sounded like a ‘stick’, skinny whitewalls and ‘spinners’ (stolen at least 3X ’cause they were so bitchin’) …
      I was at least as cool as James Dean……..

  13. The “biker,” at first glance, looks the the recenly-departed Billy Graham, spreading the Gospel on a Moped.

  14. To drill in a little closer on the Crosley vintage, the wagon came out late in 1947 and they went to 2 taillights in early 49. From that angle that is the best I can do.

  15. In the 4th picture, on the left, parked at the curb and with passenger door open, is a dark-green 1951 PONTIAC Chieftain, with visor and may have an amber hood ornament.

  16. The last photo with the Trailways bus is Pacific Coast Hwy, looking north from Legion St., in Laguna Beach, California.

  17. The location of the fourth picture is South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, California looking north toward Laguna Avenue and Eller Larsen Lane.

  18. Steve Stephens is correct on all counts on the location of Photo #1. The bare, undeveloped hills in the background are unrecognisable today as well.

    I believe the Oldsmobile convertible is a 1950 model. In college I had a gorgeous (and fast!) ’50 Olds coupe, painted in thedark metallic green colour seen often on GM cars of the late ’40s and early ’50s.

    Photo #3 is definitely in California, likely a coastal area somewhere between San Francisco and Santa Barbara from the appearance of the hills.

    By the way, It’s possible that being California cars there’s at least some chance that a few of the cars in #1 and #3 may still be around…

  19. And no one has picked up on the white VW convertible with a black top parked next to and slightly behind that blue / white Pontiac wagon?

  20. Re the Ford Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac: one cannot tell from the side whether it is a Consul or a Zephyr. Consul was a 4 cylinder, had a rectangular grill, Zephyr was a 6 cylinder with an upright grill. These were circa 1954/5’s. Zodiac had more luxuriou s trim than Zephyr, but they only came out in about 1958, when the body shape was already totally different, This was the case in South Africa; I don’t know if the US already had an earlier Zodiac.

  21. The unique, clever Austrian engineering of the Puch (“POOKH’) (two stroke) (both: in the Brit. Isles & USA) was “nicknamed”: the “twingle”, but this smaller cc engine produced a huge amount of power (or economy) due to so many power pulses with fewer revolutions of the engine! The introduction of Oil injected 2- Strokes along with more “traditional motorcycle “styling” from Japan, “sealed their fate” for Puch USA sales, selling them under the ALLSTATE brand didn’t help matters, either. who wanted a “Sears “washing machine “? NOT “romantic enough”, I guess. Lost, was: Their authentic performance image! Gained was: An Un-deserved : “Appliance, underwear & shoe- store” image, a lame business decision for an excellent product !!! Many years later, (while on The “Beach” Motorcycle Tour, ourselves , — we encountered 100 of those Puch Twingles , travelling as a Club, (from: Holland, no less!), — on top of the: high altitude ” Passo Pordoi” in the Italian Dolomite Alps!!! They “held their own” in both: road performance, — and at high altitude!!! (Same vintage(!), — as those in the ABOVE photograph in California, decades earlier! All in perfect working order! Sears abandoned them, pulled the plug and owners were left, — holding the bag!

  22. Noticed in the first picture a very military looking ex- patrol boat or small sub chaser with rakish lines, portholes instead of windowns among all the more modern boats. probably WW11 surplus.

  23. ok wore out 2 magnifying glasses and 3 eyeballs Imports:4 x VW’s …. 1 Karmann ghia 3 Beetles I oval window, I big rear window prob ’60 1 post ’61 (far left) 1 Citroen ds21 1 Renault Dauphine, ! Ford consul model EOTTA app ’56 not sure about what looks like a convertible in back next to the oval window. possibly an allard they did a small number of ali bodied ragtops,.. having a problem with the bike, nearest I get is a it’s not russian ie: IZH. its a 2 stroke. for sure… thats me , i’m done

    • Well, I think the bike is a Sears, i.e. a Puch, but they only sold the 250 Twingle as far as I know, no 175’s. The 250 was capable of about 60+mph on a good day, so a 175 would have been pretty lame in the US.

  24. Last picture of California scene, in case no one has taken a shot at it, I’m guessing it’s San Francisco. I see a body of water way in the background that might be the bay. Also the hillie touraine may be a clue to its location.

  25. The green British Ford front and center is a Consul which was the 4 cylinder version. Current from 1951 to 1956. The only way to tell the difference from the side is that the 6 cylinder Zephyr had an extra chrome spear trim on the swage line in front of the front wheel opening. Both acquired a full length chrome strip at some later date in production. The top of the range Zephyr Zodiac was introduced in ’53 and was a dressed up Zephyr with two-tone paint. I had one in London back in the seventies, cost me 30 pounds and lost second gear the day after I bought it so I had to master a quick first to third change on the three-on-the-tree, Then it filled up with oil smoke I had to always drive with the windows open. Still, I sold it after a few weeks for 40 !

  26. How can you not mention the sleek 1953 Studebaker Commander with a 289 cu in V-8 engine and about a foot lower than the contemporary Fords and Chevys. No wind tunnel was used to design the car, but those cars set many records at the
    Bonneville Salt Flats.

    • Hard not to notice that black beauty, but if you look closer the sculptural stainless on its flanks clearly identify this as a 1955 model.

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