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Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Old Car Photos

Number One-Hundred and Forty-Six of the Kodachrome Car Images Series begins this week with an image apparently taken by the father of this family and their automobiles. A daughter is with a blue Corvette minus a license plate, two sons are posing with a Chevrolet two-door hardtop, and mom is standing next to a Plymouth or Dodge.

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.

  • This photo appears to indicate that a car enthusiast lived here.

  • This gentleman apparently used this MG sports car to commute to work from a suburb. 

  • And finally, winter is still holding on here in northern New England, but in this location it was necessary to use engine heaters so the vehicles could be started in the morning.

54 responses to “Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Old Car Photos

  1. I always look forward to Friday mornings to check out the “Kodachrome” photos. I have never been disappointed.
    Thank you and keep up the good work.

  2. I sympathize with the lady in the last photo; as a kid my car never got the garage, so a buddy & I installed a frost plug heater in my `64 Barracuda. The second photo appears to have been snapped in about `62 or so. The front tires on the `59 El Camino are narrow whites, which generally didn’t appear until `62. I could see Pop still driving his `57 Lincoln Premiere then, too. Late 50s cars were everywhere still; my block was full of them that year.

  3. The picture with the engine heaters is Alaska, 1955, based on the license plate. Those plates were used 1953-55, and validated in ’54 with a white tab and ’55 with a black tab.

      • I don’t think so (though I’ll readily admit I could be wrong, since the 50s aren’t my strong suit). It looks to me like a 1955 V-8 Belvedere. If it was Canadian, I think it would be badged as a Dodge Mayfair. It was around 1966 or so that the Plodges stopped being made in Canada and they had the same badging as the US cars.

        • I too don’t understand Mr. Barrett’s asking if the Plymouth is Canadian. If it truly is in Alaska, then that particular Plymouth would have not been built in Canada, but in a U.S. Chrysler plant and shipped, probably by boat to Alaska. Plymouth cars were built in Canada (in Windsor Ontario) in the 1955 model year as well as the Plymouth body based Dodge Mayfair, Regent and Crusader (in descending model order). In addition to Alaska, I’m sure there were a number of locations in the Prairies as well as Quebec and Northern Ontario that relied on block heaters. The inline six cylinder cars would have one installed, but the V8 cars could and should have two installed. I put two in a Maxiwagon years ago, and two hours of heating produced near instant heat from the heater on a cold startup.

      • With all due respect, what leads you to believe that Plymouth is a Canadian model? The fender badge clearly reads Belvedere. And when comparing that photo to a page from the ’55 Plymouth Belvedere brochure, I see no difference in the two images.

    • Guy was stationed in AK told me sometimes the fuse would blow overnight on one of those plug in posts and nobody could start the next morning.

  4. In the second picture the ’59 El Camino looks nice and shiny –possibly new. The ’54 Chevy convertible next to it looks like it has been driven a lot. I remember learning how to tell the difference between ’53 and ’54 tail lights as the ’54’s had that red reflector trim around them while a ’53 had a knob like bulge in the middle of them. Would love to have that ’57 Lincoln. I always though they were beautiful cars.
    In the third picture is an MGA. I think I see a scrape on the front fender between the door and wheel well. Driver has a smile on his face so he must have gotten that a long time ago and he over it by the time the photo was taken.

  5. 1st of all, I’m sorry to hear winter just won’t let go for you, happened every year in the Badger, not in Colorado, though.
    My take on the 1st pic, is the old man has some connection with a Chevy dealer, and the family is on their way to a parade, small town, Corvette on loan, no need for the plate, new ’64 Chevy SS, and mom’s trusty Plymouth. 2nd pic, this scene could be today somewhere, 3rd, I can relate to this young man’s enthusiasm, I felt the same way with my MG (B) When driving was fun, and last, if that’s Alaska, and the need to plug it in, got to be pretty cold, that’s one hearty gal( I think) and why is the fresh air vent open on the Plymouth?

    • Some people believed that if you opened the fresh-air vent you would equalize the humidity between the inside and outside of the car and avoid the heavy ice build up which was endemic to windshields in very cold weather. That’s probably why the fresh air vent is in the open position, Howard.

      • Yes, correct. When the air is cold and dry, having it vent into the car helps not having a thin layer of ice form on the inside of the windshield.

      • Frost shields were placed on back window and front side windows. You had to wait for the engine to warm up to melt the ice on the inside of the windshield. Just a little opening at the bottom would get you on the way – plus furious scraping – while driving. Not unlike distracted driving with a cell phone. Those were the days. Also…in Canada – engine warmers were and are called block heaters. Cheers. Vin

  6. In the first photo the car closest to the house is a 1962 Plymouth 2 door sedan. What differentiates it from the Dodge is the blade fins on the rear quarter panels are straight. On the Dodge, they turn down in front of the rear wheels.

  7. I think that’s a GMC delivery truck in front of the 59 El Camino that looks like it is wearing Dodge Lance wheel covers. The 54 convertible has been decked so it is a fair guess that a car enthusiast lives here. Why does this GM guy have a Lincoln?

  8. Something doesn’t look right with the MG. Apart from the scrape, what’s with the strange ‘fold’ behind the door and the mismatched bottom? It looks almost like a failed Photoshop trick, 50s style (????)

    • That’s exactly how they were made, well, my one was anyway. Don’t over think it, you’ll probably get confirmation on Google.

      • Grant is correct. Besides the scrape, that’s a fine looking MGA 1500.
        That picture looks like it was taken in the late 50s, early 60s.

      • Rig, I don’t see any evidence of rust starting anywhere below the door. It looks like a shadow to me. I’ve replaced many MGA / MGB sills and that one looks very solid to me.

      • Fin man, Good hearing from you. Great comments on the MG.
        I’m planning on making the Easter show with the MG Club. I’m not sure if I’ll take my MGA v8 or my 77 MGB. My son should be there with his RHD , 73 MGB/GT.

        • I bought a new 1960 MGA 1600 off the showroom floor in Ottumwa, Iowa. The 1959s were the first with front disc brakes. After a year of ownership, both calipers froze up and had to be replaced. This required a wait of several weeks for the parts. Both brake assemblies were tied off, and I had to drive using the emergency brake. Also, the car would not start in the morning when the temp. was below zero. The 2- 6 volt batteries were located under the floor below the driver’s seat.

    • The sides of the A taper in slightly back thru the doors until the rear fenders bulge out starting at that crease which coincides with the step in bottom of the body. Similar to the TR3 only less pronounced. The contour helps the body from being too plain looking were it slab sided.

  9. The middle picture is a MGA, something like a first or second generation, none dual cam. The last MGA’s had pushed in Grills. I think these pictures are wonderful, your work is truly appreciated, thank you.

  10. I had an MGA like that. It kept popping spokes when I would corner hard. Ping, ping, ping. It did not have the ballest resistor/direct connection for the coil like later cars did. I would have to coast start it in the morning. The front shocks were built into the suspension and were always worn out. Bounce, bounce, bounce.

    • Neil, I’m guessing you had 48 spoke wire wheels. I used to run 72 spoke MGC wheels on my first MGA with a 1950cc MGB engine. Never popped a spoke!

    • If the spokes are not evenly tensioned the tightest will bear all the load and break just like you describe. Not to jump on you particularly but one of the reasons Britboxes got a bad rap in the US was that many did not understand that maintainance of them might be different from, say, a Chevy. And yes, “constant” might be one of those differences. 😉

  11. While I didn’t have an MGA, during the summer months I used a 1968 MGB to commute with for the better part of ten years. That guy’s smile reminds me of how much I enjoyed driving that car. Only time it let me down was a wire falling off the fuel pump. Still cannot figure out why I sold it on. – somewhere in the far reaches of my memory there was a lust for a TVR 2500 (never fuIfilled) Always admired MGA’s.

  12. Great pictures!
    Ist picture, I think all the vehicles belong to the family. The girl looks kinda spoiled and really hasn’t time for the picture nonsense. So it’s probably her ‘vette, after all, shouldn’t she have it? Not a loaner, too old to be from a dealer. Dad removed the plate so he could wash the car for daughter. I never did like the model-T license brackets installed on a sports car. Very out of place.
    The SS is Dad’s new pride and joy. The boy at the driver’s door is too young to drive. I was driving at that age, but he’s too young.

  13. Yes we need fresh air from outside to eliminate humidity inside a car of any snowbelt states & Cdn province . Most southern human think putting the recirculate lever on , it will be warmer inside , but you never be able to see outside .

  14. When I lived for a while in Iowa in the early 70’s everybody had a “hot rod” heating stick stuck in their cars dipstick hole during the winter. That place was as cold as a well digger’s a–.

  15. Chrysler Canada reduced thenumber of mixed breed cars after Auto Pact was encted in the mid 1960’s. But unique to Canada models continued untill the late 1980’s, e.g. Chrysler Windsor versus 300 sport, and a Plymouth Caravelle on M and fwd E bodies in the 80’s.

    • The Autopact came into existence in 1965 but it took Chrysler as well as Ford & GM until the 1967 model year to gear up for it and take advantage of the economies of scale it offered to them.

      The Chrysler Windsor was last seen in Canada in the 1966 model year and was a companion vehicle to the Newport, not the 300 Sport. The Plymouth Caravelle “M” body came into being at the insistence of the Canadian product planners. The basic bits of it (everything but the name) was “borrowed” by the U.S. product planners and became the U.S. Gran Fury. FWD E-bodies were shared with the U.S., because they were all built there, even the FWD E-body Caravelle.

  16. In the first picture the girl is thinking, “First, I had to wear this sailor suit then the boys get to stand with the Impala while I have to stand by this other car.” No wonder she looks so sad and the boys look so happy! The ’64 Impala SS is in Palomar Maroon Metallic with an Ermine White hardtop. Honestly I’d take the Impala too!
    Thanks for the great Friday feature.

  17. The car parked behind Mr MG is a light colored 54 Plymouth Belvedere , one can tell from the back it’s a step up from the plain Jane Plaza by the little chrome fins that are attached to the top of the rear fenders where the seam is at the attachment of the rear fender s . BTW ,the 53 Packard sedan had little fins like this which were added for some visual zip to the every mans 52 Packard 200 sedan rear fenders . Fins are vital aerodynamic foofoodition . Cars run much better with good fins .Thank you Virgil ! Bel : beautiful, Vedere : view , nice lookin. The fins even had little monograms on them . From the side you can see the belt line styling clue which blends into a horizontal front grill element . This had a fancy plastic insert emblem which says , yes ,Plymouth . The Plymouth was advertised as “Big on the inside , small on the outside “ Also small was the tired little in line 6 , but it could be optioned with an automatic .
    Note the low horizontal position of the gas tank filler .These days modern gas pumps will fill so fast that gas will splash out on your pants, and the auto stopper on the pump handle stops the pump with the splash so you have d to pump slowly to fill it . The tanks are not being reproduced , they make up to 52 and from 55 .
    I wonder if the cars for sale ,there’s a big sign in the rear right window

  18. Photo #1: Historically speaking , the GMC Panel Delivery, and the other GMC trucks, including all years of the GMC Inline 6 engine, would “run circles around ” any other commercial “counterpart” , including Chevrolet. This is fact . If the dark color on it is black , or dark forest green then chances are: that it was in service in the “Carriage trade” areas, or: That it was part of a fleet of vehicles used at one of the large Cemetery – Chapels – Religious topic displays – Companies such as : ” Forest Lawn” in Glendale, Calif., for “Flower Cars” , on- property maintenance, or keeping something: “out of sight” – “with decorum & reliability ” . I grew up around these Quality work- horses and later on , I worked on them, – and I know of their endurance. Edwin W.

  19. Photo #3 , Alaska: Re: The cowl -vent open : A small electric “space heater” can also be used in the interior of the car or truck , to “maintain room temperature” and remove the moisture — via: the Cowl Vent ! Now, we get to the 120 Volt AC “blown fuse or circuit breaker “part: 1. ) Block heater = 300 to 1,000 Watts , (fancy ones being thermostat controlled ). 2.) Space heater: typically 1,000 Watts , (t/stat controlled). 3.) A potential for 2 Kilo-Watts per vehicle !!! 4.) Now, multiply by the number vehicles being heated , and you get 20 to 60 Kilowatts!, easily!!! = blown fuse (s) or circuit breakers , because someone didn’t estimate the Total Wattage Draw correctly. “40 below” means: All thermostats ON! Alaska “rules ” are different than Florida. Edwin W.

  20. -Thinking that 59 El C is a repaint. Wearing 4 bars. Step on the rear – remember seeing guys jumping on these at the drag strip to chase the dragster.
    -Had a 60 MGA. I never smiled like that when i owned it. Worked on it more than drove it.
    -Is that winter scene a SETUP ? That wagon and Ply look pretty clean for snowy roads. AND whats with the vent open on the Ply – makes u wonder if its really is cold.

        • In all of these Four Fun Fridays photos, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a car reflect like that El Camino does, even the cars where comments conclude they are brand new. Must be quite a buff and wax job.

  21. Lots of great comments and identifications and insights. But no one identified the “sports car” as a 1960 Corvette — or 1959 with ventilated ’60 wheel covers. Keep these pictures coming.

    • I think Hawaii. The only two states I know of with white-on-green in the mid ’60s were Idaho and Hawaii. Idaho only had five large characters (plus a small 1 or 2 character county code on the left side of the plate), while Hawaii had six large characters. The only reason I’m questioning the ID is because the second character should be a letter (it’s the county code), and it looks like a 4.

  22. The last photo was published in a National Geographic story about Alaska becoming the 49th state. I remember this vividly because when I was a youngster back in the early 80s I scored a big stack of 1950s-1960s National Geographic magazines, from which I promptly cut out all the car ads, along with interesting car photos. This was none of them. I think I still have them around here somewhere–the ads, I mean. Magazines long gone.

  23. I am sorry, but I don’t seed this as a 64 Impala SS. I thought they all had the SS mark following Impala on the rear side of the car and I can’t discern that in the photo. What am I missing.

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