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Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Old Car Photos

Number One-Hundred and Forty-Seven of the Kodachrome Car Photos Series begins this week with an image of the Stardust Hotel and Casino. The famous Las Vegas hot spot opened on July 2, 1958, and judging by the appearance of the cars in the parking lot this picture may have been taken as early a 1959.

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.

  • Mount Hood, located in Oregon is the backdrop for this late-1950s image.

  • This GMC pickup truck is fully outfitted for camping and fishing excursions.

  • It appears that the passengers of this late-1950s Cadillac are visiting friends or relatives in a new subdivision somewhere in the south.  

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

  1. David … Amazing photos again, . Last picture looks like Pinellas County, Florida on its’ way to becoming the most densely populated county in the state today.

    • I live in Sarasota, and am familiar with ‘elbow to elbow’ Pinellas County. The tall pines could be anywhere in Florida from Central, and onward North. The 1957 Cadillac convertible would have been the best way to see Florida back in those halcyon days before the scourge of Disney.

  2. In the 2nd picture, right of center, is a white over red 1953 PACKARD Clipper; to its right is a gray 1952 HUDSON, flanked by a green four-door 1953 STUDEBAKER and 1958 STUDEBAKER Hawk.

    • Also in the 2nd photograph, on the left, driving toward the camera, behind the light green 1958 PONTIAC, is a green 1950 BUICK.

      By the way great pictures !!



      • Luk,

        Thanks, you’re absolutely correct. the green STUDEBAKER is a 1952, not a ’53. Must have typed 53 while thing of the ’53 PACKARD.


  3. In the Mount Hood photo, the most likely dating for the photo is winter of 1959-60. The car closest to the camera has a white validation tab on a 1955-59 Oregon plate, so it should be a 1960 tab (when they used red-on-white tabs for the first time since 1955, and that tab would only have been on the black-on-white 1951-54 plates). The black car next to it has an Idaho plate that’s white characters on a dark background, and 1959 plates were white-on-dark-green; they alternated between light-on-dark in odd years and dark-on-light in even years from 1953-68, so it’s not a 1960 plate. Having a 1959 plate on one car and a 1960 tab on another makes the dating easier than usual.

  4. The pic of the Stardust looks to have been taken about high noon maybe summer, `59? I spot the front fender of a white `59 Buick Invicta, with Abner & Lucille in their olive drab `59 Opel Rekord 2dr, stopping to see the new casino. The third pic looks to be a brand new `60 or `61 GMC half-ton, towing enough gear for a 2 week excursion! It’s probably got at least a 348 under the hood I bet. The last photo shows us some proud new owners who were lucky enough to swing a new `57 Cadillac Series 62 convertible!

    • The GMC looks to have a 1956 California plate with no validation sticker on it. It looks like it’s registered as something other than a passenger vehicle, because it has a letter and five numbers, instead of three letters and three numbers. I’m not sure if the validation rules were different for them.

      Also, I think the tag holder says Pasadena at the bottom, but it’s blurry enough that I may be misreading it.

        • Sorry, I should have said in my first post that I don’t doubt the identification of the vehicle. I was interested in the apparent discrepancy between the vehicle ID and the license plate – the plate’s still valid in ’60, ’61, and ’62, but should have a black, red, or white validation sticker for those years, and this plate doesn’t appear to have the sticker. On squinting real hard, there might be a white sticker in the glare next to where it says CALIFORNIA in the top left of the plate, which would make it 1962, but it’s hard to tell.

          • Regarding the front California license plate missing a year sticker: The sticker only goes on the rear plate, not the front plate.

          • Leon – thanks for that clarification. The source I had just said the license plates were validated with stickers, and didn’t note that only the rear plates were validated.

    • Hi Will, Surprisingly the 348 and 409 were never offered in light duty trucks – just in medium duty ones like fire engines, dump trucks and motor coaches. Some can be found in stationary uses too like large generators and pumps. And they were in full-size line of cars of course but never in Chevelles or other smaller cars originally.

      • And in the early 1960s, the standard GMC light truck engine was a 305 cid V6. Larger versions were available, and for the really big iron a 702 cubic inch V-12.

  5. The plate on the GMC pick up is a commercial plate thats why it only has one letter. California requires all pick up’s to be registered as a commercial vehicle to be able to use the bed for hauling anything. You can register them as an automobile and get the three letter and number plates but you are restricted from hauling anything in the bed or a ticket will result.

  6. Excellent pictures!
    First and second, wish I had a couple of days to walk thru the parking lots. It’s amazing how many of the cars had open windows (and no alarms). Too bad things can’t be that way now. People were just more trusting and genuine.

    • Tom, back then (I can barely remember) people respected one another, and their property. What a golden time that was.

      • People also didn’t leave lap tops and phones in plain view. And, ladies took their purses with them. Nothing to steal.

  7. There’s nothing quite as handy as a hitch on the front bumper to stick a trailer into tight quarters, especially if there’s no place to turn around. Place the trailer using the front hitch, back out to where you CAN turn around, and then you can
    back in again to the trailer. I’ve only had to do that once in my life, but there wa no other way. I had to place a trailer-mounted air compressor at a construction site at the end of a twisting, downhill, one-lane driveway.

    • Here in country front towing balls are prohibited even rear ball have to be removed if not in use (obviously).A car can´t have any element protruding beyond bumpers VG. bicycle carriers… spare wheels… .

    • I don’t understand the explanation for that front mounted hitch. It would seem equally difficult to push a trailer down a narrow one lane driveway than to slowly back it down the driveway and when the job’s completed just drive out. Please tell me again why you’d want to push the trailer down the driveway. Thanks and best wishes, Daniel Statnekov

      • Hi Daniel, because it’s a lot easier to guide the boat into the water on the trailer driving forward, rather than backing in. The only problem with that, is the ramp better not be too steep.

      • It’s for people who don’t know how to back a trailer up. Luckily the old man taught me how to do it when I was 11. We moved to Florida and got a boat and I’ll never forget backing the boat down the ramp in that big Chrysler. Thanks Pop. Valuable lessons learned.

    • Luk…the Plymouth is a Plaza, and a 2 door at that… lowest priced model in the lowest price series that year… however beyond it is a ’54 Mercury Monterey the highest priced model in Mercury’s highest priced series that year. How’s that for trivia? There you go, fantastic photos, David !

        • Graham,

          By wheel covers (elevated centers) and certain trim cues and front fender medallion placement, this is indeed a 1954 Monterey Wagon. Good eye for detail! (others referring to it as a 1952 or 1953 were just guessing. These were all wonderful designs with subtle details including the 3M Di-Noc simulated wood panelling on full steel bodies using birch and maple real wood framing and amazing painted faux wood graining around the side window frames and top tail gate. DiNoc is once again available for both automotive exteriors and interior architectural modeling and design work. Only a few of these rare Merc wagons get their faux wood graining restored properly! My favorite is the 1953 year (50th anniversary and with an excellent Merc 255 flathead V8). Also, notice the brilliant use of glass all the way around for excellent vision.

          Happy Easter to all.


    • Hi RC, I believe there were 6, V-6’s, the 305, 351, 379, 401, 432, and 478,( the last 3 were for bigger trucks) and including ToroFlow V6 diesels ( no relation to the 2 cycle Detroits) some had plaid valve covers. GMC also made the mighty 702 Thunder V-12 that we’ve talked about before, which appeared to be 2, 351’s glued together, but it had it’s own block, and used many 351 parts. It was for road tractors for people who didn’t want a diesel, but failed miserably.

  8. Hi everybody, well, it finally happened, I’ve truly crossed the line into retirement. Reason I’m a day late, I thought TODAY was Friday,,,oh well, go ahead and laugh, it will happen to you, if you’re lucky. 1st pic, wide whites were popular, and what is on the trunk of the black Ford? 2nd pic, really, why would anybody park their Packard like that? Clearly the subject of the photo, 3rd, whatever year, the GMC is a sharp rig, powered by the famous V6 (displacement unknown, I’m hoping it’s the biggest one with a load like that). Pulling a trailer and a camper shell, I can imagine the kids rode in the back. The truck appears to have some sort of fancy unloading feature for the boat. And last, new home, new Caddy, kids with big smiles, doesn’t get any better than this. America!!!

    • Hi Howard,
      I too am bothered by the ugly objects next to the side rear of the black (w/white top) Ford Fordor. Looking carefully, the picture resolution fades out. I’m not sure that I see it attached to the car but rather some sort of items at ground level and perhaps a portable sign above that. We only see the fuzzy details. There appears to be a person’s head behind the object near the front right side of the car. Could it be a sign about parking time limits at the lot or extra parking around the side, etc.? Or is it just some unloaded trunk luggage waiting to get collected by the owner? One Chev wagon is parked back side in for loading/unloading, so this may be just temporary parking area for check-in.


  9. Wunnerful,wunnerful-as Lawrence Welk used to say
    But looking at the GMC bought to mind a question I’ve never got a satisfactory answer to,is why does GM make basically the same truck but with a different name as in Chev. and GMC.
    I even asked a Chevy dealer once and he just shrugged a dunno.

    • Chrism

      Here is a condensed version of GMC history as I understand it.

      GMC evolved from a place in the General Motors Truck and Coach Division. It was positioned as more commercial a vehicle than it’s Chevrolet counterpart. Hence today’s “we are professional grade” theme maybe? Today the GMC light trucks give GM dealers other than Chevrolet a light truck / SUV offering completing their product lineup. After the brand consolidation in the late 2000’s this was especially important. I understand the GMC vehicles still offer some highly optioned upscale versions that Chevrolet doesn’t match .

    • Hi Chris, in later years, say early 60’s on up, it was strictly a marketing ploy. ( a Chevy with lock washers was the joke)Before that, GMC really was an upscale Chevy, with different motors ( they used Pontiac motors) different dash, and grills and trim, I think it was, aside from Diamond T, the classiest truck you could buy.

    • The GMC line was offered so the other division’s (Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac) dealers could provide and service their customers trucks along with their strictly passenger car lineup. A dual dealership such as a Pontiac / GMC could therefore compete with other dealers (Ford, Dodge, etc.) in their market.

  10. I would love to have the owner of that GMC pickup truck etc as my neighbor. U can tell the man had pride in his things.
    Late 50s i went with my neighbor to go look at a ’49 Plymouth that was for sale that belong to a lady that im sure was in her 60s. Car looked like the day she purchased it. I commented to her that she had taken such great care of it. She came back at me “Young man – thats what things r for – TO TAKE CARE OF” From that point on i tried to live my life that way.

  11. With a front hitch, the turning wheels of the tow (pushing) vehicle are much closer to the trailer, thus allowing tighter turning of the trailer. My driveway has a tight curve around a tree that I can manouver around using this front hitch.

  12. One explanation for the front bumper mounted hitch – – is for folks that Do not like backing up: Big , (can’t see around it) trailers. It is also easier to maneuver into a really tight spot — with a front hitch. All Trailer Parks have at least one vehicle with a front hitch! Either way, it’s always best to use a “spotting person” who is competent at that job Better safe, — than sorry! We all have our personal preferences , but Chevrolet/ GMC Pickup Body design in 1938 through 1954 were: “Pleasant to the eye” (well, maybe 55 to 57 okay, too, — but: I draw the line at 1958!!! I have seen better washing machine designs! (sorry, I apologize, (here & now), 1958 -9 Fans, but they do not compare with 1938 through ’57. The only thing that they have going for them, is the Fleetside Bed . The cab is whupped with an ugly stick! Yipes! Sometimes, older is better!!! More durable, too!

  13. In the first picture I was hoping to see my parents’ English Ford Zephyr or Hillman. We lived in Southern California about this time and they would head off for a weekend to the Stardust every once in a while and bring us back silver dollars.

  14. I agree the GMC had a V6-that is what the round red emblem on the left front fender is. Chevy used V8’s and a often had a V on the hood to signify such engines but GMC stuck with V6’s in that time period.

  15. Was noticing the sliding windows on the camper shell. Easy loading! I’ve see flip up ones on new campers but sliding seems nicer!

  16. Thank You,Lew,Howard A and Brad L for clearing up the Chevrolet/GMC mystery for me.
    As usual the visitor’s knowledge and input they bring to this site are unsurpassed.

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