An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Four Fun Friday Forties and Fifties Kodachrome Photographs

Number One-Hundred and Fifty One of the Kodachrome Car Photograph Series begins this week with an image of a woman with a beehive hairdo posing with a second generation Ford Thunderbird. She not only has a leopard-skin pocketbook but on the cowl of the car appears to be a white cosmetic bag. Her beehive is on the smaller size heightwise but is no match for this later towering beehive from the mid-1960s featured here earlier. Please do tell us all you know about the T-Bird.

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 1950s image looks like it originates from a period piece about things not to do while out driving in a metropolitan area. Can anyone ID the location by the appearance of the streetcar?  

  • It looks like this San Diego police officer was checking up on his little princess while mom shot this photo. Tell us about the police package available for this Chevrolet. 

  • And finally, we think this maybe a new car moment photo of this young man and his chariot.

67 responses to “Four Fun Friday Forties and Fifties Kodachrome Photographs

  1. Judging from the sheet metal changes to the Thunderbird it looks like the quarter panel/door side spear has been removed and some sort of fairing added to the rocker panel.

    • I think it’s a 1960 Thunderbird that didn’t have side spears like the ’59 did. The rocker panel treatment may have been added to cover rust. I don’t think the ‘Bird was new when the photo was taken judging from the white stripe tires that weren’t common until 1962. I’ve heard rockers could start rusting pretty quickly up north where salt was used to remove snow and ice from roadways and in 2+ years, the rockers could already be deteriorating.

      • I don’t know my Thunderbirds very well but Google Images show a side spear on 1960s as well as ’58 and ’59 . You are for sure right about the body work having been done due to rust and maybe it even got high up into the quarter panels.
        I grew up near Detroit and can vouch for the salt corrosion. Hard to believe, but true, is that I bought a 1956 Bel Air 2 door, stick shift, power pack, for $50 in 1960! It ran and needed a clutch but beyond that the huge discount was because of the rust which was really bad (trunk, quarter panels, etc.). The car was all white and I used to use my mom’s scrub brush and Comet Cleanser every few weeks to remove the rust stains from the quarter panels. Would drive it with some of the windows open even in winter because of the exhaust fumes coming up from below.

      • The ‘60 T-Bird looks like it has led a rough life. Broken antenna mast and a repaint already. I think what appears to be a rocker panel extension at the front wheel well is actually paint overspray on the fender well.

    • It’s just a bad photo where the whites have been overexposed to the point that most detail has been blown out. Plus the flat lighting does not help delineate any of the body sculpting. Note that there does not seem to be any gap in the bottom of the door except where it is in the shadow of the gal’s legs. Likewise the styling line running back from the headlights does not show except, again, in that shadow. 1960 Squarebirds did not have a chrome tip at the front of the side-spear, instead having three hash marks back by the taillights, which would be out of the photo. The “Thunderbird” script that would be on the sidespear is evident.

      • I agree w/ John and Jay… Overexposed!!! the only spear clue remaining is the lower forward edge of the fenderskirt that shows the bottom of the spear and going forward disappears behind the young lady’s purple skirted right knee, btw the Thunderbird script is “spot on” … also agree that the fenderwell is either very dirty or has indeed been very oversprayed!!!

  2. The Chicago South Shore and South Bend R.R. operated the old steel cars pictured in the second photo from the 1920’s until the early 1980’s between South Bend and Chicago. The picture is probably Michigan City Indiana where the car shops were located. Several of these old relics still survive with railroad museums. They were state of the art and very fast “back in the day”. The south Bend shop did a wonderful job of keeping them in service long after factory parts were no longer available. They now run modern stainless steel cars over most of the original trackage, even street running in a few areas.

    • Thank you for posting that; I was having trouble finding that style of car with the over-and-under dual headlamp. The CSS&SB used them until 1983, and the East Troy Railroad Museum has a half dozen of them in running condition. Waiting to be restored is #107, which was the same type as #100. They were built by Pullman between 1926 and 1929.

    • How was the electricity routed to those old street cars? It looks to me like there is only a single wire over the tracks with some sort of conductor bar that slid along it. Was the return path then through the tracks? That doesn’t sound right as the tracks would then be a current carrying conductor. I seem to think that for electricity to flow it needs to both get in and then get out? How was that accomplished with these? Thanks!

      • Power is DC and supplied to moving trains with a (nearly) continuous conductor running along the track that usually takes one of two forms: overhead line, suspended from poles or towers along the track or from structure or tunnel ceilings; third rail mounted at track level and contacted by a sliding “pickup shoe”. Both overhead wire and third-rail systems usually use the running rails as the return conductor but some systems use a separate fourth rail for this purpose.

        • DC electricity cannot be transmitted over long distances, like AC can. I wonder how they were able to have DC power all the way from South Bend to Chicago.

          • JJS,

            Possibly a number of small power stations along the way with battery houses between the power stations.

            The New Haven Railroad had such a direct current system on its rail line between Providence, RI and Fall River, MA with a branch to Bristol, RI. The power station was in Warren, RI [about midway] and battery houses near the end of each line [less than 10 miles each]. The system worked well except during heavy travel periods. The power station sent power to the battery houses in non-peak times. One of these battery houses is still visible in Somerset, MA.


          • In the CSS&SB’s case, it’s an overhead catenary line, as evidenced by the raised pantograph, and they used the running rails as the return conductor. The modern South Shore Line has one traction power station (electrical substation) every 8.4 miles, and they’ve proposed building more in recent capital budgets. The CSS&SB also ran electric freight locomotives on the same line until 1983 (the last electrical freight line in the US), using a trio of locomotives that were originally intended for use in the Soviet Union.

        • Yes, very possible Michigan City Indiana, my home town. Main station is still at Carroll Ave with another on 11th street. The current route starts at the South Bend Indiana airport and ends at Millennium Station in Chicago. With as many stops there are along the route in NW Indiana and into Illinois, the picture could be any of them.

  3. Did anyone else have the Corgi Toys Impala police car that looked almost identical to the one in the photo ?
    I think mine’s still somewhere in the attic.

  4. In the top photo..I er, I mean…uh,….hey–was this shot in a trailer park? In the last photo, what a proud moment for this young man–probably his first new car! A shiny `49 Plymouth!

  5. Judging by the rock on her hand and the new T-Bird, they weren’t sticking their money into housing. Vegas maybe? Looks like the ’56 Chevy is trying to beat the streetcar, with jeers from the young man walking. Dad’s new ’60 Chevy police car, and last, new salesman job and a new Plymouth.

    • That’s not a “streetcar”, it’s called a interurban car. The pantograph pickup on the interurban car is up at the rear end and indicates the direction of travel. The car is heading to the right in the photo and has just cleared the road crossing. The auto is just proceeding on it’s way after the interurban had passed.

      • Thanks Jerry, but to the layperson, like me, these will always be called “streetcars”. With all the movies back then of cars trying to beat trains to the crossing, and the “hot rodder” ’56 Chevy 2 door with dual mirrors and fender skirts, ( and for sure that new V8) he just seemed like the “dangerous type”, while the conservative , cautious Plymouth driver waits patiently from a distance.

        • I don’t recall ever seeing skirts on a ’56 Bel Air except at car shows. I had two BAs over time in college says, and while not a collector I have one homage model to all the cars I’ve ever owned – a megal ’56 BA 2-door hardtop — with skirts.

  6. In the 2nd picture, on the right and in the parking lot in the background, is a dark 1950 STUDEBAKER Coupé, might be a Starlight. Where ever this is, it appears front license plates aren’t required.

    • I missed looking at the rear. That body was called the Concord. I had the same year, Dodge Wayfarer. The rear seat area was much, much larger than necessary. 😉 😉

      • The Concord name was not used until 1951, so this is a Plymouth De Luxe 2-Door Sedan. One of the interesting historical notes about the 2-Door Sedan is that it was a brand new model in 1949, but it did not come out until July. Consequently the model does not appear in the standard 1949 Plymouth brochure. Even so, Plymouth produced 28,516 for the year.

          • Tom, Ace… I’m there , also… Do either of you know anything abt the bullseye head lamp lens, or am I the only one who sees them as unique to Mopars of this vintage?

  7. Judging by the stance and wheel size I’d say the 1960 Chevy police car has a h.d. suspension. As it’s a local yocal car it may have the 6 popper, or a variety of 283’s, but probably not the 348 4 bbl. And a 3 on the tree or maybe a Powerglide slush box. Even as a 4 door it has a very cool look in black. Whatever, I wish it was parked in my garage………………..

    • Low Bid model gets the order in San Diego. Just a Biscayne “beater”. Cities could issue “required” minimum “or equivalent” bid specs but low bids usually carried the deal, frequently with preference given to local dealers. Later years we saw CHP spec level Dodge Polaras spec’d in combined purchases to get better vehicles at better quantity price breaks here in Calif. cities. LAPD went their own way though for decades. I remember the very large fleet of new 1947-48 Ford Fordor sedans for B/W patrol cars see whipping around all of L.A. They are seen in many realistic noir mystery movies of the 1950s and then later 1953 Fords in the early seasons of TV Dragnet shows to great realistic effect (starring Jack Webb and Ben Alexander). The smiling officer in the Biscayne passing the time (public relations/community work?) is thinking about coffee and donuts.

  8. In the streetcar photo, in the viewer’s left of the streetcar (actually to the right of the streetcar), is what appears to be the back side of a yellow stop sign. I remember those, and wonder how many other people do. California when I was little had red stop signs, but when we went into Nevada to visit with my dad’s family, we saw yellow stop signs everywhere. I don’t know just what year the Feds standardized signage, but I know it took a few years for many states to update what had previously been a state’s option.
    I have often wondered how many states did use yellow stop signs? But apparently the streetcar photo was one of them.

    • I’ve seen and have a photo of a rectangular white stop sign, Wayne, put erected by the Delaware State Highway Department. The top word on the sign said “STOP”; 2nd line read “MAIN ROAD” with a large black “X” between the word “main” and the word “road.” The 3rd line read: “300 feet ahead” and beneath that the State Highway Department identification.

  9. Third photo: 1960 Chevrolet Biscayne with Police Package. There were three models available: Two-Door Biscayne, Four-Door Biscayne, and a Brookwood Station Wagon that sat six. There were two police packages available with one package for the body and the other for the chassis.

    Available engines: 348-Cubic-Inch V-8 with either the four-barrel 250 hp Turbo-Thurst or the 305 hp Turbo-Thurst Special with Heavy-Duty Powerglide; a 283-Cubic-Inch V8 which was either the Economy Turbo-Fire V8 with 2-barrel carburetor or the Super Turbo-Fire v8 with 4-barrel; or the Hi-Thrift 6 with concentric carburetor with dual floats.

    Transmissions: 3-Speed Synchro-Mesh (all engines expect 305-h.p. Special V8); Powerglide (except Special V8s) or Heavy-Duty Powerglide for the 305-hp Turbo-Thrust V8; or Turboglide (all except Hi-Thrift 6 and Special V8s). A 4-speed synchro-mesh and an overdrive were available on some models.

    Standard features: foot-operated parking brake, crank-operated venti-pane windows, automatic choke, positive-shift starter, hydraulic valve lifters, high-security one-key locking system, magic-mirror acrylic lacquer finish, high-level cowl ventilation system, safety-type door latches, electric windshield wipers, zinc-coated mufflers, dual sun visors.

    Options: heater-defroster, 2-speed electric windshield wiper, windshield washer, deluxe steering wheel, cushioned instrument panel pad, e-z eye glass, extra-heavy foam padded front seat, power steering, power brakes, temperature-controlled viscous drive fan, heavy-duty fan, dual exhaust system, generators from 30 to 50 amps or a 60 amp alternator type for cars with two-way radios, positraction, oil filter, oil-bath air cleaner, positive-type crankcase ventilation, heavy-duty clutch, heavy-duty battery.

    Also available: heavy-duty rear seat, heavy-duty floor mats, heavy-duty shock absorbers, stabilizer bar, heavy-duty springs and suspensions, special brakes with metallic linings, heavy-duty wheel bearings, 15″ wheels and Tyrex Cord tires.

    All info from the 1960 Chevrolet Police Cars brochure.

    • Thank you Ace, good stuff! I seem to remember reading Leece-Neville alternators with an external rectifier were used on GM Police cars before Delco started making their own in the mid-1960s.

    • Actually, I think the focus of the foto is the young lady, not the T’Bird. I think you maybe observing an optional factory outside right mirror and a radio antenna masthead, the details lost to over exposure only the shadows remaining. The other cars, contemporary of the era…I’m reminded of the housing( portable classrooms, today ) around the many state universities to accommodate the marrieds on the still active GI bill students. My, my … how we’ve progressed.

  10. I read somewhere just a few days ago about the yellow stop signs. They were used for quite a few years because of being easy to see at night. In 1954 the red sign came into use because of the new reflector type paint available at that time. And they have been red ever since.

  11. The young woman looks so pretty, I remember the styles then.
    Maybe it’s just me, but today the young women/girls seem go for the sloppy look.
    That ’56 chev hardtop is sure a V8 with the “V” on the hood.
    They sold a lot of power pack engines back then also. ( 4BBL dual exhaust)
    Thanks for the wonderful memories

  12. Last foto, the young man saved just enough to buy the cheapest , 6 passenger Plymouth- the rear backlite confuses me, cause I didn’t think they built a fastback in ’49 , but maybe- Question, did Mopar only use “bullseye” headlight lens in ’49 and ’50 in all their makes , or? Pymouth”s foldout for ’49, by the way, illustrates , for the Deluxe “xtra cost options shown are optional bumper guards and wheel covers/ rings and whitewalls”… a far cry frm how they’re shown today- fully, fully loaded.

    • I too, remember that Chrysler Corp. cars that seemed to be the only sealed beam headlamps with the special center clear glass “circular lens” gimmick and I still see them on nicely presented original older Chrysler Corp. cars and properly restored Chrysler Corp. cars. I am skeptical about any significantl lighting performance advantage other than at the Mopar dealer parts sales counters for yet another attempt at a captive OEM part back in the day!

      There is one possible practical reason for the small center lens, and that might be for simple proper aiming at final vehicle production (photocell target tool) and for servicers instead of having to rely on the triad of glass perimeter “dots” for headlight aiming tool attachment (jigs) that were used in production and service.

      The early “no glass dots” seal beam lamps are hard to find for most concours-quality restorations on other brand vintage U.S. cars. Same is probably true for early Chrysler vehicle headlamps (1940 earliest for any U.S. sealed beams of course).

  13. Re: (So-called) “Thunderbird” photo: ’55 through ’57 were easily regarded as Ford’s answer to the Corvette, and can be regarded as: “Authentic American Sports Cars”. Then, came an unfortunate marketing decision to “upgrade” it, raise its price and hopefully find richer buyers thus putting it in another class than: “Just a 2-seater! I regard 58 & beyond as : Both a sell-out for 2 seat-er Customers, — (Dang! ) (Example : The Thunderbird Club of America! ’55 to 57 models , etc.) and: ” the ’58 — on — An answer to a question that few Sports car lovers, — or the public ever asked! The evidence? Simple: Look at the return of an authentic: Thunderbird Sports Car , decades later! , (not a sedan-like -car!). P/S: Corvette hung in there and improved its Sports-car breed! Just observing. (the purse on the hood of the “T-Barge” . belongs to the Photographer! , Looks like: Going out to the Tea-Room for Tea & Crumpets, 1 lump or 2, Dear? Shall I pour?

  14. Ya know, I imagine its not, but that streetcar / ‘interurban’ photo looks a lot like Sand springs Oklahoma, along Charles Page blvd maybe. Oklahoma has no front plates, the street looks right, there was/are some industrial buildings like in the background of the photo, yellow stop signs were in use in places, and parts of the tracks like these are still visible in places. There was streetcar service from downtown Tulsa over to Sand Springs until the late 60s also, and faint memory says the units were maybe even yellow, but the railcar itself looks rather untidy and I cant see any lettering ; again, poor memory of seeing photos of these says they were lettered on the side.
    Just a thought…

    • Streetcars are coming back to Oklahoma, and they are now in the process of conducting their tests on the new cars as they arrive. They are hybrid electric and battery operated. Search Google for the following.

      “First streetcar arrives in Oklahoma City – YouTube”

    • The Images of America book on Sand Springs has a photograph that the author states is the last Sand Springs Interurban run on January 5, 1955. The electrical system was removed that year, the line dropping its passenger service and relying on EMD diesels to haul their freight consists.

      The Sand Springs Line used (and still uses) yellow livery, and a total of 9 interurban cars were manufactured by the Cincinnati Car Company prior to 1920. I haven’t seen any pictures with lettering on the side, but the Illinois Railroad Museum has preserved #68 with a logo that was a large SS in a circle (for Sand Springs), bisected by the word LINE.

  15. Re: The “street car” photo: (Jerry A. is right !) Not a “streetcar”, (per se), — It is an: Inter-urban quality design, a step above “streetcars”, as it includes: “coupling seals” on either end to make up a walk- through train, for a Conductor to serve the Customer’s needs of one or more cars . The “Pantograph” Power Pickup is also common on many Inter-urban designs, seen in Europe, but the earlier P.E.RY Electric cars /trains , in So Calif, utilized one “stinger” with roller contact for the 600 Volt D.C. line that was typically efficient at very high speeds, over 60 MPH, between Los Angeles City and the “Corridor of City owned Property of the Port of San Pedro, 28 miles away, also a part of Los Angeles City . (The rail system all gone, early 60’s, now ). Freight was also (electric ) hauled on this line . The original yellow (or red) stop signs had a good feature: Reflector glass “marbles” on the letters of the word: “STOP” . Efficient, easily reflecting, even in the fog! Only when : 3-M reflective tape came along, did this change! The AAA was significant in promoting Stop signs of one color in the U.S.: Red. This is now world-wide!, mostly. Our West Virginia remains — a one plate state. The location looks like N/E U.S. or Canada ?

    • Photo taken in Michigan City, Indiana. The “South Shore” also did street running in East Chicago and South Bend, IN.

  16. In 1932, A.M (Ford factory) radios “showed up” in Fords. by 1936, red lights sirens and spot lamps began being used on Police & Emergency vehicles. 6 Volts was still common on most vehicles. By 1937, Ford was “phasing out” 3rd – brush Generators and raising their output to 35 Amperes , 2 brushes and an external regulator , firewall mounted. Special Commercial applications provided up to 45 Amperes , for running lights, spot lights & fog lamps. The Emergency & Police vehicles began using Leece Neville Alternators, when the first Selenium Rectifiers became available, also , about 1937 . Many older Fords, (Iike Models A & B) also began removing the batteries from under the floor-boards and mounting them high on the fire wall, – to better protect & service them. This is seen on many (not restored) “barn-finds”, and many of these brackets are really ugly & flimsy home- made affairs ! I saw 5 of them on (auction) barn-finds, this morning ! Edwin W.

  17. The Chicago, South Shore & South Bend, “The last of the Interurbans”, car is in South Bend, IN. The station was up the the hill a block behind the car which is headed into a service area at the end of the line. Except for the street, nothing of this remains today.

  18. Did anyone else see the woman in the T-bird picture and wonder if she had a pillbox hat to match the bag? Bob Dylan fans will understand the reference.

  19. I agree with E. Winet regarding 58 and beyond t-birds.
    I think that the styling guys who worked on the Edsel were let loose on the 58 t-birds.
    All it needs in the front grill is a Edsel “horse collar”.
    Didn’t Ford introduce the Edsel in 58?

    • But for Ford it was a total success: They sold nearly twice as many ’58 Birds as any single model year of 55, 56, or 57 Bird.

  20. Tom, Ace… I’m there , also… Do either of you know anything abt the bullseye head lamp lens, or am I the only one who sees them as unique to Mopars of this vintage?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *