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Four Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Car Photos Series

Number One-Hundred and Fifty of the Kodachrome Car Photos Series begins this week with a very rare image of an American icon from the 1950s. Tell us the story of how the  change of ownership and color combination of these vehicles came to be. Because of it being featured today, three 1950s Chevrolet automobiles are included below.

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.

  • Another American icon from the 1950s, tell us about this example and Guaranty Chevrolet.

  • Photo without caption.

  • Fifty-nine years later we finally find out what type of use this set of tail fins were actually intended for.

51 responses to “Four Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Car Photos Series

  1. I guess the GM Parade of Progress turned into the Square D Product Caravan. I understand that the1953 Corvettes were new and very different, but the six cylinder and body style just didn’t do it for me. Junior insured that his car would not be used while he served in the army. 1959 Chevrolet wagon with a cute little boy.

  2. The blue and white ’57 is in way too good a shape to be up on blocks. I’m guessing it’s been put in long-term storage while its owner is away for a while. Off to VietNam, perhaps?

  3. I love this series! Thank you. In the first photo it looks like GM sold one of its Future-Liners to a neighbor since Square D (for Detroit) was located there. The 1957 Chevrolet appears to have been purposefully placed on blocks. Cherry blossoms on the trees in the background and green grass under the car. The the snow may have been a late spring event, Michigan perhaps, where there’s lots of cherry trees and lots of snow.

  4. How interesting. I never knew ANY of the caravan buses were painted anything but red! Does anyone know what the large “D” on this unit stands for? (Diesel?) A rare photo alright. Cute photo of the little guy sitting on the fin of the `59 Brookwood wagon his parents bought! I have an ancient photo of my sister at about 3 yrs old sitting on the trunk of my Mom’s `57 New Yorker hardtop, leaning against the giant fin, like its a retaining wall!

      • I believe the original meaning of the capital letter “D” was for Detroit. The company was called Detroit Fuse and Manufacturing Company when it adopted the Square D logo for its first stamped steel enclosed safety switches in 1915. In 1917 the company changed its name to Square D which is now a part of Schneider Electric.

      • David, according the compnay website (Square D has been owned by Schneider Electric since 1991):

        “1902
        Detroit Fuse and Manufacturing, a US supplier of electrical distribution and industrial control equipment, begins operations.
        1917
        The company changes its name to Square D, based on its trademark “D” appearing on conduit boxes and switches.”

    • I think they had at least three paint schemes, as I’m sure they were repurposed as Army recruiting vehicles during the war?

    • There have been a lot of post-Parade paint schemes:

      The Michigan State Police had two Futurliners done up as “Safetyliners” to promote road safety. They had white roofs and “Michigan State Police color” bodies, which would have been the same as Dulux 93-032 blue.
      Makita Tool had a Futurliner as a rolling display that was later restored as a motor home in a stars-and-stripes paint scheme.
      Peter Pan Bus Lines had two Futurliners, at least one of which was done in green-and-white.
      One was used to promote Goebel Beer, then was in an all-white paint scheme for Driesbach & Sons Cadillac-Chevrolet-Oldsmobile.
      One was used to promote FIDO mobile phones in Canada in a blue-and-white scheme with yellow trim.

  5. Caption for the ’57 Chevy photo:
    After seeing that it snowed overnight, Fred could tell it wasn’t going to be a nice spring day after all.

      • Yeah, I think that is the case, the open window being one clue and what seem to be missing brake drums another. Not sure an owner or a prankster who knew the owner would leave it resting on the backing plates!

  6. Re photo #2: the Corvette appears to be from Guaranty Chevrolet in Santa Ana, CA. The dealership’s still in business. I’m not sure what to make of the red-on-white sticker under the bumper. I don’t recall California using temporary plates and, even if so, the location is odd.

    • Hi Earl,
      Yes, Guaranty Chevrolet (what a name) is still in business in old Sana Ana.
      The most famous bit of history I know about the company was an incident that got them a lot of trouble from the late Mr. John Perot who had bought a new Chevy van from them (ca: 1980s?). Upon inspection on his home outdoor hoist prior to a major trip, he found that the back side of the body side had been pounded back out to normal position and outside surface of body skin was repainted in that area. He was smart enough to document his findings carefully. He then confronted the dealer and said they had sold him a USED vehicle that had been obviously had body damage and repaired. Thus, technically, it was a USED vehicle as far as he was concerned (someone had used it and damged it prior to sale as NEW and the dealer knew how and admitted they had properly repaired it). He demanded his money back OR a NEW factory fresh replacement. They refused. He persisted. He got no where with them. So he had a commercially prepared huge sign made and mounted it on the side of the van (temporarily so as not to damage it). The sign read that Guaranty Cheverolet has sold him a Used vehicle as a New vehicle. He drove the van and huge sign and parked in front of the dealership all day for a few days in a limited parking zone. The dealer complained to the police who (after much fuss) allowed him to park on the other side of the street in legal parking zone. The dealer finally capitulated and they gave him a new factory fresh van of his choice! The sign was permanently mounted in his home garage restoration shop for all visitors to see and he would proudly recount his horror story about “Guaranty Chevrolet”. It was a case of the little guy winning out over the bully big guy. I told John, he learned a good lesson too! He never owned another Chevrolet of any kind (and got rid of the van after he changed his employment). He preferred restoring pre-war Early Ford V8s. His ’35 Ford V8 Deluxe Panel Delivery was a Dearborn award winner 3 times. I worked with John for six months back in 2008 researching & building a museum perfect Early Ford 1934 V8 Display Engine for our local V8 Club. It is still a marvel to all who see it at the club house and at major shows.

      • Good story, Rich; thanks for taking the time to write it out for those of us who enjoy hearing about justice being served. Now about those 6SJ7… trash cans. Very few people who referred to the stalwart steel cans used the last 2 initials when referring to them, the “GT” was reserved for automobiles who used those initials to refer to automobiles which had earned the designation as “Grand Touring” cars and it seemed irreverent to use the GT as part of the nomenclature for the well-known garbage can. In fact, there was a mini rebellion with the Duesenberg fraternity who objected to the “SJ” in the serial number since there was no possible way that the cans had any relationship to the supercharged “J” models of that distinguished marque. The trash cans were guaranteed not to dent; as you can see from the ones stuffed to above their tops in the above photo those cans were undented and had held up to the manufacturer’s guarantee.

    • Earl,
      Yes, California DMV did in fact, use the infamous huge red on white “dealer plates” back in the ’50s. They had to be stuck on the rear (usually on inside of rear window). I am sure this was the first time in my life I saw those old style huge numbered “paper plates”. They were issued to new dealers with traceable numbers. They were discontinued for the little window dealer new car window papers decades ago with the dealers putting advertising plates in the license frames. There is a move on in Calif. to go back to official DMV serial numbered large paper plates for new cars since so many scofflaws are creating fake “Dealer Plates” with a new car dealer name only on them, and driving around endlessly with no intention of registering and paying annual registration fees. (scenario: buy an eBay car or steal one out of state, take delivery, and never register it, flip it privately to make money).

      • The big paper plates continued at least into the early ’70s. Recall one for our new ’65 Mustang and also for the new ’73 Mercury Colony Park wagon. I believe the numerals were dark green in ’73.

    • Likewise Junction City, Oregon. For a long time Herb Nil played a Cal Worthingtonesque character on these TV commercials.
      Don’t know if they’re still around. The Google will out.

  7. “Eggs are cheaper in the country and so are used cars at Guaranty Chevrolet in Junction City”
    Just North of Eugene.

  8. In the first picture, the GM show vehicle, I saw at Barrett Jackson when one of the Future Rama’s sold, 6 Million I believe.

    • Restored a few seasons back on Velocity’s ” Bitchin Rides” based in Salt Lake City. At 4 million I’d say the selle
      r got his restoration money back and then some!

      • I don’t think the one that Kindig-It restored (Futurliner #3, “Power for the Air Age”) has been sold. It was up for sale at MAG’s 2016 Hot August Nights but failed to meet reserve (the bidding reached $2.6 million). Last year, Ardell Brown had it up for sale in Hemmings’ classified ads.

        The only one I know that’s been at Barrett-Jackson is #11 (“March of Tools”), which Ron Pratte bought in 2006 and sold in 2015 with proceeds to go to charity, both times for $4 million.

  9. The three trash cans in the third picture are Sears, Roebuck model 6SJ7GT, made only in 1952 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Lids were evidently optional.

    • Well, if they made enough of them they should have been labeled GTO….to signify homologation! As for the Vette, in 1953 it was a stunner, just look at what was available then. And the straight 6 had dual carbs (and a Powerglide….ugh), but that still made it a fast car for the times. And, many of you may not know this, but a ’53 Vette was the first official Chevy race car, but in NASCAR no less. The SCCA was still in a fledgling era (more fun actually), but NASCAR had created a ‘sporty class’ for warm up races. VIN #211 was retrofitted with the new 265 and a 3-speed in a Chevy workshop in 1956, the first real racer for Chevy I think.

  10. From The Lima [Ohio] News of Monday, July 27, 1959

    “A traveling display will roll into Lima Thursday. It’s the Product Caravan, sponsored by Square D Company of Detroit, Mich., and currently making a nationwide tour. Consisting of two 33-foot-long mobile showrooms, the Product Caravan will present the company’s broad line of electrical distribution and control equipment to electrical contractors, distributors, architects, and large industrial plants.

    “The caravan will be at the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton parking lot from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday. Friday it will be at the Ford Motor Plant, Bible and Boose Roads from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    “The pair of huge specially designed Product Liners feature action exhibits. Visitors can operate the electrical controls of a crane hoist, manipulate pushbuttons on an automated machine tool panel, adjust the delicate mechanism of an electronic timer, create a power overload to test the action of circuit breakers, and perform a variety of other operations.

    “Experienced Square D Field Engineers will serve as official guides, demonstrating devices, explaining new design features, and discussing specific applications.

    “The Product Liners carry self-contained generators for power, exhibit lighting, and exterior illumination. Each operator’s cab has an aircraft-style instrument panel which, in addition to standard equipment, includes pushbutton controls for a unique elector-hydraulic system. The latter lifts a brilliantly lighted canopy 8 feet above the coachtop level for nighttime display. Movable wings open on the sides of the coaches to expose exhibits and provide spectator ramps.

    “The Product Caravan also include a smaller vehicle equipped as a hospitality van to serve light refreshments. It is expected that more than a hundred thousand visitors will view the Caravan during its to-year tour throughout the country.”

    The two trucks were called “Product Liner 1” and “Product Line 2,” and the terms “Product Liner” and “Product Caravan” were trademarked by Square D. These toured the country in 1958 and 1959.

    The precursors of the Product Liners were the 1951 to 1953 Display Coaches. These were two 40 foot long display trucks with the words “DESIGN LEADERSHIP” along with the Square D logo prominently on the sides. Inside was an array of products similar to what was eventually seen in the Product Liners. An even earlier Square D vehicle can be seen on The Old Motor at the following link.

    http://theoldmotor.com/?p=21904

  11. A little research shows, the “Square D” Futurliner was acquired from GM when the “Parade” was discontinued in 1956 for promotional purposes. It was Futurliner #7 of the 12 made.
    2nd, new Corvette, home in the ‘burbs, life was good.
    3rd, at least someone didn’t want to drive their new Chevy in the winter, until it became a beater, of course. And last, we sucked plenty of exhaust fumes sitting in the “way back” with the window open.

  12. I believe Brooks Stevens designed the Square D logo. The graphics on the futureliner look to be his style as well.

    • Brooks Stevens would have been only four years old when the logo was designed in 1915, and his name is not on the trademark application (#103050).

  13. That poor ’57 Chevrolet 4 door is really clean for being an up north car. No sign of salt damage yet. It may be almost new and waiting for the owner to return from a long planned absence. Anybody recognize the license plate – state and year?

    The story of Guaranty Chevrolet and how they handled their “situation” with Mr. John Perot’s new van leaves me surprised that Guaranty has survived to this day given their treatment of Mr. Perot if indeed the account given is correct. I suspect there may be more to the story than we know. It would be interesting to hear the dealers side of the issue too.

  14. I bet, as a standard rite of Spring, Matt took the snow tires off his Mom’s Bel Air. As luck would have it, it snowed one last time before he could get her nice whitewalls mounted, balanced and on the car.

  15. Re: the GMC “GM Parade Of Progress” Promotional Vehicle; This, (these ) if ‘m not mistaken , were powered by a GM 2-Stroke Diesel! (AKA: “The Screaming Mimi”! This engine had a reputation for Mechanical Noise – making! I can just imagine this beast, on the road at highway speed, with the driver wearing ear-muffs & plugs, to deaden the howling & whining of the engine’s Rootes type supercharger! These engines are great for Sawmills, like the “Joe’s Run Sawmill” in W.V. (The 42″ Diameter sawblade is louder! )

    • Those were not superchargers. Because these engines were 2 stroke, they used roots type blowers to provide combustion air. In later years, Detroit Diesel had turbochargers as an option. I was involved with the 6-71 series as WW II marine engines, (64HN9’s) as converted by Graymarine.

    • The original engine was the Detroit Diesel 4-71 of 284 cubic inches displacement and 160 horsepower. They were re-engined in the ’50s with a 302 cubic inch, 145 horsepower inline six. Since the vehicles weighed sixteen and a half tons each, I feel pretty safe in saying they were underpowered by modern standards.

  16. Car dealers in this country seem to have a grand tradition of customers getting whizzed at them and picketing the front of their dealerships with “I been ripped off” signs.
    Yea, as we speak ,theres probably someone somewhere in this country doing that just now.
    Gee….wonder why that is.

  17. A local Super market tycoon purchased a new Corvette like this one and a Buick skylark convertible for is wife, they both came in on a Friday night and all us young fellows stoped to look at the spectacular site. He never used the vette much and entombed it in one of his Supermarkets. The car and story surface from time to time. The dealer is Hight Chevrolet (still in business today) Maine I saw a future liner at Hershey

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