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Four Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Photographs

Number One-Hundred and Fifty Four of the Kodachrome Car Photograph Series begins this week with an image of a late-1950s Ford with a very unusual color scheme at a Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealership. The combo’s hues brings to mind blueberry-vanilla ice creme with red sparkles on top. Tell us all about this car, what is behind the wheel, and other automotive commerce in the neighborhood.

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 GM photographic truck image contains an interesting vehicle in the body drop area of the assembly line.

  • Ford Motor Companies upscale response to the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz personal luxury car.

  • Wilma always lost it when someone tried to take her photograph.

52 responses to “Four Fun Friday Fifties Kodachrome Photographs

  1. In the lead photograph, in the Studebaker-Packard dealership, looks like there could be a black STUDEBAKER Hawk on display.

      • Charles,

        Thanks for your comment, but don’t think the car in the window would be a ’58 PACKARD. The car in the foreground is a 1959 FORD Galaxie Club Sedan introduced in early 1959. PACKARD stopped production in the summer of ’58. For the vehicles produced for their 1958 model run, Studebaker-Packard, produced approximately 20 STUDEBAKER cars to each PACKARD car.


        • The last Packard production day was July 25, 1958 along with all Studebaker cars before the changeover for the Lark. By the October-mid-November 1958 NADA Used Car Guide, the “58 Packard sedan average retail was $2,595 versus $3,212 Factory Delivered Price. The Hardtop was $2,745 versus $3,362, no retail was listed for the Station Wagon or Hawk.

          Should that dealer have had a leftover ’58 Packard in stock by early 1959, it was outside, heavily price discounted in hopes of moving it off the lot before the losses from its sale got any worse.

          • 58L8134,

            Thanks for your Fall 1958 NADA information and what the dealer would have done with a leftover ’58 PACKARD in early 1959.


  2. In the first photo, that looks like a dummy behind the wheel. Since the car seems to be painted in the colors of the Ford logo behind it (or maybe as close as you could get given the factory colors available for a ’59 Ford), I’m guessing this is either a dealer’s promotional display or maybe a sales rep’s car.

    And in the bottom photo, how often today do you see a luxury car with a gravel shield? Gravel roads are a lot more avoidable nowadays. And I love how the shield has cutouts for the rubber bumper guards.

    • Thanks for your observations, David. I had to go back and look at the car (which I think looks pretty sharp) and at the logo. Never would’ve done that had you not commented. My Aunt Ethel had a coral and white ’59 Ford sedan, and since then I’ve always had a penchant for that particular year.

  3. 1st pic: perhaps the unusual color combo is to draw attention to the new Thunderbird-like rooftop on this Ford Galaxie, which was actually a new top level sub-series in the Fairlane range and introduced a bit later in the model year 1959, compared to the ‘regular’ models (which came on the market late in 1958 and were even displayed on the Brussels World Fair)
    3rd pic is a well known factory photograph of the famous (non-Lincoln) 1956 Continental Mk2, but it seems the front suspension is lowered? This car was introduced at the Salon de Paris in a typical setting, complete with an Eiffel Tower replica, but the real star of the show was the Citroën DS, of course…
    4th pic 1958 Cadillac with a huge bug screen? Rambler wagon approaching.

    • Since the Continental Mk II (only available as a coupe for two years in ’56 & ’57) was introduced as a 1956 year model, I don’t think it could be considered a “response to Cadillac” (1956) year model Eldorado Biarritz which was a dramatically flashy convertible coupe. Both cars were magnificent of course but in totally different ways.

      The Continental Mk II had graceful classic subdued lines with very little bright side trim, and no rear tail fins (seemingly necessary to Cadillac’s identitiy for some reason) with all the quality in the Continental’s elegant interior and instrument panel details.

      Compared to the outlandish use of chrome plating on the huge Cadillac Dagmars and wild instrument panel design, hmmmmm. I think it did catch Cadillac off guard and one could probably speculate that the 1957/-58 Cadillac El Dorado Brougham stainless steel roof four door hardtop “was their reaction” to the Continental Mk II. All depends on how you look at it, doesn’t it? To each his own, I guess.

      Ford’s dropping the name of Lincoln for these Continentals was a significant statement since the regular (Premiere, Cosmopolitan) Lincolns were terribly massive show boats with way overstated trim and sculptured panels. It gave the company a clean break for a really fine new car effort. The MSRP was extrvagant at $10,000 of course. But the Cadillac “response” in 1957 was $11,000+.

      Underhood on the Continental was quite nice and tidy with it’s stainless flex exhaust header pipes wrapped for heat reduction and quiet, further hidden inside the cowl and rocker panels to the rear bumper ports. These are extremely quiet machines and reflect on their excellent engineering goals. They made a nicer “impression” upon arrival and even when just parked compared to the ElDorado. Less flashy perhaps but definitely a fine statement for personal luxury. No, the Citroen DS is not in this league, even though it was their finest hour. Totally different approaches by all.

  4. The first photo is interesting; perhaps this `59 Galaxie was painted at the dealer for some sort of ‘patriotic’ fourth of July sale? I like the Studebaker-Packard dealer across the street; I think I spot a black `59 Lark sedan near the window on the showfloor. Nice `58 Mercury Commuter hardtop wagon at the curb too!
    The publicity photo of the `57 Continental Mark II is fairly common, but a nice image nonetheless. ‘Wilma’ looks a bit cranky, and could use a martini. Nice custom-fitted bug screen on the `58 DeVille.

  5. That Mercury station wagon in the background of the first photo is a great looking car.
    Never thought much of station wagons when I was younger. I’d love to have one now.

  6. I have this (digital) photo in my collection, though I don’t recall where I got it. It’s identified as Rosemurgy Motors, 409 Forest Street, Wausau, WI. I don’t know the name of the Studebaker-Packard dealership across the street. Google Earth street view shows no trace of either building at that location today.

    • A little detective work revealed that Kramer Brothers Packard was at 410 Forest Street in Wausau. You can just read “Kramer’s Garage” on the sign hanging in front of the dealership.

  7. I love the bug guard on the Cadillac in the last photo.. 1958 maybe? Regarding the bug screen, it seems to me this was a popular thing to do in rural / western states? I’m from the mid west so this is unfamiliar to me, but I imagine some big bugs and other sand / dirt could really wreak havoc on a car when you’re driving long distances across plains / desert / etc.. ? This one looks custom fabricated for this car as there are cut-outs.

    • Many cultures embrace the eating of insects. The species include 235 butterflies and moths, 344 beetles, 313 ants, bees and wasps, 239 grasshoppers, crickets and cockroaches, 39 termites, and 20 dragonflies, as well as cicadas. Insects are known to be eaten in 80% of the world’s nations. The bug catcher on the Cadillac might have been there to not only keep the little critters out of the Caddy’s radiator, but if the owner of the car was native to one of those nations where insects are eaten on a regular basis, then the car was not only being protected but it was catching a possible snack for the occupants of the car when it stopped at a rest stop along the way. The woman captured in the photograph certainly looks as if she had just eaten a beetle.

  8. The 37,000,000th Chevrolet is a 4-wheel drive Suburban built for Civil Defense, and the photo dates to 17 June 1957. They passed out cigars marked “It’s a truck.”

      • It’s a NAPCO, but I’m pretty sure they were factory, versus dealer installed from ’57 on.

        That tri-tone ’59 Galaxie quite something. The local Ford dealer was across the street from my family’s Chrysler-Plymouth dealership – I’ll ask him if he remembers any kind of promo like this.

    • If this truck is a Suburban , why are there no windows behind the front doors?

      Is this not a panel truck?

  9. 1st pic, if it is 1959, that Studebaker-Packard dealer was a lonely place, so much so, the Ford dealer had the gall to park a
    new Ford in front of it. I’ve never seen that color combo on a ’59 Ford like that. I’m sure some kid ran and hid when they brought that car home. The ’57 Chevy panel is still a NAPCO unit. 1959 was the last year for NAPCO. I guess it still counts as a Chevy. I bet that CD truck never did get used.
    I think those Continentals were the nicest cars.
    Last, not many folks liked having their picture taken then. I think, more importantly, overdrive was such a popular option, they felt they needed a sign telling people not to use said device.

      • Wiki says Northwestern Auto Parts Company. I THINK all four wheel drive Chevy trucks were conversions before 1959.

      • Hi Jose, before 4 wheel drive was offered by the auto maker, outside firms would furnish 4 wheel drives for the factory. NAPCO ( Northwest Auto Parts Company) provided the hardware for GM and Studebaker, (Marmon-Harrington for Ford) until around 1960, when auto makers made their own 4 wheel drives.

      • During WWII, NAPCO made parts and assemblies that were battle tested. From 1956 to 1959 the NAPCO option could be ordered directly from GM and factory installed.

    • I think the Continental Mark II was one of the best looking cars of the ’50s. There currently is one in our neighborhood that comes out of hiding a few time a year. It’s white, which I think is a very good color for the Mark II. My friend Bobby had a near fetish for Lincolns, and particularly, the Mark II Conti’s when we were kids. When he got old enough, he found, and bought a 1956 Lincoln, which made his life successful, and complete.

  10. Like that Studebaker/ Packard dealer in the background of the 1st photo. Looks like possibly a new Lark hardtop in the window ?

  11. Perhaps the dealership’s painters had enjoyed a long lunch at Friedl’s before spraying the roof of the Ford.

    Great shot of the Continental, complete with mystery lady in the background.

    Wilma could be on the east side of Independence Pass near Aspen or on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, both in Colorado.

    • I’m thinking you are right, it is Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. In the late 50’s we traversed both Trail Ridge and Independence Pass (on my insistence) several times. I’m sure there were not smart signs like that on Independence in those days – the sign looks very National Park Service!
      Both are incredibly beautiful. BUT don’t take the very elderly or those with lung troubles such as emphysema over Trail Ridge. Last time my Dad and I went over when he was 98 he went very blue and worried me a lot – it’s 12,000 feet or so at the top and nearly always quite cold. Maybe Wilma is regretting her 70 a day – or her choice of a summery dress!

    • Oh, that will cost you. Most NAPCO conversions were either pickups or Suburban’s with windows. Those restored routinely bring $50K +. Because of the rarity of the panel truck, I’d say even more.

  12. Ford dealer advertising new 1959 Ford; two of which are on the lot along with a couple of Lincolns. Across the street a ’57 Mercury and another ’59 Ford in white. Must be the last Packard in the world in the showroom window. An earlier Packard, ’53 or ’54, nose sticking out at corner of the building. Farter in background, a ’56 Plymouth or Dodge.
    The Chevy panel truck is more than a milestone; it appears headed for Civil Defense work with triangle CD emblem on side rear – probably why it is 4wheel drive.

    • Think it’s a ’55 Ford Fairlane post sedan… by ’59 were there any new Packards, anywhere… Maybe unsold?

  13. Wondering if the Continental was shot in or near Rockport, MA as the ‘twin lights’ on Thatcher Island are a local landmark.

    • On closer inspection, I am sure the classic Conti was shot on Atlantic Ave in Gloucester. Still a very pretty drive on Cape Ann.

  14. Amid all those ’59 Fords in the lead photo lurks the sales manager’s black ’59 Lincoln Premier…

  15. Since that ’59 is so prominently displayed beneath the Ford sign I would say they are mimicking the logo’s colors on the vehicle, only from top to bottom instead of left to right.

  16. In the first picture, since we are discussing paint schemes, that the dealership and bar are using identical colour schemes though very different fonts. Same ownership? Perhaps you were sent to the bar to overcome sticker shock?

  17. To settle the bug versus gravel debate, I think it was used for BOTH purposes. Most people used them a while when they were new , but usually got tired of carrying them and having the hassle of tying them on and listening to the wind noise and flapping when at hiway speeds and greater. And they would usually wear some paint off after it was too late to catch it. So everyone decided to wait for the ‘bra’.
    I don’t think the Continental was lowered in front. That was the normal stance.

  18. I think the “No Use of Overdrive on downgrade ahead” warning sign on the highway needs an explanation (mainly for younger audience).

    By the time a driver would realize it, it would often be too late to “get out of overdrive” to re-engage compresson braking assistance in non-overdrive mode and even down shifting into 2nd gear on long down hill grades, thus reverting to frequent use of vehicle’s wheel brakes and potential overheating and fade of braking completely. This occurs on manual transmission types of overdrives due to their “free-wheeling” design (primarily in the Borg-Warner planetary gear type) when in the overdrive mode (2nd-Over and 3rd-Over).

    The free wheeling allowed for simpler upshift into overdrive ratio and downshift mechanism(s) when used in highway cruising and the occasional need for accelaration on passing or up hill pulling without lugging the engine. The overdrive would provide significant higher final drive ratio for lower engine rpm, less engine noise and better MPG.

    These O.D.s had a mechanical “lock-out” pull cable usually right under instrument panel for the driver to pull to disengage the automatic up shifting into O.D. mode when lifting up on the accelerator when the road speed was sufficient (internal mechanical governor controlled).

    This “overdirve lock out” was necessary to provide full use of engine compression braking assistance for serious down hill situations even in city surface street drivng where one might encounter a surprise of a sudden downhill situation (causing a rear end collision).

    The driver had to be in “non-overdrive” mode to activate the “lock out” mode to prevent going into overdrive and “free wheeling” (coasting) when letting off of the accelerator on long down hill grades. Very dangerous if you got yourself and your passengers into such a situation (run-away car) with inability to safely slow the car down with overheated or no brakes!

    So to re-cap,the only way to engage engine direct drive and compression braking when decelerating on overdrive transmission cars is to “lock out” overdrive ahead of time (not moving) OR while lightly accelerating in 2nd or 3rd gear (non yet shifted into O.D.) and immediately pull the Lock Out cable (must NOT let off of gas when pulling the cable to lock out!). If in doubt, READ YOUR OWNER’S MANUAL.

    Two speed rear axle overdrives such as the Columbia option for early Ford, Mercury, Lincoln (1935-1948) have no such problems since they have no free wheeling mode. The Borg-Warner transmission overdrive or similar were used on 1949-later Fords & Mercurys, earlier Chrysler, Studebaker, Hudson, Packard, and many others with manual shift transmission overdrives and most every brand of overdrive well into the late 1950s. This could also be dangerous with certain versions of early Chrysler Corp. “Fluid Drive” transmission vehicles when in top (4th) “drive” gear. AGAIN, READ YOUR OWNER’S MANUAL OR ASK AN EXPERT WHO KNOWS YOUR OVERDRIVE OPERATION.

    Even some automatic transmissions have very poor ability to provide engine “compression braking” during deceleraton and force the use of heavy power braking (think rapid exit on a freeway off-ramp down hill or a long wide highway downhill turn). This is due to the economic elimination of an automatic transmission “rear pump” design and/or reliance on more modern and powerful wheel brakes.

    Some of the superior early fully automatic transmissions were very versatile and made provision for driver’s occasional use of engine compression braking by providing a “rear pump” within the auto trans. This would allow down shifting from drive top gear (usually 3rd or 4th DR) to a lower ratio (by shifting to LO) within the control range of the internal governor and pressure valves and let the rear axle vehicle mometum be coupled through the torque converter to the engine crankshaft and back pressure of the piston compression (throttle closed) with a nicely added assist of slow down while driver used a modest amount of brake pedal. This feature was standard on Ford and Mercury automatics (1951-1955 and possibly on some later years too). If in doubt, check the actual original owner’s manual to see if your vehicle has this feature before you try it (don’t damage it due to ignorance!). Heavy use or reliance on this feature could overheat transmission fluid and cause breakdown, so be cautious and use this feature only moderately and wisely.

    • In the early days of AT’s, you could push start them, usually at 20 MPH or more.
      Anybody know when that era passed?
      A joke was that the guy who was going to push you was seen in the mirror coming up at 25.

      • My 1963 Plymouth, with auto trans, could be push started. This was fortunate because Chrysler put the distributor at the lower front of the engine block where it could get good and wet in a heavy dew. I remember the Plymouth drowning out while crossing the Ohio River bridge from Kentucky to Indiana; fortunately a good Samaritan stopped and pushed the car until it started. As you stated the car needed to reach 20-25 MPH before it would start.

  19. Regarding the Continental Mark 2, it’s my understanding the company wanted to simply make the most luxurious car available from a domestic manufacturer. The design team was headed by John Reinhart, and included Gordon Buehrig of Cord 810/812 fame. Small wonder then that the car turned out to be so elegant. The Mark 2 had one option, air conditioning that pushed the price to a click over 10,000 dollars. 1956 dollars, mind you.

  20. I worked for Rosemurgy Motors for 16 years the 59 Ford was one of Bob Eberts pant jobs . Bob was the body shop manager and from time to time the owners would give him a new car to play with just to attract attention. I own the the original photo .
    Mr. Kramer the owner of the Packard Studebaker dealership is still living in Wausau .

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