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Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Car Kodachrome Photographs

Number One-Hundred and Fifty-Seven of the Kodachrome Car Photograph Series begins this week with an image of an early Corvette and its driver heading down a road in California. This picture appears to have been taken by a professional photographer, could this be a General Motors Photographic marketing photo, for some type of a production, or was it shot by a talented amateur?

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.

  • In a sea of pastel-colored Chryslers this black over salmon example really stands out.

  • The backdrop behind this 1950s Ford convertible is filled with cars and a truck of the era.

  • Ever wonder how the type of a bumper guards visible on this Studebaker where kept from tipping backward after being hit? This image shows all of the tackle behind them to keep that from happening.

37 responses to “Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Car Kodachrome Photographs

  1. Note the base model Dodge truck in the background of the third photo. The cab is white, while the bed is black. On the base model truck all the beds were black. You had to pay extra to get the bed painted cab color.

  2. David,

    Wonderful pictures !!

    In the 3rd photograph, just beyond the 1959 FORD in the foreground is a black two-door 1955 BUICK Riviera [unsure of the model] and parked on the street, behind this ’55 BUICK, is a two-tone, four-door,1950 BUICK Super.

    • AML: I may have told this one before; not sure. When I was little, I remember asking my Dad if he served in the war. He said, “Why, I most certainly did!” I asked, “What did you do during the war, Dad? What was your duty?”

      “Son…I was a tail-gunner on a `50 Studebaker!” Mom just rolled her eyes…LOL

      • Will,

        Nice story !

        When a little kid, my best friend’s father had either a 1950 or ’51 STUDEBAKER Starlight and remember the storage compartments under the rear seat’s arm rests. Strange what one can remember from childhood.


  3. Great images Dave–wow; the color alone makes them look like they were shot yesterday!
    Third photo, on the RH side of the block further back, I see a two-tone `57 Mercury Montclair hardtop, and a pink `59 Rambler Cross Country wagon parked in a drive way.

  4. 1st pic, I’d bet, is Laurel Canyon Blvd. near Hollywood. My daughter lived near there, and Adam-12 shot a lot of scenes here. 2nd pic screams America the mid-50’s. No war going on, young families, jobs were plentiful, new apartment buildings sprang up, and a sea of new Chryslers to be had. Things were good.
    3rd, could be “Anywhere, USA” ( yes, we had convertibles in Milwaukee) That ’59 Ford was one sharp car. 2 houses down on the right could have been my grandparents house. Reason? The ’59(ish) Rambler in the driveway. And last, looks like back to Daytona. ( fishing pier just over the trunk) Must have been along ride in that Studebaker. It’s no Florida car. I never saw bumper guards with that brace below. Probably could take quite a whallop. It looks as if the cross brace is already bent. My Packard had tall bumper guards. Seems the tops never got bumped, as most bumpers back then were pretty uniform in height and the regular bumper did just fine.

  5. That ultra plain gray Studebaker Champion coupe (with unkempt tires) has a Helms grille guard. They were made for several cars and sold at dealerships. The underpinnings are hilarious on this one. I think the dealer body shops liked to see cars go out with them. They realized how much damage they could reek when the car ran into back of another and to the front of the car wearing one involved in a rear ender.

    Is that a sea shore setting we see in the background? Hard sand or pavement in foreground?

  6. An interesting sign of the times in photo #3. Look carefully and you will see extremely tall rooftop TV antennas. Not only are they very tall, they are “stacked” array multiples of the old style box kite type to get additional gain for distant reception. I think this neighborhood is quite distant from a large metro area with major TV stations and good programming, weekend sports, specials, etc. Color TV broadcasting was still fairly new in 1959 and a weak signal could ruin the presentation easily. The signals were obviously very weak here. A good TV appliance store probably had a busy antenna installation crew to see so many like this. The high gain Yagi type of directional antenna with booster preamp on the antenna was probably not yet available or too expensive in this area. Cable TV service probably would not be a reality here for a few more years when the build up in population would guarantee good payback to a cable company investment.

    • I do like that picture with all the colorful Chryslers and the young family. I am curious about your musical comparison to them. Does the word Soprano have some other meaning than a musical ones that I have not heard ?

  7. That 59 Ford is not just a convertible. With the placement of the gas filler and the lack of a top boot it’s a Skyliner retractable hardtop. Envy of the neighborhood.

  8. In the 2nd photograph, the car in the foreground on the right is a 1956 CHRYSLER New Yorker [and it appears the rest of cars in this row are also New Yorker models] and at least the first three cars on the left are ’56 CHRYSLER Windsor models.

  9. I assume the first photo was not taken by GM, because the car has “civilian” plates on it. Most manufacturer’s photos show cars with manufacturer’s plates, and most of those were Michigan.

  10. From the trivia department: The ONLY way to tell a 56 Vette and a 57 (non fuelie) Vette apart visually is by the base of the interior rear view mirror. 57 has a permanent mount.

    The power pack option on the 56 added twin four barrel carbs. Last I heard you can’t document the power pack option and many are being sold in auction with a sneaky restoration upgrade and lower horsepower.

    My Dad bought a 56 Copper/White/White Hardtop in 1964 and he dumped the twin carbs first thing probably with realization. They were a rare option. But with an upgraded 4 barrel carb I remember it still going like hell. ONly car I ever cried over when he sold it.,

    • Another difference (not easily visible) was added windshield reinforcement mount for the ’57’s. All first design ’56’s had dual 4-barrel carbs. After the second design ’56 dual 4-barrel setup was out – roughly mid-year, a single 4-barrel was also offered. The factory single 4-barrel ’56 was not very common.

  11. Ah, those Chryslers. My favorite era for cool car colors. Especially liked those in pink/coral/salmon and black/charcoal/gray combinations. On down the line I see some salmon and white versions. Some models added white in tri-toned versions. Ramblers and Dodges come to mind.

    • Packards, Studebakers and Hudsons also had 3-tone cars. If you count the convertible top as a separate color, many more cars as convertibles could be had in 3-tones.

  12. To Russell Cox.. Sopranos is a fictional tv show portraying the life and times of Tony Soprano. He and his family are Italian American mafia, with trials and tribulations. Soprano the word has morphed into a synonym for mobster, gangster, hoodlum, et cetera.

    • Chuck, thank you for the information. I was going crazy trying to figure out how a Soprano was connected with classic cars. Had not heard of that show, I guess I have missed a lot of tv the past few years. Again Thanks.

  13. In the first photo the corvette’s head light ” doors” look to be chrome, making it a ’57. They were painted for ’56.

    • Some of the early press release photos of the ’56 had painted headlight “doors” but as far as I know all ’56s as well as ’57s have stainless. We have ’56 #307.

  14. The “Helms (whopperoo) Bumper Guards” are as big as the Studebaker !!! They were always on the Salesman’s Gee- Gaw accessory list, along with: Mud flaps , windshield brow, chrome tailpipe extension, and “curb feelers”. (Not to mention the right -front window mounted: Evaporative “Air Conditioner” with water reservoir and pull cord for re- wetting the rubberized horse- hair (cylindrical innards) cooler section, — that : Forward motion of the car, — ONLY above 45 mph, — allowed a temperature drop of 10 degrees — IF it was dry air outside! The real Studebaker miracle device was its “Hill Holder” ! ( not an accessory! ) Ha- Ha : 1937 Fords had a Push-Button starter on the dash! It was removed in 1951! Now, a push- button starter is “2018 modern”, revolutionary & bragged about —new “technology” ( from 1937!) The Hi- Lo beam switch went to the floor (from the 1939 convenient steering wheel hub) in 1940! Amazing: Now, — it’s back!!! —on the steering column (again!) — never in the same place twice!!! on any two 2018 cars!!! Progress! (???) Nope!

    • When I was seven years old I came real close to knocking a hole in the back wall of our garage. My parents had a 1950 Ford and I would sneak out and pretend I was driving. Who knew that the starter button was “live” all the time; if the car was in low gear and you pressed the starter button the car would leap forward for several feet. Fortunately for me the car wasn’t hurt and the only damage to the garage were some cracks in a couple of the 2X4’s that framed the back wall.

    • The Hill Holder brake (No-Rol from Wagner) was an option, either from the factory or dealer installed. Works wonderfully when properly adjusted.
      And BTW: Studebaker’s starter button was underneath the clutch pedal. Looks just like the dimmer switch. Depress the clutch all the way to start the car. Prevents you from starting the car in gear–in theory!

  15. I’m betting the girl in the Stude was a newly-wed on her honeymoon in Daytona bashfully posng for her new spouse. BTW@Rich – I don’t see any but one (and that’s questionable) of the tall antenna arrays you’re talking about – the other tall things are VERY tall long distance power lines in the background. The ’57 ‘vette was then and still is my favorite car of the period – and there were certainly an incredible number of great cars that year – every manufacturer had at least one home run in their arsenal. Agreed – def Mulholland.

  16. How come no one mentions the white 1960 Pontiac 2-door hardtop in photo #3? A friend of mines dad bought one new. Dang that was a fast car!!! Beautiful interior in 3 shades of red and white.

  17. Here’s a question for the group: Studebakers had those in-fender vents to allow air into the passenger compartment. As did the 56 Thunderbird. I was once at a car show where a 56 Thunderbird was parked next to a Studebaker (Lark, I think) and the vents looked alike. Were they from the same vendor? Anybody know?


  18. Another company that made these grill guards was Van Auken out of Detroit Michigan.
    These were a 1940 patented design by Charles M. Van Auken of Highland Park.
    His company made them for both front and rear passenger cars and trucks right through to the early 60’s.
    I have an NOS set of both for my 1959 Ford sedan. THey were still in the box wrapped in paper with the original assembly instructions.
    They were quite heavy and cumbersome to install. You had to love the look of them too.

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