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Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Car Kodachrome Photographs

Number One-Hundred and Fifty-Eight of the Kodachrome Car Photograph Series begins this week with an image of a mildly customized 1950s Ford convertible. This wedding “get away” car was decorated with some runny substance along with gold and white decorations added by friends before the service.

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.

  • The train is coming to town in this 1960s image.

  • Rock City must have been a popular tourist attraction, can anyone tell us were it was located?

  • Kodachrome film was a fairly new when this late-1930s photo was taken.

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

  1. In the lead photograph, beyond the honeymoon special in the foreground, is a two-tone, four-door, 1958 CHEVEROLET station-wagon.

  2. Yikes! Encountering a freight train lumbering down Main Street would have been disconcerting to out-of-towners! Plus it’s unlikely that the engineer would have been able to obey the traffic signals, which would have added an extra layer of peril. I wonder if this holdover from 19th Century city planning still exists, or of the rails were either abandoned or rerouted.

    • Freight is one thing, tanker freight is another.
      Great scenes! It kind of looks like a near miss with the 55 Chevy.

    • Rock City will amaze you…it’s in our nature! Located atop Lookout Mountain, just 6 miles from downtown Chattanooga, Rock City is a true marvel of nature featuring massive ancient rock formations, gardens with over 400 native plant species, and breathtaking “See 7 States” panoramic views. Take an unforgettable journey along the Enchanted Trail where each step reveals natural beauty and wonders along the woodland path. Experience the magic of Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village, visit one of our regional gift shops and dine at the Big Rock Grill. Rock City is splendid year-round – “Each season there’s a new reason to visit!”

  3. – Wedding car Ford is of 1957 vintage
    – 2nd pic: 14 or 15 years separate the ‘49 or ‘50 and the 1964 Chevy’s at the left. I think they are the oldest and the newest car here. At the right there’s a 1958 Chevy, 1956 Buick, 1957 Chevy and 1955 DeSoto.
    – 3rd pic: tail light of a mid-fifties Olds, then a 1956 DeSoto, a 1955 Chevy and a 1957 Ford. Coming toward the camera two fairly plain low-end rivals: 1955 Ford and Chevy, followed by a 1957-58 Mopar convertible (too blurry for me to see it’s a Chrysler or a DeSoto). At right, driving away from the viewer, a well-kept and nicely optioned ‘49-‘50 Chevy Fleetline.
    – Last pic: streamlined car is a 1939 Dodge.

    • The ’57 Ford in the third picture is a relatively rare Fairlane model. Many more purchasers opted for the Fairlane 500, exemplified by the white convertible in the first picture.

        • And I think the chrome tipped exhaust exits in front of the rear wheels. It was a thing to do in the day to avoid messing around with tail pipes.

      • Both those Fairlanes had either a 292 or 312 of various outputs (probably a 292 in most cases), all of them “electronically mass balanced” in 1957. I had a two door originally with a 6-banger of meager, dubious output and ended up with a 406 and 4-speed in the end. An early sleeper I guess.

        • My dad had a 57 Fairlane four door concealed piller car just like the one on the third picture except his a black where this one was brown. His car had the 245 HP 312, I later owned a 57 Fairlane 500 with a 245 HP 312 and a three speed OD with 4:11 rears in the early 60’s .

  4. I will add that the NYC photo is on Fifth avenue and 45th street. At my wedding we fooled those folks who would mess with the car. We planted our usual ride, but hid a getaway car to go on the honeymoon. My parents had to take the well plastered car home.

  5. 1st pic, no wonder you saw so many Oldsmobiles without wheel covers. I hope they had along and happy marriage. 2nd, what kind of town has a train running down Main St. The train engine is from the B&O line, and City Tire ( who better shake a leg), looks like St. Marys, Ohio maybe? 3rd, Rock City, Tennessee , “See 7 States”. Been there, they used to put those bumper banners wired on, and would be strewn for miles, and the stickers were impossible to get off. Last, got to be NYC.

    • Hey Howard A I was there in 1974 and my 65 Valiant was pierced by one of those banners that said Ruby Falls on it. I was wondering if anyone remembered those, now I know. OP from Australia

      • Oh yes. One can hardly hear the name Rock City and not think of Ruby Falls – or vice versa. And both so close to each other despite being in different states. And both 4 out of 5 stars on Yelp, even today!

    • The freight trains still travel down the middle of Main Street in LaGrange, Kentucky, a few miles east of Louisville.

    • In the ’70’s…The Reptile Gardens (North Dakota) had their summer staff on the parking lot putting green bumper stickers on every car in site. Thus they got a lot of coverage. I witnessed an incident when one car owner (a chromed-up Caddy) went a bit whacko when he came out and found a sticker on his car. Quite the scene as he demanded the sticker be removed. Like you say, not easily done. Maybe they just handed them out after that. (?) Cheers.

  6. My family would travel from Toronto to Florida in the 1970’S along interstate I75. I remember seeing a lot of billboards to See Rock City in Tennessee.

  7. First picture: “Street running” in St Mary’s West Virginia. That’s a B&O locomotive with the Capitol paint scheme.

    The tracks still run down “Main Street” (which is actually 2nd Street), there are a number of recent videos of trains “street running” in St Marys, which is one of very few places in the US where this is still done on a regular basis.

    • Ashland Virginia still has tracks running Down the middle of the main drag also. I’m not sure it’s more disconcerting to the driver, or the train passenger.

    • Thank you for identifying that car! Many years ago, the first car I owned and drove, was a ’29 Reo master model C semi-sport coupe. I even drove it to high school in 1970. It was very similar to that one with the fixed covered top and landau irons (it had a rumble seat also). I knew instantly that this was not a Reo, but couldn’t see enough details that I recognized to know what it was. Buick was one of my top thoughts however because of the center mounted tail lamp in the spare tire carrier. Most other cars by then, like my Reo, had the tail lamp on the left rear fender.
      Now I wonder what the other early ’30s car is crossing the intersection ahead of the cars waiting for the light to change.

      Also, when I was growing up, when we would go visit my grandparents in Modesto Califunny. the freight trains ran down the middle of several streets in town. It was a sight I got used to seeing, and actually miss today. I haven’t been to Modesto much for several decades now, and don’t know if the trains still run there or not.

      This group of pictures sure stirs up a lot of memories for me. A few years after the Reo, I had a ’52 Chevrolet fast-back sedan (black) very similar to the ’49/’50 (I think it is a ’50) in the third picture. A few years after that I had a ’66 Chevrolet pickup the same color green as the one blocking the train’s path. So three of the four pictures show vehicles very similar to ones I drove a lot so many years ago. Plus the train!

      • Nope, the trains running down the middle of Ninth Street in Modesto stopped about 20 years ago tying up traffic. Remember in American Graffiti if you listen closely you’ll hear the crossing bells in the back-ground of many scenes. Trains were part of the cruising scene on Tenth Street. Not only the tracks on Ninth, but two blocks further over were the Southern Pacific tracks.

        • Kurtruk, You are probably familiar with the M&ET (Modesto and Empire Traction). I don’t know the actual mileage (it was a long time ago), but I remember it being called the most profitable (whatever the miles was) miles of railroad in the US. It was one of the few places where the Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific almost connected. Boxcars by the thousands needed to transfer and had to be run on the M&ET tracks for those few miles. A couple small ranches my grandfather owned and raised peaches on were located on Yosemite Avenue a few miles outside Modesto. The M&ET tracks ran along the other side of Yosemite Avenue so we would see them going by often when we were visiting there.
          Thank you for the “American Graffiti” comments. For me, they are pleasant memories, even though I never actually lived there. I grew up in San Jose, but we spent a lot of time in Modesto. I often say I grew up with one foot in the city, and the other in the farming country. I was driving the Ford 9Ns and pulling harvesting trailers into and out of the orchards when I was six.

          Thank you again David G for the wonderful photos, and the memories they invoke.

          • Wayne,
            The M&ET Co. has been billed as the busiest shortline railroad anywhere. It services the huge Beard Industrial complex.

          • Kurtruk and Wayne, I’m a “Graffiti” fan as well. However, Most of the movie was filmed in San Rafael and the area around Petaluma. Modesto had already begun to lose its small Valley town look by the time the film was made. I spent a lot of time in Modesto, especially in summer, and yes, the peaches from that area are delicious.

  8. Loved those Dodge Lancer “hubcaps” or wheel covers on the 57 Convertible. They were expensive where I lived, plus, as few Dodges as there were in town, if their caps came up missing, you’d get questioned by the police unless they knew you already had them, ha ! The aftermarket ones just didn’t look as good either.

  9. Street running for many railroads in cities was a legacy of the way the places developed. In the first decades of railroads building, having it right through the middle of town was thought to be the way to guarantee continued growth. Of course, when horse and wagon were all that had to be contended with, not masses of automobiles with unpredictable drivers, it was little problem. Later, as both train and automobile traffic increased, many Class 1 railroads had to mount major bypass projects to alleviate the dangerous, congested bottleneck that street running had become.

    • The B&O railroad curved through my hometown of McKeesport, PA until 1970, with 17 separate manned street crossings. When the line was built, it was on the outskirts of what was then a village. By 1900 it cut through the business district of a small city. You can still see buildings with angled walls to fit the right-of-way, including my family’s former Ford / later Chrysler-Plymouth dealership.

  10. The double deck bus in the last photo is a Yellow Coach 720 or 735. These 72 passenger behemoths were nicknamed “Queen Marys” for the enormous size.

  11. Except for the car and clothing styles,some parts of New York still look like that but for how much longer-who knows.
    Some places or railroads still have a policy of “Dummy Boys” with red flags walking in front of a locomotive in people/traffic areas.
    Some railroads think that its also most retarded as it slows a train down considerable.

  12. In the first photo that ’57 Ford is a rare car today compared to the popular ’57 Chevrolet. Two of my friends had that exact convertible beck in the early 60’s. Rust claimed those Fords in just a few years but the Chevys were far less susceptible . 57 Chevrolets are everywhere today, 57 fords are seldom seen.

  13. The BF prefix on the license plate on the just married car says it is from St. Joseph County Indiana, South Bend or surrounding area.

  14. For some remarkable photos of “trains running down Main Street” (and lots more than that!) google the work of O. Winston Link. Spoiler alert: While much of the background to the photos appears “posed” the trains were definitely not. This involved a lot of elaborate setup work and then patiently waiting for “that moment.” No “OK, let’s back up the train and try that again.”

  15. Rockhampton in Queensland, Australia still has trains that run down the main street.

    4th photo – car going from right to left across the intersection must be an out of town car – note all of the dirt amd mud along the bodywork.

  16. My parent’s wedding getaway car in 1956 was Dad’s well used (150,000 mile) 1952 Dodge. Their friends “decorated” it by taping the doors shut all around the perimeter. Don’t know what condition the paint was in, but the tape pulled the paint off when they had to “get away.” Dad was pretty steamed. To this day, if the subject comes up he can still get pretty worked up about it.

    Fast forward to my wedding, 27 years ago Friday. Our getaway car was my 1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk. Paint was not in great shape so I told by best man: These are the rules…you may not put any tape on the paint! The GT has nice stainless fender top strips that run the length of the car, like a 60s Lincoln Continental. So with the chrome grille shell, there was plenty of decorating possible. They respected this, and we had paper flowers down the length of the car, etc. along with tin cans tied behind.

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