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Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Car Photos

Number One-Hundred and Sixty-One of the Kodachrome Car Photo Series begins this week with an image of a holding area near a Ford Motor Company assembly plant. Note the plastic covers on the Thunderbird’s not equipped with hardtops to keep them clean until reaching the dealer. Can anyone identify the location?

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.

  • Mixing alcohol and driving is never a good idea. When your editor was young three local men drinking and driving in a convertible just like this one flipped it over onto a stone wall which resulted in one of them being killed in the crash. 

  • It appears this young women from Louisiana is on a road trip with this Chevrolet wagon.

  • A couple with a mid-sized Plymouth or Dodge hardtop towing a trailer at a stop on their journey where they appear to be visiting friends or relatives.

47 responses to “Four Fun Friday Fifties and Sixties Kodachrome Car Photos

  1. The first photo looks like the automotive version of my mother and her sisters leaving the hair salon in the late ’50’s.

  2. Thanks again, David for Kodachrome Fridays!

    My understanding is that all two-seat Thunderbirds were built at the Rouge in Detroit. 58 and later were built at Wixom, MI. (I’m typing this thinking some two-seaters were built in CA, but the brown dirt in this photo sure isn’t CA).

    It’s odd to see these cars with wheel covers / hub caps installed. They were usually shipped inside the trunk.

    • Mike, no baby birds were built in San Jose/Milpitas. The former Ford plant has been repurposed as The Great Mall. In one of the Foyer entrances, last time I was there, was a display with a passenger car (’57 Ford wagon?) and a two seat Thunderbird, a ’57 I believe. I’m probably screwing this up as it’s been years since I read the story in the CTCI magazine, but I think they had planned to build them there then kept it in the Rouge.

  3. First photo, so that’s what a million dollars looks like.
    Second photo, I used to have trouble with that windshield / dash design, as I would jam my knee upon hurried entry. Also notable is the missing gear selector. perhaps a Hurst is in play.
    Third photo, seems like that version of Chevy was everywhere. I wonder what sales figures for ‘woodie’ wagons was.
    Fourth photo, my sense of it says Plymouth.
    Thanks for the FUN.

    • The Standard Catalog quotes for 1949 that Chevrolet sold 3,349 ‘wood’ station wagons and 2,664 of the new ‘steel’ station wagons, both being available concurrently until, I guess, the last of the wood wagons were sold. For 1950 Chevrolet sold 166,995 wagons. That seems like a high figure and I am wondering it that is a typo because, for 1951 they sold 23,586 and for 1952 12,756. No mention of how many ’50s had the wood look option, assuming it was an option. I think it was later, from 1955, that wagon sales took off. In 1955 total Chevrolet wagon sales were around 160,000.

  4. In the last image, I bet the `62 Plymouth Sport Fury HT has the 305HP 361 V8 under the hood to tow that trailer. All those `55 T-Birds make my eyes water they look so nice! I’ll take the solid black one I see in the background.

  5. The dark stain under the front of the Plymouth in #4 makes me wonder if the car overheated.

    Love the factory lot picture of new T-birds in #1.

  6. 1st pic, apparently, the hardtop was not standard equipment on “double nickel” T-birds, and 3, out of many, chose not to buy it. 2nd pic, oh boy, this going to garner a rift of replies. 1st, the young man’s Impala ( 1960?) is not new. It’s running (with no keys, on those older GM’s, you could do that if it wasn’t locked), column shifter removed for floorshift( not visible) and the steering wheel is worn with at least 10 years of wear. 2nd, this is obviously west of the Mississippi River, as Coors was not allowed east of the river for years. It was considered contraban, and a treat for beer lovers if someone brought some back from Colorado. ( the story line behind Smokey and the Bandit) Now, let me say this about that. While I am against drinking and driving, being a retired truck driver, I saw my share of tragedies around 2:15 am. I come from a state (Wisconsin) that has, for the last several decades, been #1 in drunk driving arrests in the country, some with their 3rd, 4th, or 5th DD charge ( one guy had NINE!) Alcohol is a way of life for many there, and sadly, almost considered an honor, like hash marks on a gun stock. When I was this young man’s age,( 1970’s), it was all about being cool, and cruisin’ in “Buddy’s” GTO, with a “suitcase” of beer, and 4 friends, was what we did,,,and guess what? Nobody got hurt or killed, we didn’t get polluted, and there was a rule, “when the driver takes a swig,,,everybody takes a swig”. It was the drivers responsibility to be on the lookout for cops, which were few and far between then. Trouble was, everybody always knew somebody that did too much, and lost it. I by no means condone that activity, but at the time, it wasn’t as bleak as it was made out to be. Enough of that, next pic, mom always was a rebel. She probably never wanted this picture shown, with bandana and blue jeans, very UN-lady like in the early 50’s, and last, that’s a fancy Plymouth Pop’s had to pull the camper. A ’62 Sport Fury. While he didn’t go for the 413 cross-ram, I’m sure whatever V8 he had, yanked that Trailblazer trailer down the road just fine. Can’t decide if they are coming or going( coolant puddle indicates a hot motor), dad with his bag of tools, probably working on the lights, and smiles indicate they were probably going. Coming home had a lot less fanfare, trust me.

    • Initially the ’55 T-bird was offered without a top. A fabric top was available for $75.00. Hard top and fabric combination top cost $290.00. Full width hubcaps cost $12.75. Most likely the ones with small caps also had the standard 3 speed manual tranny. Less than 10% of the ’55-’57 Birds came with standard shift.

    • My understanding on two-seat T-Bird tops is that either soft or hardtop could be ordered at base price, but if you wanted both tops you had to pay extra. T-Bird authorities can probably confirm or deny.

      • Among the items listed in the brochure for the ’55 Bird under Available Equipment are ‘glass-fibre top’ and ‘convertible fabric top’, which suggests they were not standard when the Bird was introduced in late ’64

  7. 1st pic: you don’t see them often with dog dish hubcaps
    3rd pic: 1949 was the last year of the real woody Chevy wagons, so this one (1950) had painted ‘wood’ on steel body
    4th pic: 1962 Plymouth was NOT a mid-sized car. It’s what their full-size range of cars looked like. It was indeed a lot smaller compared to the 1961 model. It was a commercial mistake, and not until 1965 Plymouth would offer cars big enough to complete with the regular Fords and Chevy’s…

      • And the full-size Dodge was the first Mopar under Elmwood Engel. If the Plymouth Plaza, Belvedere and Fury, and the Dodge Dart and Polara were “plucked chickens” under Virgil Exner (while recovering from a heart attack), the hastily-assembled Dodge Custom 880 (front fender “louvers” from rear fenders of ’61 New Yorker, part of the side spear from Newport, all of the ’62 Chrysler taillight, plus bits and pieces of trim from diverse Dodge parts bins), so the 122″ 880 was both full-sized and economical (for the then-and-again struggling Corporation): it cost only $400k to create, a pittance then; an impossibility today. Not long ago, it cost $40-60M (million…) for a mid-gen Accord facelift!

        Chrysler’s “new” Dodge introduced in “the midst of the model year” (before such action became commonplace) hit the FS buyers’ heart: more “new” 880s were sold in the remaining months of MY ’62 than had “old” (FS, too) Polaras during all of MY ’61. As “they” say, just try to find [a really nice] one today!

    • Probably the Rouge Plant judging by the weather. Seems to me the Rouge diesels were orange over black around that time.

  8. Isn’t that a 57 Ford behind the camper ? It sure looks short ! Possibly the angle I know, but perhaps a shortened one or something I’m not familiar with ? I cannot remember the last time I saw one of these Plymouths. They were so unpopular where I’m from. I only remember one family in our town having one, and it was gone quickly. Naturally, I like ’em, ha ! Now, to the Thunderbirds. Also never saw one with the small hubcaps or blackwalls until all the auctions fever started.

  9. That tower in the rail yard looks familiar. I believe it was still standing in the Norfolk Southern yard near Rouge River (Oakwood Yard, I think, formerly Wabash RR?), twenty years ago when I briefly worked up there. Maybe some railfans here can help us with my foggy memory? LOVE seeing all the TBirds lined up. If I’d ever seen a sight like that in my career, I’d not have forgotten it. I did see shuttle drivers running new Ford Tauruses down the street at about 90 mph to the yard where they were loaded on auto racks, at Torrance Ave, Chicago. They would often get “air” crossing the tracks. They would race down the street from the plant, two wide, a couple dozen at a time, park the cars, load up in vans and head back. Minutes later, here came another pack, like the front stretch at the Brickyard.

    Thanks for all the great pics!

  10. I had a guy like the boy in the Chevy pull up next to me once in a car like that only he’d left the disconnected shift lever on the column after making the Hurst conversion. I can remember him (his name was “Ron”) to this day yelling out the window that he’d race me starting out in 3rd as, with an exaggerated movement, he moved the column shift lever into its down position. I pushed the button of my ’59 Fury into 2nd and roared down the street but the built Chevy stayed up with me and then pulled ahead. It was then I realized that I’d been “had.”

    • From the looks of the road-runner front plate on that ’62 Plymouth, it appears that the car has been in New Mexico.

  11. In the picture of the Chevy convertible, you can see the automatic gear indicator on the steering column. Maybe a conversonion to a standard shift.

  12. Coors can is a flat top, dating from before1967. Look also at the top of the seat and how sun bleached it is. Car has been around a lot, I’d say. I wonder if the car or driver have survived? Also, does anyone ever recognize a person in these kodachromes? I’m still waiting to see someone I know this page…. Thanks agsin David.

  13. David, thank you jetisoning us all back-in-time. The 1962 Plymouth Sport Fury is a beaut! And the TrailBlazer roller home is as well. The front license plate has what looks like a roadrunner bird, which makes me believe the couple’s home state is New Mexico, given the roadrunner is that state’s state bird. The street where the car and trailer is parked looks to be somewhere other than New Mexico. Fancy, schmancy that the trailer has a roof-top air conditioner.

  14. Wonder who bought a new red ’55 Thunderbird with dog-dish hubcaps and blackwall tires?! How odd to see an upmarket car with base model equipment. Since seven red ones are visible in the view, production might have run off groups of same-color cars together to save costs.

    Top-line models like the ’62 Plymouth Sport Fury used to pull travel-trailers were common. Men decided they would a need a vehicle powerful enough for any terrain; also who wanted to travel for hours and days in a stripped-down car lacking comfort and convenience features. Having worked at a Colorado campground in the early 1970’s, most common were upper series , full-sized family sedans with dual exhaust, no cheap six cylinder intermediates!

    • Hey 58L8134,

      Maybe it was a dealer order and the dealer planned to put after-market tires and wheels on it. (Yes, even back in ’55). Just a thought.

  15. In the second photo it looks like an automatic to stick conversion. Is that the “pernindle” still on top of the steering column?

  16. On the Woody, have no idea of location but the sign behind her reads something about a chair lift?

  17. How do I say something about the kid in the T- bird that isn’t too:
    ” preachy? My w.a,g. is: That : 2 boys “staged “this photo , big-time! The boy , “doesn’t belong” to the T- Bird, , the cigarette does not appear to be lit , “posed on his lower lip, the beer can might not even be in its home state (Colorado), nor have anymore beer in it., any more, judging by his eyes . The kid might still be alive — if he didn’t ever inhale. (whoops! , I preached !) Oh, well , a kid, an adult’s car, a quick snapshot, an opportunity to look like he owned it !!! Haven’t you or I done that ? Kids! being kids . P.S. This is not a “baby-bird ” so to speak, – it as a real Thunderbird — ’55 thru ’57 only! I see nothing diminutive about it!!! (just the right, correct, original size!!! The ones that followed (58, etc. , were the ones for the nicknames — like: “Battleship – Galactica”!!! Nice big car, — but not an original (correctly sized) Sport(s) car! — which: By the way, —returned, — in correct proportions, — a tribute to the original design!!! [Edwin W. (A 16 year- old Mechanic to the Thunderbird Club of America, in 1956 , at: Norman’s Automotive , Silverlake, Los Angeles, my Supervisor was the President of the T- Bird Club of America at that time] .

  18. Re: the Trailer & the C hrysler product: I remember seeing two “house trailers in 1956 , ascending the HWY 101 Hill, going North out of Malibu on a sunny, windy day – in So. California : I was gassing up my old Ford (’37 Coupe V-8) so I could see them “battling the wind” and slowwwly ascending the grade !!! (The Trailers not quite as big as the one in your picture !) I got back on the 4- lane road and I passed them , — as they battled the “Santa Ana Wind”, coming down the mountain , (a high cross- wind) and they were really twitching ! What was towing them !!!??? Two 1948 or so Crosley Station Wagons !!! (Somewhere around 36 H.P., — maximum! Do not dismiss “braveness nor tenacity” when it comes to what tows a House Trailer ! Most 6- bangers can “handle a house trailer” One has to be patient and a good Trailer Driver with engines with less horsepower and torque ! Do not dismiss the higher Cubic Inch GMC 6 cylinder Truck Engine, — adaptable to any Chevrolet Automobile — especially if the car is dedicated to Trailer pulling !!! Those who knew this , — ascended the High Sierras or Rockies with these excellent engines, due to their torque & horsepower as required ! as to the Slant- six Chrysler engine : Of the three sizes (Horsepower & torque wise), the biggest one was/is no slouch for trailer hauling , as its Torque Curve appears at a better RPM than the 318 V-8 does — for trailer hauling duty !!! The three speed Automatic also applies to this activity if it includes an Auxiliary transmission cooler & larger radiator core for “slugging it out” on a grade. A few correct modifications make trailer hauling an easier , safer activity, — but I do not recommend cursing all 6 bangers! Cummins Diesel powered 6 Banger truck, — anyone? No V- 8 need apply!!! I have more concern about being a: “Cheap Charlie” about stopping a house trailer of any size —- than I do: Hauling it!!! House Trailers (and what hauls them!) need to “perform ” at their best on back mountain vacation roads — way more — than cruising the Interstate — (unless your idea of a vacation is just interstate cruising !) (Take a Greyhound Bus). Boy Scout Motto: Be prepared ! Edwin W.

      • I also agree that he is sitting in a 59 Impala. The lower dash trim on a 60 dash has a pin dot pattern. The 59 has vertical ribs and faint horizontal lines.
        Norm

  19. That photo of the car with hood up pulling a camping trailer looks all too familiar to me. In our family, it was a 1963 Chevy 6-cylinder, 9-passenger station wagon pulling a Comet camper. We couldn’t go a day without the Chevy overheating, which in turn caused my father’s temper to boil over. I’m pretty sure that’s why I grew up to vacation in hotel rooms instead of trailers.

  20. About the can of Coors when I was a little guy our neighbors took a trip out west,and came back with some Coors beer. But I recall the cans had odd little buttons on top to open it, They laughed at the idea, and had a beer, I’m guessing this was in the late 1960’s . How about the beer can collectors?

    • Hi Perry, I remember the “2 button” can tops. One was a small vent, and the other, bigger to drink out of, opened with your thumb. It eliminated the “pull tab”. Something about it not being pasteurized, I think, that made it illegal east of the river.

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