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Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photo Series

Number One-Hundred and Sixty-Five of the Kodachrome Car Photo Series begins this week with an image of a Mercedes-Benz that was an imported automotive icon here in the states in the fifties. The scene was captured in a parking lot at an auto race at a fair in 1956, note the ferris wheel in the background.

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 you find of interest in the photos. You can look back at all the earlier parts of this series here. The images are via This Was America.

Editors note: We will be taking this Saturday off to prepare a car for a upcoming vintage racing meet and will be back again on Monday morning.

  • A.L. Bailey MD and his new his Packard at a Studebaker-Packard dealership in Greenville, Pennsylvania.

  • By gosh Henry, this car is only a six months old and its starting to rust out.

  • Junior brings his new Oldsmobile back home on a visit to see mom and pop.

77 responses to “Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photo Series

  1. Again David great pictures !!

    In the lead photograph, beyond the gull-wing on the right, is a white four-door 1957 PLYMOUTH Belvedere, and on the far right is a white & green four-door 1957 PLYMOUTH Savoy.

        • The Ford is definitely a ’53. In 1954 the side chrome strip ran from the front fender all of the way to the end of the rear fender, and there was no verticle chrome trim in front of the rear wheel opening.

          • Jay, I’ll have to disagree. The 53 Ford has the parking lights below the center span of the grille area. The 54 has the parking lights built into the center span.

      • …had a ’53 Sunliner w/ Fordomatic… actually it was Ford’s 50th anniversary year and the last flathead V8… the yellow ’54 Ford beyond the ’57 Plymouth Belvedere was the 1st overhead valve “Y” V8 job. Both were great cars, mine was a golden anniversary comemrative done after their Indy 500 Pace car, as I recall Sungate Ivory w/ a metallic gold and ivory white leather interior w/ an “Hawaiinan” Tire Bustle (fake) Mounted on the rear decklid, finished off with full wheel covers and skirts, flashy and gorgeous special edition. I was a lucky young man . It cost a lot to be “Kool” then. That was “then”… “now”, not so.

  2. Second photo: 1956 Packard Caribbean convertible, one of 276 produced at Packard’s Conner Avenue plant in Detroit. Standard equipment included a 374 c.i. V-8 with dual 4 Bbl. Rochester carburetors producing 310 h.p., Packard’s electric torsion bar suspension, push-button Twin Ultra-Matic transmission with direct drive lock-up torque converter. For 1956, the Caribbean’s seat cushions were reversible; leather on one side and cloth on the other. Other items most likely present would include a Wonderbar self-tuning radio, electric windows, power seats and electric door locks. Note the twin antennas, too!

    • Recently saw a close up of the seats with those reversible cushions, a better idea than the execution. The seats look extremely clunky, and loose cushions would never fly in this era of safety belts.

      On the other hand, being able to slip into warm(er) cloth seats in the winter, while still having leather in the summer when it rains with the top down, would sure be nice.

      • Begging your pardon, I believe you may have the cloth/leather connundrum reversed: the principle is cloth for coolness in summer (no hot leather) & leather for snugness in winter.
        There was a wonderful lady when I was growing up in Kentucky, who would have cloth slip-covers put over her big Buick’s hot seats in summertime……especially useful for her annual motoring up to Maine & back.

        • For fun, and based on 1956 Caribbean magazine advertisements, I believe the Packard Marketing People would have you visualize an upper-crust picture of using the leather side up driving home all hot and dusty after playing 18 holes and then cloth side up that same Saturday evening taking your wife, in her silk gown, back to the Country Club for the fancy soirée.

  3. David, great pictures again !!

    In the lead photograph, beyond the gull-wing on the right, is a white four-door 1957 PLYMOUTH Belvedere, and on the far right is a white & green four-door 1957 Savoy.

  4. Something funky with the postings? I have to enter my name every time, and it doesn’t register that I made a comment.
    1st pic, pretty big lot behind her, Disneyland? We never had any Gullwings at any gatherings I remember. A Willys pickup behind the Plymouth, and they laughed at Al who, made it big with the 1st known use of a “porta-potty”. 2nd, ol’ Doc Bailey( with high pants and a cigarette) knew what he wanted, even if it was the end of the line for Packard. That’s one sharp car. Nice color combo, twin antennas. What’s the black car behind them? 3rd, looks like Daytona again, not aware of a beach like this to drive on in Cal. Maybe she’s mad because the tires are getting all stained. Keep driving on the beach, and it will rust out. Last, the apple clearly didn’t fall far from the tree. Families were very brand loyal. Even though Olds performance image had begun to slip in ’53, it was still a high class car for a young man ( who just landed that new job, apparently.

      • Thanks, it seemed for a while, there was box that said “remember me” or something, and when you clicked “post comment”, it would come up “to be moderated” or something and you could see the message. Now, nothing.

      • David,

        There was a little glitch early this morning with the site.

        Posted my 1st comment and then went to look at another picture. After leaving my 2nd comment realized both comments had disappeared. I reentered the 1st comment, and when I entered it, the prior two materialized !!


    • No, that could not be Disneyland. They never had a Ferris wheel like that the parking lot is all wrong (porta-potties? No way). Very much a state fair kind of scene and it looks like the racing was not just ovals since the “sporty” set seemed to be attracted to the event.

  5. 1st pic: if this is dated 1956 it must be late in the year and the two Plymouths (a Savoy sedan with optional two-tone trim at the right and a Belvedere 4 dr hardtop way back) are brand new for they are 1957 models. At the left a 1953 Ford Sunliner.
    2nd pic: the last ‘real’ non-Studebaker-based Packard: 1956 Carribean Convertible
    3rd pic: beautiful 1953 Pontiac (I don’t see any rust on it).
    4th pic: Two Oldsmobiles also from 1953.

    • Bear in mind, CA. used those `56 plates until 1963, when the new plates were the opposite color combo–blacks with yellow lettering.

  6. Second picture, according to packardinfo dot com, the Carl E. Filer dealership pictured was built in 1947 and they remained a Studebaker dealership thru Dec. 1968. “It was built at 43 S. Race St. because the well-paid employees of the shops of the Bessemer and Lake Erie railroad worked at the end of S. Race St. and Carl E. Filer Sr. wanted the ‘drive by’ traffic a couple times a day.” The building has survived almost intact and appears to be currently unoccupied.

  7. I love the last photo; Dad taught his son right! Junior must be either earning a good buck at his young age, or parents helped him by that sharp `53 Olds 98 deLuxe hardtop coupe! I see Mom & Dad have their own `53 98 in the background; a 4dr. sedan!

  8. First photo, to the left of the lady appears to be either a 356 speedster or a convertible with an accesory removable hardtop. At first it looked like a 356 Karmann coupe but those did not have the side trim and came after the photo was taken.

  9. That Caribbean photo was taken by my good friend Carl E. Filer, Jr. The gentleman is his father, Carl, Sr. That Caribbean was serial no. 5699-1258, eighteenth-from-the-last Packard convertible. It was sitting in factory inventory in Detroit and was put on a boat to Cleveland, where my friend and his mechanic went to pick it up. It was indeed sold to Dr. A.L. Bailey of Greenville. I think that is the most wonderful photo.

    • Wow, thanks for the information.

      Does anyone know what the car behind Carl Sr. could be? The body looks like a late 30’s / early 40’s coupe, but the headlights are very low. Possibly Cart Jr’s custom?

      • I believe that’s a ’39 or ’40 Studebaker Commander coupe. I think I remember Carl Jr. told me that was a used car they had that he and his wife drove occasionally.

  10. In the first picture there’s a black Porsche 356 Speedster with a hardtop and in the centre a silver four door Ponton Mercedes Benz

  11. In the mid 50’s as kids, we would love to find those late model Packards in parking lots. We would sit on the rear bumper or trunk and they would automatically raise back up to a level position.

    • Packard located a toggle switch under the dash to turn-off the electric torsion bar suspension…that is, of course, if you want to spoil the kids’ fun!

  12. That mercedes 300SL Gull Wing Coupe today is very rare and worth a small fortune. I believe very few were built in the mid 50’s.

  13. California lunacy captured in color. The lady is wearing a heavy winter-worthy jacket, and the car next to her has its top retracted. Winter, or summer? The folks on the coast can’t even tell.

    • Uh, perhaps there is a bit more sanity to this than you perceive. If this is a county fair and if it is in the norther reaches of California, then a long day at the races would warrant a coat like that, depending on the time of year. As for the top down, remember, Cali is the sunshine state and ‘top down’ users will pop the top any time the sun is out. My buddy here in Japan will pop the top on his Saab in all kinds of weather outside of snow and rain. He is a cancer surgeon and not really prone to lunacy. California has a lot going for it, especially the weather. Of course, one of the main points here is that the owner felt safe enough to leave the top down! Gone are the days!

  14. Great photos, again. I really enjoy looking at the whole picture. In photo # 1, to the right of the gull-wing , on the roof of the green Plymouth I see a wooden platform, folding chair legs, a man’s shoe and pant leg. We all know what would happen if we tried that with one of today’s cars. Also in photo # 3 are those curb finders hanging off the front bumper? The bumper that is bent.

      • I guessed it might be something like that. They must be real fans, since the roof rig looks pretty elaborate and more or less permanent.

  15. John & Rose Burnside, old friends now departed, had a similar white 300SL in Palos Verdes about this time. John was in Japan with the military and ordered the car there. Had a similar Roadster, too. I wonder if this is Rose.

    • Frank, I googled the license plate and gullwing and found the car for sale in the February 14th edition of the Los Angeles Times. No price given. But a Mercedes dealer has a gullwing for $4995. A few years later I looked at one for $4800. A new Sprite is $1795 and you got 25,000 Blue Chip Stamps. A found a Rose Burnside still living in Palos Verdes at 111 years of age. That would have made her late 40s, early 50s at the time of the photo. Which seems about right.

  16. The ’56 Caribbean – Filer image has a poignant feel now, knowing it was the end of a great marque. That appears to be a ’39-’40 Studebaker coupe by the side of the building.

    The proud young Olds 88 hardtop was carrying on family tradition, an era when brand loyalty was at peak. The image might be titled: “We’re a two Oldsmobile family now!” The Ninety-Eight sedan was another of Harley Earls’ extended-deck applications that garnered significant sales.

  17. Have I been blackballed from the site? … or have you changed the way you moderate comments?

    I very carefully duplicated a comment that I had posted minutes ago after it didn’t show up on the page as it has done previously. Hopefully, I remain in your good graces and it will eventually get there.

  18. Top picture, the Gullwing Mercedes is indeed a beauty, but the woman standing next to it? Where did she get that jacket? I WANT one of those! Anybody? Any thoughts?

    • Hey John; I think this would be what was called a tanker jacket in WWII and maybe Korea. There are reproductions being sold today,

      • Thank you Jack, I’ll check that out on the web and see what’s out there. Computer’s been down for a couple weeks, so sorry I didn’t reply sooner.

  19. Quote: “3rd, looks like Daytona again, not aware of a beach like this to drive on in Cal.”

    Indeed, you can still drive your car on Pismo Beach in California. I believe the only beach in Cali where you still can!

    • Thanks Kurtruk, if the bumper is bent( I didn’t see it) what on earth could they possibly have run into on the beach?

  20. I had an opportunity to buy a ’63 Gull Wing in the mid-1960’s for $5,000.00. The car was still pristine, a beautiful dark blue color, but for one reason or another I wasn’t able to connect with the actual owner, the son of the owner of one of the estates in what was known as the “chateau country” outside of Wilmington, Delaware. I also needed help from my grandfather as the purchase price was well beyond my means. My grandfather who had lived through WW II and lost many of his immediate relatives to the Nazi genocide was not keen to help his 22 or 23 year-old grandson buy a car built by a company which had been in league with the regime responsible for killing his father, sister, and his beloved niece and so I never really had a chance to own that car. A few years later I did get a ride in it from a girl who had borrowed it from the young man who had ended up with it. I remember distinctly the difficulty in stepping over the deep sill to get into the car and thought that it really wouldn’t have been that practical a vehicle to own. The exhaust system had failed and we roared around a neighborhood with a near-deafening noise in the passenger compartment at speeds which were exhilarating. Undoubtedly, that much abused Gull Wing came to a sad end; later, I heard that the girl who had given me that single ride had come to a tragic end, as well. Even now, though, I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to own that car and the different pathway in life owning it might have led to…..

    • I also could have bought a Gull Wing on Long Island around 1970. It was a totally worn out abused car for sale at a local body shop. I forget the price but with a new family it was never going to happen.

  21. I wrote a long comment about the Gull Wing but when I clicked the post button something odd happened and my comment disappeared. I clicked it again and was told that I had already posted my comment; not sure what happened. Worth taking a closer look at since I see that others who comment here have experienced similar difficulties, as well.

  22. The first photo is probably in the parking lot for the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, CA. They used to hold sports car races at a track around the parking lot. I went to my first sports car race there in 1960. I remember a Corvair and a Valiant being raced there. The fair would not be on at the same time. They no longer have sports car races there, but I believe they still hold the Winternational Drag races along the straight of the old sports car track. I also believe they still use the sports car track for training police how to drive fast.

    I went there once in the spring of 62 and there was an AC Bristol, unpainted, being driven around the parking lot by Carrol Shelby. Of course, it wasn’t an AC Bristol, but the first Cobra. It was unpainted, because they only had one and would paint it different colors for publicity photos to give the impression that there was more than one.

    Before Riverside Raceway was built, The Los Angeles Examiner Grand Prix was held on the track.

  23. The Carl E. Filer Co. was the oldest auto dealership in Greenville when they terminated their relationship with Studebaker in Dec. 1968 (last Studebaker car built in 1966 but they tried to get dealers to hang on for parts and service after that; Studebaker itself got out of that business in 1972). Filer’s opened as a Studebaker dealer in 1926; built the building in the photo in ’47. They also sold Mercedes-Benz (which Studebaker distributed in the States) from ’57-64 or so, and sold Simca and Sunbeam cars into the mid-sixties. I owned a ’64 Daytona Hardtop which they had sold new but after a year realized it was above my pay grade as to needs. It is now in Australia. They sold two new ’56 Golden Hawks, a black ’64 Cruiser sedan with supercharger and disc brakes to their lead mechanic, and a red ’64 Daytona convertible to a fellow who also bought a new ’64 Commander from them. A lot of folks have told me they were a good place to do business.

    • I remember there being a Studebaker parts store on Jericho Tpke in New Hyde Park N.Y. back in the 60’s – possibly early 70’s. I never went in there but I always wondered who owned or operated that store.

      • I recognize that street address you mentioned as one of Studebaker’s Parts Depots, from the factory shop manuals I have. My guess is that Studebaker themselves operated it through 1972.

  24. I am “just guessing” but I also vote for LA County Fairgrounds, as it co – incides with an (almost empty) parking lot & empty Ferris wheel & deciduous trees beginning to turn a the beginning of Fall Season, ideal for a chunk of the parking lot becoming a Sports-car Racing Venue, hence: 2 Mercedes products at the top of their lines and a Porsche Speedster with added-on hard-top!!! This is looking away from the San Gabriel Mountains nearby, as you can also see one of the covered large pavilions in the background. There is every possibility that I have personally worked on any of those 3 German cars in the photo. With the evening arriving, (shadows to the left), the Lady has just been offered : Her Lover’s jacket — to stroll back to the most amazing 165 MPH Ride of Her (& His) lifetime!!! Nothing compares! Former Mercedes- Benz & Checker Salaried Mechanic in Alhambra, L.A. County, nearby., Edwin W.

  25. I believe directly behind the Gull Wing right side door lurks a fifties Buick with a gent with his hands in pocket.

  26. interesting fact, during early ’53 a fire destroyed/interrupted(?) the GM production source for Dual Range Hydramatic Transmissions and for that period, Buick supplied Dynaflow units to Olds and Cadillac. Chevy supplied Powerglide to Pontiac. Don’t remember specifics as to time or numbers but those cars were sold in the summer after Memorial Day as my Uncle took delivery of a new Oldsmobile at that time and that was the Cad/Olds dealer’s explanation to him ()nor was it important to him). I think, elsewhere David has commented “It was at the time, the way it(buying and selling) was done!” brand/dealer loyalty or some such.

  27. Actually, he’s waiting for the Porta Potty, and it’s a ’53 Olds, see David’s foto #3, herewith! David, my comment, below, finally appeared… a day later, aren’t computers an amazing technological advance? Ahhh, software writers / programmers are a wonder. Happened again…error(2nd time, I’m sure, it’s my age)… forgot to post my handle and email address… maybe that “tec” could write in ‘the onetime feature check box ‘, again. Thanx, David.

  28. Theres currently a blue ’53 Olds 88 4 door sedan in Ct that has a 3 speed manual transmission. Standard shift Oldsmobiles are very rare but I understand large number were installed in 1953 due to that fire.

    • It’s a portion of the mesh grille guard that goes all the way across. If you enlarge the picture, you can make out the black frame a bit better.

  29. The Porsche is a Speedster with a hardtop. The Continental kit blocks the view of a Normal or Super. The top is much to low for a Cab which would also have rear windows with a frame separating the rear from front.

    Both types of hardtops are rare not unlike period Vettes.

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