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General Electric Employees Pose for 1950s Mass Transit Photo

As a part of promoting its involvement with mass transit vehicles during the 1950s, this General Electric Company promotional image was taken in the fall of 1955. The picture demonstrates how twenty-five cars and a Suburan could be replaced by the use of one mass transit vehicle which could accommodate all of the twenty-eight drivers and passengers visible in the scene.

It was not intended to, although the photo also serves to illustrate just how small the MG TF sports car on the far-right hand side of the view and other imported compact automobiles of the time size-up in comparison to period domestic vehicles.

Share with us what you find of interest in this image. The General Electric Company photograph is courtesy of miSci.

26 responses to “General Electric Employees Pose for 1950s Mass Transit Photo

  1. I still remember Tom and Ray Magliozzi’s (Car Talk’s Tappet Brothers) comment on those MG’s. Someone who was thinking of buying one called into the show and asked if it was safe. Ray replied, “Safe? Safe? The frame is made of oak!”

    • A falicy…the trouble when hosts put smart alex entertainment ahead of facts.
      A lot of people think sports cars like the Morgan have wood frames, when in fact it’s their body frames, not chassis, made of wood.
      As cat guys we know better, but many who listen to NOT (aka car haters who use…not drive…Hondas probably believe it.

      • Click and Clack were about 50% accurate and 50% just entertainment but always lots of fun. I think my favorite memorable moment was when, in response to the owner of an orphan Peugeot 404 with a particularly vexing issue, one of them responded “you know, I think I’d just take it down to your local Peugeot dealer and….. oh! ….. I’m sorry….”

  2. The Studebaker looks small too, we had one like it when I was 5 or 6, and I thought it was huge, ha ! David, as usual, you’ve made my early morning “computer check” very enjoyable ! Thanks again.

  3. Ford, Chevy, Mercury, Mercury
    Plymouth, Pontiac, Ford, Mercury, MG
    Chevy, Chevy, Olds, Plymouth, Chevy, Chevy
    Chevy, Pontiac, Chevy, Stude, Chevy, Dodge
    Ford, Chrysler, Chevy, Ford

  4. The ’50 Ford in the last row is a station wagon. The two-tone ’51 Mercury might be a Monterey. Notice how small and narrow the Studebaker Champion looks compared to the ’55 Chevys next to it.

  5. …and of course GE was being altruistic in promoting mass transit, not because they made electric motors for trains and other mass transit vehicles. Whatever the motive, a worthwhile attempt that the federal highway system and the auto manufacturers ultimately sabotaged.

    • I think it was GM, about this time, that was buying up electric streetcar lines, scrapping them, the selling the cities from which the bought the car lines diesel buses.
      So this photo – presuming my memory is somewhere near correct – would make sense.

      • Actually, the whole GM Conspiracy theory is just that. Most electric lines were having problems before WWII and the boom in autos and urban sprawl after the war spelled doom for many lines. Further, having the cars on the street just worsened congestion and kept service limited to areas with rails, leaving new population centers without service. Buses, for all their faults, are much more flexible in terms of areas served and cheaper to operate and maintain (including upgrading to newer models). So many of the electric lines were running on outdated lines with aged cars. Many of the Pacific Electric Cars were built in the 1920’s and earlier before they were scrapped in 1956. Also, many communities were NIMBY as well, rejecting plans to put in rails and electric lines nearby. A convoluted, but interesting story, with GM as a villain, but probably for only about 10% of electric train systems.

  6. MG TF has a steel frame not oak. They were manufactured in 1953 and 54 and 55. They had a pushrod 4 cylinder engine of 1.3 or 1.5 L. They came with steel disk wheels or wire wheels. Great little cars. Mine was a 1954 vintage which I loved dearly.

  7. The frame is not made from oak. The bodywork is framed with ash. I believe that I can see a TF 1500 emblem on the sides of the bonnet, making it a 1955 model.

  8. the 28 people would also fit in just four sedans plus the MG, that would be a fairer comparison. but the advantage of having your own car is to go anywhere anytime, mass transit is important, but doesn’t replace a car

  9. This is kind of an unusual post. I’d think there would at least be a picture of the vehicle that would replace these cars, and the link provides 1.6 million photographs from GE.( from what I gathered) Sure fell on deaf ears, as 60 years later, people still want their own space, and are willing to sit for hours in traffic for that luxury.
    At least, I now know when the big Science Convention is. ( Oct. 2-8) Be there AND be square.

  10. Second row back, next to the MG, I like the `51 Mercury Monterey. Easily detected by its vinyl-type material on the roof; part of the ‘Monterey’ pkg.

  11. Judging by the sunglasses and the fact that most of the gents have removed their suit coats, it must have been a hot day. As further evidence, the Studebaker’s left fender vent is open.

  12. GE promoting mass transit.
    GM also promoted mass transit as in city govt. getting rid of streetcars and buying buses.
    But we wont go into just how they did that,will we.

  13. Morgan sports cars had frames made of ash well into the 1970s IIRC. They were similar in styling to the older MG/s (TC/TD/TF) so perhaps this is why some believe the old MGs had wooden frames.

  14. The caption on this post tells us that the photo was taken in the Fall of 1955. In the unlikely event that the group shot was taken on September 30, 1955, 63 years-ago today, then it was taken on the day when James Dean died when he crashed his 550 Porsche Spyder on the way to a race in Salinas, California. Regardless of when the photo was taken, it’s likely that most of the people in the photograph received news of the movie star’s crash and death in his eviscerated race car within weeks of the above photo staged by G.E. Now about the cars in the photo. With the exception of the MG, not a single one of them was worth saving from the crusher when each of them finally expired after serving as a plodding, pedestrian utensil to carry their briefcase-toting G.E. employee owner back-and-forth to work. Even the split window Studebaker looks mouse-like, squatting down with its ear-flap (side vent) open to the breeze between its full-size brethren, a pathetic little car which only one of the die-hard members of the mouseketeers might find pleasing, perhaps as an accoutrement to the rest of their costume.

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