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Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs Vol. 181

Today’s lead image of a National Auto Top Shop gives the impression that this operation may have been a part of a larger chain. Tell us all about the automobiles, the showroom, and any experiences you have had with similar trim shops back in time.

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 Americar.

  • This picture appears to have captured a new car moment with the new owner posed on the far-left?

  • This Big Three styling department has finished two clay models and is working on a number of others.

  • A photo of a new housing development in Spring Valley, California in the late-1960s to early-1970s period. 

48 responses to “Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs Vol. 181

  1. In the 4th picture, parked in the driveway on the left, is a white 1962 OLDSMOBILE F-85 or Cutlass convertible, but it just may be a coupé.

      • One hates to argue with an original owner, but the 1962 Oldsmobile brochure includes a picture s of both a “Cutlass” two-door coupe and convertible. The text indicates both were also available in plainer F-85 trim.

  2. In the California housing develop picture it looks like 2 AMC products. l think I recognize a red and white Rambler American station wagon behind the VW and a nice, very clean AMC Rebel 2 door sedan parked front and center. I’m surprised to find Ramblers so well represented way out on the west coast. The white Ford pick up is the only Ford I can see. 3 GM products appear, a white Buick or Olds compact, a green Camaro and a black Buick Riviera. All the auto’s appear very well kept except maybe the landscapers pick up.

  3. The Styling Studio is Ford Motor Company. This photo was used in their commemorative book Ford at Fifty, celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 1953. If you get a chance check out the 1954 movie “Woman’s World”. It’s set at a car company, Gifford Motors, (GifFORD, get it?) and we see scenes of Ford test tracks, assembly plants, and these styling studios. And, the movie is pretty entertaining as well.

    • Mike,

      THIRD PICTURE: From the look of the body side panels on some of the models, and the tail lights on the model at the front of the picture, I would have narrowed it down to Mercury.

      TOP PICTURE: My experience with an after-market convertible shop: I had a 96 Caddy with a silver vinyl padded top. It appeared to be one of those holdovers of the factory or dealer-installed, but after-market tops, that Cadillac did in their post-pimp-mobile days.

      After 10 years, it began to look the worse for wear but surprisingly, after trolling the local auto-street in my city, I was able to find a convertible top man who could re-do the top and he even was able to get the last bolt of the same material from the supplier. It cost almost $1,000, and in spite of being skeptical about it, I went ahead with the replacement. It looked great, made the car look like new, and restored my faith in after-market shops like this.

  4. 1st pic, black plate on the ’58 Bonneville being worked on must be California.( that “high pants” guy surely must be the boss) We didn’t have many convertibles in Milwaukee, this business would have gone bust, no doubt. Most body shops did this work. I don’t think the Ford is new, possibly a repaint. Aviator glasses, I bet this guy was a war pilot. Car designers, where are you today?? I think there are many talented designers today, they just aren’t designing cars, and last, another “Pressboard Estates”. My old man had a red American wagon just like that. The 1st car is a ’67 AMC Rebel SST. Can’t see if it has the V8 badge, but most did, maybe even a 4 speed. They were nice cars. The Ford pickup looks like a ’65.

  5. Great photos as always. The opening photo has a 1958 Pontiac with Connie kit, in for a new top. To the far right is a 1962 Plymouth Station Wagon. Very clean ’46 Ford coupe. Styling models look like they are from Ford. Thanks. John

    Rambler American wagon
    VW fastback coupe
    Ford F150 pickup
    ’68 Camaro
    ’67 Buick Riviera
    ’68 AMC Rebel SST
    Schwinn Stingray

  7. In the 3rd photo, this appears to be a Chrysler Corporation styling studio. At the top left, the model looks like the early 50s Chrysler. The 2 models in the middle and left look similar to the 50s Plymouth. The roofline on the model at top left looks like the late 50s Chrysler Corporation cars.

  8. I think a 1947 Ford Super Deluxe for the maroon coupe.
    There has been a spate recently of beat up front license plates that don’t match their cars.
    Is that Palomar Mountain as seen from Spring Valley?
    I don’t recall a National Top Shop chain.

  9. The styling studio is Ford, the photo appears in a book issued for the 50th anniversary in 1953. The model in the lower right looks most like the ’52-’53 Lincoln with the large sculpted headlight surrounds and front bumper. What is most unusual is the bumper is projected forward under the prominent central grille, hood front and plateau. The top of the solid red model look most like the Lincoln X-100 show car.

    Plywood Estates in the making in the later ’60’s with appropriate newer cars, the very vision of the American Dream.

    Looks as if the ’46 Ford coupe owner and friends are proud of scoring a new car early in those new car-starved immediate postwar years. The dealer made sure to get this sweet new Ford the buyer had to spring for fog lights, trim rings and the deluxe radio with roof-mounted antenna . But, no whitewall tires, which might not have yet been available.

    Convertible top shops were once common in the Northeast, those coated canvas and vinyl didn’t last only a few years of weather exposure year around.

  10. Everyone correctly identified the car in the first photo, as a 58 Bonneville, but I always thought that back end would have looked more at home on an Oldsmobile. Conversely, the rear on a 58 Olds, looks more like a Pontiac to me. Google these two and see if you don’t agree.

    I wonder if there was some pranking going on in the styling studio.

  11. Valley with a view:

    If you look closely at the enlarged Spring Valley (last) picture, just to the left of the street light near the back center of the street, you can see a guard tower for the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, a U.S. state prison located in the then unincorporated southern San Diego County, that included Spring Valley, California,

  12. In the first photo, at the far right, under the eave, is a sign with a blue logo. The top line is obscured, but pretty sure it says: We Install Auto glass. Below is the logo :L-O-F. This stands for Libbey Owens Ford. And it has nothing to do with FoMoCo. This brand was most often installed (OEM) in GM cars as well as supplied the aftermarket.

  13. The National Top Shop in the first photo was located at 623 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I found a couple photos of this store front in old editions of the Boca Raton News from 1958. The business appears to have had some additional offices or space around the corner at 623-25 NE 6th Avenue. They used a Model T Ford with advertisements on the sides to promote the company, it was featured in some advertisements, and it was sometimes parked in front of the store. One of the ads for the firm stated the following.

    “Largest operation of this type in the South. Vinyl Tops $50 up – Plastic Seat Covers $19.95 up – Fibre Seat Covers $17.50 up. All glass replacement.”

    The business was owed by William L. Maine (1918 – 1980) and his wife Bertie. William was a WWII Navy veteran. Their son William L. “Bill” Maine, III also worked there, and he later had his own auto trim shop. In 1959 Bill was an apprentice at the National Top Shop. Bill died at the age of 77 on June 16, 2018.

    The license plate on the white 1958 Pontiac appears to be a Florida plate from 1959. A Pontiac Bonneville Convertible was the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car in 1958, and all 1958 Pontiacs had the gas filler tube concealed under the left-hand backup light. The English Vauxhall was also being sold by Pontiac dealers for the first time in 1958.

  14. Not sure if it was true in the late ’40s, but in the ’50s and beyond in California the plate stayed with the car, not the owner. A used plate seems to indicate a used car repaint rather than a new car.

  15. Likely a Mexican license plate on the VW in the last photo. Perhaps a Mexican landscape crew building a garden. That VW dates the photo to probably the early ’70s.

  16. Last photo, Diversion Drive in the foreground, Cristobal Drive is the cross street in the background. The tower in the background is likely at Monte Vista High School.

  17. Underground electrical in fourth photo? Busy neighborhood. Any speculation about what the boy in the street is up to?

  18. What a surprise! I think the top photo is on North Federal Highway a/k/a U.S. Highway 1 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. National is not a chain but has been a local operation which shut down only recently and I think is being redeveloped. Others are welcome to fact check this, but I do believe that is the place! Definitely a ’58 Pontiac, ’59 Cadillac, and that wagon in the background is a 62? Dodge or Plymouth? Note the white front on the Coke machine – rare – and seen more often in the South so the cooling unit doesn’t have to work quite as hard to keep the drinks ice cold.

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