An Entertaining & Informative Vintage Automobile Internet Magazine

Late-1950s Los Angeles Expressway Traffic Scene

We apologize once again for a late and short post today due to the lingering effects of power, phone and internet outages here in Vermont caused by a wet and heavy snowstorm that fell earlier in the week.

Today’s feature circa-1958 image contains a mix of late-1930s to late-1950s automobiles and trucks on an unknown section of a freeway in the greater Los Angeles area. The oldest vehicle in the scene is a late-1930s Chevrolet two-door sedan in the slow lane between a pair of early-1950s Ford four-door sedans. The front half of a 1958 Ford, which appears to be the newest car in this view is visible at the bottom of the photo on the far-left of one of two lanes merging with the highway.

View many other expressway, and highway pictures posted earlier her on The Old Motor. Share with us what you find of interest in the enlargeable photograph below courtesy of the UWM Libraries.

25 responses to “Late-1950s Los Angeles Expressway Traffic Scene

  1. Great photo! I think there are 2 Ford 2 door station wagons in the traffic. I guess I should know that Ford would have a 2 door wagon same as GM, but I don’t think I have seen one before, let alone 2 together. Also there is a really well used Ford sedan, unlike most of the cars that are in California. It looks like a home built boat and trailer hooked up to one of the wagons. What a fun project that would be.

    Thanks for the effort to keep these photos coming! I look forward to seeing them every day they are posted.

  2. Research shows, C-M-E, California Motor Express was a union freight outfit out of L.A. and serviced most of California. The truck appears to be a mid ’50’s White Freightliner cabover. I believe, California was one of the 1st states to have doubles.

  3. It is strange to see a twenty-year-old car — the Chevrolet is a ’37, — still out and about back then, especially on the freeway.

    • At about the same time of the picture I had a ’38 Chevy – same style but a different grille. I paid $25 for it – good condition and 47,000 miles in about 16 years. And I’ve been wondering for some time why the 2-door wagons faded away – the mid 60s Chevy Nomads were pretty stylish rigs!

    • Dave, I grew up at that time in the same area and there were still a number of pre-war vehicles on the road, one driven by our next door neighbor (into which my first foray in two-wheeling ended up! Sturdy body!!). Most of them were gone by the early 60’s though, as newer vehicles just got so much more compelling and the Freeways in LA called for a bit more modernism (?).

    • When I was a youngster ( early seventies ) there was a 37 Chevy sedan like this one parked behind a barn on a country road. I would ride my bike there, just to look at it and daydream.

      • I did a lot of that too, John, in the sixties and early seventies. I still remember where a derelict but savable Model A coupe was parked.

  4. Interest group of cars and trucks. 1951 Olds 98 Holiday hardtop, followed closely by a 48 Olds fadtback. Two Ford wagons. A 1955 pulling the boat, and a 1956 Ranch wagon 2 dr. Wearing whitewalls. 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser , and a new 1958 Ford. Also a 1957,8? Ford pickup also sporting white walls.

    • ’48 Oldsmobiles had a circular badge on the front of the hood. The pictured car has the tall shield-shaped badge of ’46 and ’47. The shape of the leading edge of the front fender chrome trim looks like a ’47 but it’s hard to say for sure.

  5. For a ten-to-twelve year old car, the 1946 Cadillac 62 in the foreground still looks in good condition. 1955 and 1956 Ford Ranch Wagons appear, the two door station wagon then in waning popularity as the four door version took over buyer preference. The 1957 Mercury is the Turnpike Cruiser model with the air intakes on the windshield header and retractable rear window. The dark ’46-’48 Oldsmobile club sedan fasback tailgating the ’51 98 Holiday hardtop shows how quickly styling evolved in just four-five years.

  6. An interesting photo to be sure! I often think photographers and editors made some effort to show what they considered modern and beautiful images of the day. I remember growing up in those days (I may have been in the first grade when this one was taken). I remember seeing a lot of late ’30s cars on the roads, and even on the freeways. They began to disappear as daily transportaion in about the early ’60s.
    In San Jose California, where I grew up, We had an across-town freeway that opened up about 1957. It connected to the freeway that was being built from San Jose on up through Oakland, connecting to the Oakland Bay Bridge that had connected the East Bay to San Francisco since the late ’30s. I can remember hearing about the freeway being built, and even the first time I rode upon it only days after its first opening. We were in my dad’s 1941 Chevrolet four door sedan. So I can sort of envision that ’38 (I think?) Chevy in the photo as being us on the freeway.
    Wonderful memories.

    I also remember a few homemade boats similar to the one on the trailer. One could buy plans of how to build them from advertisements in magazines like Mechanics Illustrated. I also remember that most people that started such a project never finished them. Such “boats” often became their children’s plaything in the back yard.
    I do not know for certain whether that boat was a home-made, or purchased model. If home-made, it looks like they were doing a nice job of it.

    Again, David G, thank you for a pleasant look back. Especially in spite of the storm interruptions.

  7. 2 door wagons, Willys in ’46, Ford and Plymouth in ’49, and Chevy in ’55.

    That boat looks brand new with no motor, controls, or fittings, so that 2 dr Ford wagon might be a dealer’s tow rig.

  8. That 54(?) Ford next to the wagon looks like it has seen better days.
    In the opposite lave, see the light 56-7 HI wagon about to go under the overpass? Ahead of it looks to be another wagon…and seems to have 57 Bel Air trim.

  9. My dad had a pale yellow two-door Ford wagon for his business. Somewhere we have a family picture made in front of it. Nice looking car for that time.

  10. My mother had a 2 door 57 Ford wagon. I can remember hearing the news about Sputnik in it. She would use it to take my go-kart down to the Rose Bowl to drive it around in their parking lot. She traded it in on a Turnpike Cruiser. The head of my high school used to blast by me in an Olds fastback similar to that one.

  11. Not a correction, rather an amplification. California never had “expressways”. They were always called freeways
    since no toll was charged, as was the custom in other parts of the nation. Some of the youngsters might not know this bit of trivia. This shot looks like the Santa Ana Freeway on the east side of the city.

  12. Also grew up there and remember this era well. It was also the time frame when many families became “2-car” families which usually meant dad got a clunker (’37 Chev, my dad’s was a ’48 Dodge) and mom was keeping the new car pristine for the time being. In 1958 I was crazy about Model A’s. A ’37 Chev would never have given a second look, besides, it wasn’t a Ford. I remember the guy 5 or 6 doors up had a ’34 Ford coupe in the driveway he was planning on hot rodding and it was too new also. Still crazy about Model A’s 60 years later. Have 2. And now I couldn’t afford a ’34 Ford if my life depended on it. Mis-spent youth. I coulda had a V8

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *