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Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs Edition 184

To start this week’s “Kodachrome” feature, this late-1950s lead image contains a scene captured somewhere in the greater New York City metropolitan area. The scene is dominated by left-to-right a Nathan’s “Famous” Frankfurter stand and Deli, a Nathan’s “Frozen Desert” shop, a “Skooter” beer hall serving Knickerbocker on tap, and an assortment of 1950s cars.

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 take look back at all the earlier parts of the Kodachrome Photographs series here. The images are via This Was Americar.

  • This gentleman appears to be posing with a Ford to capture a “new car moment” photo.

  • A newly married couple, a Pontiac, and pastel colors popular at the time.

  • A woman with “cat eye” glasses stands next to Chevrolet compact with a backdrop filled with period automobiles. Where was this photo taken?

49 responses to “Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs Edition 184

  1. David,

    Great pictures again !!

    In the lead photograph, center foreground, is a light blue over white, two-door, 1956 BUICK Super Riviera, with a dent in the rear bumper.


  2. The little red sports car in the first photo seems to be out of place. The style also looks like something later than the American autos in the picture. Is it an early VW Karman Ghia? It almost looks like a late 60’s Datsun based on the body shape?

    Great photos again! Thanks for showing the to us.

    • The little red sports car is an Alfa Romeo Gulietta Spyder. Awesomely nice little cars. I had a ’62, which looked exactly like that one but was black. It was my very first car.

      • Correct. The vent windows indicate that this is a late Giulietta, beginning the transition to the longer-wheelbase Giulia. It still has small taillights (I think), so I’d place it as a 1961-62 model. Whatever, those punks in the old Chevy are getting way too close to its rear bumper.

      • That’s correct, Frank. I had a ’59, and a ’61 Guilietta and wish I had kept one of them. Very well built cars, with massive drum brakes. The dual overhead cam engine was one of best looking motors I have seen in a car of that era.

    • Thanks! I knew you guys would be able to identify that red sports car. An Alpha Romeo had to be tough to find parts for, let alone someone that could work on them if they did get the parts. I was drooling over an Alphetta GT in the mid 70’s. Based on the reviews I have since read, I’m lucky I couldn’t afford it!


      • Hi Lew. I have owned 3 Alfetta’s over the years, the last one a 1982 model, and apart from the rust issues I couldn’t fault them. The first one was used on a 700 mile return trip every weekend from Pretoria to Durban, South Africa, foot flat with 5 people in the car, for 2 years before eventually dropping a valve through a piston due to over revving. I bought a motor from a local scrapyard, dropped it in and drove it like always for another 7 months before trading it in for a Mazda Capella. Since those days I have owned several Spiders, a Giulia, a Giulietta, a 159 and several others and all of them were great cars. The best of all was the 1972 Giulia Super 1300 square back, especially after I dropped a 2000 cc engine into it!

    • I was wondering about the date of the Alfa, because the newest American car looks to be a ’57 Oldsmobile, but it looks like New York had black license plates in 1954, 1957, 1960, and 1961, and then 1964. ( I don’t know about 1960), and it hat the yellow tab in he lower right in 1954 and 1961, so that top photo would have to be some time in 1961, which is consistent with what others have said about the model year of the Alfa.

      • You are correct about the Alfa.
        I had a ‘59 Guilietta Sprint, a hardtop/fastback version of the Spyder. It had the same ‘short’ tail lamp, whereas the next years were slightly longer. They were a kick to drive: great twin-cam 1300 cc engine that would easily pin the 7000 RPM tach, and cool exhaust sound. Had the guys with muscle cars wondering “what the h@## is THAT?

  3. Photo number 3 is the terminal building of Washington National Airport in Washington DC- now known as Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Looks like a yellow cab is at the dropoff pickup.

  4. First photo might have been snapped around 1960-61 I’m guessing. The `56 Super Riviera coupe is just battered enough to be a good 5 or so years old. Further up in front of the blue/White Olds Super 88 sedan is the rear flanks of a `58-`59 Rambler. The second photo is unusual to me, because you don’t see such crisp color images of ‘new’ 1952 Ford Sunliners too often. His is a beauty! In the third image, I’d wager a guess that it was shot in the Chicago area or suburbs, based on the brick bungalow houses in the back ground. Packed in so tight, a grown man cannot span his arms between those houses without touching them both!!

  5. The small car in the 1st pic is an early ’60’s Alfa Giulietta Spider 1600. My brother had a car like that. It was a really neat car. They bring 6 figures today in ANY condition. It’s odd the Olds and the Buick have kind of the paint scheme. 2nd, so what do you think this slick young man did in Cal. ? Car suggests a big shot in the movie industry, not an actor, but not a stand-in either. Glasses might suggest a pilot in the aerospace industry, maybe? 3rd pic, I’m thinking prom, this kid is way too young to have a new ’59 Poncho Bonneville. ( and the ’58 Pontiac behind it, was a Pontiac family, you know) With housing like that, could be “Anywhere, USA”. Last is a ’63 or ’64 Chevy Nova. Those glasses were the style at the time. I remember pictures from my Bar-Mitzvah in the 60’s, and every woman had those glasses on.

  6. The first photo is absolutely Coney Island where Nathan’s is on Surf Ave. at the corner of Stillwell Ave. (just out of sight to the left). Nathan’s has expanded to fill the entire building, and the buildings to the right are all gone now. The Frozen Dessert/Knickerbocker Beer building is now food court seating, and the other buildings have been replaced by smaller one-story food/take out restaurants. In the photo the break between Nathan’s and the Frozen Dessert/Knickerbocker Beer building is a walkway/alley known as Schweikerts Walk. Nathan’s hot dog eating contests used to take place there. Now they are held on the opposite side of the building on Stillwell Ave.

    • I agree, Tom. Looks like an off-duty cop or highway patrolman to me. (Could that be a police intercepter engine in that innocent-looking Ford? (Or is he “Mr. Smith” from “The Matrix”?)

      First Image: I agree that there are too many “tourist” shops pictured for it not to be at Atlantic City or Coney Island more likely, than just a New York neighborhood.

      Third image: From the look of those bungalows, it could be the Chicago suburbs they were wedded in. There’s a million of them built in the Richard Daly-era of the windy city from whence the cars come. My parents still live in one.

      • I agree with the Chicago location. My wife was raised in the Polish community on the south side . All of the homes in that area looked just like the ones pictured. In the 60’s Chicago had a Polish population that was second largest in the world, Warsaw having the largest.

  7. Lead photo: Nathan’s and Knickerbocker = New York. Black license plates with orange letters/numbers and yellow second-year validation tabs in lower right corner = 1961.

  8. In the first photo I love the 3 true hardtops. ’57 Olds, ’56 Buick and the red ’54 Mercury at the curb. I ordered the new, yet to be built 2009 Camaro hardtop from the prototypes being shown around the country by GM at the time. I was so disappointed when they added the “center post/B pillar” to the production Camaro. I was told it was added to get a 5 star rollover rating. Sad IMO.

  9. The woman with the cat eye glasses would look right at home in the 59 Chevy…with its cats eye tail lights and hood “scoops”.

  10. The “married couple” must be keeping it in the family? Check out their noses and eyes. Cousins maybe, or closer? They
    have good taste in cars, though.

  11. The “couple” may be a brother sister; on their way to something festive, perhaps another sister or brother’s wedding. Dress code would indicate Easter but the balloons seem like the decoration for a wedding or perhaps a special school dance. Cat’s eye glasses on the gal with the ’59 Chevy look-alike tail end in the background is really “the cat’s meow.” I was a senior in high school in 1961. Two years earlier, when I was in 10th grade, some of my high school buddies and I went up to New York for a weekend. We ended up at Coney Island. I remember thinking that it was a rough place, too rough for me. I saw the aftermath of a fight between a couple of guys where a baseball bat was the deciding factor in the ruckus; a guy on the ground, his stark white tee-shirt covered with blood, police swarming the corner; I can still conjure up my overall feeling of danger and imminent mayhem lying just around the next corner. I left New York and as a teenager didn’t go back until after I graduated from high school and not to Coney Island. By the way, from 1915 through 1919 Coney Island was the location of a notable board track (called “Sheepshead Bay”) upon which both car and motorcycle races were held.

  12. I attended my first riot right there,right on Surf Ave,but across the street,May Day,1966.Lasted all of 5 minutes because the cops seemed to be on top of things.They must have somehow been able to gauge the mood of the crowd.

    • “Almost” being the key word here. That Pontiac in last week’s OM edition was a “post” sedan. Although the couple is standing in front of where the post would be, the stainless trim on the back window indicates it is a 2-door hardtop.

  13. The Skooter on Surf Ave. in the first photo isn’t a bar, it’s a ride. There were a lot of smaller rides on the street, as Coney Island was a really a collection of independent rides and amusement parks.

  14. The Alfa Romeo has been correctly identified as a Giulietta Spider, probably 1961 or 1962. The taillights are not as small as the short wheel base earlier model, nor as large as the later model. It is not a 1600, however, but rather a 1290cc (1300). I owned a 1961 for several years as my only car, and drove my bride from the church in it in 1967. It was a wonderful car to drive and very reliable.

    • Right, definitely 1300cc and a four-speed, not a five. Alfas of 1960-62 are hard to date because the changes (wheelbase,engine size, transmission, taillights, vent windows) happened at different times. Can anyone point me to a definitive explanation? Owned for 25 years and brought back from near death, my ’65 Giulia Spider has been a wonderful car.

  15. I didn’t remember the US Postal Service having white, red and blue colors for their vehicles as early as 1961-62.
    Does anyone know when this came to be ?

    • According to the Post Office website their motor vehicle paint schemes were as follows:

      1911-1/1913: red, white, and blue
      2/1913-9/1913: vermilion red
      10/1913-1914: green, red, and black
      1915-1920: red, white, and blue
      1921-1954: olive drab
      1954-1978: red, white, and blue
      1979-current: white

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