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Parking Lot Series: The Charlotte Coliseum

The Charlotte Coliseum is located at 2700 East Independence Blvd. in Charlotte, NC. In 1955 when it officially opened the structure was covered by the largest unsupported steel dome in the world. Up until when later renovations were undertaken the Coliseum could accommodate anywhere between ten-to-fourteen thousand visitor seats. The building has survived and has been re-named the Bojangles’ Coliseum.

This circa-1959 image was taken from the parking lot behind the Coliseum and East Independence Blvd. is visible on either side behind building. The view, for the most part, contains 1950s domestic automobiles and at least one import.

Share with us what you find of interest in this Huge M. Morton photograph courtesy of the East Carolina University Collections.

View over seventy-five other images in the Parking Lot Series here.

28 responses to “Parking Lot Series: The Charlotte Coliseum

  1. The M-B sure looks out of place in a sea of US cars. Not even a VW. By the late 50’s, you think you’d see at least one in a lot this size.

  2. In Photo 2, behind the ’59 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan is a ’57 Buick Super 4-door Riviera (Supers have chrome headlight bezel vs Roadmaster’s painted bezel) with another ’57, a dark Special or, more likely, Century beyond it with its apparent shorter B-body sedan roof but 4th porthole mounted farther forward on the fender vs a 3-porthole Special.

    Beyond the mid-‘50s Mercedes 190 is probably a ’58 Chrysler Saratoga…the only ’58 Chrysler with chrome side trim extending above the front wheel.

    • To clarify, that extended side trim was only on the ’58 Saratoga DartLine, a mid-year model, with its textured metal insert on the front fender and door, out of sight in the photo. Otherwise, the Chrysler in the photo could be a non-2-tone ’57 Saratoga (the 2-tone had extra side trim near the top of the fin, which isn’t apparent in the photo.) The problem is, it’s hard to see whether the photo shows a ‘57’s taller taillight or a ‘58’s shorter taillight.

    • Hi AML, good eye! Either a Ranger or a Pacer… both were the 58 Edsel’s only 4-door sedans and had the chrome-bordered cove on the rear fender… the Ranger lacking a Pacer’s front fender chrome strip. But it’s a bit tough to count the number of letters in that cove and we can’t see whether it has the Pacer’s chrome strip on the rocker panel.
      Surprisingly, the “grey” car just beyond it has a C-pillar very much like a ’58 Corsair or Citation (or a Mercury Montclair/Monterey), but I’m not sure its rear window wraps around enough. Maybe more likely it’s a ’59 Ford, like the one up front.

  3. In the second photo, on the left front is a black ’58 Ford.
    A couple of rows in back of that is a White ’59 GM flat top.
    What make is it? Olds? Buick? Cadillac? P From this photo, it almost looks like it has small (’60-61?) Cadillac fins.
    What do you think?

    Again, we see here that the cars usually seen in “real life” were middle of the road sedans, and not the nicer
    /sportier/rarer models that have survived and we see today.

  4. In comparison to today, the cars were big and the coliseums, apparently, were pretty small. What a good glimpse of life as it was–simple, but exuberant. If the pics were in color, we’d see another comparison–today’s cars are blah and boring, but back in the day they reflected joy and optimism and just plain old fun! I wonder what my Subaru would look like in three tone Rose and Black with a White top?

    • John, I think it’s a ’59 Buick Electra (Electra due to the very extended rear deck)…can’t tell if it’s a 225, but I can make out the Buick’s angled headlight brow.

  5. In Photo 1 it’s interesting to compare the slim roof of the black ’58 Ford Fairlane 500 Town Sedan (in its second year) with the bulbous roof of the new-for-’58 Chevy in the comparable Bel Air sedan model. Harley Earl just didn’t seem to embrace the appeal of slim designs. Behind that Chevy there’s a two-year-older black ’56 Ford Fairlane Victoria with a far slimmer roof than that Chevy.

  6. The one import mentioned appears to be the Benz 190 in the second row, 3 cars down. It’s dwarfed by a `57 Chrysler 4dr. that appears twice its size. Directly in front of us, a `53 Olds 98 sedan on the left, and a (then new) `59 Ford Fairlane sedan.

    • Looks like the fender skirts on the Olds are the same color as the top instead of matching the main body color, a sort of poor man’s customization. Makes one wonder if the owner found someone whose car had the colors reversed and swapped skirts. Speaking of reverse, one also wonders why, after 6 years of ownership, s/ he still can’t park it very well. The back bumper is way over the line.

      • The ’53 Olds 98 displays its extended deck that was one of Harley Earl’s signature configurations developed in the 1950’s. Whereas the 98 had shared the C-Body with Buick Super and Roadmaster plus Cadillac, beginning with the 1952 98, it became an extended deck OB body.

        The general low and medium-priced car selection, the lack of luxury cars looks like most parking lots that live in memory,

  7. Second row from right, three cars in, is a period Mercedes-Benz 180 or 190 (possibly a D for diesel) four-cylinder: short hood, turn signals high on sides of fenders. The contemporary 220S and SE had six cylinders, a longer hood, and different turn signals.

    • John, if you mean the white car that’s parked somewhat out of line with the rest, that’s not a Lark, it’s a ’53-’55 Studebaker, likely a Champion. It’s over 20” longer than a Lark.

  8. LAST PHOTO: Wonder which came first, the stadium or the bowling alley (upper right). Bet the owner was thrilled with the old real estate adage: Location, location, location. “Come over a bowl a few after the game.”

  9. “The view, for the most part, contains 1950s domestic automobiles and at least one import.” I thought maybe it would be another dreaded Renault Dauphine sighting.

  10. Haven’t been looking much lately, but the VW challenge proved too much…left side of the coliseum, next to the 55-56 Ford wagon.

  11. I see two convertibles and two luxury cars in the entire group.

    1956 Chevrolet convertible on the left below the old pickup (is it a 1940’s International?)
    1958 Ford convertible towards the right side near the light post.
    1952-53 Cadillac a few cars past the Ford convertible.
    1953 Packard in the center, near the Coliseum just below and to the left of the delivery van.

    This is typical of what you would find in “fly-over country” in those days; cars belonging to working class families who couldn’t (or didn’t choose to) afford cars built for show. Cadillacs, Lincolns, Imperials were considered ostentatious — even if you could afford it you wouldn’t dare drive a Cadillac. Growing up in the southeast I don’t remember anyone I knew ever having any of the three luxury makes. Convertibles were for immature young people.

  12. In the second picture, towards the end of the first row there’s a black top Willys Jeepster, next to the Studebaker that’s parked slightly out of line.

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