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Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 202

The lead image of a Chevrolet shows one of the most widely remembered classic examples of late-1950s automobile with some of the largest fins ever produced. This classic summer image taken beside a lake with a daughter, girlfriend or wife captured a pleasant summer moment in time for someone.

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.

  • A 1950s view of downtown Rochester, New York.

  • Two-tone paint jobs where popular in the 1950s and pastel colors were in at the time.

  • 1950s Fords and a young mans go cart powered by what appears to be a small two-stroke engine. Can anyone identify the maker of this little machine? 



46 responses to “Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 202

  1. In the 2nd photograph [1st expandable picture], parked on the right & 4th car back, is a 1949 BUICK Super Convertible.

  2. Great post David. I remember when the 1959 Chevrolets were brand new. They were different than any Chevy from prior years. Downtown Rochester had a blue 49/50 Chevy convertible , sitting next to a 53 Studebaker, then a 49 Dodge, followed by a 1949 Buick Super, 3 hole, convertible. The last photo shows a neat go cart, but the two Fords, only two years apart, the 57 is nice where the 55 has seen a rough life. Like the Van Arkon bumper guards.

    • They may not be Van Auken’s, John, they look a bit clunky for Van Auken’s which we’re rather ‘smart’ when mounted on the front (to protect the grill) of late 40’s Packards and Oldsmobiles although I’ll admit that they were mounted on Fords, as well. The way the outriggers attach to the exterior face of the bumper of the ’55 or ’56 Ford and the amount of space between the bumper and the rear deck give the impression that originally this tubular framework served as some sort of rig which once held an ersatz continental kit now removed.

  3. The first image of the fairly new at the time `59 Impala cvt. sure is nice; reminds me that spring is here, and the brown snowdrifts are gone!
    The image of Rochester, NY must be from around the fourth of July one year; possibly about `59. Love the coral `57 Olds Holiday hardtop facing the camera!
    The third photo, for a minute there I thought was the son of senator Adlai Stevenson who was badly injured in his `55 Chevy Bel Air 4dr. when it was fairly new. Collided with either a big truck or a train somehow.
    The last photo is cool–I had a go-kart much like that one. They are a hoot to go ripping around in! Probably from 1961 or 62 maybe, judging by both the `55 and `57 Fords in the background. They both look like they were passed down to the teens in people’s families about that time.

    • Will, the kid on the go-kart appears to be wearing what were called Flapjack or Snap Jack shoes…sold at Flag Bros. and Thom McAnn, among many others. The tongue was attached with metal guides/tracks and was lifted up to open or clamped down to close. They were suddenly very popular in ’57 and ’58, advertised on rock and roll radio stations in the larger cities…and just as quickly, there time was up.

    • On the street view of Rochester, The newest car I can spot is a 57, The Red/White Dodge on the right. Photo is more than likely pre July 4th 1959 as the flags are 48 star flags and were changed to 49 star flags on July 4th 1959

  4. My summer job in 1959 was in the reconditioning shop of a Chevy Dealer. All the mechanics agreed the ’59, like the convertible here, were the worst constructed cars they had ever seen, We had to recondition the new cars right off the carriers! We even found a few that had been sabotaged with loose parts left hanging in the doors that would rattle when the car was driven, And in my youthful exuberance I even ripped an open back door off a used car identical to the salmon and charcoal ’55 sedan when somebody (NOT ME!) forgot to shut it before I backed it out of the garage… And in picture two: wasn’t great when you could park with the top down and come back later to find the car and its contents intact?

    • Reminds me when my father told the story of when he had a garage in the 1950s about his friend, who had recently purchased a new car, when asked how he liked it said its very good but when I go around a corner I sometimes hear a bang coming from the inside of the front passenger door. My father asked if he would like him to take a look inside that door. His friend said yes. My father removed the interior paneling on the door and what did he see? An empty soft drink bottle inside the door of a new car!

      • Many of the fine UAW members I knew throughout the years would brag about the stuff they left hidden in cars. One story is of a coke bottle with a note inside, “How long did it take you to find this?”

  5. In Item 1 of 3, the Chevy’s hubcaps appear to be a ’50 Chevy’s. Seen over the trunk lid of the very pink ’57 Olds Holiday is a ’55 Plymouth Savoy or Plaza and a ’55 Chevy One-Fifty.
    Going partially by the color combination and partially by the side trim,, the pale yellow and lime green sedan seen over the Old’s hood is probably a ’57 Pontiac
    In the next block seems to be a ’56 B-Body Buick Riviera. About an equal distance, but on the right side, looks like a red and white ’57/’58 Dodge Lancer while a black ’57 Ford Sunliner passes it.

    In Item 2 of 3, the last one remaining is the ’53 Chevy…the drip rail and sill trim suggest a Two-Ten

  6. 1st pic, I believe the ’59 Chevy has Maine plates, and never been, but the background may substantiate that. Clearly, their car before kids, and was most likely traded in on a new Bel Air wagon. 2nd pic, clearly 4th of July, and it’s a hot one. ( seat on Chevy convertible pitched forward) The taxi , (what a ’49 Chevy?) looks a bit tired. 3rd pic, the ’55 Chevy and Pontiac look pretty new, and oddly the same colors, almost. This guy has GOT to be in insurance, and last, too nice to be a home made cart, but I recognize that motor anywhere, it’s a West Bend ( which later became Chrysler) “Power Bee” 6.5 hp. I believe it was Chryslers most popular motor, and powered everything from Chrysler Sno-Runners to ground pounders. Not much could kill them. The Fords are actually pretty fancy, (is that a ’56 Crown Victoria?) but the dirty condition proves it’s a midwest locale. The kart looks pretty fancy too, a lucky kid, and no helmet,,GASP!!! How did we ever survive?

  7. I wonder if that go-kart could be a Packster.
    Brock Yates describes a go-kart when he was kid that him and his friends called a
    “Packster” because the sound the engine made going down the road sounded like:

  8. The go-kart engine might be a McCullough, developed from a chain saw. I’d guess the kart (obviously new–clean wheels, fresh tires) is homemade, as my brother and I designed and built about that time. The ’55 Ford appears to have given its all pulling a trailer, and someone appears to have removed the continental kit. Was that curved paint line below the right taillight original?

    • No, the curved “wind-up” of the lower two-tone is not original. It’s just someone’s way of finishing off the white paint over the wheel opening, which isn’t original either. I’ve seen other 55s painted this way, though.

      • The white painted area you reference on the rear quarter panel looks a little wavy like some bondo or fiberglass repair was made.

  9. In the third photo that ’55 Ford is a Crown Victoria with the “Crown” over the roof. The highly optioned Fairlane with it’s custom paint and Fordomatic transmission (see truck Emblem) , has it’s Continental tire & wheel missing. Also a dented right 1/4 panel makes it look a little beat up

    • Keith, the ’55 Crown Victoria wasn’t merely a highly-optioned Fairlane. Totlly aside from the chrome crown band, the entire roof structure on the Crown Vic was new, with a much slimmer roof profile, a revised C-pillar and less wraparound of the rear window. It became the top used on the ’56 Fairlane hardtops and was also featured on the ’55 Mercury Montclair, but not the Monterey or Custom hardtops.
      The ’55 Fairlane hardtops (and the lesser Mercurys) continued to use the ’52-54 Ford/Mercury hardtop roof since, essentially, the ’55 and ’56 Fords and Mercurys were substantially restyled ’52-‘54s…not new bodies.

  10. In the 2nd photograph [1st expandable picture], parked on the right & 2nd car back is what looks like 1953 STUDEBAKER Commander Regal Starlight Coupé.

  11. The second view labeled Rochester, NY is Seneca Street, Geneva, NY. The Geneva Sample Shoes store on the corner was the clue. The photograph was taken approximately in front of the Smith Opera House looking east. The pillared building plus others on the left side are still extant. Nice look at when downtowns were a vibrant place that drew the community and surrounding population to shop and dine.

    Unlikely any of those ’50’s cars survived the Western New York salted road winters and damp environment, especially that ’53 Studebaker Starlight coupe. Even the pink ’57 Olds succumbed.

    • One optional rear antenna was needed. The other is a matching dummy dealer installed option. It shows the owner of this beauty was more interested in style over function as the optional right side rear view mirror was never considered.

  12. The Kart appears to be from Bug Engineering in SoCal. The seat rail and gas tank location appears to be similar as are the wheels. Maybe 1959? The number kit has to be homemade. Another great “Stump the band” Friday photo.

    • Hi Phillip, that’s what that little square box is behind the clutch. This was the Power Bee 580, and had a 5 port induction with the carb on the other side, and was really a potent little power plant, putting out 6.5 hp out of 5.8 ci. While researching the motor, I found someone mounted 2 of these motors on a gokart, one each for both back wheels.

  13. Wow, what a rush! I bought a used ’59 Impala ragtop, white with a white top and a palomino interior in ’62, one year after I graduated from high school. Loved that car, never had a bit of trouble with it, and I was pretty popular around parade time. Had lots of gorgeous chicks sit on the boot and wave to the crowds. Still kicking myself for trading it in.

  14. The 1959 Chevy is not quite as pristine as I originally thought. After a closer look I see a small dent under the right rear bumper and possibly some rust behind the bumper and the body seam doesn’t seem to be aligned. And the front fender spear isn’t exactly in line with the door trim.
    Maybe Steve is right. Quality wasn’t ‘job one’.

  15. Go cart: They used to race go karts in a parking lot next to the Rose Bowl. If you google “rose bowl” and “go kart,” you come up with a fine photo. There’s a nice Porsche and a Buick, maybe a 53. My dad took me there once and there was a kart with a two cylinder opposed engine out of a surplus drone. They couldn’t get it started and my dad asked if he could try something? Whatever he did, it fired right up.

    Later I had my own “kart,” built by a local lawn mower repair shop. My mom would take me there in her 57 Ford wagon. I wore a football helmet!

  16. That young fellow sitting in the “fun cart” could of been me back then.
    I’ll wager it is not a McCulluch engine , I’ll go with Howards description of a West Bend engine.

    Does anyone remember wearing those “snap Jack” shoes the young driver has on?
    I remember mine, it was the ” in thing” to wear
    in the mid 50’s.
    Remembering the latches seemed to break often.

    • Sorry, George, I hadn’t seen your comment when I posted mine above. But yeah, they were the thing to wear for about two years. Then, just as quickly, smooth-toed “Italian-style” black loafers with an asymmetrical seam leading back from the toe were in…and you wouldn’t dare be seen in Snap Jacks.

    • Those were “Silver Streaks” on the Pontiac. And in Virginia we called those shoes “Bombers”. Now that I’m old and creaky I could use a pair.

  17. In the downtown Geneva, NY photo (labeled Rochester) , down on the left, second car after the black & white looks like a white convertible – possibly a Porsche. They still park diagonally on parts of that street today. You can view on Google maps, go to 76 Seneca St, Geneva, NY, go to street view and look East.

  18. I remember the first time I saw a ’59 Chevy from behind stop. When the tail lights, I was actually startled. They were so huge!

  19. If the dual exhausts on the ’57 Ford are stock, then this is probably a 4-bbl 312. Could be a 4-bbl 292, but not sure. First Ford to outsell Chevy in 30 years or so. Seat-belts were a hardly opted option!

  20. In Picture 2 (first of the small photos), in back and between the ’49 Chevy and ’57 Olds is a 1956 Bel Air 4-door sedan. I had a ’56 Bel Air 2-door hardtop in the same colours – light yellow and gold . I have a magazine ad showing the ’56 Sport Sedan (actually a 4-door hardtop) in that scheme, but the car in this photo is the only time I have EVER seen these colours besides on my car

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