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Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 205

“One an a two an a”… the lead photo today shows Lawrence Welk and his Orchestra and singers on the studio grounds where the weekly show was produced when it was not out on location or on tour. The convertible show car was supplied by Welk’s sponsor for the weekly “_ _ _ _ _ Dance Party” TV show named after the automaker. Tell us all about this finned open car with a factory continental kit as was seen in the commercials on the show in 1957.

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 the parking lot at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park tourist attraction located in the city in Florida it is named after.

  • San Francisco, Chinatown in the late-1960s.

  • Summer fun for a couple of boating parties at the lake.

61 responses to “Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 205

  1. In the 2md picture [1st expandable photograph], parked on the left, looks like a light yellow 1951 STUDEBAKER Champion Starlight Coupé.

  2. When I was a kid in the 60s I asked my Dad what Florida was good for.
    His reply: “Cheapo roadside attractions for rubes and suckers,thats about it,son”

    • Hahaha it’s still for “rubes and suckers”, except the attractions are far from cheap anymore! (from a long-time Florida resident)

  3. Yes, Dodge Division of Chrysler sponsored the Lawrence Welk show in those years! That is a beautiful brand-new `57 Custom Royal cvt. he’s driving! He got one o personally use every year from Dodge. It appears the parking lot scene at the Wiki-Wachee tourist trap in FL. was also shot in `57. Newest cars I see are the green `57 Mercury & tan `57 Buick parked on the L.side a few cars down. Last photo–if anything can haul that boat, a `61 300G can, with the dual-quad 413 V8!

    • I remember watching a while back a thirty minute television show celebrating opening of Pacific Ocean Park (POP) in Santa Monica which occurred in the summer of 1958 that was sponsored entirely by Dodge and was hosted by Lawrence Welk and his group of primarily female singers. It was good entertainment as I recall.

  4. Thanks a lot, David, I forgot all about Lawrence Welk until just now. My grandparents adored LW on Friday nights. That’s when me and my brother would go downstairs to look at grandpa’s old spark plugs, and such. I never even knew Dodge was the sponsor. One thing for sure, Dodge threw everything they had into Larrys personalized car, with his name on the door, what, a Royal Custom Lancer?
    Weeki Wachee on the Gulf side, been there several times,,,as a kid, as kid, and “rain or shine”, duh, it’s mostly underwater. Look at the parking lot, all tourists cars. It was a major “trap” for people headed to Ft. Myers or Tampa.
    3rd pic,,,” Rrrrice-a-roni, the San Francisco treat, ding,ding” and the last, a sharp ’61 or ’62 Chrysler 300, looking pretty nice still for being several years old, the Merc behind it is a ’66. The wood boat is pretty sharp too, which may explain the nice Chrysler. We had a fiberglass runabout like the 2nd boat for years. The plate on the Chrysler looks like a Canadian plate and the background and lake shore would substantiate that.

    • Oh, one more thing, in the 2nd pic, the semi in the Sinclair station looks like an integral sleeper cabover, possibly a White 3000 or an IH Emeryville.

      • LW was on SATURDAY, not on Friday, night even when on ABC.

        And Geritol never was marketed for use as Marvel Mystery Oil.

        • True on the LW fact, not sure about Geritol! And you can actually still, to this day, see LW re-runs on some cable networks at the same time it originally ran on Saturday nights.

    • The best match that I could find for the Chysler 300 license plate is for North Dakota, but the year is hard to pin down because of the plate being in a shadow and it is out of focus.

    • Dodge sponsored Welk. DeSoto sponsored Groucho Mark’s show, You Bet Your Life. Ad had a catchy phrase “It’s delightful, it’s delovely, it’s DeSoto”.

  5. Lawrence Welk’s car is a Dodge Custom Royal Lancer. And I note the custom “Lawrence Welk” badging on the driver’s door.

    I wonder if the prop trolley car in the background wasn’t used for “Clang, Clang, Clang went the Trolley.”

    • Dave, just “Custom Royal”. The word, “Lancer” was Dodge-speak for pillarless hardtop. Like DeVille was for Cadillac; Newport for Chrysler; Catalina for Pontiac, etc.

      • That emblem near the gas filler door looks like a “lancer” that would be normally used only on hardtops.

    • Dave, that’s not a “prop” trolley car, it’s a real cable car on the California Street line. It’s distinguished from the other line’s cable cars by the open sections that allow space for the cable gripper to stand on either end of the car. Since the California line has no turnaround turntable platforms at either end of the line, they simply reverse direction.

      • Uh, Pat, I think your confusing his comment about the Prop trolley behind the car in the first photo, with the real cable car in the 3rd pic of Chinatown.

        • Guys. Not trolley cars. Cable cars. Trolley cars have an arm that connects to overhead electricity cables. Cable cars hook on to an underground cable.

  6. In the Lead Photo, apart from the clear “1957” on the plate, the full-length side trim settles this as a ’57 Custom Royal vs a ’58 where the side trim ended just aft of the rear wheel followed by the “Custom Royal” script emblem.

    In Item 1 of 3, a pair of ’55s on the left: a B-body Buick Riviera and a Ford Customline Fordor. Past the Starlight Coupe ID’d by AML, a ’55 Country Sedan, possibly a ’55 Chevy barely showing its taillight, then an obvious ’55 Bel Air, a ’57 Mercury and a ’57 B-body Buick.

    In Item 2 of 3, a ’65 Dodge Coronet taxi, a ’63-1/2 Ford Galaxie 500 or 500/XL Sports Hardtop and a likely ’67 Mustang convertible on Grant Ave at California St. with Old St Mary’s Cathedral just out of sight to the right.

    In Item 3 of 4 a ’61 Chrysler 300 G and a ’66 Mercury Park Lane 4-door Hardtop (I understand hardtops were not available as a Breezeway in ’65 or ‘66).

  7. The last picture is a great study on how a company’s products can move from angles, fins and curves to a completely different design philosophy of slab sides, strong horizontal lines and sharp corners.

  8. 1st pic: ‘57 Dodge Custom Royal convertible. Strange that the continental spare is red while the rest of the car is monotone white… looks okay, though… matches the interior.
    2nd pic: Strange lime green ‘49 or ‘50 Ford in the background… is that a factory colour?
    Last pic: a 1961 Chrysler 300 !!

    • The ’50 Ford Crestliner came in a color like that, two-toned with a black roof and black side panel insert. I think it was called Sportsman Green.

    • Luk, it wasn’t really a lime green…but it does look that way in the photo. It was called Sportsman Green and was more like a pale avocado shade.

      • The late, great Tom McCahill, in his test of the ’51 Ford Crestliner, referred to that color as ‘Worm Green’. Typical Tom.

        • Haha, that’s funny! I’d like to read some of McCahills road tests but here in Belgium I do not find them easilly. Popular Mechanics is second to unknown up here… I Discovered few articles on the internet, though…

          • My favorite McCahill line, when he was testing a late 1940’s Buick, was “It goes around a corner like a rhinoceros on a wet clay bank.”

  9. In Item 2 of 3 there’s a taillight of a ’66 Mercury wagon showing though the rear window of the Mustang and maybe a ’61 Chevy and likely a ’65 Falcon wagon seen through the taxi’s window…and ahead of possibly a 1st-gen red Corvair sedan.

    • That Mustang can only be a ’67 or ’68; I can only speculate it’s a ’67 judging by the age of the cars around it The taillights in the photo are on so it is hard to whether they are really concave or not! But the real giveaway is the edge of the trunk lid. The edge of the trunk lid came down lower than the edge of the tops of the taillights on the coupes from ’67’s and 8’s. The ’69 model that edge was flat all the way across.

  10. Lawrence in a “Dotch”! Enjoyed the Dodge commercials as much as the show. Still catch the syndicated reruns, but alas, no Dodges commercials.

    • Bill, do a YouTube search for “Bombastic Dodge ad”. It’s a commercial to announce the new 1959. It is, to me, the best car ad ever.

      • LW did not learn to speak English until he was 21, being raised in a Germanaphone community by parents from Alsace-Lorraine who moved to the Ukraine and then to Strasberg ND (shades of Alsace-Lorraine!) Self made man who treated his musicians fairly.

  11. Great photos again. Lawrence Welk wanted to get into television, but needed to find a sponsor. His manager /agent was friends with a large Dodge dealer in the Los Angeles area. He had the dealer along with other Dodge dealers in the area to sponsor the Lawrence Welk Show. . The program became a success.. Welk was so grateful, to get Dodge as his sponsor, , that he would only drive and promote a Dodge.

  12. “Dodge” was the first sponser of Lawrence Welk and he remained loyal to “Dodge” for many years. Each year he received a new vehicle too. Many original “Welk” stars are in that photo too such as the Lennon sisters and two of the finest male singers, names elude me. Very nice. THANK YOU.

    • “The Lawrence Welk Show – starring Lawrence Welk” aired every Saturday eve on ABC network stations and affiliates from 1954 until the early 70s, when it became the first sustaining network show to be syndicated nationwide – after being dropped unceremoniously by ABC. It soon aired on 250+ stations and started a trend in TV programming that’s dominated to this very day.

      Dodge was followed as a Welk sponsor by Serutan (“Nature” spelled backwards, almost!) and then followed by Geritol, both products of the J.B. Williams Co.

      I remember seeing a Dodge convertible like the one pictured, actually driven onto the stage in front of the orchestra on one the shows in that era. My father arranged in c.1972 my appearance as a young jazz trombonist to sit in with the LW Show at the Hollywood Palladium, designed to ultimately have me join the band. Didn’t work out, but I met some wonderful people, including many in the pic. From left is trumpeter Dick Cathcart (married to Cathy Lennon) and singer Jimmy Roberts. The Lennons are all there, and so is bass singer Larry Hooper, saxist/singer Dick Dale, and ex-Mickey Mouse Club member and dancing star Bobby Burgess, on the far right.

      The Welk show, like the beautifully-styled cars it advertised, represented the great American cultural race to the Top, not the sad slide to the bottom we’ve experienced over the last 50 years.

  13. Seeing Welk’s name on the door reminded me of an Uncle’s sister, whose first name was Victoria. My dad was a Ford dealer and she bought all her cars from him. She also always had a “Victoria” name plate installed on the driver’s door.

  14. Circa 1960 I was <5, and I recall my parents watching Lawrence Welk and that it was sponsored by Dodge. They even had Dodge-centric words to an old song, turning it into a jingle.

  15. I’ll add my observation on the first (LW) pic. Those 4 young ladies that you see behind the car are the Lovely Lennon Sisters, singers on this show. I’m sorry I don’t know the various production years or models for them.

    Behind 3 of the girls, in the white shirt is Dick Dale, a long-time singer on this show. The rest appear to be non-featured band members.

    My guess is that they were all called out of rehearsals to appear in the photo. Anyone else recognize the others?

    • The secondhand from the left might be Jimmy Roberts, a long time singer…and mom’s favorite…she said he looked like a guy she dated before she met dad.

  16. In the Weeki Wachee photo that is one yellow Studebaker! I wonder if the color rendition is true.

    It is odd that the ’55 Fords on either side of he Stude are both the same solid blue color.

    The black fastback on the right is a 1952 Chevrolet Fleetline Deluxe 2-door, the last year for the Fleetine. In the post war years the Fleetline was one of Chevy’s most popular models, but it rapidly lost favor after 1950. The 4-door version, never a big seller, was dropped after 1951 and very few 2-door Fleetlines were sold in 1952.

  17. We first visited Weeki Wachi when it looked just like that. Probably in my Dad’s ’54 Chevy. Years later I was privileged to be allowed to dive the spring, with tanks of course. The women who perform are true athletes having to hold their breath 3 minutes or more while performing their routines. One mile south, Sinclair built a filling station shaped like the Sinclair Dino. The 3 service bays were formed by it’s ‘legs.’ It’s still there as Harold’s Auto Repair. It’s one of the places Chris’ Dad told him about. There’s a few of the old roadside attractions left, but the Mouse gobbled most of them up when it devoured Orlando. There were several places along US 19 advertising “See Baby Rattlers” and when you went in they had rattles for babies. Several Stuckey’s were on 19 too. Weeki Wachi is now a state park and does a nice business with its Mermaid shows and sightseeing trips along the WW river. Gators anyone?

  18. Was the 57 Dodge the one that offered FUEL INJECTION that did not work ?
    If i remember Dodge had to Bite The Bullet and replace all with a carb.

  19. The San Francisco Chinatown photo was taken on Grant Avenue just before the intersection with California Street (looking Northwest). The buildings all appear to still be there, but much of the signage has either been updated or removed. The overall effect with the changes is a much more generic Chinatown than shown in the 1960s photo. The cable cars still run up and down California Street.

  20. I met Lawrence Welk in the Local 47 musicians’ union parking lot. I was waiting while my dad picked up a residual check. I was listening to Miles Davis’ “Oleo” on my transistor while admiring a beautiful little NSU Prinz parked alongside my dad’s ’61 Comet wagon (dad played bass).
    Someone walked up and said, “I betcha never saw a car like that before, son.” He had kind of a funny accent, and he was wearing those short plaid pants golfers used to wear (my wife says they’re called “Plus Fours”).
    I told him, oh yes I have, and proceeded to tell him all about the car and its four speed all-synchro gearbox and two cylinder air cooled 600cc engine. There was an NSU dealer where I waited for a bus at Olympic and La Brea, and I collected and memorized car brochures, so yeah, I knew all about it. He said, you sure do, and acted impressed. I immediately took a liking to my new loud-golf-clothes-wearing friend.
    He said, the show gave him a brand new Dodge every year, but he liked to drive this NSU for fun. He asked who I was listening to, and I told him, Miles Davis. He said “I like jazz too; Goodman and Brubeck; cool stuff.” I said “yeah, cool stuff.” He said “some of the boys would rather play that cool stuff, but that’s now what pays the bills.”
    By the time I realized who I was talking to, he had hopped in his Prinz and took off, no doubt to the links.
    By the way, I’ve seen a picture of him in his Dodge convertible showing off a neat little 45 RPM under-dash phonograph.

    • Casey-
      Great story! Welk seemed like a pretty accessible guy to me, too, as a 20 year old… I remember that AFofM Local 47 parking lot at Hollywood & VIne. And, like your dad, I used to wait in line inside to collect checks, too, years later. They sold the building last year.

      Toasting the memory of the Champagne ah-Music Makers — and the “wunnerful” Welk musical family-umm…

      **(What is an NSU?)

      • Hi Rex, a NSU was a small car made in Germany. I figured he drove one because of his native German homeland,,then I read, he was born in Nordaokta,,so the accent was fake? hmpf,,

          • Lawrence Welk was a first-generation American. His parents, Ludwig and Christiana Welk, were ethnic Germans that immigrated to America in 1892 from Odessa, Russian Empire. He was born in the German-speaking community of Strasburg, North Dakota in 1903. He did not learn to speak English until he was twenty-one, which would explain the accent (not fake).

        • NSU was the shortened name for NSU Motorenwerke AG. Besides automobiles, they also manufactured motorcycles and pedal cycles. NSU was an abbreviation of Neckarsulm, the city in Germany where NSU was located. Volkswagen bought NSU in 1969 and then merged them with Auto Union to form Audi.

  21. The dodge convertible Continental cover probably matched the convertible top cover, Boot and interior
    seat covers. I had a 59 Buick 225 convertible and the
    boot and interior matched but had a white top. Don’t know how I managed to buy it in 1960. I was only 24 years old . Of course I was single. That helped!.

  22. If the 57 Dodge conv in the top picture isn’t a D500 (and the continental kit is blocking our view of the right side of the trunk lid), it’s powered by a 325 poly, single four barrel, rated 260 horsepower – same rating as the 56 D500 single four barrel 315 hemi. My father’s 56 D500 kept blowing head gaskets (milling the heads didn’t solve the problem), so he replaced the 315 hemi with a 57 325 poly. If there was any difference in performance, he couldn’t tell it. 325 poly was still in the car when he traded it in the spring of 1960.

  23. In the last photo, the red convertible with the white top seems to be a ’65 or ’66 Mercury. My mother drove a 66 Monterey 4-door pilarless hardtop when I was little (Wimbeldon white with blue interior). Good times!

  24. I stand corrected, she’s a 4-door pilarless hardtop, white on red. (Three guesses who is overdue for his eye exam?) Respects to all…

  25. It is not Bobby Burgess on the far right in the Lawrence Welk/’57 Dodge picture. That is Larry Dean who was band vocalist at the time.

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