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Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 206

Today’s lead image contains a tastefully executed mild 1950s “California Custom” convertible. The only visible modifications are the addition of a custom grille, windshield-mounted spotlight, different hubcaps and the plastic center of the hood badge has been omitted. It may have been lowered all around, although it at least appears to have a forward rake. Tell us about any other changes you can see.

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.

  • An OK Used Car lot at a Chevrolet dealer located somewhere in California.

  • A circa-1960 parking lot image containing a fairly high percentage of imported cars for the period.

  • A 1950s street scene identified as having been taken in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

45 responses to “Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 206

  1. In the 3rd picture [2nd expandable photograph], on the far right, is a white over gray 1955 BUICK Roadmaster Sedan 72; five cars to the left of this BUICK is a two-tone 1957 BUICK Riviera, either a Roadmaster or Super.

  2. In the 2nd picture [1st expandable photograph], in the far left foreground, is the tail-end of a white 1964 CHEVROLET Impala.

    • A bit of obscure trivia, the white ’64 Impalas were the only color where the inside band of the side trim was black like shown here. All the other body paint colors had trim with the band being white. My 4-door hardtop is white with the black band like the one pictured. The trim is soft aluminum so it’s hard to find pieces that aren’t dinged like the one pictured.

  3. In the top pic, the young man sure has personalized his prize in typical-of-the-day fashion! Custom grille & mock `57 Plymouth wheel covers probably courtesy of the J.C. Whitney catalog! I’d guess the photo was probably snapped around 1958-60 maybe?
    The third image has some nice machinery in the background behind the peach/white little Met. A `55 Roadmaster sedan, I think I see the tail end of a Hillman Wagon maybe? A `55-56 Opel Rekord coupe, `56 Olds Super 88, and a `59 Rambler Super station wagon next to a `57 Buick.

    • Initially, I thought the little green wagon was a Hillman Husky. But, through 1958, the Husky’s rear fender turned down behind the rear wheel, not tapered like the one in the picture. In ’59, the fender blended into the side panel and went straight back.

    • The wheel covers were the ‘major” change I noticed on the 55 Chev Convert. I have a complete set of OEM 57 Plymouth wheelcovers out in the garage. I acquired them back in the late 60s to put on a 64 Chev II (w-30hp/327) I had at the time. I’ve used them on several other cars since then, but always keep them when the car moves on.

  4. In the 4th photograph [3rd expandable picture], on the far left and in the parking lot, is the front-end of light green PACKARD, either a 1953 or ’54.

  5. Wonder if the 3rd photo with multiple imports is actually taken overseas… at a military base maybe? I can’t pick out anything on the license plates. The yellow building, particularly door and window style, feels very oddly reminiscent to me of military housing buildings I have seen/been in both in Italy and Germany.

      • The yellow (stucco?) building in the 3rd photo also reminded me of some of the German architecture.
        According to the License Plates of the World website (by Michael Kustermann), U.S. Forces In Germany license plates were white letters on green background in 1951, 1953, 1955, 1959, and again in 1966 through 1973.

    • I think the correct location in San Diego is further south as City Chevrolet used to be at 1401 Kettner Boulevard near Waterfront Park. The official address for the Hal B. Grubbs & Co. building in the background was at 820 West A Street, San Diego, but Grubbs occupied a large lot that would have been easy to see from the City used car lot.

  6. 1955 Chevrolet conv. is a cool mild custom. Still has hood bird, but took the insert out of the hood emblem leaving the chrome surround. , J.C. Whitney copy of 1957 Plymouth hubcaps. It also has a California rake to it. A custom trick on 55’s was to take the vertical bars out of the grill, giving it a cleaner look. Sharp Chevy.

    • The advantage to leaving the chrome surround, I would suppose, is that you don’t have to fill the holes that would be left by its removal. I’m thinking it probably has its original paint job. The white paint in the wheel wells it a trick I applied to my Dad’s 62 Dodge convertible. With a brush. Only had to paint what showed. . . .

  7. In Item 1 of 3, a ’55 Ford Customline Tudor V-8, likely a ’63 Chevy II Nova Sport Coupe, a ’63 or later Sting Ray coupe and a ’64 Chevelle Malibu Sport Coupe.

    In Item 2 of 3, on the left a grey ’56 Ford Fairlane Town Sedan with an odd halfway-up-the-A-pillar-mounted mirror and a likely ’54 Chrysler or DeSoto 4-dr sedan. On the right, at the far end a white over yellow ’55 Bel Air 4-dr sedan.

    In Item 3 of 3, parked on the right probably a ’53 Plymouth Cranbrook 4-dr sedan in two-tone green, a ’50 Olds 98 Club Sedan and a ’53 Chevy Bel Air 4-dr sedan. In the street possibly a ’52 Olds Super 88 sedan. The white over bright blue car seen past the striped awning on the right could be a ’54 Cadillac. Pulling in ahead of the black ’50 Ford, the red F-100 could be a ’53.

  8. That OK Chevy dealer is in need of a good lot man to prep the cars..that 55 is in real need and look at those weights on that wheel to get balance

  9. The picture with the Met brings back vague memories of military quarters in Landstuhl (then West Germany) when I was in the second grade. That would explain the (imported) American cars mixed with the oval window Bugs , the Kombi, and the Rekord . The Buicks and the Oldsmobile would be as big as the German trucks of the time.

  10. The ’55 Chevy convertible is sporting white wheel wells (a factory feature of some Buicks of that era) and white paint behind the grille too. Would be even more cool if the fella pictured had been wearing white socks!
    And in the second picture it seems odd that a Corvette fastback coupe isn’t in the front row. Perhaps, along with the Chevy II parked along side, the Corvette is a salesman’s daily driver (hence the windows being rolled down).

  11. The photo with the Metropolitan…green and white license plates?
    Any idea where?

    The used car lot also has a 64-67 Corvette coupe.

    Also notice the Chevy convertible has painted wheel wells, nice touch.
    I wonder if it survives?

    • Yes, I think you’re right about that wagon. At first I thought it was a Triumph 10, a re-badged Standard 10 for the American market (we had one), but it looked too Germanic. I was headed in the right direction…

  12. Duquesne Pilsener (last image) brewed in Latrobe, Pa. Company went belly up in 1972, and the brand brought back to life in 2008. Beverage was once known as the ‘Duke of Pilseners.’ Bet the guy in the red F100 just stocked up.

  13. First, I’d like to thank David, we missed this last week. Can’t add much to the 1st pic, except I’d bet money it has dual exhaust out the back. 2nd pic, Ford looks pretty outdated for only, what, 10 years old? Looks like it has a broken windshield too. You could get a good deal on Fords at Chevy dealers, or vice versa. No doubt traded on a new Chevy, and they got nothing into it. 3rd pic, the plate on the Met seems to match late ’50’s “US Forces in Germany”, and the VW’s and such may substantiate that. Last, those billboards are pretty rude, beer and gasoline, what’s the worst that could happen? There’s a guy doing something to the “Gulf No-Nox ” sign, with a woman looking on.

  14. Judging by the 55 Customline it would appear that Chevy dealer’s used cars were ‘OK”. Not great, just “OK”.

  15. While the used lot may have been in San Diego, David’s caption could have read “anywhere” or even “everywhere” in California.
    And the ubiquitous pennants.
    How many times did a car on such a lot catch my eye (or yours) and absolutely require a closer look?

  16. Sorry to point out the obvious, but no one else has mentioned this. In the first picture, what at first looks like reflections in the paint, appears to be a metal-flake paint job. I notice that what initially looked like reflections on the side of the car, proved to continue on the hood which leads me to believe it’s metal-flake.

    So it appears the young man has gone beyond simple bolt-on accessories, investing in custom paint.

    • Richard, Thanks for you input about the paint. While I was editing this photo which was originally much larger than you see here, the reflections you mention where clearly visible deterioration in the photo.

      There are however reflections of his legs, the driveway, and on the rear quarter panel the red fence that was cropped from the photo.

    • Slight correction. Duquesne Pilsner was know as the
      “Prince” of Pilsners and brewed in the South side of
      Pittsburgh. Spent several evenings at the brewery as
      guest of my friends brother in law who was a foreman.
      Every department had a bar in its lunch room and your glass was never allowed to be empty. They had a huge sign showing the “Prince” that actually showed him drinking. I was an Iron City drinker but when you could get “fresh” Duquesne for free it wasn’t all bad . So I suffered through many hours drinking Duquesne.
      They also advertised as the World’s Most Modern Brewery. It was probably bought and later brewed elsewhere.

  17. Hubcaps and white walls look great on Chevy convertible. Can’t stand this all black crap that seems to be popular now.

  18. I owned a Nash Metropolitan; a joint effort between Nash and British Motor Corp (BMC), designed in the US and built in England with a de-tuned (only one carburetor) 1500 cc BMC ‘B’ series MG engine.

    I bought it from a lady for $325, adjusted the valves (“I thought all little cars were noisy,” the lady told me) put in new seat covers ($15) had it repainted yellow (Earl Scheib $39.95; I did most of the sanding and masking) drove it for over a year and finally sold it for $575 – to a mechanic. It was the best investment I ever made in a car (76% appreciation) but in comparison, the ’55 Chevy V8 Delray coupe that followed it felt like a limousine.

  19. So…

    I went out last night, 501s though not folded up which is a thing nowadays, white T shirt, plaid shirt, Leather Chuck Taylor’s. I was channeling this guy apparently. Some things never go out of style!
    I’m in my 60’s by the way!

  20. On the ’55 Chevy,1st photo,the white structural members visible through the grille stick out like a sore thumb.
    Couldn’t he have painted them black?
    Kind of like in the Rolling Stones song?

  21. In the last photo, going away from the camera is a “Pilot House” Dodge pickup. While the cab is red, the bed is black. During this era the standard color for the bed was black. Color matched to the cab was an extra cost option!

  22. In the second picture , the green ’55 Ford has a Yankee fender mirror on the driver’s side fender. It was an accessory available in hot rod shops. It had to be mounted on the fender, on the door it interfered with the operation of the vent window.

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