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Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 214

The gentleman in the lead image demonstrates a part of the “American Dream” in the fifties; the pride of owning a new or late model used car. This man was probably born in the early-1930s and had lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and Korean War days when new cars were not as abundant as they are today. Share with us what you know about his car and the other vehicles in this late-1950s image.

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 of interest in the photos. You can look back on all the earlier parts of this series here. The photos are via This Was Americar.

  • This used sports car (note the dealer plate) was a rarity even when it was a new car. 

  • A finally, we finish up for today with this view of parked cars in an unidentified location. 

53 responses to “Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 214

      • My dad had a 56 just like this one and northeast winters were killers on the body panels that trapped moisture. The rocker panels on these Fords were first to succumb to rust. It was a great car with the 292 Thunderbird engine.

  1. In the 4th photograph [3rd expandable picture], in the lower right corner, is a white over blue 1953 BUICK Special Riviera, with a few extras.

    • The car out on the street appears to be Peacock blue and the one in the foreground looks like Bermuda blue and Colonial white.

      • You’re right to say that they’re not the same blue. The blue of the car in the foreground seems lighter than the other one, so it looks more like the Diamond blue which was the lightest of the three blue colours offered by Ford in 1956.

  2. In the top photo, I’m trying to figure out if the man is on a used-car lot or not. 1-2 cars have front plates. Most are `55-`57 model year cars, with a nice `56 Pontiac Star Chief cvt. behind the guy’s left shoulder and a couple `57 Chevys. The `56 Fairlane the man has his hand on apparently has the 312 Thunderbird V8, based on the red indicator on the front fender.
    I love the second photo, 3 brand-spankin’ new 413 Dodges getting fine-tuned! I can almost hear them cackle as they line up at the lights.

  3. The red cars may be part of the Dodge diagnostic contest– can’t recall the exact name–whereby high-school kids teamed up to diagnose various maladies that had been “planted” in each car then get it running and over the finish line.

    • The red cars are 1962 Dodge Darts. The two men in shirts reading D.A.R.T SOCAL are members of a southern California Dart car club and drag raced their Darts.

      • I believe the photo is the pits of a drag strip, Lions? The Max Wedge Dodge Ramchargers 413s were produced in the closing weeks of the model ’62 production run. Nearly half of those produced were in the running for Stock Eliminator at the Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day Weekend. The first car would have been put together with a 413 engine and an 8-bbl manifold from earlier production or speed equipment. I suppose that is why the fender says XD-413 (eXperimental Dodge 413).

  4. The third photo, of course, shows a 427 Shelby Cobra somewhere in New York state. Ironically, although they are sought-after today, Shelby had a tough time selling them new.

  5. Looking at the picture of the three red 62 Dodges, I at first assumed they were max wedges, but the visible motor of the two clearly shows it has two four barrels in line (instead of a cross ram). It is either a 380-horse 413, or possibly it is a dual quad 383 (343 hp) that I never saw in the flesh in a 62 Dodge, but supposedly was an optional motor that year and was a reasonably successful combination in the lower stock classes throughout the sixties (and later, I think). The exhaust manifolds almost look like max wedge manifolds, but the top branch isn’t curved enough. Although the picture isn’t 100% clear, I believe they are homemade tube headers. I’d guess this drag meet was fairly early in the 62 drag season, before the max wedge was introduced, and before header science evolved four tube, equal length headers pretty quickly during and soon after the 62 season.

  6. I believe that new cars being more abundant on our roads today is due primarily to easy credit. Our parents and grandparents used to scrimp and save and pay cash for a new or used car. Today’s car dealerships will finance anybody that can pass The Mirror Test. Where if a mirror placed under your nose fogs up, you are a good prospect. With 72 and 84 month finance periods many people can qualify.

    • I turned 70 today. I remember either my parents or someone in my immediate family had every single one of the cars pictured in that first picture.

      Jack M., I’m with you. Most Americans would be amazed to learn that, in many countries other than the U.S., you have to pay cash to buy a car (no time payments). …and in some countries in Europe you have to pay cash up front for real estate.

  7. Last pic: Interesting that the 53 Buick Special is the both the oldest and the cleanest car parked next to the curb.

    First pic: The Thunderbird emblem on the front fender of the 56 Ford means that it was powered by either a 292 four barrel or 312 four barrel. It would have been a pretty fast car for its day.

    • It would definitely have been the 292 cubic inches engine and not the larger 312 cui which was only available on the bigger Mercury models that year, while the Ford itself would have to have been a Fairlane 8 as all the other Ford models offered bore smaller size engines. Top speed of that car would have been right around 110 mph.

        • I stand corrected. I didn’t know about that option for that model, only what was officially offered. I was surprised to find out though that the 292 cui wasn’t offered – even as an option -on any of the ’55 Fords, except for some police and doctor’s cars. So that was quite a jump in engine size for what was basically a Ford of identical size.

        • In a brochure of ’56 Ford specs for police use printed in September of ‘55, a 312cu in was available…and the same engine was available in the T-birds. I imagine at some point during the model year the 312 was available on all models

          • You’re probably right. I used to own a ‘55 Merc with a 292cu and knew that same engine was also used on the much smaller ’55 T-Bird, but not on any of the Ford’s. So I assumed that was also true of the new 312cu which was used on the ’56 Merc and apparently the T-Bird; but a couple of readers claim that’s not so, and thus it was likely added as an option on the V8 Ford Fairlane later in the year, but not apparently on any of the other Ford’s, all of which used smaller power engines than even a 292 cu – at least that’s what the official stats claim.

  8. The building in the center background of the fourth photo housed the W. and L. E. Gurley Company, manufacturers of surveying instruments in Troy, NY. The cars in the foreground are parked on Sixth Avenue near its intersection with Fulton Street in that city. The parking lot is still there, as is the building on the left. The building on the right has disappeared, replaced by another parking lot. The Gurley building has an entry in Wikipedia.

  9. In the lead photo, the ’56 Victoria appears to be a 2-door. Seen through its windows may be a ’49 Buick with split windshield, a ’56 Olds, a ’52 Ford (non-wraparound grille bar vs ’53 and ‘54), possibly a pre-’49 GM A-or B-body coupe, a ’56‘Pontiac Chieftain convertible, the ’55 Packard as spotted by AML, likely a ’54 Mercury in white, a pair of ’57 Chevy’s, likely a ‘54Plymouth and a ’55 Chevy…with a matching ’56 Fairlane in the street…a ’57 Bel Air Coupe and a ’53-ish Olds passing

    In Item 1 of 3, among the ’62 Darts a white ’62 Lancer coupe. Across the way ahead of a red and white ’57 Ford, a ’59 Chevy wagon and possibly a ’40 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible Coupe.

    In Item 2 of 3, a ’70 Country Squire and a Shelby

    In Item 3 of 3, a ’61 Dodge Dart Pioneer sedan, a ’63 Grand Prix a ’53 Buick Special Riviera and a ’66 Fairlane 500 or 500/XL Hardtop.
    In the lot, a ’67 Malibu Sport Coupe, a ’67 Pontiac…probably a Bonneville with rocker panel trim and no model insignia on the front fender, a ’65 Nova SS Coupe, a ’62 Mercury Monterey 4-door Hardtop, a ’67 Cutlass, a ’67 Cadillac Calais or DeVille sedan, a ’68 Malibu 4-door sedan, a ’68 Pontiac, possibly a shorter w/b Ventura 4-door hardtop, a ’65 or ’66 Mustang and a ’64 Malibu ss Coupe. In the street a ’62 Olds 88 sedan

  10. Re the “red car” photo, I’m going to hazard a guess that it was taken in the pits at Lion’s Drag Strip in Long Beach, CA, with Signal Hill in the background. The car being pondered appears to belong to Glenn Thomas Dodge, a long-time Dodge outlet in Signal Hill. The foreground vehicle, XD-413, may refer to the 413 ci engine available in early 1960s Darts.

    • I was thinking the same, but some of the cars in the background changed my mind to the drag strip opinion. Red pre-war coupe at right edge of pic; another pre-war coupe behind the white ’59 Chevy wagon.

      The blue conv coupe with side mounts looks like a pre-war Buick.

    • Hi Andy, I thought that too for a minute, but I read, it was Plymouth that sponsored those contests, and the earliest pictures I could find were 1965.

  11. Oh me…. I nearly bought an SC Cobra in 1969 from a guy that was asking 7 grand. Thanks for the reminder David…. I think, ha !

  12. Someone suggested the 1st pic is Kansas City. Mo. 1958 and is a parking lot facility for the courthouse across the street. The Folgers billboard says, “The instant taste is gone”. The 2nd pic, is the 1962 Winternationals, but can’t find any info on who D.A.R.T. was. I believe these were factory sponsored entries. It looks as if their parts truck was a red Dodge, as well. 3rd pic, the plates look like Michigan. I can hear it now, “honey, look what I took in on trade on a Pinto”. Last pic, my folks had a ’62 Mercury just like that, and for being mid-60’s, that Buick looks pretty clean.

  13. In the first photo…
    Anyone have an idea what the cars are to the right (the car’s left) of the Bronze ’57 Chevy wagon? The next car seems to be another 57, the car next to it is the same color, but I can’t see it clearly enough. The furthest car seems to be a ’55 Chevy.

    Note on the street the black ’57 Chevy convertible and another white/blue Ford (another’56?).
    And the bus looks to be electrified.

    • Rob, in addition to what Dave and Charles pointed out, the dip in the Fairlane side trim in 55 was beneath the A-pillar…in ’56 it dipped about a foot farther to the rear and was somewhat thicker. If you can only see a side view of the front fender, the ‘55’s trim has dropped 4-1/2 to 5” below the top of the fender at its trailing edge…in ’56 it has barely dropped 2” at that point (as seen in the photo) and the chrome turn signal housing wraps around on the side.

  14. Don’t know where the first photo was taken but Our Hero appears to have been a Mallboro Man based on the bulge in his shirt pocket.

  15. The final photo is the W. & L. E. Gurley Building on Fulton Street in Troy, New York. It appears the photographer was standing on 6th Avenue.

  16. Photo 3 looks to be one of two Hertz Gold 1965 Shelby S/C (Semi-Competiton) 427 Cobra . 29 S/C spec cars were built. Side pipes, knock-off mags, “paper-clip” roll-bar all says “S/C”-spec. Also looks like a small lip was added to front & rear factory fender flares. Shelby had a hard time moving the MKIII cars, now they are valued in milliion$.
    Could be either CSX 3021 or CSX 3047, now owned by Anthony Boosalis and still has “survivor” gold paint. Steve Sunshine “de-painted” the overpainted blue down to original $49Hertz Gold with razor blades .

    • I just got the scoop from former owner of CSX 3047, Steve Sunshine:
      “That’s my old car with Carter Gette in it.”
      “Carter painted it Blue when you couldn’t give away a Cobra in 1970. Especially Gold. He did not do anything but scuff the gold and use it as the base coat. No primer or strip.”

      I asked Steve about the fender lips on the fender flares:
      “Yes as all S/C’s. Full Comps and Street cars did not. That car was never hit. Dented here and there but never hit.”

      Regarding the current preserved paint:
      “Thanks. It’s 1 of 2 Gold 427 S/C’s and the only one with any original paint on it and unrestored except for mechanicals. I’m listed in the registry as De-Painting the car.”
      “Yeah, me and a box of razor blades”

      Anthony Boosalis is the current owner, has no plans to restore the paint.

      Interesting side note; Carter Gette sold Cobra to Dick Reventlow (Lance Reventlow’s half-brother), who owned the car for five months before selling it back to Gette for the same price.

      Paul Newman drove this Cobra at Lime Rock, I’m looking for that photo…

      • I saw Carter Gette driving that Cobra around town a few times back in the day. Very fast and very loud. He also had a red one and a blue one at various times – maybe that blue one was previously the gold one. I thought it was a horrible color and apparently I was correct. There was a rumor that he also had a Cobra Daytona coupe chained to the floor of his garage. He owned the small Ford dealership in Millbrook NY where I bought my first new car, sold by his brother Bob. Bob had also married my wife and I a few months previous, as he was the village justice.

  17. Not to be a contrarian or anything but the guy in the first picture was probably born before the early thirties. That would have put him in his early twenties in the mid-fifties, and he looks older than that to me. In any event that picture just screams 1950’s; the cars behind him are much more colorful than today’s offerings which seem to be mostly in white, black or gray (silver), and the guy is smoking a cigarette.

  18. The first photo is most definitely Kansas City, and the clue is the trolleybus in the background. It is a Marmon-Herrington, Co. model TC44 “Trolley Coach”, 44 passenger, manufactured in 1947 at their plant in Indianapolis, IN. This particular Trolley Coach is one of 60 bought for and operated by the Kansas City Public Service Company in 1947. It’s nearing the end of its days serving the Paris of the Midwest. On January 4th, 1959, KCPSC sold off their sixty TC44s and shut down Trolley Coach service. Half went on to serve the City Transit Company in Dayton, OH, while the other half went to Bogota, Colombia in South America. One TC44, after retirement from Dayton CTC went to the Ohio Museum of Transportation in Lakewood, OH. Odds are it’s not the one in the picture, but you never can tell. The Kansas City transit color scheme is probably the plainest ever rendered; a pale whitish tan with a single black stripe.

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