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Parking Lot Series: El Toro Air Station Irvine, California

Today’s featured image taken on November 10, 1948, contains a view of a traffic circle and parking area at the El Toro Air Station located near Irvine, California, forty miles southeast of Los Angeles. The Marine Corps facility was constructed in 1942 and in operation between the years of 1943 to ’99.

The photo by Robert Geivet taken during an open house at the Airport contains vehicles dating from the early-1930s to ’48. Share with us what you find of interest in the enlargeable photograph (below) courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

43 responses to “Parking Lot Series: El Toro Air Station Irvine, California

  1. In front of the truck with trailer, on the left, is a 1942 PACKARD Clipper Custom Touring Sedan. to the left of this ’42 PACKARD is a post-war STUDEBAKER Starlightop Coupé.

    • AML there appears to be another Clipper on the extreme right side, next to the Buick sedan you spotted…with a Lincoln Zephyr just ahead of the Buick.

      • Pat,

        Thanks, was wondering what that car was.

        By the way, The car you identified as a FRAZER had me stumped. The rear quarter certainly looks like a KAISER/FRAZER automobile. The front bumper appears to be a mono-roll which would indicate a KAISER, but the little shown of the front grille doesn’t look like either to me.

        AML

  2. A WWII-era Cushman Airborne scooter rests on its kick stand near the front of the photo. These were lightweight, stripped scooters built for use by paratroopers to carry them on planes and drop them on the front lines. However, most were used on air bases, as we see pictured here.

  3. It’s striking how modern the Studebaker near the circle seems, even compared with the same-year Pontiac Streamliner to its right.

    Also, what’s the little convertible to the far right with the unusually large taillights?

    • Striking to me is how modern the 49 Ford (far left, with wide whitewalls) looks compared to everything else, including, especially, a 48 Ford. The Studebaker was modern, too, but its styling was unconventional (not necessarily a bad thing) and remained so, as no one followed the direction it went. The 49 Ford, on the other hand, was the prototypical fifties car in its basic dimensions and proportions. (Let me note that I own two Studebakers and zero Fords.)

      I believe the convertible you are referring to is a Chrysler.

      • Interestingly, evidence has been presented by Tim Howley that the 49 Ford was originally one of the Studebaker design proposals that lost out to the Virgil Exner design proposal that became the production Studebaker. Supposedly, it was polished up just a bit and given to Ford by a former Studebaker designer who had been let go by Studebaker, with secret contributions from other Studebaker designers who were still with the company.

      • Curtis, I think another thing that made the ’49 Fords look so modern was that the hood wasn’t much higher than the fenders…only the Studebaker was similar and something adopted by Kaiser and Packard in ’51, Nash in ’52, but GM and Chrysler not until ’54 and ’55 and Cadillac not till ’57.

        • The Ford is a ’49, identified by the exposed chrome-plated gas filler cap on the left rear fender. In later years the cap was hidden behind a hinged body-color door. The ’49 Ford was introduced in June 1948.

        • Not quite Morgan as the Dodge/DeSoto/ Plymouth next to the pick-up appears to have white walls as well as the Ford. I loved them back in the day and love them today. I wish they would bring back full whites for modern cars.

      • Rover in the UK followed Studebaker with the 1950-on 75. They even bought two ’47 Studebakers and mounted the body of one on a prototype 75 chassis! By the time the Rover P4 series ran out in 1964, era little of the Studebaker look remained,

    • Dave, I think the convertible may be a ’46-48 Desoto…the taillights may appear larger than is apparent up close because the housing stand proud of the rear fender and the lens is also visible from the side.

      • I agree with your DeSoto identification. During those years Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto and Chrysler all had center brake lights but each had a distinctive shape. The enlarged image shows this vehicle has the DeSoto style brake light (and tail lights, too).

    • It’s Chrysler product. Not only were the tail lamps ahead of their time so was the rear center brake lamp on the trunk lid.

  4. Interesting how modern the Studebaker looked as compared to the Post War Pontiacs and other GM offerings of the time. Opposite the Studebaker, is a new Willys all sterl station wagon. Good looking two-toned Packard Clipper in the background. Dave, great photos as always. Thanks, John

  5. The semi in left center with driver sitting on the fender waiting for passengers is the famous “Cattle Car”.
    I had many rides in such at USMC infantry training Camp Geiger NC in 1964.
    They must have been using it to shuttle visitors to the air show — stand up and hang on tight to the strap!

    • Hi Jim, I can’t find anything on the “cattle car”, but the truck pulling it is a late 40’s IH KB8 with, what I assume, the driver sitting on the fender. Another transport of some kind, a panel wagon going away from us. Dodge pickup, and the new looking Willys is a 2wd station wagon. Area sure looks sterile, in true military fashion. Couple WAC’s by the flag and the hose, is that a gas pump?

      • Believe that panel truck to be a mid to late 40’s Chevy, 1 ton. I had a very similar 1-ton set up as a school bus in New Mexico, with the same wood plank (so they appear) seats running the length of the truck, both sides. Had the rear doors on mine, though, and all windows like a Suburban. In fact mine was titled as a Suburban.

    • It’s a Willys, but not a woody. The ’48-’49 ‘Jeep’ station wagon had an all steel body, including the ersatz wood trim. They promoted it as able to be washed and polished like any steel bodied car. It was still a Willys product, but they referred to it in brochures as ‘Jeep’. Arguably the first all steel bodied US station wagon.

      • Real wood (oak strips) on cargo floor and faux wood (painted graining, not plastic decal-ing) on doors, and if not
        first postwar all-steel station wagon (Crosley fans may have something to add), Brooks Stevens’s design is one that’s still seen in many Jeep models.

        And it should be seen again — if FCA ever actually builds a new Jeep Grand Wagoneer. FCA told dealers one was coming in 2018. And 2019. And 2020. And now 2022. Will it be the first SUV luxury woody wagon or will Buick beat it with an Enclave Estate? Or will Ford build a Focus Active “Country Squire” before?

        Find a photo and fire up Photoshop.

        Will some non-links assist? Hope so.

        jeepcollection/portfolio/1947-willys-station-wagon/

        flickrphotos/carphotosbyrichard/3227773426/

        roadandtrack/new-cars/future-cars/a26534974/wagoneer

        caranddriver/ford/focus-active

  6. Not a “furrin” car in sight, but ironically , U.S. military personnel would soon lay the groundwork for foreign makes in this country, bringing home MGs, Volkswagens, and many other brands.

    • Although I agree with you Frank, the Marines were not really known for introducing furrin cars to the US as they were mainly stationed in the Pacific at this time….no real car manufacturers of interest. But the NATO groups, led by the USAF folks, probably started the trend after their stays in Europe. Interesting times.

  7. That Willys Woody Wagon caught my attention right away, as did that brand new ’49 Ford. I noticed that it is the only car present there that has whitewall tires on it. I guess it was the beginning of a trend that really caught on in the 1950’s but lost favor afterwards. Not sure why, but they sure look great on cars from that time period.

  8. The black coupe facing the 1930-1931 Ford looks like a 1936 REO. The light colored coupe next to the Model A looks like a 1934 Dodge,

  9. I have read and re-read the comments, but do not seem to find any comments on the long nosed coupe next to the Model A sedan? It seems to have the look of one of the Classics, yet has solid wheels, but not the usual fender mounted spares? I always learn so much from this site, and helps me recall the good times I had with my Granddad!

  10. the guy to the right of the circle looks like he is talking on a cellphone. But he seems at least to be paying attention to traffic.

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