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Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 230

The attractive automobile in the lead image was referred to as the “Standard of the World” by the automaker that produced it and in the period in which it was built it was it was not just a hollow advertising claim. Consider this: The styling of this model was very popular, the engineering and manufacturing quality was first-rate, and only one year later a slightly modified version finished in tenth place in the grueling 24-hours of LeMans race in France.

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 two-door sedan participated in the 1,898-mile Mobil Economy Run from Los Angeles California to Kansas City, Missouri.

  • “Birds of a feather flock together”?

  • Can you determine in what country this photograph was taken?

41 responses to “Four Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 230

  1. 1st pic: a 1949 Cadillac of course!
    2nd pic: Only Ford products here. Obviously the Ford Custom 300 (it’s written on the side) and in the background a bunch of other Fords, Mercury’s and Lincolns. All model year 1959, participating the Mobilgas Economy Run. I guess a basic 6-cylinder Ford could be quite frugal, but I have serious doubts about the Mercs and Lincolns…
    3rd pic: a 1955-56 Ford Thunderbird, seen from the back seat of another Ford of that era.
    4th pic: a 1957 Ford Skyliner (with retractable hardtop) in an unusual monotone color livery, trailing a 1961 Plymouth

    • ’56 ‘Bird. The ’55 has checkered flags above the grille.
      Too bad the ’49 Caddy’s little fins and pointed spinners, copied from the P-38 fighter plane, didn’t stop there. Instead, all of Detroit got into a bigger-is-better war.

      • Thanks. Too many people think the “Dagmars” were designed to suggest women’s breasts, but the “spinners”, like the fins were inspired by the -38. And, the propeller analogy would also be seen on the 49-50 Ford and 50-51 Studebaker as single-engined. The 51 Ford is twin-engined, and the 52 Ford is a tri-motor.

    • In the economy rune weren’t there classes? If so the Mercury and Lincoln entries were likely trying for a “Best in Class” rating to use in promotion.

  2. I’m struck by the clothing of the couple posing with the Caddy in the lead photo. Jeans, flannel, a barn coat. They’ve clearly dressed down for a visit to the country estate.

  3. The second photo shows at least one example of all the `59 FoMoCo offerings for the economy run. I see various Edsels, Fords, Mercurys, nd even a Lincoln. Back then, if a particular car was offered both six and V8 models, an example of each was included, like this 6 cyl. Custom 300 2dr. Locally, a neighbor bought a mobilgas runner `64 Ford Galaxie 500 4dr. hardtop and apparently got a good deal on it.
    Oddly enough, the couple standing with the maroon `49 Cadillac cvt. make it appear the photo was snapped current-day of a restored car, but then I see they both have their pant cuffs rolled up; something NO ONE has done in 60+ years, so this photos was probably when the car was fairly new.

  4. 1st pic, I’d say the son, who did well after coming home from the war, is posing with mom and his new Caddy. I read, the 1959 Mobil Economy run had 47 entries. I’m not sure if the Continental and T-birds were part of that, why bother, people didn’t buy those cars for gas mileage. The ’59 Ford featured had the 223 in line six, and I also read, Rambler kicked everyones butt. A Rambler American was 1st, @ 25 mpg, followed by a Rambler Classic, @ 22.9mpg. The other entries had nothing like it, and after 1959, Rambler was put in a separate class. Ford @ 19, was way down on the list, behind Chevy and Plymouth at about 21mpg. Mmm-hmm, sounds fishy to me. 3rd pic, the plate looks like a late 50’s NY. Pretty crummy road, and are those gas cylinders stacked on the right? Last pic, pretty sure The Philippines. Manuel Conde was a performer there. The retractable must have been quite a site for those folks, and the black ’61 Plymouth looks creepy.

    • I have a Ford 223 in a Barris-built custom, so I’ve read what I can about the engine.
      Somewhere I saw it got 17mph in a ’57 Ford. Not too bad considering the weight and brick-like cd. They were also used in Ford trucks for years.
      Later units are rated at 138 hp. Again not too bad.

    • The plate on the T-bird is from NY, 1958 – 59. For ’59 a small reverse colored validation tab was affixed to the rear plate only. Plates starting with “5A” were issued in Albany County that, beyond the state capital city of Albany, has a fairly large rural area of farms and orchards.

    • My first thought was that the photograph was taken in Havana, but there is no one of any renown living there with the name Conde around that time. So you are right in identifying the country as the Philippines and my congrats go out to you for being the one who was able to do so.

    • Don’t forget that the Economy Runs also rated cars for so-called efficiency, measured in ton miles per gallon. This measure is most relevant to moving goods by rail or motor truck, in that the miles per gallon of the journey is multiplied by the loaded tonnage of the vehicle(s). This handicap gives more respectable numbers for Cadillacs, Lincolns and Imperials, but in terms of automobile usage it is nearly irrelevant since some 80 percent or more of the tonnage comprises the car itself.

      • Same here. I’d say they both look to be 35 to 40. But then, “young exec back home to show off his (fill in the blank)” is a recurring theme here. Or perhaps I should have said “meme,” since this is the interwebs.

  5. 4th photo building with the balcony sure looks a lot like Mamacitas near the Canal Zone.
    Famous with all the servicemen and seamen passing through the Zone is

  6. In the Lead Photo, a ’49 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible (vs the less massive grille of a ’48 that did not wrap around.)

    In Item 1 of 3, a gathering of FoMoCo ’59 models (though no Edsel is apparent) including a Lincoln (eight vertical dividers in the grille vs a Continental that had none) and a T-bird…both seen over the hood of or through the windshield of the Custom 300 up front

    In Item 2 of 3 that black one would be a ’56 T-bird with its Thunderbird emblem vs crossed flags on the ’55. The turquoise lead car is not a T-bird but likely a ’56 Ford Sunliner with its top boot visible behind the rear seat. The ’55 Sunliner had a large chrome “V” (similar to the ’56 Meteor grille bar) that dipped down in that rear seat recess. The ’55 and ’56 T-birds had no such recess on the seatback.

    In Item 3 of 3, the ’57 Skyliner identified by AML appears to be following a black ’61 Plymouth Fury sedan (hash marks visible on the rear quarter side trim vs a Belvedere).

  7. Always seemed humorous they would enter Lincolns in the Mobilgas Economy Run. Did any Lincoln customer really care about its gas mileage at all? If they did care about gas mileage, probably should have been looking at a Ford six cylinder, stick with overdrive.

    That look of pride on the owner’s faces of that ’49 Cadillac Series 62 convertible was completely justified. Cadillac had persistently worked to place their cars as the first choice in luxury cars step by step throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s. At each turn, introducing new convenience features, technical advancements, styling and body configurations; the public recognized their efforts rewarding them with ever-increasing demand and substantial sales.

  8. That first one has got to be a ’49 Caddy. The couple appears to be dressed for hiking but not for driving a Caddy. The guy’s expression sort of shows it. Bottom pic has got to be somewhere like Cuba.

  9. Actually there were two Cadillacs at Le Mans in 1950, entered by Briggs Cunningham.
    A stock looking De Ville Coupe came in 10th and the outlandish “Spider” 11th.
    Look for a photo of the Spider and imagine the comfort difference between the two.
    From the top pic, it would seem that L.L. Bean was doing well in 1949.

  10. Wow! An absolutely gorgeous late 40’s maroon colored fish tail Cadillac convertible in the lead picture. The penultimate car to have back then in my opinion and surprisingly not really that expensive, for with a base sticker price of $3,500 it was actually $150 dollars cheaper than the new Coupe De Ville, and a full $600 less expensive than the rather unattractive Lincoln Cosmopolitan convertible. A Packard Victoria convertible cost even more. No wonder that there was a six month waiting list back then for those cars. I wonder which of those two folks was the lucky owner of that car – the mother or the son? My guess would be the mother, as she definitely had something to smile about!

  11. I was going to say the first pic is the successful young executive back home for a visit with his new Cadillac and his new bride, but it could be his mom instead I guess.

    How well I remember scrubbing those wide whites and the grill cavities on my Dad’s Caddys! “You and your brother clean the grille, your fingers are smaller!”

  12. Oh, for sure number 4 is the Philippines …. looks like buildings built after WWII but similar in style to pre-war houses in Manila…. theres still a lot around that look out of place inbetween modern buildings …

  13. Funny or maybe sad. The cost to re-chrome that Cadillac today would probably cost as much or more than the entire car cost new.
    Love these pictures and quietly wish I could go back to those times.

  14. The 1959 MobilGas Economy Run had competitors in six classes. Class winners were as follows.

    1. Class A – Compact Car: Rambler American Deluxe 6 – 25.2878 mpg
    2. Class B – Low Price Six Cylinder: Chevrolet Biscayne – 22.3788 mpg
    3. Class C – Low Price Eight Cylinder: Plymouth Belvedere – 21.1548 mpg
    4. Class D – Low Medium Price: Dodge Coronet – 21.7454
    5. Class E – Upper Medium Price: Ford Thunderbird – 19.1301
    6. Class F – High Price: Cadillac Sixty-Two – 19.0352

    At the other end of the spectrum, an Oldsmobile Super 88 achieved the low mark of only 16.7708 mpg. Notably, the class winning Chevrolet and Plymouth were driven by women – Mary Hauser and Patricia Jones, respectively, even though women only drove in four of the six classes. While an Edsel does not appear to be in the photo above, a Corsair completed the run, but finished 14th in its class. It was the second, and final, appearance of an Edsel in the run.

    Most of the story of the 1959 MobilGas Economy Run can be read online at the following link. Remove the two instances of the word “dot” and replace them with a period symbol to view the link. See pages 106 – 117.

    books dot google dot com/books?id=c38OAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA309&dq=1959+mobilgas+economy+run&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi8mdW9xu7lAhUJWK0KHRXEA7cQ6AEwAHoECAUQAw#v=onepage&q=1959%20mobilgas%20economy%20run&f=false

    • The Mobilgas Economy Run was in existence from 1936 up until 1968, except during the years of the Second World War. There are a couple of approximately half hour videos on Youtube of that run featuring high school students. The first is from 1954 and is called “Show’em The Road” and the second is from 1956 and is called “On The Run”. I’ve seen each of them at least twice and think that both of them are just fantastic to watch as they portray quite a different American culture than today and have a whole lot of wonderful cars to gaze upon. So check’em out if you care to do so.

    • Unusually poor showing by Chrysler Corporation, they typically cleaned up on these. Perhaps switching from the Hemi to the 413 wedge knocked them out of the high-priced classes. I read a while ago that the drivers for the economy runs were specially trained to have a feather touch on the gas pedal.

  15. First Picture is no puzzle, Cadillac Convertible, year must be 1949; 5424 ccm; 160 HP.
    In 1953 followed by the Eldorado, with stronger motor, 7030 ccm.

  16. Looking more carefully, I see there is an Edsel in the Mobilgas photo…a white Ranger hardtop (apparently missing its wheel cover) seen at the extreme left, just beyond the pale blue Mercury.
    Though ACE ZENEK reports that a Corsair completed the run, finishing 14th, this one does not have the front fender trim of a Corsair model.

  17. my older cousin bought one of the ’49 Cadillac convertibles when I was about nine or so. He’d let me ride with him in it if I resisted touching the dash, fenders, bumpers- just about everything. When I saw the lead image my first thought was, “beautiful”, then I changed to wanting to smudge it up with my still grubby paws. Nice picture.

  18. The 49 Cadillac had a 331 cu in engine. First over head valve V-8 motor (Kettering Engine). The model pictured has the large square turn signals /fog lamps not the small round ones. In 1961 I drove a 4 Door Fleetwood from Los Angeles California to Biloxi Mississippi Getting 20 mpg. The Hubcaps were called “Sombreros” and were VERY heavy.
    I owned three of them. My Favorite was and is the Sedanette (fastback).

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