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1961 – Historical Automotive Images from Richmond, Virginia

This set of human interest images were taken in 1961 by photographers working for the Richmond “Times-Dispatch.” The lead image taken in August of 1961 contains a street-side market where “farmers and merchants in the market area of 17th and East Franklin streets sold produce and goods curbside, paying a fee of 50 cents a day for a spot to park.”

Please share with us what you find of interest in the enlargeable photographs and captions courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

  • “In June 1961, cars – most of them belong to students – were parked in the lot at Douglass Freeman High School in Henrico County.”

  • “In December 1961, Mrs. Derwood Johnson, the only female member of the Tri-City Go-Kart Club based in Hanover County, finished first in a club race – though she gave the trophy to the runner-up because she and her husband had sponsored the competition. Still, she had eight trophies, her husband had nine, and their kids added 10 more to the family tally, though they had been racing for only about six months.”

31 responses to “1961 – Historical Automotive Images from Richmond, Virginia

    • The design craziness of those days! I wonder if one ordered his/her Imperial without the fake spare wheel on the trunk, which detractors called ‘the toilet seat’… Would the inner structure of the trunk look the same?… I assume it didn’t… And all that for the sake of difference… Even a contemporary Cadillac would be simpler to construct, I guess…

  1. The 1st pic, has an odd mix of what appears to be rich and poor. The woman with the Imperial, I believe a 1960 Crown with the stainless steel roof, getting special treatment, while others look like barely scraping by, judging by the old Chevy’s in front, selling goods from the back. I think that’s a balloon, and not an aliens head. Is that someone in a prison uniform in the truck? 2nd pic, ah yes, the HS parking lot. Always a hodge podge of this and that, mostly hand me downs. What are the chances the TR3 and the Bugeye owners know each other and are watching the clock? Last, they let her win, or the photo was staged. ( guy with cigarette appears to be laughing) She has her foot on the brake, at the finish line? I think those are 2 cycle chainsaw motors, horizontal like that.

  2. In the Lead Photo I see a ’57 or ’58 Imperial 4-door Southampton, a ’49-ish Chevy with maybe a lock on the gas filler lid and a ’54 Chevy Bel Air Townsman.

    In Item 1 of 2, I see a ’55 Buick Super or Roadmaster (all but the Special had 4 portholes), a ’55 Ford Customline Tudor, a ’53 Pontiac Chieftain, possibly a ’60 or ’61 Falcon, a ’54-’56 GM B-body (Olds, non-senior Buick) convertible.

    Front row, a Triumph TR3, an AH Sprite, a ’46-’48 Chevy Fleetline Aerosedan, a ’52 Plymouth, a ’56 Chevy V8 2-door sedan, a late-‘40s-early-‘50s Jeep Station Wagon, a ’52-’54 Ford, probably a ’61 Falcon, a ’59 Rambler and another ’52-’54 Ford and maybe another ’56 Chevy

  3. In the second photo of the HS parking lot, about the newest car I see is a `59 Rambler Sedan a number of cars down the line. The black `40’s fastback looks like it might be a `42 or `46 Chevy.

    • Will, I think that Chevy is a ’47 or ’48 when they moved the side trim from the same level as the door handle to up, just beneath the windows. When enlarged, it’s easier to see that the side trim on the rear quarter panel and the three speed lines on the rear fender have been removed, but it’s still there on the door.

    • The Sprite would be at least a ‘59 as well and still relatively fresh, it still has the rubber plugs in the jacking points in the rocker panel, which pretty much fell or were left off in short order. OTOH, the hood gap looks pretty iffy already.

      The TR, not so new, and with those angled cut-down doors not a good car to take to the drive-in after school… no place to attach the tray. That said, with a bit of a lean you could pretty much touch the pavement along side the car so you could put the tray on the ground, along as no one stepped on it.

  4. Lucky high school kids with late model sports cars.

    I have a hunch the Imerial owner is picking something up, not there as part of the Farmers Market.
    -Driver is sitting in the car
    -Trunk is empty.

  5. In the last picture it looks like McCulloch (sp?) chainsaw was sponsoring the go kart races. I remember those being the hot engine to have in your kart.

  6. The good old days, when you could race a go-cart with a ciggie hanging out of your mouth and still come in second. And I believe the balloon/alien head is actually a guy carrying a watermelon.

    • Agreed on the watermelon. Haven’t seen one that large in a while! Grocery store melons are small. “Bananas” at 10cts a pound? Haven’t gone up much in 50+ years. And carts…learned to drift – slightly- on a go kart. Fun times.

    • A cigarette and no one is wearing goggles, or at least sunglasses? Possibly this is a staged photo for the local press. And maybe they let her and her family win all those races so she and her husband would keep sponsoring more races?

      • Further: It’s just too funny contrasting her prim racing attire with that of… well, everyone else’s basic grubbiness, which is more how I remember things. And her cart’s plush two tone upholstery matches her saddle shoes. I guess helmets were required, but buckling the chin straps? Not so much.

        • There was a miniature golf course that also had a go-kart track, about 2 miles from my home. I remember one Summer day in 1965 when two friends and I decided to take a walk to the track. About half-way there, a guy in a ’59 Galaxie offered us a ride and dropped us off at our destination.

          We didn’t have to wear goggles or helmets, and I think there was only some kind of safety belt on the go-kart that the attendant would fasten. I do recall that those karts had very cool alloy wheels that resembled the 8-lug aluminum wheels that were available on full-size Pontiacs in the ’60s. I was told at the time that you could buy one of those karts from the track for $80.00. True or not, it seemed like a good deal to me, but of course, my parents would have no part of it.

          Imagine, three 13-year-olds driving motorized vehicles, without a license or parental permission, no real safety equipment–and accepting a ride from stranger to get there! A different time, for sure.

  7. In those days Virginia switched every year on the license plates, odd was white, black was a even year. On our farm trucks that was a dirty job changing the plates!

  8. I’ve never felt cheated having grown up in a nice LI suburb but those lucky kids n Richmond had their own cars!
    In my HS the only ones who drove themselves to school were the rodders. They were a distinct minority, the rest were more likely to have their own boat than a car.

  9. That is a Fox racing kart that she is driving. I still have mine from my racing days in the early 60s. It has a McCulloch MC20 and geared to do 65-70 mph. A real ball to drive just 2 inches off the ground. And yes, that was a very comfortable seat and really held you in the kart on tight turns.

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