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Three Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 245

The hard-packed sand at Daytona Beach has been an attraction for motorists and racers ever since the automobile became a viable means of transportation. Driving on the beach in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s and having a photo of one’s car taken was a popular thing to do then. Unfortunately, the salty damp sand promoted faster rusting, which probably caused this particularly corrosion-prone vehicle to begin to rust out sooner than expected.

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.

  • An artsy photograph by of GM photographic.


  • An interesting view of an early form of traction control?

52 responses to “Three Fun Friday Kodachrome Car Photographs No. 245

    • This looks like a LaSalle . With all due respect, those front fenders and the Cadillac body length together with what looks like the laSalle name on the trunk lid, identify it for me.

  1. The blue convertible in the second expandable picture is a 40 Mercury. Found the pic on Getty images, described as: “A group of students, several in a blue convertible, chat in an intersection on College Avenue, Athens, Georgia, June 29, 1944.” Which means the beautiful young girl standing next to the car would have to be almost 100 years old today if still alive. Kinda hard to wrap your head around. I have enough trouble getting a grip on how old I am.

    • You are not alone. It is amazing how short a lifetime is for us now compared to what someone had two thousand years ago.

  2. Nice clear image of the man with his `57 Fairlane 500 hardtop, but I guess he was too cheap to spring for whitewalls. The image of the Cadillacs was taken at the GM headquarter building in Detroit in `55. The pearl cream Eldorado cvt. was one of their ‘fashion’ show cars that year, painted in a non-factory pearl finish. The last image is one so typical of a winter scene in the `50s; a `54 Olds 98 sedan, minus its skirts for chain clearance on the rear tires. When I was little, I remember seeing `50s-`60s Cadillacs, etc. with the skirts off during the winter, whether they had chains on or not.

    • Hi Will, I was just a lad in the late 50’s, but it seems whitewalls were more of a 60’s thing after thin whites came out. I don’t remember many wide whitewalls in Wisconsin. They yellowed quickly, looked terrible, and weren’t very popular.

      • Well, I remember when I was a tot in the mid 1940’s in Pennsylvania, my dad was so obsessed with whitewalls he used to bring in his tires, one at a time, into the house and carefully paint each tire to make them whitewalls. On the kitchen table. Didn’t make my mom very happy, as I remember.

    • I can remember my Dad’s attitude about whitewall tires was that” by God I’m inside the darn car, I can’t see them, why buy them?”

    • Yes, the ’55 Eldorado was a show car displayed at that year’s GM Motorama and other venues. It was labeled as the “St. Moritz.” Other Cadillacs modified by GM Styling for the ’55 GM Motorama were the Celebrity (red Coupe de Ville with a red long-grain leather top) and the Westchester (Sixty Special with a TV in the rear passenger compartment). The Celebrity provided a forecast of the ’56 Eldorado Seville. Additional details of these cars as well as the dream cars of the GM Motorama can be found in my book, “Motorama: GM’s Legendary Show and Concept Cars.”

  3. Must be ’57 Ford week, and this new Ford looks pretty nice. That’s a 1958 NY license plate, at what appears to be high tide. I’m sure rust was the last thing on this guys mind. 2nd, they sure went all out to promote the Cadillac glitz. I’m trying to think of a car today that would garner such attention. 3rd, definitely a promo shot. Who stops their new convertible in the middle of an intersection to chat? The truck looks like a late 30’s D series IH. Last, got to be California wet snow. We have dry snow here. We called it “hanging iron”, applying chains. Kind of funny, in the 35 years I drove a truck, I never put chains on. If it was that bad, you just didn’t go out. We do have “traction warnings” in Colorado, going over the passes, well into May, during which time, chains or AWD is required, or they turn you around. There’s big fines too, like $600 if you get stuck, a THOUSAND dollars if you block the road. They don’t fool around.

    • The Daytona visitor is from Brooklyn, indicated by the plate number starting with 6K (Kings County). It’s a 1958 plate but the time could be 1959, when NY kept the ’58 plates and just added a validation tab to the rear plate. Concern about rust? Fuggedaboutit!

      • Hi Joel, yep, right down to the “Cypress Gardens” bumper sticker, that were a pain to get off. That was a hot tourist spot for vacationing northerners. It had lush gardens and water ski shows that gave people from the frozen north a break. I read, amazingly, it flourished from 1936 to 2009. In 2011, the gardens became part of Legoland Florida.

        • I think some folks were OK with the Cypress Gardens bumper sticker, as it gave them bragging rights when they returned to the frozen north from their winter vacation in FL with a tan in January or February, to make all the neighbors jealous. In a similar vein, I used to see cars around the northeast sporting bumper stickers saying, “This car climbed Mount Washington”, the NH peak famous for its steep and curvy road (and severe winter weather), a tough test for both car and driver.

          • On our trips to Florida every year, we’d hit all those corny attractions, mostly to just get out of the car. One attraction, “Rock City”, I believe, “See 7 states”, ( more like 3 on a clear day) had those banners wired on, and for miles after the attraction, those banners were strewn across the countryside, especially in the rain. That is funny, and true about bragging rights, but my old man hated those stickers, and it was always my job to peel them off.

          • I have one of those bumper stickers on my garage wall . Earned it driving my 68 Microbus to the top where it was snowing on Labor Day.; about 1970.

        • Cypress Gardens’ demand for water-skiing skill is part of the reason Florida Southern College has the oldest collegiate water ski team in the country and Lakeland has the oldest club in the country. The club has been continuously in operation since 1949, while the college team has been around since the 1960s, and the Division II school competes in Division I in the sport. Last year, they were the fourth-best team in the country, after Louisiana-Lafayette, Alabama, and Louisiana-Monroe.

    • Well, Howard, at the rate 57-58 Fords rusted, this one was probably well on its was to rust bucket hell by the time the car was driven off the beach! I always thought the 57s were most attractive but they sure didn’t last long in the northeast!

      • Hi RC, got that right. In the early 60’s, my dads nephew had a ’57 Retractable. Naturally, as a kid, I was fascinated by the gears and motors making the top go down. Several years passed, and one day on a visit, I asked if he still had the ’57 Ford. He said he did, and was parked in the garage. When we went to look at it, I was horrified what was left. The doors sagged, the headlights were rusted gone, I think he junked it shortly after.

        • In 1963, we returned home from Japan where my dad had been stationed with the Air Force. Somehow, we made it car-less to his hometown in western Wisconsin, but to get to our next base, we needed a car. His high school friend was the local Ford dealer and sold him a nice ’57 Ranch Wagon…a red and white two door with V-8. Six years after the car was built, and I assume coming from the local, the car had NO rust.

          We drove it until 1965, (although it was downgraded to our “second car” later in ’63), at which time it still looked great.

  4. In the Lead Photo a ’57 Ford Fairlane 500 Club Hardtop.

    In Item 1 of 3, a ’55 Cadillac Eldorado (the distinction in this view is the ’55 has only “Cadillac” script on the front fender vs the ’56 with script and a crest and twin vertical wings on the hood ornament). The Biarritz name was added in ’56 to distinguish it from the new hardtop Seville)

    In Item 2 of 3,a ’40 Mercury 8 Club convertible with maybe a ’59 Olds Series 70 or 80 Sedan at the curb

    In Item 3 of 3, a ’54 Olds Ninety-Eight…in this view mostly distinguished from the 88s by the chrome strip ahead of the taillight and the small gap between the rear door skin and the (in this case, removed) fender skirt. Also, the Ninety-Eight’s fender skirt opening extends oddly about 4” forward of the 88’s to allow for its 4” stretched wheelbase, a stretch that is all behind the passenger compartment since the Ninety-Eight still had to share the B-body with the 88s (evidenced by the slight forward lean of the A-pillar vs a vertical one on the C-body)

    • The ’56 Eldorado has a more prominently ribbed window sill trim than this ’55 but that’s not really visible in this photo.

    • To me, the most easily noticed differentiation on the ‘54 Olds is the rear “hockey stick” chrome side trim which on the 98 extends down to just an inch or two above the wheel cutout. On both 88s it’s several inches higher, in line with the back up lamps.

  5. First is a snowbird from New York running his ’57 Ford Fairlane 500 Club Victoria on Daytona Beach, Florida.

    Second is the special paint and trim auto show version 1955 Cadillac Eldorado “St. Moritz’ resplendent in its pearlescent white finish. The very embodiment of the prosperous postwar dream car.

    Third is a 1940 Mercury Eight convertible coupe in a town were casual chats in the middle street cause no inconvenience to other motorists. A blue ’39 Oldsmobile Eight Series 90 is parked at W.A. Capp’s jewelry store.

    Fourth is a tire-chain clad 1954 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight sedan demonstrating an extended deck Olds can carry a lot of snow.

  6. W. A. Capps acquired the store from from Charles A. Scudder, and it would become Foster’s after Mrs. Capps’ death in 1957. The store closed in 2009.

  7. I wonder if there were ever streetcars in Athens? It looks as if there might have been at one time where the Mercury is stopped.

  8. The ’54 Olds in the 4th pic reminds me that I’ve always wondered why the ’54-’56 Olds 98 (unlike earlier and later years) used a stretched B body instead of the C body used in Cadillacs and senior-series Buicks.

    • It was because Harley Earl discovered a magic sales formula from the Coupe de Ville and 60 Special: place a body on a longer wheelbase chassis with the length added behind the passenger compartment, apply extended quarter panels and deck-lid for the top-line model, premium price it and the public would eat it up!

      Oldsmobile switched the Ninety-Eight to the OB body by applying that formula for the 1952 Ninety-Eight to get more sales volume from the body shared with 88’s and Buicks. The sales kept climbing throughout the 1950’s as the public loved the impressive extended-deck look. Pontiac got the treatment for the new 1954 Star Chief, extended (no pun intended) to the Bonnevilles. Buick eventually for the 1958 Limited and 1959 Electra 225.

      Have to hand it to Mr. Earl, he sure knew how to sell sheet metal!

      • Well, come to think of it, 58L8134, you make a very good point. By the mid-’50s, the old, prestigious long-hood-short-deck desideratum was passe — as evidenced by the fact that for 1953 the Buick Roadmaster, top-of-the-line, used a shorter hood than the junior models, so as to highlight its modern, compact V8 that replaced the old straight 8.

      • Or, looked at another way, Harley Earl knew how to fool the public…at least until 1957.

        Olds had a varied range of w/b’s and overall lengths from ’42 on…
        In ’42 the Series 66, 68, 76 and 78 continued with the 1940 body on 119 and 125” w/b’s while Ninety-Eights shared the new C-body with Cadillac and Senior Buicks, still on a 125” w/b.
        That lasted through 1947 with the ’46 and ‘47 Ninety-Eight w/b bumped to 127”
        In ’48, Olds Ninety-Eights now shared the new Futuramic C-body only with Cadillac (which Senior Buicks didn’t get until ‘49) on a 126” w/b. while the Series 60 and 70 Olds continued with the 1940 body
        In ’49 the Series 60 and 70 Olds got a narrower B-body version of the Futuramic C-body design
        In ’52, all Olds models were shifted to that narrower B-body and they continued to use various forms of B-bodies until 1961 when Ninety-Eights once again got to use the C-body along with Cadillac and Senior Buicks.

        The variety of Olds’ w/b and lengths are interesting…
        In ’49 w/b of 119.5 and 125 and lengths of 202 and 213”.
        In ’50: w/b of 119.5 and 122 with lengths of 202 and 209.
        In ’51: w/b of 119.5, 120” and 122 with lengths of 202, 204 and 208”
        In ’52: w/b of 120 and 124 with lengths of 204 and 213”
        In ’53: w/b of 120 and 124 with lengths of 204 and 215”

        I hope that’s not too confusing.

        • Goodness, Pat, thanks for your thorough Olds body rundown. I wonder if all that mixing and matching was cooked up at the Olds Division level or by GM Corporate. Seems as though Olds had some identity issues during that era; that is, were they building glorified Pontiacs or wannabe-be Buicks? Maybe a little of both?

  9. The owner of the ’57 Ford has been to Dick Pope’s Cypress Gardens which went under after the Mouse swallowed central Florida. today, it’s Legoland and apparently doing well.

  10. Had a Green/White ’57 FORD just like that in the days. GREAT CAR
    Later a ’57 Red/White Conv.
    Today a ’57 T-Bird which ive had for 45 years. WOW am i old !!!!!!!!

    Guess i love ’57 FORDs

  11. Took my new Datsun 240Z for a drive on Daytona Beach in November ’70. I think it was probably rusting before I got home to Indiana!

    • RE 70 240Z — sad but true. Our 70’s Hondas (Civics and an Accord) had severe rust problems (front fenders particularly, near the firewall.) But they all improved dramatically in the 80s.

      • We took our 1988 Mustang GT convertible on a Daytona Beach beach cruise in the early nineties. It was one of those 95 degree summer days in Florida and we went trundling along with the top down and the A/C running full blast. The Mustang came equipped with a beautiful stretchy vinyl boot to be installed when the top was down. Unfortunately this boot was a major pain in the rear to put on so it mostly remained in the garage (trunk space was marginal in a Mustang convertible and removing the boot did help). This lack of a boot figures into our story; after 35-40 minutes of beach cruising we were starting to get pretty toasty and decided to find some cold beverages. We pulled up to the exit (back to the street) and put the top up, never thinking for a moment about the loose sand that had accumulated on the inside of the top. Needless to say we were covered in sand, all we could really do was laugh at ourselves. I was still finding sand in that car for several years after that. I’m happy to say that newer Mustang convertibles have sort of an integral boot that covers the inside of the top when it is down.

  12. I grew up in Quebec
    When ever you bought a new car in the 50’s or 60’s it was standard procedure to have the car Z barted

  13. Did something happen to photograph #3? I don’t see the picture everyone is referring to. I only see three photos in this article.

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