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Thursday Edition: Kodachrome Car Photographs Week

Well, we have to admit that today’s featured “Kodachrome Car Series Photograph” isn’t very challenging and can be identified by everyone in about a nanosecond. Although, this particular example is an early one produced approximately halfway through its model run with what we believe may be a reasonably rare color combination.

As is the usual practice in this series, we ask our readers to tell us the year, make, and model of all of the vehicles in the photograph along with anything else of interest in the photos. You can look back on all the earlier parts of the Kodachrome Car Photographs Series here. The image is via This Was approximately.

32 responses to “Thursday Edition: Kodachrome Car Photographs Week

  1. I see photos like this, with people who could still be around, and I wonder, “What if that person saw this photo, and realized it was them, way back when!!” The young man looks to be approx. HS age, so he would be in his 70s now.

  2. The bumper is indicative of a ’58 or later. The only differences I know of between a ’58 and ’59 were the transmission and the engine lid and the only difference between a ’59 and ’60 for this sub-type was the introduction of the 40 HP engine mid-year, so I don’t think it can be narrowed down tighter than a ’58-’60 Volkswagen Type 2.

  3. Creamsicle colored VW will sprout flowers and tie-dye in several years’ time on its way out to Haight Ashbury, with maybe a stop at Max Yasgur’s along the way.

  4. I remember in the sixties those crazy hippies enjoyed removing the VW emblem in the front and installing one just like it but it had the peace sign on it instead of the letters VW.

  5. Just think, today if it was a 21 or 23 window example in that condition, it would be with $125-150,000+!
    Who would have thought it?

    • Hi John, well, I know they bring 5 figures, but 6 is a bit of a stretch, but today, it wouldn’t surprise me. These, at the time, were a nuisance, and were dime a dozen. Only the most devoted VW fans bought them. There were much better US vans to be had. Most became tool sheds out back. Having been around these, and even a VW mechanic for a short spell, they were/ are miserable vehicles. The engines are horribly anemic, and they handle like a shopping cart. Why someone would pay 5 figures for one, bamboolzes me. The only thing I liked, was that overhead vent, that drew in a lot of needed air and keep an ice scraper handy for the inside of the windows. The heater, if you can call it that, barely warmed the Bug, much less this.

    • What would officers Pete Malloy and Jim Reed have done on Adam-12 without having to say, “Ocean / Ida / Sam / etc.” every time they called in a plate number. Just, “2 1 3 5” and they would have been done.

      Is that frost on the grass next to the picket fence?

    • Rhode Island plate numbers are reissued like Massachusetts, Delaware, Illinois, and the District, and Rhode Island and Delaware allow plate rights to be included in wills. This plate was in the family since 1937 or earlier or was gifted to them (the low-number lottery started in Rhode Island in 1995). Any new plate after that either has a letter or is at least 5 digits – a new 1959/60 plate would have started with two letters and had one to three numbers at the end.

    • 4 digit RI licence plates were first issued circa 1903. Families with low number plates usually pass it down to children etc. Commercial plates started later and started with an X. In the 1930s letters on passenger cars were followed by numbers. Evidently the state wants to go back to 6 digit plates with new plates hopefully coming in my lifetime. A low plate in RI is a status marker.

    • Knowing Rhode Islanders and their license plates, I don’t doubt that the plate is in the same family today.

  6. A friend who owned one said that between the lack of power and the lack of aerodynamics he had to learn to “sail” on open stretches of highways. You need to be alert!

    • I’ve often felt that driving (or racing!) horsepowerly challenged vehicles is what separated the truly skilled driver from the rabble – the conservation of momentum vs. simply standing on the brakes and mashing down on the foot feed. But I could be prejudiced there…. 😉

      • I think you are correct, Jay. And the same can be said for a swing-axle rear suspension. Driving skill can mostly be defined by the driver’s quick anticipation of how his PARTICULAR car will react in various situations. If he happens to be driving a micro-bus, crosswinds are a case in point.

      • Ha! Tell me about it. For the 1st 2/3rds of my truck driving career( from the 70’s into the late 80’s) I drove trucks that had 1/3 the hp of todays trucks. It definitely took a “knack” to get somewhere in a timely fashion. Not to derail the thread, ( and bring up a sore subject) but 2 cycle Detroit motors posed the biggest challenge.

    • My fist job was cleaning offices at night. We each had a van assigned and would go out on routes in the evening. Company had a few vans mostly Chevys and one one of these. At that time I was living on the north shore of Massachusetts. Not too many hills to speak of. Man I hated to be assigned to this thing. A little equipment and two passengers was way too much for it. Not much of a hill would have you searching for a lower gear all the time. I can’t imagine what it would be like with a family and their luggage. Haven’t had any respect for these since. Funky sure but unless you live in a flat area, useless.

      • Another friend who lived in Buffalo, NY said he had a sleeping bag, and he unzipped the foot box, pulling the bag onto his body and had enough room to work the pedals!

    • In the mid-60s my neighbor had one actually blow over on the Tacoma Freeway. From that day onward, my brother would burst into tears whenever any neighbor would mention anything involving getting into a car…

  7. The fence shadows seem to suggest an early morning setting, or late afternoon. The sun had to be fairly low on the horizon to cast a shadow completely under the vehicle. I’m inclined to think this was some special occasion, with mom or dad doing the Kodak honors. Assuming it’s late afternoon, perhaps the guys are going to take their girlfriends to dinner and a show.

  8. I wonder what the Crest on that guy’s blazer is for? Looks like a decent but far from fancy neighborhood. Some kind of club or lodge maybe? Family or school crest?

  9. I wonder if that is his twin brother sitting in the passenger seat ? There appears to be a school crest on his jacket.
    America will soon go through many changes and turbulent times.

  10. I am disappointed at the negative posts about this wonderful vehicle.
    My first experience was riding around Los Angeles in 1956 with my geometry teacher as a guide to mysterious and magical places beyond count.
    A friend from graduate school and his wife and daughter and I went camping in one over great swathes of British Columbia after I got back from Vietnam.
    I eventually owned and enjoyed about seven over the years, introducing my stepson and others to their joys.
    Tough, voluminous and forgiving like no other ride.
    Sorry the ones you guys experienced fell short for you.

    • Hi Jim, well, it was all about timing. Back in the 50’s, if you wanted a van of ANY kind, there weren’t many choices. Maybe a Multipla, ( good heavens) but 1960 seemed to change all that for Americans. Ford came out with the “Falcon” Econoline, and the “Corvan” not far behind, and changed everything for the van buyer. There was no need to put up with the VW anymore. Like I say, only the most devoted VW fans , or VW dealers, used these.

  11. This Volswagen is a “samba” type because of the windows, mst of them with extra windows in the roof.
    The bumper was needed for the export sambas’s to the USA, wher the demand for bumpers were stronger than in Europe.

    • It looks like a solid-roof DeLuxe (15-window) to me. A Samba would have the upper roof windows (23-window), while a Kombi (11-window) would have three side windows behind the door instead of four and no rear corner windows.

  12. I was a VW service manager from Jan 1961 to May 1973 , then a VW /PA dealer until 1999 , my best guess is it’s a 1959 Type II . The color was popular, but dealers had little choice as they were distributed by World Wide Volkswagen Corp.. and color choices were dictated by them… great family vehicles ! I married a widow with 4 children and I had 4, we took all eight skiing in VT on weekends, three on each back seat and two over the engine , no seat belts! Crazy by today’s standards !

  13. From September 1963 to August 1974, our family “car” was a VW Van. Not quite as fancy as the one pictured. I drove the ’63 well over 100,000 miles, many of which were commuting on the LIE and NSP. In ’69 upgraded to a ’69 which also clocked many miles. Today we would probably be hauled in for child abuse, having removed the middle seat and replaced it with a folding playpen in which our three pre-schoolers rode on long trips. In all fairness I would say there was a marked difference in the two vehicles. The stand-out items were: the walk-through front seat; some improvement in the heating system; a slightly more powerful motor; and wiper blades that stayed on the window at speeds above 30 mph. Many great memories of those vans and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

  14. Had one of these…a ’72 Westphalia if my memory is right. We nicknamed it “Hitlers Revenge”. Absolutely THE WORST vehicle I’ve ever owned!

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