I love this shot of these big old American cars with a train load of VW’s on Trailer Trains.
I should point out that these trailer train cars made a huge impact on car transport starting in about 1957, as in causing massive layoffs and bankruptcies. They didn’t last long, as they were soon replaced by specialized high density train cars that were even more efficient.
The big american cars have been replaces by big american pickups and suvs. VW got crushed in the US by Toyota, Nissan (remember when nissans were good cars?) and Honda long ago and never recovered.
Yeah, I remember when Nissan were good cars (and pick-up trucks) and once known as Datsuns. 😉
Two Ghias on there, too!
Nissans are still plenty decent, it just seems their positioning (low credit incentives, etc) make them end up in the hands of those who don’t take care of stuff. I blame Kia/Hyundai for that.
Conventional wisdom says that the VWs were “more practical” than the big status-symbol US cars. At the time of this photo, the VWs were the pure status symbols and the big cars were more practical for US conditions. Later in the ’70s the real situation became more like the conventional wisdom, as big cars got WAY too big for practical use.
By the 1970s all of the domestic manufacturers were offering compacts and intermediates for buyers who no longer wanted a big car. The big cars were too big for an increasing number of people, but there were options.
Plus, by the mid-1970s, intermediate-size personal luxury coupes were considered more stylish and “chic” than the typical full-size family car.
To the far left of the parking lot I suspect a Thunderbird (’58 to ’60) plus a Buick Invicta (’59 to ’60). The VW’s on the rack have override guards (export models), but the rear window is of a fair size (ie: not oval). The rear tail lights are post 1960.
Therefore, my guess is the photo is from 1962.
That 1959 Buick certainly makes the 1947-49 Studebaker look tall, narrow, and short (in length). It really conveys that the Studebaker was a compact car.
This kind of reminds of those DHL commercials from years ago. That did not work out very well.
Late 1959 at the very earliest, so that little 48 Champion had been soldiering on for a long time. Nothing is rusty despite the snow, I wonder where this was taken?
There has long been a big rail yard across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg. Perhaps it was taken there?
I do know that, even today, vehicles do not rust as quickly, or as badly, in this area as they do in western Pennsylvania.
Enola railroad yards are the place you’ve cited. Good likelihood this was the Pennsylvania location for this photo, East coast car transloading ports shipped heavily through that yard. Still do today.
The Studebaker and the 50 Plymouth (?) appear to be in good shape considering this photo was taken in Pennsylvania — the plate on the 55 Chevy was used from 1958-64 (first time stickers were used instead of plate replacements every year). If the year was 1962, we would have replaced our 55 Chevy by then with a 61 model.
There’s even a Karmann Ghia or two, in that black over pale yellow that I used to see as a kid. The beetles look to be at least ’62 models with the larger taillights.
Love that ’60 Buick.
Not a whitewall in sight…
This is a train carrying VWs in July 1964. Not much detail, but a lot of cars. It was my family’s first trip to Europe and we were taking a river tour on the Rhine. This was just south of Koblenz. We were visiting my aunt, who was stationed in Germany with the Canadian Forces. We also got to tour in her VW Type 3 Variant (Squareback). It was the twin carb version, which is probably a good thing as the car was pretty loaded with 5 of us and our luggage. A wonderful experience. Sorry for the picture quality.
Nothing like being in the right place at the right time. Thanks for sharing.
What amazes me in your pic is how almost all the VWs are one (lack of) colour!
I see a 1960 Buick in that lot.
It seems that the GI generation fell in love with Beetles instead of Jeeps, huh? It seemed to have become what they saw as a simple vehicle, but also carried a lot of conformity for the gray-flannel suit set. The German-ness is something many GI’s experienced being stationed after WWII. The Beetle made their drivers stand out, yet also fit in.
While the Beetle is considered a symbol of the Baby Boomers, its success was with the GI generation that got the Beetle rolling. Beetles were everywhere in my neighborhood, along with many other foreign cars that young men stationed overseas brought home. My ethically diverse blue-collar neighborhood had as many foreign cars as domestics. DAF, Volvo, Saab, Porsche, and Renault were all represented among my immediate neighbor’s garages. I grew up riding in a 59 VW convertible and a 64. By the time I left home, the last car I wanted was a Beetle, having been crammed in them during Chicago winters.
The Beetle is quite a iconic ride. Oddly, I have never missed them. Perhaps that would be how someone who grew up in Model T cars would have felt as well?
My dad always told me the Beetle made the american family to be able to afford 2 cars. All the other “affordable” cars of the 50s and early 60s were too unreliable. He was right. It was the ww2 gen that bought beetles in droves. Their boomer kids just got them as hand me downs. Ive always found it shocking how vw went from the number 1 import brand of the 60s to unreliable eurotrash aftet the japanese invasion and theyre still seen that way in the us today.