What is this thing called Romanticism–as it applies to old cars? I have felt it, and I know others have too; hence things like Hemmings’ calendars of “Aesthetically Abandoned Automobiles” and paintings by Thomas Kinkade. So I’m cruising Craigslist, and I come across this group of listings, and . . . I don’t know, something about the photos I saw really spoke to me in a deep way. And I thought I would share them with you.
In the Fox Chase section of northeast Philadelphia, PA, they’re clearing out a property and three old cars are for sale, starting with this ’50 Plymouth Cranbrook. I like the faded red color, the period wide whites, and plain hubcaps. Typical of the kind of car which was once so common, now quite a rarity seen in its original state.
I have to admit, the late ’40s-early ’50s is not my favorite era for cars. Compared to the 1955-63 period, these are old, rounded, slow, and almost never equipped with power steering or brakes. Driving one would take some getting used to. But they do have a certain charm . . .
Next we have a ’54 Dodge Coronet in a two-toned gray and blue. A pleasing color combination.
What I find appealing about these photos is that they make me feel like I’m back in the late ’60s to early ’70s. It’s like a dream combined with a distant, faded memory. I’m walking up to this farm, the leaves are crackling under my feet, and these were the kind of older cars you would normally see, some still in actual use. They have a real authenticity about them.
Look at the horns on that thing!
“C-o-r-o-n-e-t”: that wonderful ’50s script!
The original Mopar automatic transmission, “Power Flite”–two speeds!
A surprisingly beautiful interior! Steering wheels with horn rings are my favorite!
Last we have a ’53 Ford Ranch Wagon. Again, once a car so common, now almost impossible to find in unmolested, unmodified condition.
I’m not a fan of those windshield visors, but they were somewhat popular at the time.
Do you remember driving behind one of these? “Fordomatic”– really advanced for a low priced car in ’53!
I like the wood. Is it real? Original? Makes this kind of a “woodie”.
In Stroudsburg, PA you can buy this ’53 Nash Ambassador for $7800.
There it is, sitting there like it’s someone’s daily driver, maybe decades ago.
If I were buying a Nash in ’53, I would definitely select this optional sexy lady hood ornament. They don’t make ’em like they used to!
Interior looks great! Real Nash luxury!
Apparently Nash was doing the “gas cap hidden under the taillight trick” which I always thought was a GM thing.
Yes, it feels like it’s 1971 again!
In Seymour, CT you will find this 1948 Packard. It’s only $800 for you bargain hunters out there.
If any car can be called “a tank”, it’s this one. This is the way you would typically see one in the days of my youth–tucked over beside some winding rural road out in the boondocks.
I didn’t know Packard used these floral designs on door panels. Sort of a throwback to the Victorian/Edwardian era, which is somewhat at odds with the car’s 1940s Art Deco, “streamline-modern” design. A foreshadowing of the overwrought ’70s brougham aesthetic.
A speedometer and a clock. Reminds me of the clocks on old stoves of the period. A beautiful work of industrial art!
The “Wurlitzer Organ” school of dashboard design. Everything is so finely made! Built to last, dare I say, centuries?
The regal Packard crest, in all its faded glory!
We now go further afield to Sauk Rapids, MN to find this glorious ’50 Buick Special silhouetted against the sky . . .
This is a fastback model, which went out of fashion rather quickly, resulting in a low-cost used car buy in the late ’50s.
The Special was the lowest-priced Buick you could buy, being priced just above the most expensive Chevrolets. There were also comparable Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles for the working man to step up to. Such was the genius of General Motors’ five divisions: “Trade ’em up!” with a variety of brands to choose from.
I found a couple of trucks that were just irresistible: 1949 Chevrolet Suburban, Mims, FL. The granddaddy of all SUVs.
1952 Ford Panel Truck with vestiges of original lettering, Lakeland, MN.
Last one, from right here in my own hometown of Boonton, NJ. For $4000, this ’52 Plymouth can be yours!
“1952 Plymouth Cranbrook Sedan
6 cylinder (3 speed manual transmission)
Slight surface rust
Needs some brake work.”
I suspect that the sellers of these cars are not going to have the easiest time finding buyers. Not because they are necessarily bad cars, but I wonder how many people in today’s age demographic would love examples like these enough to invest the time, space, and money that would be required even to maintain them in their present state? And how many would end up getting rodded or customized, thus losing their original, authentic patina forever? Or maybe someone will strip the good parts, and crush the rest? Like all of life, it’s all so ephemeral. That is why I have written this article and uploaded the photos to Curbside, thus preserving the way the cars look now for all time. I hope you have enjoyed seeing them with me.