Even for a non-car-loving person, a new car can be a point of pride or pleasure. How many of us have photographs of ourselves with our new cars shortly after we got them? Perhaps that’s why this smiling woman was photographed with her 1966 Falcon. The Kodachrome slide from which I scanned this image is dated October, 1968, so if my guesses are right she bought this car used.
This slide from January, 1967, shows that the same family also bought a brand new 1967 Mercury Colony Park. At least in the late ‘60s, this family was loyal to Ford. About 30 years later I bought a Mercury wagon, too – but it’s the only car I’ve owned that I never photographed. I wasn’t terribly excited to own it so I didn’t take a “look at my new car!” photograph, and I didn’t own it for long enough for it to end up in the background of a photograph of something else.
Our cars do commonly wind up in the frame as we photograph the scenes from our lives. This young couple, newlyweds perhaps, look to be ready to load this box into their ’50 Chevy. The ’64 Falcon that lurks in the background of this undated slide makes this Chevy a very used car, just the kind of thing two kids starting out would own.
Just-married kids who do well eventually move up to a newer car and a starter home, like this ’60 Ford parked in this driveway. Not that this Ford was all that new; this slide was taken in February of 1967. But this photo is just the perfect image of the kind of suburban conformity that was starting to be challenged at this time.
Kids come sooner or later, and of course we take copious photographs of them. Sometimes our cars are the backdrop, or are even an integral part of the photo. This fellow proudly holds up his child in the cab of his ’65 F-100 in a slide dated July, 1968. This kid is about my age now! Of course, this young’un lived a more rural experience than the suburbanites above. And you know he’s from Illinois because it says so on his truck. I guess it was the law in Illinois for many years that farm trucks had to have such identification painted on the door.
This undated slide of a Karmann-Ghia looks to have been taken on a military barracks. Could this be a German-spec Karmann photographed on a US base in Germany by a soldier who decided not to ship his car back home and wanted to remember his good times driving it? Probably not; the cars in the background don’t look very European. But it’s fun to imagine the stories behind old photographs and slides that you find.
I recently bought an inexpensive negative and slide scanner to quickly scan in all my old negatives, which go all the way back to 1976. It doesn’t do pro-quality work, but it’s good enough for my shoebox full of snapshots. I plan to review it on my personal blog, which is mostly about film photography, and so I bought these old slides on eBay for a few dollars to round out the review. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to find old slides featuring what are now very old cars. I saved what I think is the best for last – the oldest slide I bought, undated but based on the style of the slide mount from no later than 1952, of this woman showing off her 1950 Pontiac Silver Streak convertible. My smile would be a mile wide, too, if I owned such a gorgeous car. Any guesses on what that car in the background is?
That 1966 Falcon looks ever so slightly like a Mk 1 Escort. looking at the picture the size seems about right too. Although they never made a coupe of the MK 1 AFAIK
The Falcon was bigger than the Escort, bigger than the Cortina. In fact, the wheelbase was about the same as the Euro-Ford Granada.
Amazing how even a stripper economy car looks terrific when new and in a nice setting. I want one!
i could vote my Volare for that
I did the “Oh, What A Feeling!” jump for the snapshot the salesperson took of my new Toyota Corolla GT-S and me. And it wasn’t staged; I was that happy! That photo went onto a 1985 calendar the dealership prepared and I have no idea what I did with it. I do remember that he mis-timed the shot and I hadn’t left the ground yet with my jump.
Man, I certainly miss Kodachrome; I don’t think that I’m going out on a limb when I say Kodachrome generated the best color images ever. Digital photography is certainly easier but the trade off is that the pictures just aren’t as good.
I have pictures of my cars, at least since I got married 30 years ago. My wife got in the habit of taking pictures of our cars and it has become a family tradition. I have learned that her father and grandfather did the same thing; we have a photo of her grandfather, her grandmother and her father, standing in front of their 1938 Oldsmobile.
110% correct. Nothing does colour like Kodachrome. I know amateur photographers who bought stocks of it when it was announced Kodachrome would go out of production.
Kodachrome in a Leica M3 = photographic heaven!
The film-digital converter I used to digitize these slides isn’t of very good quality. I scanned in images from all my old negatives using it and it did an okay job, but it really did its best work with these Kodachromes. I think it’s because the source material is so good.
I look forward to your review on the scanner. I bought a very cheap one, was extremely dissatisfied with it, and returned it to the store. I have probably 100 or so old mostly Kodachrome slides to scan, so I am interested in how you did.
I’ve been using a Nikon Coolscan IV-ED slide/film scanner for about 12 years, and have scanned thousands of slides. The Coolscan scanners have a special setting optimized for Kodachrome. Fed a decent quality original, the results are outstanding.
These scanners are no longer being produced, but I believe they can still be rented. For 100 slides or so, that might be your best option.
I’ve also had good results using Photoshop to restore faded slide and print scans. Most photo editing programs allow you to tweak sharpness, saturation, contrast, levels, colour balance, dust and scratch removal, etc. It’s truly amazing, and rewarding, to rescue old photos that are badly faded and damaged.
JPC, the scanner I bought probably isn’t for you. The review will explain. I’d be willing to lend you my flatbed scanner for your task. I didn’t use it for my old negs because it’s a lot slower and doesn’t do 126 or 110 negs, of which I have scads. But this thing will do 35mm Kodachromes all day.
It can be frustrating to have had parents who weren’t “car people” and didn’t get photos. Of the 8 cars total my parents owned before my birth, there are only photos of two of them–one happens to be in the background of a photo, and the other was my grandfather’s car first and he photographed it. There is actually better photographic evidence of my grandparents’ cars than my parents’.
I wonder if some of that has to do with the generations though. My maternal grandfather grew up poor in New York City, served during WWII, returned to NYC, married, and had a daughter. Only then, at age 29 or 30, did he buy his first car, a 1950 Studebaker Champion. It was a few years old but he was proud to finally own a car and he took several good photos of it. By the time my parents came of driving age and purchased cars in the late 60’s, in suburban New Jersey, it was seen as a normal part of growing up and no photos were taken.
It’s especially interesting to see all those neighborhoods with young trees, looking so barren and not established, as they are today. Very odd, too, now that neighborhoods from the early-mid eighties mostly have healthy thirty year old trees lining their streets.
I’ll take that white Colony Park out of all the cars pictured here.
My parents live in the same house that they built in 1966. As you note, a lot of the trees planted then are gone now.
It’s also interesting to witness the progression of the neighborhood. There were lots of “Baby Boom” kids when we moved in to that house. Then we all grew up and moved away. Now those houses are being sold as the original owners either die or move into retirement communities, which require less maintenance. Young families with children are buying those houses and remodeling them, so the cycle starts again.
Great collection of future CC’s. I often wonder why personal photos wind up on eBay, but they are great historical moments in time and it’s fun to try to surmise the story behind the photo’s. More, please.
Great shots. Never though about buying others slide collections. One of these days, I’m going to have to go through our family’s; many boxes full.
I’ll take the Ghia or the Pontiac convertible.
It’s remarkable how many old family slides and photos are for sale on eBay.
Unfortunately, my father used Ektachrome. They’re all washed out, and turning bluish. Undoubtedly, it was cheaper than Kodachrome.
Scan them ASAP before they deteriorate further. Photoshop might be able to rescue many of those images — maybe not all the way to full restoration, but to the point where they are usable (i.e., the people and places in them remain recognizable).
I’ve often wondered whether, once you purchase an image like these, you hold the copyright and are entitled to use them any way you want.
BTW, very nice article Jim
That’s a smart little Ghia. I would have hated to leave that behind. I very much like the red Falcon, too. Basic transportation, but dressed up.
How expensive was it to have your car shipped stateside? When my folks moved from Guam, most of our stuff was sent home in a C-141 Starlifter that was heading back to the states for another load of material for Anderson AFB. I don’t remember Dad complaining about the cost.
When I was in the Air Force (mid-seventies) they would ship it for free, as long as you got it to the shipping port yourself. Of course the cars would probably go as deck cargo so if it was something you really cared about you might want to search an alternative. No idea what the situation is today; my nephew is in the Navy and has done several overseas tours but they were all considered “hardship”, so no family and no personal vehicles.
No idea of what the situation was back then but nowadays the gov’t will pay to ship your car overseas and back again. One of my IH buddies who was stationed in Germany for a couple of years took his Scout II with him and took it off roading around Europe and to the IH shows over there and then had it shipped back home when that assignment was up. He did buy an Innocetti and I’m not sure if he had to pay to have that shipped back or not. One of my Marauder friends who is stationed in HI right now had it shipped over on the gov’t dime and it will be or is in the process of being shipped back to the mainland again on the gov’t dime.
When were you on Guam? We were there from ’67 to about ’70. We lived at 1918A Capehart, and the jungle was just outside our back door. My dad drove a Toyopet Crown while we waited for our Coronet wagon to arrive from the States. I have fond memories of base housing…flying kites, the coconut trees, and tropical breezes- and the BX! No a/c, just a big wooden warehouse with fans.
I like the simplicity of that trimless cheapie Falcon.
The young woman is excited to have a ‘new’ used Falcon and wanted a picture. Today, a similar age woman wouldn’t bother to get a pic of her used white Corolla.
That may have been the family’s first “second” car, so she is excited to have a car of her own.
We lived in a neighborhood similar to hers. For a few years my family made do with one car. My father was in a carpool, but on the days he drove, my mother was stuck at home. All trips – grocery, shopping, etc. – were planned around the days she had the car.
I still remember the day my brother, when he was learning to walk, fell into the television set and cut his forehead so deeply that he required stitches. My father drove to work that day, so mother had to call my grandmother to take us to the doctor’s office. As we waited for her, my mother was trying to stop the bleeding.
It was big deal when we became a two-car family.
I guess it was the law in Illinois for many years that farm trucks had to have such identification painted on the door.
Not just farm trucks. Up until around 1973 or so, nearly all pickups in Illinois had to have the owner’s name, town, and empty weight painted on them (the E.W. 3700 just behind the hood in the photo). It’s not unusual for restored trucks at car shows around here to have their owner’s name painted on them in period-correct compliance with the law.
Once in a while you’ll see a pre-1984 pickup with its original faded 1984 inspection sticker. Up until ’84 all trucks (but not passenger cars) in Illinois had to have an annual safety inspection. Since then inspections have only been required for commercial trucks or livery vehicles.
Missouri has local truck license plates, and the fees are cheaper than for beyond-local truck plates. The tradeoff is that you have to paint your home town on the truck so the cops can make sure you’re not out of your territory.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s I used to see pickups from Montana with FARM TRUCK UNDER 6000 LB. painted on them, I assume this was a requirement in order to pay less tonnage.
There’s my VW behind the 50 Chevy!
And who is that guy obscured by the tree? IRS agent looking to tax the contents of the box?
That would be Frankie “The Fingers” Molinaro, ruthless button man of the midwest, as to whats in the box? Lets just say that Frankies betters sent him to collect either funds that were due or a certain body part…
“Fingers” Molinaro has never been fully photographed; when pressed about this, G-men simply shrug and say, “He’s always lucky, I guess.”
That is a Chrysler Airflow in the background of the last picture, is it not?
I believe it is a Chrysler Corporation product, but not an Airflow.
Definitely not an Airflow. I’m guessing 1936 Dodge.
The split windshield and the grill sure look Airflow to me but I could be wrong. Has happened a time or two in my life!
How have you managed to have these slides remain as pristine as they are? In my experience the deteriorate with age.
Dry and in a closet away from heat, plus they might be in slide projector frames, which prevent them from sticking together.
There were 2 types of slide film back in the day- “Ektachrome” and “Kodachrome”. 2 completely different film emulsions and processing chemicals. The Ekta type is what deteriorated, Kodachrome is much, much more stable especially if stored archivally. Koda had more color saturation and was (mostly) less grainy than Ekta, until well into the 80s when Fuji Velvia came along. By then there were only a couple labs in the country that could handle Kodachrome and most slide film was the Ekta-type. Sorry for the novel.
These were all mounted Kodachromes. Well, one wasn’t a Kodachrome but I can’t remember which one. Anyway, Kodachromes hold up really, really well.
Now I see why Simon and Garfunkel sang ‘momma don’t take my Kodachrome away’.
I believe that Garfunkel was gone by that point. Paul Simon was on his own when he wrote and sang that song. I believe it was popular during the summer of 1973, as I can remember it playing on the AM radio in my parents’ 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88.
Yep. Kodachrome is on Paul Simon’s solo “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon”. Brilliant album. It was indeed ’73 (though I had to look that part up).
I like that photo of the ’66 Falcon. That might be her first car that she bought herself. She looks to be about 22 or so and fresh out of school and just starting her first job. It wouldn’t take long to save up for that $1200 repainted Falcon, maybe a half-year or so?
Maybe she didn’t want to wait.
I can hear the patter now: “My boss wants me to sell this car for $1800 but for YOU, Miss we’ll throw in the undercoating for free if you’ll buy this car for $1,500 today. Only $200 down and 38 easy payments of $50 a month!”
In just a few years she would start her new job at that big TV station in Minneapolis and move up to a cheapo Mustang….
Who can turn the world on with a smile…..
After she got that fancy job, she traded Mustangs every year apparently!
Though in her evident elation, she forgot the stay-off-the-grass rule.
One of my first jobs in the 80s was at an Auto Trader office. I always got to take home the boxes, and boxes, of submitted photos of people’s cars (that were for sale). I would ditch all the plain jane cars and keep the lookers. I still vividly remember some of the better shots of then current Vettes, Porches etc. I wish I still had that collection of pix.
Wow interesting post! I love old photos that tell a story – especially ones with cars. I recently came across a picture of my grandfather and his then year-old ’66 Chevy Bel Air wagon. I’ll have to share it soon.
The top photo looks like a 1968 Vauxhall Viva (UK)
We had a 68 HB 2 door Viva in ultima aqua and a Holden Kingswook 68 HK wagon in the same colour, I haven’t any shots of them handy though.
Now I wish I had bought some of the old photos I saw for sale at a market in Buenos Aires. Tons of them were there. Many were sepia toned with whole families proudly standing in front of their cars. Colour ones too, especially from the 1960’s and a Falcon in nearly every one!!
I’m a very strange guy. I like walking through salvage yards (or more properly junkyards) and whenever I see some old, unwrecked tired machine that died a natural death after much abuse I always try to imagine the day someone proudly brought that home as a new car.
Nothing wrong with that. I’ve done it many times in the past.
Sometimes when I am at the junkyards, where the cars are neatly arrayed in rows on stands, I do a quick math of the number of cars in a row, times the number of rows, times the $10k per car original average price (makes the math easier using the round number), and the totals are astounding. Reinforces my habit of buying used, not new.
Awesome pictures! Each one tells a great story!
In the Summer of 2005, my brother in New Orleans undertook the massive project to go through and digitize all our family pictures, which included many, many shots with cars (my father, brother and I being hard core car nuts, we had lots of those shots through the years). He gathered pictures and negatives from my mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. He was making good progress when Katrina hit, filling his home, in the Lakeview neighborhood, with over 8 feet of water. Thankfully, everyone in my family fled the city before the storm so no one was hurt, killed or trapped, but the material losses were devastating. Of everything he lost, I think my brother is saddest about the destruction of the family pictures. It was dumb luck that all the pictures were concentrated at his house at precisely the wrong moment.
I can still remember a lot of the pics even though sadly I can’t share them here. But it is great to see these (and all the others posted on this site), and it is much appreciated.
I’m the one in our family gathering and scanning all the old pictures and slides, and I can certainly understand the loss felt by your brother.
Below are some pics taken by my mom, circa 1929. She was 17 at the time, and took a lot of photographs of family and friends. Her dad was a pharmacist, and she worked part-time at his drug store, so she had access to ‘free’ film and processing (as well as ‘free’ chocolate!).
I have to imagine the stories behind these photographs, because we were unaware of the existence of this photo album until shortly before she passed away. In her album, we found pictures of her and my dad on their first date, also in 1929!
Owning a car in 1929 was a big deal, even more so in a small town in rural Quebec. So it’s not surprising that people would want to keep a photographic memory of their cars.
A couple more pics…
I suspect the picture on the left was taken from the steps of my grand-dad’s pharmacy (based on the canopy at the top of the picture). Seems like the gentleman might be checking the water level in the radiator? The gentleman could be a doctor picking up supplies at the pharmacy, based on the cross insignia/medallion attached to the license plate. Note the 1-HP four-legged CC on the right.
The picture on the right is intriguing. There’s a banner at the bottom of the windshield that reads “Guest of Canada”, with our Red Ensign flag (the precursor to our current Maple Leaf flag) on the left, and an American flag on the right. Hmmm…. I wonder who that lady might be?
Correction: I had a closer look at the picture on the right, and then checked our history on Wikipedia – the Red Ensign would not become the official flag of Canada until 1945. In 1929, we still used the “Royal Union Flag”, also known as the “Union Jack”, which we shared with England. The Maple Leaf flag we use today dates from 1965.
This article really encapsulates the joy of car ownership and the love of cars that CC is all about. As always, beautiful writing, Jim. I don’t know if the kids who lease the new BMWs, Audis, C-Class M-Bs, etc. in my beachside neighborhood really think of themselves and their cars in the same way as those folks in these photos. It was a different time, when you worked hard in the steno pool, or the first teaching job, or even waiting table, and got that base Falcon in bright red that made your day. My Dad was 40 when he wrote a check (amazingly I still have that check) for his first brand new car, a 61 Falcon. i’m still happy for him (gone now for 10 years) when I look at the pictures of him and that car.
Well I know the shot isn’t on Kodachrome since it is a print as I was just getting into 35mm photography at the time and was in the learning stages. Later, with college photography classes, I acquired a lot more knowledge and spent my time using B&W and slide. Currently have a huge stash of film in the freezer heavily leaning towards the B&W of Agfa and Ilford in 35mm and 120. Also Pan-X, Plus-X, Verichrome and about 30 rolls of Kodachrome. I did use Kodachrome and have many slides of cars from a new car show circa 1971 but this shot is Kodacolor from very early 1971.
I could get lost for hours gazing at old pictures like these. Thanks for putting up here for us.
I also continue to be amazed at how well the old Kodachromes have held up. Such rich, sharp and deep colors.
My Mom’s uncle was an avid traveler. We have images of his roaming throughout the US from late teens through the 40’s. This shot was taken in the Fresno, CA area. I was told that the cooking pots here were accessory items called Hot Pots–which were available at auto dealers made for specific engines. My grandma also told me that Uncle Will personally fabricated the running board box and the mini table that extended over the rear wheel. Extra points to the person who can ID his car.
Great photo! I believe that the car is a 1927 Studebaker.