(first posted 2/3/2017) I’ve discovered a collection of vintage amateur Kodachrome snapshots with a heavy emphasis on cars and their owners. And they are truly splendid. I’ll give you the link to the Flickr page at the end, if you must go and indulge. But I’ll be picking some of them to show you here from time to time if you can live with deferred gratification.
First up is this rare and splendid 1954 Hudson Hornet convertible and its proud young owner, shot in about 1956.
These folks are obviously Hudson lovers, with several other Hudsons parked in the background.
Happy vacationers (presumably) in their ’61 Cadillac convertible in Florida.
1949 Buick convertible with Dynaflow and attractive legs. Must be either Florida or California; probably the former.
A rare and expensive 1953 Cadillac Eldorado at a vintage car show at the Illinois State fairgrounds, in 1953.
Enjoying the fall colors at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont in a 1954 Studebaker sedan.
Great shot of a ’55 Buick in undisclosed location. Anyone recognize it?
Proud owner of a new ’55 Chevy Bel Air coupe somewhere in California.
And here’s its A-Body cousin, a ’55 Pontiac hardtop coupe.
Another ’55 Pontiac, with the kid kids all set to go.
The happy couple on an outing in their ’56 Ford Sunliner. An Imperial shares the parking lot.
These guys resting on a ’56 Lincoln in Geneseo, NY appear to be on strike. Taken in about 1961.
Gassing up on the way to church? 1957 Buick.
Proud owner of a ’57 Buick Special Riviera four door hardtop wagon.
And another ’57 Buick. Looks like California to me.
Another proud owner with their ’56 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
This one is from Canada, as that’s a 1960 Monarch Richelieu Cruiser getting filled up, and a T-Bird in the background.
On a road trip somewhere in the California desert with a 1961 Rambler Ambassador, a rare beast that has yet to make its proper appearance at CC.
A 1964 Buick Electra 225 in a mobile home park.
I should point out here that the overwhelming preponderance of more expensive cars and lots of convertibles and hardtops in these collections undoubtedly represents the fact that most owners of typical sedans didn’t exactly spend their hard-earned dollars on expensive Kodachrome shooting them. These folks are all car-proud car-lovers, and thus they shot them; numerous times, in some cases.
1950 Buick convertible at a military camp.
One photographer shooting the other photographer and the ’56 Cadillac. Big sky country.
last but not least, this one has special meaning to me, as it’s one of my favorite spots in Central Oregon. It’s the source of the Metolius River, where it suddenly gurgles out of a massive volcanic flow that buried it eons ago. And that’s Mt. Jefferson in the background. Nowadays, one has to park a couple of hundred yards away and walk to this spot, but back then, these vacationers could drive their 1948 Buick Super woody wagon right to the edge of the bank.
More next time.
Source: Dave Gelinas’ Flickr page
Here’s a Wichita Falls St. It’s more a tornado shot, but it’s Kodachrome with 50’s iron.
I love old shots like these. Those Kodachrome pictures were – and still are – gorgeous.
I am really loving that 54 Hornet convertible. Those things were always rare, so a real Hudson Nut would have been thrilled to get it. Not loving that particular two tone treatment, though.
… and what’ s the deal with the hideous front bumper guard?
I wonder if the owners of that 53 Eldo at the vintage car show had any inkling that 50 years later their car (or cars like it) might themselves be a focal point in a car show?
Or that the field would have been full of Chevys and Dodges. 🙂
I doubt that the well dressed folks pumping Shell into the 57 Buick were on their way to church, as most places were closed on Sundays back then. I don’t know the average age of folks who comment, but the youngun’s tend to forget that there was a time before 24/7/365 and stores, service stations, and restaurants often were not open on the sabbath. That is one thing from the “good old days” I am happy is gone.
Maybe not as an employee of those places. Folks who work retail have terrible schedules.
Good point on it not bring a sunday, though. Wouldn’t have been too uncommon for folks to be dressed like that on a regular day. My guess is they are on their way to the train station or airport. People dressed up to travel.
Exactly my thought!
Great shots, the pride these folks have in their vehicles is evident. Too bad the stories that go along with them have been lost.
some old historical Toronto photos featuring cars. This one from 1972
I’m digging that Challenger and the ’71 LTD.
Toronto 1965 (from Vintage Toronto group on Facebook)
Austin 1800 in the middle lane.
Looks like the Coronet is heading south on the Don Valley Parkway. Not much traffic back then!
I really, really like the two-tone paint job in the first print (and in several others). Too bad that sort of design has fallen out of favor. Anyone know about when this particular aesthetic faded away (pun intended)?
I would be very surprised if that were a factory 2 tone on that 54 Hudson. Two toned bodies seem to have disappeared after about 1959 for the most part, before coming back again for awhile in the late 70s.
I like tu-tone paint jobs also. I own 2 that way. 71 Maverick and 76 Maverick. If the colors don’t clash too much, even some of the 50’s tri-tone paint jobs don’t look bad.
Beautiful scenery, beautiful cars. I’m in love with that little blue ’56 Ford. The ’57 Buick convertible is great, too.
No kidding, the blue convertible top really makes the Ford stand out. The adjacent Imperial is another beauty.
All those now-old cars, when they were new or nearly new, and their colors fresh and bright. And Kodachrome, that astonishing, ultra-fine-grain film with terrific color and amazing durability. (It’s hard to scan, though, to get all the detail that’s in the dark areas of photos!) Thank goodness for the people who used it to take pictures of their cars!
Loving several of the Buicks–the ’49 Convertible (and not just for the driver), the ’57 wagon, the ’64 Electra. And of course the woody.
That Hudson is quite an interesting one too. Rare enough to start with, plus a doubly unusual two-tone both in color and in pattern. And then it’s a convertible as well…though, judging by the awkward cut line above the windshield frame, one that was not originally thought of when the car was designed!
I was thinking exactly the same thing. Look at how neat the fit is of the other convertibles. Why was that Hudson such a poor job? It does not fit above the doors and it’s a mess above the windscreen. Was this a factory convertible?
Yes, the factory Hudson Stepdown convertible had a “sawed-off” windshield frame instead of a specific convertible windshield frame.
The car has non stock paint, and there are derelict Hudsons in the background, so the actual history of this car could be as colorful as its paint job. It seems unlikely to me that someone would repaint (vandalize, really) a good 1954 convertible in 1956 like that, if that’s the correct date. Either the car is a rebuilt 1954 wreck or it’s a mashup of newer Hudson parts on an older convertible. It’s a one piece windshield, but that may be a straight swap between older and newer Stepdowns. The rear fender isn’t clear in the pictures, but it looks like it has the low wraparound tailights instead of the high straight rear fender and tail light of an actual 54 Hudson.
According to Wikipedia, 1956 Maine license plates were renewable through 1961.
Swell looking doll, ’49 Buick Convertible, What more can I say…But, here’s a car spotting challenge: Using the reflection in the Buick’s fender….what is parked next to it? ?
Hudson convertibles always had the extended windshield top molding. They sent their sedans to a custom coachworks to have them made into convertibles. At least on the later step-down unibody cars, this provided extra stiffness to the windshield frame and helped prevent body flex.
As for the two-tone treatment, I believe that’s factory. I’ve seen other two-toned Hudsons, they all had the same treatment. Two-toning actually detracted from the otherwise sleek lines of the Hornet and Jet, so most people opted to forgo them. Two-toning in general fell out of favor as the use of side chrome trim and sweepspears disappeared; it just didn’t look right without the trim to cover the color change.
My brother’s first car was a 1966 Corvair Monza 4DR hardtop, the only two-toned Corvair I ever saw. The spec plate in the doorjamb confirmed two colors from the factory. (Special order, perhaps?)
White with a blue top and it had thin chrome moldings at the base of the C-pillar. While they were shaped to match the flare of the rear fenderline, they still broke the visual grace of the design. It wasn’t as bad as a vinyl roof, to be sure; the car was beautiful in that color combination…but it just didn’t feel right when you looked at it.
Now that I think about it….I have NEVER seen a 2 tone Corvair!
The two tone paint below the side chrome is a factory style on earlier Stepdowns, but the two tone hood and windshield header isn’t.
Any guesses what’s the car to the left of the 1953 Eldorado? It feels European, but the bumper looks wrong.
The yellow headlamp suggests a direct import from France. To me, it looks like a Peugeot 403, except that the bumper isn’t right. Also, I think the 403 didn’t enter production until about 1955.
It sure looks a lot like a French Ford Comète (1951-1954) to me:
It is a French made Ford Comete
Here is a pic of the other side of the Caddy
I love-love-love the Kodachrome look! All these cars very new-ish when photographed, so in top condition.
After those first two Hudson shots, we’re in Miami Beach, with plenty of nicer/newer vehicles in the “Shamrock Isle” parking lot. $25 nightly was, indeed, for “discerning” clientele in the early 1960s (this ad from the Princeton Alumni magazine, of all things):
The photo of the Buick, with the castle like turret in the background. Possibly in Mexico?
Their license plates have an odd two-two-two letter and number combos. As most here in US have three-three type combos.
I’m convinced it has to be Mexico; Baja, perhaps.
From some googling, I think the license plates are 1955 or 1956 District of Columbia plates.
I jumped to an erroneous conclusion. Thanks.
An art/architecture historian friend describes the castle-turret thing as somewhat Italianate rather than surely-Spanish. It’s a long shot, but is there any chance our DC Buick driver could have his car over on the Continent?
For the ’56 Lincoln in Geneseo, NY, perhaps during the May-June 1961 Communication Workers strike (I didn’t see any ’62’s in the photo; clipping is 8 June):
I guess you beat me to it!
^^^^Only a matter of a couple minutes’ difference James—I’ll call it a “photo finish.” I smiled to recognize “CWA” there ’cause I worked for Bell Telephone for a while when Ma Bell still existed, and so I was a CWA member; always eager to strike, they were (in my experience).
I had relatives with “Ma Bell” too. So I recognized the CWA. and oddly also had completely different relatives from the Rochester,NY area (connected with a certain company that provided Kodachrome…)
I was wondering what CWA stood for. Here in Australia it’s Country Women’s Association.
The 1949 Buick (never heard of the place):
That building still exists in beautiful and sunny Venice Florida, the first floor is a bunch of shops and restaurants, I believe the second and third floor are apts/ condos.
The web site theoldmotor.com has a weekly feature with four or five color pictures of older cars, taken when they were in daily use. Like the photos above the Kodachrome really makes the colors stand out. In addition, the site shorpy.com has published many old Kodachrome slides, beginning in the thirties. Shorpy doesn’t concentrate so much on cars but instead tends to cover a broad spectrum of human interests. It is fascinating to at these pictures and see how people went about their lives 40/50/60 years ago.
The strikers are with the Communication Workers of America, So the telephone booth in this photo makes sense! Local 1170 is in Rochester,NY about a half hour north of Geneseo,NY
I feel dumb respondiing to myself,but I did a quick check of the current street view (Main at Center), Not changed much! Diagonal parking and most buildings,ETC….There’s even a (more modern) payphone! ?
The 1964 Buick Electra 225 (trailer park): I’d forgotten about those deluxe “General Dual 90” tires from the 1960s:
Someone need to reproduce those! The 1963 version of the Electra 225 is what made me a Buick guy. My great uncle had one, as a kid, I was more into it than a GTO….?
I think the first 1/25 scale plastic model car I built was a ’63 Electra 225, by AMT. At least I remember it was a Buick.
In Re; Electra225/trailer park Mid 60’s when taken. Having grown up in a mobile home (on acreage), I know that MH’s of that era where 12’x60′ Making that 225 about 1/3 the length of the home! As an adult in the 1980’s wifey and I bought a 14’x70′ MH in Florida and put it on a nice 1 acre lot in woods. Struggling to make ends meet, had a car lot offer us a HUGE ’74or ’75 gaudy white over yellow Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Partly padded white roof, white interior that looked like the inside of Elvis’s coffin. We declined. I was 31, she was 26. NOT the right age for driving the beast. And parked beside the home, it looked like it could have been used as a guest room!
That Electra is a gorgeous color!
In the second photo of the ’54 Hudson convertible with its dapper young blade proudly standing by, note down to the right another step-down Hudson tipped on its side, a bronze and white sedan. We forget that back then junked cars were frequently tipped on their sides to strip useful parts from the chassis. By all the Hudsons present, I’d opine this was an active dealership if before 1958 or one of those former dealers that kept on servicing loyal Hudson customer after AMC took over.
Thanx for sharing these .
Such amazing photos! Thanks for sharing these Paul!
That ’64 Electra is breathtaking. The scenery surrounding it, not so much.
VERY curious where that ’55 Buick was shot, if anybody knows.
I’m quite sure it must be Mexico, due to the odd license plates.
I don’t know the location that the car and driver are in but the car itself was registered in Washington DC.
If you look at the picture on the person’s Flickr site you can see 3 words on the bottom of the plate. These 3 words are District Of Columbia. On the top middle it says Nation’s Capital. In the top corners it would have the month and day and the year it expired.
This plate type was issued from 1955 to 1956. DC was influenced by the Maryland license plates of the time which were also a XX-XX-XX number set up.
Here is a link to a page about DC plates
Now as to where this car is, your guess is as good as mine. I am thinking somewhere in the Southwest or Cali or Mexico.
Thanks for the correction.
A hunch it looks like Italy and some persistent Google image searching led me to discover it is in fact the Radicofani Fortress in Tuscany! Consulting G’Maps street view, I think the photo was taken from the road designated SP478 on the map, just SE of the town of Radicofani. Now I REALLY want to know how a car with DC plates ended up there!
Perhaps connected to an ambassador? (The non AMC/Nash type ),
Aha! We have a winner.
I saw quite a number of American cars in Austria with US plates. Could be foreign service, or military, or possibly a foreign posting with a large company. It’s not that unusual.
Marvellous! Great work, Charlie. Satisfied my curiosity. I imagine it was a diplomatic or service member vehicle.
Thanks for the awesome trip into the past with those great pictures!
I used to love seeing pics with old cars in my grandparents’ family photo album. The ones from the 50s were always black & white. My family members struck the same poses you see in this post, everyone looking as proud as can be. But these images in their glorious color make me dream even more about what it was like back then. Many thanks!
That white Imperial 4-door hardtop in the background of one of the photos could be the 1958 I had; it’s a dead ringer for it.
Really just a technical question. I have a lot of old Kodak color slides at home – how do you create these wonderful web images from them? Thanks
A slide scanner.
Unfortunately, I can’t make any specific recommendations. You might check out reviews of various models. Google is your friend.
Thanks for the kind advice – I will pursue one.
The excellent colour correction, sharpening, and overall polish, applied to these images, is outstanding. And adds a great deal to their sense of modernity. They look and feel like recent captures. Makes the most over-styled cars, appear even more outlandish.
The 1960 Monarch Richelieu Cruise is wearing Ontario license plates also. I cannot place the location. Speed limit still in MPH.
Beautiful pictures! However, make mine the ’56 Chevy Bel Air that appears behind the rather rare ’57 Buick wagon! 🙂 DFO
That gorgeous Buick woody wagon is the twin brother of the one in the movie “Julie and Julia”, brought to France by Paul and Julia Child. Same color and everything.