Curbside Concours: The Family Face

It’s clear that General Motors cars in the early 1950s had a definite family face. A wide “smile” of a grille capped off by two endearing “eyes” of headlamps and a proud “forehead” of a domed hood. In the face of a lowly Chevrolet you can see the aspirations to become a Cadillac someday. And the subtle implication to buyers that they should aspire to climb the Sloan ladder with the Chevrolet’s aspirations.

All of the faces of the 1948/49-54 General Motors cars projected a powerful confidence that matched growing post war confidence. Although the cars started to break off with their own unique design details the basic formula wasn’t deviated from.

The Oldsmobile wanted you to think of international, or even intergalactic travel with the dressing of jet scoops, rocket emblems and that beautiful globe emblem telling you the world was your oyster, and all you needed was a Rand McNally Map.

Pontiac, in the midst of a perpetual identity crisis during the 1950s says so much, yet so little in its face. This school of thought for the brand, like many an Indian Chief, was about to be history with the new for 1955 V8.

Buick, however had a reason to be flashing a million dollar smile. A tide of increasing sales that were about to swamp Plymouth, and a new V8 behind this toothy smile would make any car feel like a million bucks.  It’s perhaps the best reflection of a smug General Motors that we will never see the likes of again.