I’ve been perusing another trove of vintage snapshots, and these two, presumably shot on the same day, rather grabbed me. It took me a couple of minutes to identify this splendid superliner, as initially I thought it was the Queen Elizabeth. It’s the SS France, which was launched in 1961, and was the pride of its country. But like all of these liners, it fell on hard times and she was laid up in 1974, and sold Norwegian Cruise Lines, and renamed the Norway. After a long career as a cruise ship, she was sold and resold, with the designs for either refitting or scrapping, but the liner was laid up eventually over environmental concerns. She was finally scrapped in 2008.
And how long did this 1960 Plymouth survive?
The other shot features the Queen Mary, a ship I had the pleasure to explore at its berth in Long Beach, CA. I really enjoyed that day, exploring it from stem to stern, and those areas that had been preserved and open to the tour. The Queen Mary was launched in 1934, and stayed popular on the transatlantic route along with her younger sister, the Queen Elizabeth, until 1967 when she was retired. Her chief rival was the Normandie, a more advanced-looking ship and outfitted in more modern design. But the QM kept the Blue Ribbon for fastest transatlantic crossing time and also was more popular with passengers. She finally had to give the Blue Ribband to the United States in 1952, the fastest ship of its kind ever built.
And how fast was that 1957 Chrysler?
Related: Dockside Classic: SS United States – Will the World’s fastest Ocean Liner be Saved?
That’s not a 60 Chrysler – but you knew that, right?
“Suddenly it’s 1960!”
I did, especially as I even made a point to confirm it. But my fingers obviously didn’t get the message. The ’60 is quite different indeed!
CarrieonSapharie is right.
I would say that Chrysler in the second photo is a 1958, or a late model 1957.
You have to be really [really] old to know this trivial fact, and it helps if one drove these Chryslers in their prime.
Off the line quite quick indeed (for its time), especially the four barrel New Yorkers, thanks mostly to the Torqueflite transmission.
But, if you’re going to punch off at 50 mph against a 394 Super 88 or 389 Bonneville, you will not win. And forget 283 ci 230 hp powerglide Corvettes – they were much faster than one would expect…
… power to weight ratio, and stuff like that.
How do I know this?
I read a lot.
Ever drove one?
Fabulous pictures! But isn’t that Chrysler a 57?
And is that a 61-63 Rambler American behind the 60 Plymouth?
A tourist shot I took of the Queen Mary in 1997. I seem to recall they had a Soviet submarine parked next to her, but my photographic evidence of that seems to be missing. Alas google confirms the presence of the disgruntled sub next to the QM.
I love a car with nice big fins… :^)
I read that the Mopar engineers never referred to the fins as fins. They called them stabilizers. Likely some of those same engineers worked on the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona.
The owner manual of my 1958 Plymouth referred to fins as “Towering Directional Stabilizers”.
Evidence of marketers rather than engineers writing the owner manual perhaps?
Another advantage of the fins is that the driver can easily see all four corners of the car, making it quite easy to park for a car of its size. The power steering and brakes don’t hurt either.
My wife commuted via the Southworth ferry to downtown Seattle in our 1957 New Yorker 4-door hardtop for several months. When co-workers asked if it was a problem to drive and park, she would just smile.
The ship Le France had inspired once the creator of the Franco-Belgian comic book series Ric Hochet to put an adventure set in that ship.
Thank you Paul for remembering these beloved ships of state. It was with deep sadness that the France (Norway) was scrapped. The “super” Normandie was the last of the French Atlantic greyhounds. With the Big “U” in such a state only the Queen Mary serves as an example of the glamour and style of great age of Atlantic travel.
From Yesterday’s New York Times obituary section. Nice cross section of cars.
Wow! A perfect example of the different lives a car can lead. There are all kinds of clean and functional 1959-60-era cars on the road in that shot, but this 6 year old Plymouth (arguably the hardiest of them all) has been beaten to within an inch of its life. Jeez, today someone might still be making payments on a car of that age.
Second picture, in front of the Chrysler….54 Olds??
Well, I don’t know how long the 1960 Plymouth in the first pic survived, two of them are the subject cars on the last few Coldwar Motors videos on u tube. As for the SS France, later the SS Norway, my wife and I took a cruise on her back in 1991 or 1992. While it was quite luxurious, our room was very near the area where the anchor chains passed, quite noisy at all hours of the day. The sink and tub faucets had very different controls from what we considered normal, then again, it was a French ship…
Being picky, but it’s the Blue Riband, rather than a Blue Ribbon.
And here’s the last two Blue Riband holders – United States and Queen Mary in Southampton Waters circa 1956/’57. Could the dark clouds overhead be a metaphor for the advent of Trans-Atlantic Jets services in 1958?
As soon as I saw those stacks in the first shot, I knew it was the S.S. France. Nothing else like it. Same with the fins on that old Plymouth, but for different reasons. Very cool. As a boy, my dad saw the Queen Mary being launched – they were given the afternoon off school to see it. Also cool.
Took a magnificent cruise on the Norway in 1996, one I’ll never forget. A Grande Dame of the high seas, I was sorry to read about its demise.
Didn’t turnout well for the Renault or the ship for that matter.
Noticed the ’60 Plymouth shown is a full-size two door sedan, a model quite popular pre-1960. Full size two door sedans seemed to shrink in popularity little by little during the ’60’s, then dramatically after that. Other than sports coupes like Mustang, Camaro and Challenger, I can’t think of any 2 doors today.
On my way to work yesterday, I saw a mid 90’s Honda Accord coupe in traffic. It occurred to me that, outside of modern-day ponycars, there are no more two door cars.
I swear it happened all at once, I woke up one day and there were no more two door versions of cars…
The Queen Mary had a better fate than the Queen Elizabeth, which was bought, transited to Hong Kong to become a floating university, and eventually sank in the harbor. The hulk was the putative home of the British Secret Service in The Man With the Golden Gun.
I believe FRANCE was one of the first ships that was constructed with a bulbous bow, in the need for speed and low drag.
A lot of aluminium structures were used for her super structure to keep weight down.
FRANCE was an SS, or steamship, this means she had steam-turbines installed which used a hughe amount of fuel to heat water to produce steam for her turbines.
These turbines are actually very small, US companies like General Electric were famous steam turbine producers..
Like other great ladies, furniture throughout the whole ship was tailor made.
She was never really successfull as a cruise liner, she was puposely built to cross the North Atlantac and was built very sleek to gain speed and her fuel consumption was horrendous !
French singer Michel Sardou wrote a song about her sorry state when she was laid up for the first time for a couple of years, she was not scavenged but well guarded and remained fully intact.
First bulbous bow on an ocean liner was the Normandie which was laid down in 1929. Several US aircraft carriers that were initially designed to be battle ships in the mid 1920’s had this “Taylor” bow- the Lexington was one. Vladimir Yurkevich was the pioneering naval architect behind the Nornandie and it’s bow design. Her ability to smoothly glide through the water is evident in photos of her underway. The Queens look to have a “bone in their mouths” as they plow through the sea. Very inefficient. William Francis Gibbs followed his lead with the SS United States.
1st quibble: The pictures look to me like scanned Kodachrome slides, not what I would call snapshots. This explains the good quality.
2nd quibble: Lexington (CV-2) was converted from a battle cruiser, not a battleship, in compliance with the Washington Naval Treaty. It has been found by Paul Allen’s RV Petrel, in very good condition other than battle damage. The crew were all rescued so it’s not a war grave.
Battle cruisers had a checkered history, so the conversion was just as well. Problem was, they were intended for the cruiser role, with thin armor for speed but more powerful guns (sort of like a big-block intermediate), yet were used as battleships, sometimes with disastrous results such as at Jutland and against the Bismarck.
There’s a clip of Michel Sardou’s song with photos de France then I founded by luck.
The Queen Mary and most if not all passenger liners of the mid 20th Century were steam turbine. Parsons made the ones for the Queen Mary. Yes, speed on the water cost a lot of fuel.
It’s actually the “Blue Ribband”
Even the cheapest, entry level Mopar was a gorgeous automotive work of art for this model year.
Indeed, but that beauty came at a terrible cost. Literally.
A new feature: Dockside Classic :P.
I love these old liners. The France had a long, profitable career (NCL basically saved her from being scrapped in the 1970s like some of her contemporaries). And the Queen Mary has to be one of the most iconic ships of the 20th century.
The Normandie, beautiful ship that she was, was being refitted as a troopship in 1942 when she caught fire and capsized in New York harbor. Sadly, the ship was a complete write off.