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Monday, 20 June 2011

Function 4 Junction Part 2 - The 50s

Around 1950 the technology (or design) improved enough to allow front widscreen glass to be curved - but not enough to make a full curved windscreen. The cars of these years thus still retained split windscreens, but the two sides were now made from curved sections. The rear windscreen was always smaller, and thus could be mouded in one curved piece.

This was the decade of Rock'n'Roll, teenagers, crusing to the soda fountain and dancing to music on a Wurlitzer jukebox.  American car makers started to add more and more gadgets and designs to their vehicles, competing for a growing market.

Factories that had been built to produce bombs and tanks now pumped out cars, fridges, and other luxuries that we now take for granted. America had suffered nearly zero infrastructural damage in WW2, and 5% of the world's population enjoyed 95% of the luxuries it could produce. It was a good time to be American, and the cars show it.

In 53 the split windscreen was finally replaced with a one piece screen. A exterior sun visor was available (presumably at an optional extra cost), before makers realised that putting the visors inside made them easier to adjust.

The car above is a remarkable find, bought in 1953 and more or less put straight into storage, it has just 16,000 miles on the clock, and is in near-mint condition with almost no restoration. Two-tone exterior paint jobs (and two-tone interior trim), white wall tires, and bright chrome trim are typical of this era.

The dashboards of this era start to look like jukeboxes too. Compare with the muted tones in the 40s vehicle below.

I do like the design of the door panel here, with the door handle and window winder matching the lines of the handle and trim. There is an art deco feel to it.

Bench seats were also common at this time, and lots of chrome on the inside as well as out.

They didn't have built-in GPS units in the 50s, that's a later addition. This car is in beautiful condition, yet clearly used a lot if it's worth putting the GPS in.

The 55 Chevrolet Bel Air seemed to be the most heavily represented car in the show. I think the cars above and below are both 55s, the one above has the GPS and modified interior.

The 56 Chevrolet Bel Air (above) was much like the 55 but with a light redesign. Nowadays car manufacturers do a redesign every 2-3 years, so to do one every year shows how popular it was to buy a new car during the 50s.

Not sure what make this one is. The paint is a modern custom, so I'm not sure how much else is original.

A rare Ford (in this show). I doubt that Chevrolets outsold Fords to a huge extent, but maybe they made better collector cars. There's less visible chrome on this late 50s Ford than on the Chevys.

I'm pretty sure this is a 56 Chevrolet Bel Air.

I know this is a Chevrolet (the bird/plane on the hod proves that), but I can't find any online images that match it. The glass roof may thus be original, or a very good later addition.

This is a Ford F100 Pickup, I think from 1955. Running boards lasted longer on pickups because they were still necessary for getting into the cab, and even modern pickups have to have some form of step for a high cab.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It's a Chevrolet hood ornament from the mid-50s.

Towards the end of the decade the manufacturers started lowering rooflines and lengthening the bodies,  adding fins to the rear wheel arches, and strange taillights and curves on the rear end. Curves were squared off, straight lines held sway.

To my eye, the golden age of American Motoring was coming to an end. The Interstate Highway system was developing, and more and more people were driving further from home.

Next Blog Post:

The 60s and 70s

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