Category: 1950’s

This Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Is a Rare Example of GM’s Ultimate in 1950s Luxury and a Dream Realized – Jim Black @Hemmings

This Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Is a Rare Example of GM’s Ultimate in 1950s Luxury and a Dream Realized – Jim Black @Hemmings


Gliding with the “Blue Lady”

As announced in December 1956 and available by March 1957, the Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham was designed by Ed Glowacke, who was part of Harley Earl’s design studio at General Motors. Arguably the most beautiful and most sought-after Cadillac ever built, the Eldorado Brougham was Cadillac’s response to Ford Motor Company’s Continental Mark II. The prototype Brougham was a hand-built, true pillarless four-door hardtop that first debuted as a featured show car in the GM Motorama for 1955. Derived from the ultra-luxurious Park Avenue and Orleans show cars of 1953-’54, the Brougham was stunning with its brushed-stainless-steel roof. Other exterior ornamentation included polished-stainless-steel lower rear-quarter panels with full rocker sills and rectangular-shaped side body coves cut into the front and rear doors, with horizontal wind-splits set into each cove. The pillarless four-door design had the rear doors opening toward the rear of the car (“suicide” style), allowing easy access for back-seat occupants. With all four doors open you could barely see the stub B-pillar.

The Brougham was the first to offer quad headlamps that, at the time, were still illegal in some states. The air suspension also proved unreliable, and Cadillac later released a kit to convert cars to rear coil-sprung suspension. Broughams still using the factory air suspension are rarer and thus more valuable today.

At 5,315 pounds, the Eldorado Brougham was a brute and required Cadillac’s largest and most powerful overhead-valve V-8 engine. The V-8, fed via dual Carter four-barrel carburetors and backed by Cadillac’s Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic transmission, produced 325 hp at 4,800 rpm and 400 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm

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12 Motoring Classics From the 1950s Under $25,000 – @Hemmings


The period following World War II was an amazing time of optimism and prosperity in the U.S., with industry booming and technology advancing rapidly. Meanwhile, Americans were feeling good about life in the free world and many were flush with cash thanks to the strong job market. This all meshed to create a perfect storm of consumer demand that was advancing beyond the need to obtain products that hadn’t been readily available during the war—now, people were buying to satisfy desire as much as need.

The domestic automakers were perfectly poised to satisfy that demand, coming off of war contracts that had been followed by frenzied car sales after years of halted automobile production. The war had also pushed the development of technology, and style was once again a primary criterion for car shoppers. Detroit spent the decade trying to outdo itself, yielding some of the most ornately styled and trimmed cars of all time, while also recognizing that even truck buyers thought about aesthetics. Meanwhile, European automakers were pursuing their own versions of performance and style, creating some landmark designs as the decade unfolded.

This period would shine brightly, but relatively briefly, as trends continued to evolve rapidly and the 1960s would see its own characteristic features. By the 1970s, cars of the ’50s seemed like artifacts of a long-gone era, and nostalgia for that time kicked in with substantial force, driving collectors and restorers to latch onto the remaining examples to keep the memories alive. That drive hasn’t ever fully subsided, and cars and trucks of the 1950s are still very popular with car enthusiasts and collectors, including many who hadn’t even been born when those models were new.

Yet, ’50s cars still make for an excellent enthusiast ownership experience. In many cases, parts are available, and if not, strong networks of fans and specialists are ready to help locate spares to facilitate restorations or even just to keep these models on the road. Speaking of the road, cars of this period tend to be decent drivers, as the highway system was coming online and the ability to cruise smoothly at 60-plus mph became more the norm.

We wanted to illustrate that there are models from the 1950s that are also still attainable by gathering a selection of examples that are enjoyable to own, fun to drive, and still affordable. In this case, we’re considering anything costing $25,000 or less in good, presentable, and driveable condition to be affordable—that seems to be what the market thinks, too. Ponder these examples from a fantastic period in automotive design and let us know what else you think ought to have been included

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Chevy’s 1955-1957 passenger cars remain the aspirational American ideal of a better future now – Jeff Koch @Hemmings


The idea of a truly all-new car is tempting fate. Each system, each individual component requires so much effort to work properly in concert with a thousand other components, in myriad conditions, that body/chassis and drivelines often see their launches staggered. A newly styled car, or one with an all-new chassis, often starts life with a carryover powertrain; a new engine may show up in an existing chassis years into a model’s gestation. Doing it all at once is an expensive gamble.

All-new for the fall of 1954, Chevrolet’s full-size line was lower, cleaner, lighter, and more powerful than the previous year’s Chevrolet. While the Chevy bowtie appears prominently on the hood and hubcaps, the Chevrolet name doesn’t appear on the exterior of the car.

That said, if anyone could launch an all-new car, it was Chevrolet. Its status as America’s best-selling car brand for the bulk of the postwar era brought success and swagger. For 1955, Chevy needed a new car to keep up with the competition’s advances—and the division’s engineers and stylists delivered; Chevy’s V-8-powered 1955 sedan lineup really was as new as it got in Detroit in the ’50s. Comparing the 1954 and ’55 Chevy lines, virtually the only things that remained were the conventional front-engine/rear-drive layout, names (150, 210, Bel Air, et al), the chassis’ 115-inch wheelbase, and the wheel-and-tire combo. All-new body, all-new chassis, all-new V-8 engine, and new optional overdrive behind the (admittedly extant) three-speed manual transmission. You’d scarcely believe a ’54 and a ’55 Bel Air were built a model year apart.

Visuals first. Chevy’s new body was actually an inch narrower than the ’54’s—but because the ’55 convertible was 2½ inches lower (and wagons 5-plus inches lower!), the new car looked wider. Yet headroom was comparable, despite the lower roofline. A wrap-around “Sweep-Sight” windshield arrived, as did 18 percent more glass area for better visibility across the lower fenders. Crisp, almost formal lines made for a cleaner profile, with a minimum of filigree: just an elegant spear on 150 and Bel Air models, all the better to outline the optional two-tone paint offerings. The 1954’s ornate grille was exchanged for a tight egg-crate pattern. Fender tops hooded the headlamps; this, the side trim and the rakish rooflines combined to make the Chevy appear to strain against its leash and demand to run at full speed

Yes, the ancient 235-cubic-inch Blue Flame Six remained—available with manual transmission and 123 horsepower, or 136 ponies with Powerglide. But Chevy’s clean-sheet V-8 was the big news. Engineered by future GM president Ed Cole, Corvette-world legend Zora Arkus-Duntov, and a handpicked group of engineers, it was a wonder of high-tech simplicity. It featured a strong thin-wall block, using up-to-date casting techniques; an over-square bore/stroke that allowed it to rev; five main bearings; forged steel crankshaft; individual stamped-steel rocker arms; interchangeable heads; and self-lubricating hydraulic lifters. Chevy’s V-8 started off modest—162 horsepower for a standard two-barrel 265 with 8:1 compression, although the optional Power Pack (with four-barrel carb and dual exhaust) was rated at 180 horses; the rare Corvette-sourced 195-hp Super Power Pack added the famous Duntov cam and higher-compression pistons. Each V-8 block was painted a vivid shade of orange, so that no one could miss it when the hood was raised.

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11 vintage auto ads showcasing terrible places to park a car – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


Automotive print advertising must reach out and grab the attention of readers to entice them to visit dealers and buy cars. Back in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, some went to great lengths to sell their rolling masterpieces.

Glamorous building facades, exotic locales, posh parties, cozy picnics, and action-packed sporting events became popular settings. Though consumers likely spent their ownership years with any car using legally designated parking areas, to make a statement some advertisers instead chose to place subject vehicles in spaces that were impractical, normally prohibited, or just plain odd.Since cherished models of this era have now transitioned to collector cruisers from workaday drivers, and a significant number of them have been treated to several-thousand-dollars-worth of restoration work, not many current owners would likely be willing to park their cars in some of the spots depicted in the following ads.

Nevertheless, just seeing these automotive treasures again will transport you to their erstwhile eras.

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A Rambler Rebel station wagon would make for a cool custom. Here’s how I’d build one – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


I’m a simple man with simple tastes. I like my action movies loud, my adult beverages cold, and my Ramblers to be a curious mid-century-styled blend of panache and performance with a specific mix of functionality and technology with select modern upgrades. I mean, you can’t really ask for much less than that, right?To keep from going stir crazy these last several months—and particularly since I messed up my shoulder—I’ve started going through all the boxes full of old stuff in the attic and basement. I came across my old models, which was great fun for a femtosecond, as well as a notebook full of ideas for classic cars as I felt they should have been built or as I would have built them had I a sugar momma and a garage that didn’t constantly get filled up with other projects.

Some of those ideas actually still hold up all these years later, which either meant that I had too much time to daydream the perfect setup when I was younger or that my daydreams really haven’t changed all that much.Take, for instance, my concept for a Rambler station wagon. I’ve always wanted a 1958-1960 full-/midsize Rambler wagon. Something about that stepped roof and reverse-slanted C-pillar appealed to me even before Nissan ripped it off for the WA60/JA60 Armada/QX56.

Sure, maybe it reduced total interior space by a cubic foot or so, and maybe it was just a way for American Motors to reduce tooling costs by sharing panels and interior structure between the sedans and wagons, but I still like it. That quad-headlamp front end always reminded me of the contemporary Chevrolets and Checkers, and while I don’t necessarily have anything against the flamboyant fins or wraparound windshield of the 1958 and 1959 models (and I wouldn’t kick one of those out of the garage for leaking oil), my preference lies with the toned-down winglets and conventional windshield of the 1960 models

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Seeing really is believing – a Tucker did indeed race in NASCAR, and we found the photo to prove it – Jim Donnelly @Hemmings


Joe Merola of Braddock, PA entered the Tucker in the 1951 Memorial Day race
One of the things you learn very quickly here is that there’s never any telling what the Hemmings Nation can uncover, especially on this blog. In that spirit, we present this photo, furnished by Ron Pollock of Niles, Ohio. If the name’s familiar, that’s because we recently posted a photo from Ron’s sold-out 50-year history of Sharon Speedway in northeastern Ohio, which depicted a 1961 Chevrolet bubbletop turned into an uncommonly good-looking pavement Late Model.
Ron checked in again this week. The photo above depicts what may be the only Tucker Torpedo ever used in a racing event. He used the image in another book he authored, a history of Canfield Speedway, a half-mile dirt track that operated between 1946 and 1973 at the Mahoning County Fairgrounds, outside Youngstown. Ron was trying to respond to an earlier question on the Hemmings blog about whether a Tucker had ever been raced in NASCAR. The date on the photo suggests it ran at Canfield over Memorial Day in 1951.

Rudy Makela’s 1950 WOW Cadillac – One of America’s Earliest Custom Cadillacs – @UndiscoveredClassics


Hi Gang…

The story below was written by my good friend Rik Hoving who runs the Custom Car Chronicle.  Rik and I share a great appreciation for both custom cars and sport customs.  Those of you interested in these kinds of cars should visit his website via the link below:

Click Here To Visit Rik Hoving’s Custom Car Chronicle

For me this story goes back to 2010 when I was well into my research into Sport Custom Cars in America.  As I dug into this subject, I was surprised and impressed to see a wider variety of designs being built in the late 1940s and early 1950s than I had ever seen before.  What I was witnessing during my readings was a consolidation of designs – agreements in styling methods and other types of convergence on “what” would be a “custom car” and “what” would be a “sports car.”  Rudy Makella’s WOW Cadillac jumped out from the pages of magazines when I first saw it.

As you’ll learn in Rik’s story below, Rudy’s and his family owned a power hammer company – what we know call a metal shaping company.  They were located in Indianapolis, Indiana and built custom ordered/modified ambulances, hearses, limousines and more.  Rudy was a young man at the time working for his father’s company when he decided he wanted to create a custom car of his own design.  Starting with an early 1940s Cadillac convertible, Rudy created an entirely new body for it – one in which the entire front clip rolled forward to reveal the engine when needed.  A unique design and a unique car.  Worthy of attention the first time I saw it in the magazines.  Then I found the real deal.

In 2010, Stephen Lisak had posted photos of the car he had found nearly two decades before and saved from a junkyard.  With a bit of research, I confirmed what the car was and shared it Stephen and his wife Mary – the nicest folks you’d ever hope to meet.  Over the years we became fast friends and late in 2018 I bought the car.

Back in 2014, Rik Hoving worked with Stephen Lisak to create a story about Stephen’s car – the WOW Cadillac.  Recently I asked Rik if we could share his story of this car with our readers here at Undiscovered Classics and today’s story is the result of Rik saying “yes.”  Thanks Rik!  So away we go.

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Could this be the most beautiful Ford ever? – Art Michalik


Popular with French celebrities at the time, the Comète is often overlooked when considering Ford’s best designs. To this day, the coachbuilt coupé is easily one of, if not the, most attractive Ford ever built and sold to the public.

The V-8 powered Fords were both large for the European market and expensive. Not only were they more costly to produce but the French taxation system severely penalized cars powered by engines larger than 2.0 liters.

Lehideux turned to the same consortium of Stabilimenti Farina and Facel-Métalion that had produced the Simca Huit-Sport. It’s likely the motivations behind Farina and Facel-Métalion coming on board were that Ford was a stronger distribution partner than Simca and that the Ford V8 was far more powerful than the Fiat-derived Simca 1.1 L engine.

By European standards, the Comète was a sizeable car. It measured 182” long and 55” inches high, about the same as a current BMW 4-Series. In comparison to the modern BMW, it was narrower by 10”. Weight was hefty for the time at 2,844 lbs.

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Learning from the best: Mom’s fast-lane driver’s education course – Jim van Orden @Hemmings


Dad taught Mom to drive his Model-T around 1928, and she taught me to drive my 1951 Mercury in 1960. She could shift and drive fast with the best. What a great “driver-ed” instructor. Photos by the author, except where noted.

Remember who taught you how to drive? And the car in which you learned?
Despite freezing cold, I sweated bullets waiting for the light to turn green. Looking in the rearview mirror, the car behind appeared too close for comfort. Would I roll on the steep hill and crush its bumper when I let out the clutch?
Mom, sitting next to me, wasn’t worried.
“Relax and give it some gas,” she suggested. The light turned green, I revved my 1951 Mercury’s flathead, slipped the clutch and pulled away smartly.
“Nice!” she sang with praise. I was proud, too. It was 1960 and this was my first mile of driving. I was so nervous I repeatedly stalled the Mercury. Thanks to Mom, who brimmed with confidence, my nerves calmed with each mile.
“Pull over and let me drive. I want to show you a few things,” she requested.

Why Studebaker Failed: In the End, It is Always Management – Richard M Langworth


Why did Studebaker go out of business? I have your book Studebaker 1946-1966, originally published as Studebaker: The Postwar Years.

I worked for the old company at the end in Hamilton, Ontario. Your book brought back memories of many old Studebaker hands. Stylists Bob Doehler and Bob Andrews were good friends about my age.

I am looking forward to the last chapter discussing how Studebaker went wrong, especially since I also have theories. It would fun to compare notes. I often quote from your book: “For many years, Raymond Loewy Associates would be the only thing standing between Studebaker and dull mediocrity.”

Like you I owned a 1962 Gran Turismo Hawk, a surprisingly impressive car. Drove it back and forth to Hamilton when we were working on the last 1966 production Studebakers. I put a ’53 Starliner decklid on it and ’54 Starliner wheel covers; I thought each addition was an improvement. —B.M.

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