Back in the day – part 2

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The Fabulous Fifties! Americans were fascinated and obsessed with rockets and jet engines and car designers gave them just that with the designs of the 1950’s.  Hood ornaments, tailfins, and lots of chrome reflected the culture of America at that time.

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1959 brought an excess of space age details to automobile designs.  Fueled by the Space Age and America’s first man in space, tailfins reached maximum height in car designs. The 1959 Cadillac Series 60 Fleetwood’s bullet shaped taillights imitated jet airplane stabilizers and the tailfins were at their pinnacle.  At 19 feet in length this model would be the longest Cadillac ever to be made.  Imagine trying to parallel park this one in one of today’s parking spaces!

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This car was my favorite in the exhibit, probably for sentimental reasons. One is that as a teenager I remember occasionally seeing one of these models on the road and having my father explain that the obsession with tailfins had reached its excess with the 1959 models.  Looking back he agreed that they were really ridiculous!

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To read part one in this series click here.

These cars were on display at the McNay Art Museum.

 

Back in the day – part 1

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1956 Chrysler De Soto Firedome Seville

Ah, how I love anything vintage and this display of classic cars has my name written all over it! I was not disappointed with any of them and secretly wished I could have a ride in at least one…or two…or all of them! As a child and young teen I would see some of these still on the road and now to see these restored and preserved is exciting. So, here we go with American Dreams.

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It’s delightful…It’s delovely….It’s De Soto! read the ads for the large sedan with a V-8 engine. And rightfully so as it featured a 12-volt electrical system to run a power radio antenna, power seats, and a Highway Hi-Fi record player (although I’m not sure how you would keep a needle on a record on a bumpy road). Consumers could choose between a 3-speed manual transmission or a push button transmission, the first to be offered in the United States.

 

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This Firedome has undergone extensive restoration.  Painted in factory correct tones of shell pink and irridescent burgundy it also has New Original Stock (NOS) upholstery.

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1954 Packard  Caribbean

Truly a luxury car only 400 Caribbeans were manufactured in 1954.  All came standard with leather upholstery and spare tire carrier on the back. The last true Packard would roll off the assembly line in 1956.

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California Dreamin’

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Chrome and stainless steel trim stretched the entire length of the car. During the mid-1950’s many of the smaller car manufacturers declined under competition with the Big Three – Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.

 

 

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1957 Ford Thunderbird

Although the T-bird was fitted with a V-8 engine Ford promoted it as a personal luxury car rather than a sports car.   Chevrolet had the Corvette and Europe produced countless sports cars, but Ford had the Thunderbird. The large trunk accomodated the spare tire and the tail fins were elongated in the style of the day.

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This T-bird has been restored with all factory-stock materials.

All of these classic automobiles and more are on display at the McNay Art Museum until May 19th.  I’ll be featuring others in upcoming posts, so stay tuned!