May 16, 2007

Some red car things.

1. Think about the Bel Air. This is a 1955, which deserves a nomination and maybe even the prize for most iconic car design:

1955 Bel Air

What makes that image so perfect? Is it a picture of an airplane? See how it matches the hood ornament, pictured here (from the same car)?

2. The inside of a 1959 Triumph:

1959 Triumph

I'm completely in love with this, even though it's really easy to picture yourself dying impaled on that steering wheel... or maybe because....

3. I know Chrysler's having a hard time these days. I mean, it's being taken over by the hound of hell! So let's show some love for the 1962 Series 300:

Chrysler Series 300 1962

Chrysler Series 300 1962

You know, maybe you feel like designing the rear window all weird and pointy. Back then, you could just do it. Some people might say it doesn't make sense. Form should follow function. That's just doing something odd for the sake of doing it. But looking back, it's so poignant. The hound of hell was far in the future. These were the crazy days of youth when things didn't need to make sense.

4. Okay, you take the 1932 Ford:

A red Ford and a blue Chevy

I want that Sting Ray. But we'll leave the blue for another day. Today's car post was brought to you by the color red.

UPDATE: The second picture under #3 is not the Chrysler. Sorry for the mistake. Two different commenters -- at the Flickr site -- have identified it as a Dodge Charger, probably 1968.


Ruth Anne Adams said...


XWL said...

I'm partial to the 57 Bel Air, myself, that's the one with the best fins and double rockets in front.

(plus the 2nd car I ever owned was a 57 4 door with a 3 speed manual transmission and straight six engine (in other words the base model, and it was a beater on top of it, but still beautiful), hate to imagine keeping gas in that thing today)

peter hoh said...

I'm not so much of a 50s car fan, but that shot of the Bel Air is sweet.

AllenS said...

My first car was a 1958 Chevrolet Impala convertible. It weighed about 4 tons. When winter would arrive, I'd put on retread snow tires. Never got stuck.

You're a way cool photographer.

XWL said...

Speaking of the 57, noticed this little page comparing the that car with the 07 Impala (as well as some demographic changes).

Things that are surprising, that the 57 Chevy is lighter than the Impala, and only gets 4 mpg worse mileage (though I don't think I ever got better than 10 mpg in mine, so that 14 mpg seems a bit suspect), and that highway deaths per mile driven in the United States have dropped considerably over the past 50 years, even as people drive more and at higher speeds. The death rate 50 years ago was almost 4 times as high, seat belts, crumple zones, air bags, and better trauma care do wonders.

If the death rate had stayed constant, then we'd be at 146,000 traffic deaths per year instead of 43,000.

I think technology makes all the difference, and not those gruesome films shown in grade schools and high schools (at least they were showing them to grade school kids back in the 70s, the CHP continues to released updated versions, so I guess they're still trying to gross out kids into driving safely when they hit their teen years).

tjl said...

If an automaker somehow lost its mind and produced designs like this today, imagine how quickly they would be denounced. I can already hear some killjoy NPR reporter piously explaining how chrome tailfins add to global warming and disorient migrating endangered spotted owls.

The 50s must have been a carefree time.

AllenS said...

I went to the link that XWL provided and retrieved this info on the 57 Bel Air:

Safety Features
Chrome hood rockets and front bumper bullets

Air bags? Seat belts? Don't need em if ya got hood rockets and bumper bullets!

Peter Palladas said...

"...or maybe because.."

Crash II: hot rod law professor impales herself on English vintage gentleman?

It hurts, pain deliver reality.

Althouse - great scars.

vnjagvet said...

Those rubber bumper bullets really reduced the front end crash damage:>)

The Triumph had the roughest ride in the business. Even if you were not impaled, your innards took a pounding. But boy was it ever fun to drive on a spring day with the top down.

Dadgum said...

'55 Chev full of hell bound teenagers, top 40 blasting on the AM, racing a Pontiac Star Chief -or whatever - at 100+ mph on a dark blacktop with no seat belts.

That Bel Air earned its wings and some of us are still alive to talk about it.

Susan said...

I got my first drivers license in a 1955 Bel Air. No power steering, so I have no sympathy for idiots that can't parallel park in a modern car. It was my dad's, of course, and it was 50's turquoise and white.

MadisonMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

My Dad said Son you're gonna drive me to drinkin' if you don't stop drivin' that Hot Rod Lincoln

The beauty of cars like the ones you've photographed is that they inspire classic tunes.

I was drivin' in my Sting-ray late one night, when an X-KE pulled up on the right...

Anthony said...

I gotta say, the early 1960s is one of my favorite periods for car design. The '50s leave me kind of cold. . .too round and bulbous maybe. But 1962 was a banner year. Fins had decreased, the bulbousness of the '50s had ended, but we weren't yet into the clean lines of the later 1960s.

John Burgess said...

Thanks for noting the 1932 Ford. That car has symbolized the epitome of car design for me for well over a half-century.