1959 Rambler American: Stunningly Simple

February 27th, 2009

I’ve always liked Ramblers. Even when I was a kid and everyone knew only grandmas drove Ramblers I appreciated this somewhat odd segment of American cars.  When I found this 1959 Rambler American 2 Door Station Wagon on Ebay, I realized I had never seen an interior of a 1959 American. In an age of gadgety space age dash boards, American Motors came up with one of the simplest dashes I have ever seen.


Whereas most cars of the era had several chrome pods protruding from the dash,  American Motors kept it simple with a single round pod centered over the steering wheel.

That’s all folks! All you need to know is tastefully displayed. The transmission selector design is also nicely executed.

Steuarts Ford Garage 1920

February 25th, 2009

Steuarts Garage in Washington D.C. Circa 1920.
Clicking the pictures (and then using your browser magnifying icon) will show you full size detail. Lots of great stuff in the parts department.

1958 Country Sedan: Destination Disneyland

February 21st, 2009

When I look at this photo I can’t help but to think of National Lampoons “Vacation” when the Griswald family arrived at Wally World after a cross country trip only to find an empty parking lot and the entrance closed. This family had better luck than the Griswalds, but I’m sure like most families, their vacation adventure was filled with fighting siblings, car sickness and unforeseen obstacles along the way, but in the end it was all worth it. By the time the Country Sedan pulled up to Disneyland all was forgiven. They had reached their destination and Pops only had to pay a quarter for parking.
Copyright lreed7649

You Talked to “Bob”

February 20th, 2009

You talked to Bob and he offered you a great deal on that new Edsel you’ve been eyeing but you’re just not sold on the looks of the new Ford. “Nice car, but that grill looks likes a toilet seat” you thought. Bob let you walk, but being the top car salesman that he is, he’ll be giving you a followup call. Bob’s ready to offer you the deal of the century for that Edsel. The Edsel is yours.

Stout Scarab

February 19th, 2009

Developed by William B. Stout, a car and aviation engineer the Stout Scarab was envisioned to be an ‘office-on-wheels’. Designed without running boards and using a 135 inch wheelbase the car had the most spacious interior available to any American car at the time. Additional interior space was gained by placing the engine behind the rear axle and moving the driver so far forward that the steering wheel was almost directly above the front wheels.  Egyptian scarabs were prominent throughout the car and the use of thin curved chrome gave the car an Art Deco look.

Although Stout was hoping to make 100 Scarabs a year only 10 models were ever produced. Each Scarab was hand built and unique as modifications were made with each build. The first prototype Scarab was completed in 1932, but after that only 9 more were made. The $5,000 price tag made it prohibitive for almost any prospective buyer.  It is believed that five Scarabs survive today.

Pictures copyright stormbear

1955 Oldsmobiles: Showroom New

February 17th, 2009

It’s late in 1954 and the 1955 Oldsmobiles have recently arrived at this New York city showroom. The all new Oldsmobiles must have looked pretty impressive to passer-byes that evening. Pictured are a Coral and Polar White Starfire convertible and a Caspian Cream and Bronze Metallic Holiday 88.

Copyright PLCjr

Floating on Air: The Ford Mach I Levacar

February 14th, 2009

“The newest development in wheelless, air-propelled vehicles” was how Ford Motor Company described its Levacar Mach I in 1959. The vehicle slid along on a thin film of compressed air, emitted through three “levapads” underneath the car. While Ford was hoping the levitation system would have applications in high speed public transportation, the real legacy may be the Mach I name for performance Mustangs and perhaps the inspiration for air hockey.

Dodge La Femme- Never a Car More Distinctively Feminine

February 11th, 2009


In 1955 Dodge introduced the La Femme, the first and only American car marketed exclusively for women. “Never a car more distinctively feminine than La Femme….first fine car created exclusively for women!” exclaimed the brochure. Though short lived, the 1955 -56 La Femme had a unique chapter in automotive history.

Show cars in the 1950’s with a feminine appeal were actually somewhat common with GM leading the charge. The Cadillac Eldorado Seville Baroness, Pontiac Pink Parisienne and the Chevrlet Impala Martinique were some of the cars making the show circuit. In 1954 Chrysler joined the show car trend by introducing his and her cars- La Comtesse and Le Comte. The La Comtesse sported a plastic top and a two-tone exterior of Dusty Rose and Pigeon Gray. The luxurious interior was finished in cream and dusty rose leather. The Le Comte naturally sported masculine colors.

The La Femme was introduced in the Spring of 1955 as a $143.30 trim and accessory option for the $2,543  two door Custom Royal Lancer. The exterior color scheme was Sapphire White and Heather Rose. Gold colored “La Femme” scripts replaced the standard “Custom Royal Lancer” scripts on the front fender.

The interior also came with feminine appointments. A “stunning shoulder bag in soft rose leather” resided in a special compartment behind the drivers seat. Inside the shoulder bag, a compact, lighter, lipstick, coin purse, cigarette case and comb could be found. The upholstery came in a pattern of pink rosebuds woven into a pale silvery-pink background. Interior seat trim was pale pink vinyl. In 1956 the purse accessory was dropped and replaced with designer rain gear consisting of a hat, raincoat and umbrella, protecting “Milady” from the elements.

The La Femme was dropped for the 1957 model year, likely a victim of a fairly high price for the option and a lack of promotion by Chrysler. There is no evidence that there was any advertising campaign used to promote the La Femme.


1956 Dodge La Femme Pictures Copyright Christopher Ziemnowicz

The Wayback Seat

February 9th, 2009

rearfacing1We always had station wagons when I was growing up.  There were no minivans yet and SUV’s were used for people who actually had to drive over monster boulders and through 3 feet of snow. The station wagons were never glamorous but Dad could haul a ton of stuff in the back and Mom could use it for the weekly trip to Kroger.  Station wagons always rattled,  leaked and got horrible gas mileage but they did have the ultimate feature for any kid: the wayback seat.

In our family the wayback seat was only used on special occasions: hauling neighborhood kids around and vacations. Sitting in the wayback with a few friends gave us freedom from the strictly enforced rules of  second row seating.  Drivers who had the unfortunate luck of being behind a seat full of waybackers were subject to a barrage of waves and gross faces. The drivers almost always kept a straight face, but occasionally a driver would react which of course would have us all in stitches.

Sitting in the wayback seat on vacations gave kids a perfect vantage point to spot license plates on  passing cars for the license plate game.  Tents could made out out of  blankets and a few  pieces of strategically placed luggage.  A perfect place to sink into a comic book collection for the long drive.

1960 Fords- Wonderful New World of Ford

February 8th, 2009

Great 3 minute commercial made at the height of the populuxe era when everything was bigger, better, newer, faster, and easier. Given the length of the commercial, it likely aired in the Fall of 1959 as part of a Ford sponsored show.