Automobile production soared in the 50’s and car design sets the decade apart.

The 1950’s is defined by a great many things, including trends and innovations in food, music and fashion.  The 1950’s car culture is perhaps unparalleled by any other decade.  There were many innovations in design and safety and the 50’s gave birth to many highly prized classic cars.

After World War II the American manufacturing industry changed from war-related items to consumer goods.  By the end of the 1950’s one in six working Americans was employed in the automobile industry.  Forty years prior to this time Henry Ford set a goal that any man with a good job should be able to afford a car, and the 1950’s saw this come to fruition.  In 1950 there were 25 million registered automobiles, the majority of which were made pre-World War II, and by 1958 there were 67 million registered.  New categories of businesses were created to support the 1950’s car culture, including drive-through and drive-in restaurants and drive-in movie theaters.

The National Highway System was expanded beginning in 1955, with wider, multi-lane highways to allow for increased speeds and more vehicles.  This also started the trend of billboard advertising along the open spaces.

The look of the vehicles is a major component of the 1950’s car culture.  Pastel shades of blue, pink and green were very popular.  The beginning of the Space Age is reflected in car styles with large tailfins, a lot of chrome, and a flowing design that echoed the look of rockets.  Elaborate taillights, often bright red in color, were another defining feature of 1950’s cars, as were wrap-around windshields and hood ornaments.  Luxury items such as power steering, power brakes, and automatic transmission became more popular and widely available.

The top 10 rides of the 1950’s according to CBS Tampa are:

10.  1955 Chrysler Crown Imperial

9.  1956 Chevrolet Impala

8.  1953 Dodge Cornet

7.  1956 Mercury Montclair

6.  1951 Ford Coupe

5.  1955 Porsche Speedster

4.  1959 Cadillac Eldorado

3.  1955 Desoto Fireflite

2.  1958 Buick Riviera

1.  1957 Ford Thunderbird

1950's - car-culture

1957 Ford Thunderbird