Amazing Cars From the 1950s

Plain English


In the 1950s, car designers in America started making new designs for cars. It was very different from the cars that had been made until then. Tail fins were one of the main features of cars from this period.


Chevrolet Impala 1959

The Chevrolet Impala was called "the wild one". Its tail lamps were like cat’s eyes. The name Impala came from a southern African deer known for its speed and strength.

The Chevrolet Impala 1959 was Harley Earl’s last design before he retired. He was the Vice President of General Motors.


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1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable

This was one of the first retractable hardtop cars that was produced in large numbers. Ford offered this retractable hardtop option for only three years from 1957 to 1959.

The roof of the Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractablecould fold back. This was called the retractable hardtop. With the press of a button, the Skyliner’s roof would unscrew itself from the windshield frame. The roof would tuck itself under the trunk lid. The trunk lid would lift on its own to make way for the top. All of this would take about 25 seconds.

The car came with 37 fabric color combinations.


When America entered the jet age people wanted their cars to look like a jet plane. So, cars were designed pointed in the front and with tail fins at the rear. They also became lower, longer, and wider.


1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

The 1957 Chevrolets appeared longer than the 1955 and 1956 Chevrolets. The windshield was wider and taller. The hood was lower and flatter.

The Bel Air was available in seven body styles. The new rear end design included backup lights. The tail lights blended into the rear bumper.


Car designers of that time didn’t have to follow too many safety rules or think about saving fuel. So, they had a free hand in their design. The looks of the 1950s cars inspired designers around the world.


Ford Edsel Corsair

The Ford Edsel Corsair had an oval or 'horse-collar' grille. The Edsel was introduced in September 1957. The economy was not doing well that year. This model gave Ford’s customers a cheaper choice.


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1957 Ford Thunderbird

With this car, Ford created a new product line: the personal luxury car. It was expensive. There was a padded dashboard, a safety-oriented 'Lifeguard Design,' and updated seating fabric. The car had larger front brakes.


1959 Cadillac DeVille

The Cadillac DeVilles were luxurious. They could comfortably carry six passengers. the headlights would turn on when it became dark. They could switch from high beam to low beam when they sensed cars coming.

The 1959 Cadillacs were among the most stylish of the 1950s cars. They had jewel-like grille patterns. The rooflines were like no other car’s. They were long and low. They had large tail fins and twin bullet tail lamps.

Standard Cadillac DeVille equipment included power steering, power brakes, dual back-up lamps, outside rear view mirror, vanity mirror, oil filter, windshield washers, two-speed wipers, automatic transmission, and two-way power seats. Automatic transmission means the driver does not have to change the gears in normal conditions. They change on their own.


1957 Lincoln Premiere

The advertisements for this car said, 'No other car is so Lincoln long... Lincoln low... and Lincoln lovely!'

The Premiere had air-conditioning, heater with two controls, Town and Country radio, and seat belts. Only 20% of Lincolns had air-conditioning then.

The tail fins of this car were made taller in 1957. They were among the tallest of the 1950s cars. The car also had QuadraLites. These were 7-inch headlamps fitted above 5-inch 'road' lamps. They had a separate switch.


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1957 Plymouth Fury

Plymouth used the name Fury for the high-performance version of its standard vehicles. High performance meant that the engines of these cars had more power.


1958 Pontiac Bonneville

The 1958 Pontiac Bonneville was big. It had all the engine options a buyer could ever want. It was a costly car. Not everyone could buy it. Standard equipment included chrome wheel discs, special upholstery, and a Deluxe steering wheel. There was a lot of chrome plating on the car.


1955 Mercury Monterey

Mercury is the name of the messenger of Roman gods.

Ford introduced the Mercury brand in 1939. It would be a cheaper luxury vehicle. It would offer more than a regular Ford car and less than a luxury Lincoln vehicle. William Schmidt designed these cars.

Buyers could choose from canvas or vinyl roof coverings. The Mercury Monterey had either fabric-and-leather or all-leather seats.



*Quotes are edited to Plain English.*


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