Although modern improvements to today’s version of the car certainly make life easier, there is something special about cars from the 1950’s. They represent a simpler time that is unparallel to any other decade. With World War II in the past, the automotive industry of the 50’s took off in a new, creative way. It sparked new business ideas such as drive-through restaurants and drive-in movie theaters, making the automobile more important than ever. Here are ten cars from the 50’s worthy of making a special trip to see.
10. 1951 Chrysler New Yorker
The year 1951 marked the first productions of a Hemi vehicle or one with an internal combustion engine with a chamber design featuring a hemispherical head. At the time, V8 engines were known as Fire Power engines that measured 331 cubic inches and featured 180 horsepower. The Chrysler New Yorker was at the top of the line that year and was even chosen to be the pace care at the Indy 500 in 1951.
9. 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air
The Chevrolet Bel Air was a full-size car that was in production during 1950-1981. From 1950 until 1952, only two-door hardtops were designed but in 1953 Chevrolet began using a unique body shape with a premium level of trim across many body styles. The 1955 version was advertised as having Chevrolet’s Power-Positioned Front seats and a revolutionary V8 engine along with its Turbo-Fire-produced 160 horsepower, or 180 as part of a 'Power Package'.
8. 1950 Jaguar XK120
The very first roadsters of this series were handmade in 1948-1950 with aluminum bodies that sat on ash frames with a mounted Jaguar Mark V chassis. Beginning in 1950, all models were mass-produced with steel bodies to meet demands, but they kept their bonnet, boot lid, and aluminum doors. The owner of Jaguar, William Lyons, was responsible for creating the design. It came with a 3.4-liter engine and 160 brake horsepower, which was considered to be advanced for that time.
7. 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder
The 1955 Porsche 500 Spyder was best known for being the vehicle James Dean drove to his death, earning it the nickname of the “little bastard” by Warner Brothers stunt driver Bill Hickman. The low to the ground framing was light enough to earn it a second nickname of the “giant killer.” The vehicle is one of the most commonly reproduced classic automobiles. One of its most prized selling points was the vehicle’s ability to be both a track and road car.
6. 1957 Ford Thunderbird
The 1957 Ford Thunderbird was advertised as a luxury car. Although different from the Thunderbird of present times, the 1957 two-seater was Ford’s response to the Chevrolet Corvette. The car became an instant classic and outsold its competition. The vehicle was available with a 5.1-liter V8 engine with 245 horsepower. In 1958, the car was designed as a four-seater to make it more appealing to customers. It worked and sold four times better than models with two seats, making the 1957 two-seater a real classic.
5. 1959 Austin Mini
Although the Austin Mini measured less than ten feet, it was one of the most influential cars of its decade. The vehicle, which was designed by Alec Issigonis, was not originally named a Mini but was instead manufactured under two different British Motor Corporation brands. When it was introduced in August of 1959, it was marketed under the names Morris and Austin. It had decent enough interior space to be considered a family vehicle and came with an engine that boasted 33 horsepower.
4. 1959 MG MGA 1500
The MG MGA sports car was made during 1955-1962 and replaced the MG TF 1500 Midget. It was purposely designed to be a bit different from early MG sports cars. Over one hundred thousand cars were sold by the time production stopped in 1962. The 1959 version was upgraded with a more powerful engine with 1599 cubic centimeters that produced 79.5 brake horsepower. It also upgraded to front fitted disk brakes; however, drums remained in the back of the car.
3. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL
When it was first introduced to the world in 1954, the Mercedes-Benz 300Sl was the fastest car of its time. Early versions featured a two-seat coupe with gull-wing doors. Later versions offered it as a roadster. A very rare version of the 1955 Mercedes Benz 300 SL was sold in 2012 for 4.62 million dollars at the Scottsdale Auctions in Arizona with an all aluminum body. It is well known for being the vehicle that Werner Engel won the European Rally Championship with in 1955.
2. 1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
The Aston Martin DB4 is a two-door model with a front engine that delivers power to the back wheels. The double overhead six cylinder 3.7-liter engine was designed by Zagato and came with two valves for each cylinder. It produced 314 brake horsepower, and its top speed maxes out at 153 miles per hour. The GT Zagato was designed to be a high-performance version of the DB4 and was first introduced to the world in 1959.
1. 1957 Chevrolet Corvette C1
The first year that Corvettes were made with a fuel injection engine was in 1957. The Corvette also came with a 283 horsepower engine, and it was under 1962 that Corvette offered a 327 horsepower version. The 1957 Corvette was also the first model with a four-speed transmission, and less than seven hundred cars were equipped with the special featured directly from the factory. Opting for the 579E option involved a tachometer being mounted to the steering column for fresh air intake.