PDF Standard Guide to 1950s American Cars

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The Ford Nucleon was a concept car announced by Ford in The Mercury XM was one of many concept cars created by Ford. Like many similar cars of the time it was not operational, except for the electrical components such as the motorized trunk and front hood, although some of its innovations appeared later in the Lincoln Premiere. Harley Earl helped develop the General Motors Firebird , a series of three concept cars shown at Motorama auto shows in the s.

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The Firebird I, II and III were part of a research project to study the feasibility of gas turbine engines and featured radical, aircraft -like styling. Named after Henry Ford 's son, Edsel Ford , the Edsel made its debut as a separate car division on September 4, , for the model year. The front grill was said by critics to look like "an Oldsmobile sucking on a lemon". In , Ford tried to revive the Continental brand as a standalone line of ultra luxury automobiles , but abandoned the attempt after the model year, by which time around Mark II cars had been built.

The Allstate is an example of badge engineering , being a rebranded Henry J. It was sold exclusively at Sears, Roebuck and Company in and DeSoto [75] died a slow death in the s owing to decreasing popularity and the recession. By the model year, the DeSoto was reduced to a single model and on November 18, , Chrysler ended the DeSoto marque, just two weeks after the introduction of the models. Hudson produced automobiles for 49 years, until Its early popularity was due to its sleek design, low center of gravity and excellent handling, but it failed to keep up with rest of the industry by mid-decade.

The Hudson was actually a rebadged Nash auto with different trim. It were offered with a V8 in , but it was too little to save the brand, which was discontinued two years later. Packard began the s on a difficult note, as sales dropped from , in to an underwhelming 42, in Four years after the merger with Studebaker, production under the Packard marque ceased as the company was unable to keep up with the advances and sales of the Big Three.

Crosley produced cars from to , including the only compact cars in an era of bigger and more powerful cars. In , the company was sold to the General Tire and Rubber Company , which liquidated the assets and ended production of all Crosley automobiles. Muntz Car Company produced cars from through in Chicago. A number of critical events changed the manufacturing environment during the decade, including two wars, cultural changes and economic difficulties, creating opportunity and challenges for the automobile industry.

World War II ended in September , which allowed for the conversion of the economy to a peacetime economy , with excess industrial capacity and a high demand for new consumer goods by returning soldiers. Many Americans responded by escaping into a lifestyle of heavy consumerism, [86] which benefited automakers. Eisenhower gained an appreciation of the German Autobahn network as a necessary component of a national defense system while he was serving as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II. The Korean War officially began on June 25, , and a cease fire was signed three years later in July , and no official ending.

For automakers in the early s, this meant US government control over raw materials such as steel. In , it limited the industry to 4,, cars, with General Motors GM given a quota of 41 percent of that total. The company exceeded its quota in the first three quarters, forcing it to close some production lines in the fourth. The decade saw a shift in American culture due in part to suburbanization , the Interstate system, and the baby boom.

The s were centered in the post-war baby boom , with an average of about 4 million births annually throughout the decade. From to , a total of about 77 million new " baby boomers " were born, dramatically increasing the demand for automobiles for the new families.


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Although it lasted for only 53 days, the steel strike caused the National Production Authority NPA to limit the amount of steel available to automakers, and had a broad effect before and after the strike. During the run up to the strike, unemployment in Detroit jumped to 8. Auto employment dropped by another , during the strike, which ended on June 2, While the strike was for better wages for steel workers, many auto workers blamed their unions for layoffs. The auto manufacturers were accused of speeding up work during these period of heavy layoffs, which resulted in a number of wildcat strikes.

The Recession of was in part due to dramatic declines in the automotive industry during and early It had been a record year for sales in with the industry selling almost 8 million automobiles, but this extraordinary surge in sales served to reduce demand in the following few years. Sales had declined to 6.

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Manufacturing had declined 47 percent by the end of the recession , and Michigan experienced 11 percent unemployment, the highest of any state at that time. The s mark the peak of union membership as a percentage of the total US workforce, with labor membership peaking at 35 percent of the nonagricultural workforce by mid-decade. By , almost all UAW workers had health coverage and other benefits that didn't exist in the automotive industry previously. Pension plans were established, as well as a Supplemental Unemployment Benefits fund, which supplemented employees unemployment insurance during periods of layoff.

A series of pivotal strikes took place during the decade, including the Chrysler Strike which lasted days between January and May and centered around the UAW's demand that Chrysler pay a pension to retired workers, as well as other benefits. A first for the UAW, the union paid striking workers benefits during the strike, dangerously depleting its cash reserves. In the end, Chrysler capitulated on the main issue, but not before the strike had disastrous consequences for the automaker.

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During the s, racial discrimination was common throughout America and the auto industry was not immune. African-Americans were typically offered only the lowest paying jobs or were outright denied employment as employers openly advertised for " white only " applicants. Workplace discrimination was not universal, but it was widespread and it was not until that listing racial preferences in job advertising became illegal under Michigan law.


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  • Still, hiring practices varied according to the individual plant managers, so some factories were relatively integrated while others had virtually no black employees. Although unions fought for the end of racial discrimination, manufacturers were free to openly discriminate in their hiring until the passage of the Civil Rights Act. A few automobiles introduced in the s have had an impact that extends well beyond the decade. By being continuously recognized or reinvented, they have created a following of admirers that often spans multiple generations.

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    The Studebaker Starliner hardtop was introduced in and is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful American-made automobiles of the s. It was designed by a team led by famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy and is sometimes called the "Loewy Coupe". The Chevrolet Corvette was first introduced in , [] and as of the model year is still in production.

    The Ford Thunderbird was introduced in and remained in production until Production resumed in and continued through the model year. There were eleven [] or twelve [] different generations during these time spans. Unlike the Corvette, the Thunderbird was not marketed as a sportscar , but rather as a personal luxury car. Chrysler produced the first of its series automobiles for the model year, whereby they added a letter to the model name for each year. The non-letter models were produced through the model year. It would be 20 more years before they again used the name, this time for the Chrysler M , which was produced for the through model years.

    Finally in the model year, the Chrysler was introduced and as of , is still in production. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Cars portal History portal United States portal. Original Chevrolet, , , — The Restorer's Guide. Retrieved May 1, Retrieved October 16, Automobile Advertising of the s.


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