1955 - An Exceptional Year for Classic Cars & Places to Drive
The postwar era marked the emergence of all things American, and in 1955, cars led the way. There were brilliant colors—yellow, turquoise, and coral— and soaring tail fins. Grinning, wide-mouthed grilles on Buick Roadmastersand Desoto Fireflights tore up the country's pristine superhighways. Cars were seen as an indicator of prosperity and coolness. Distinctive cars of the fifties came in several styles—2-door and 4-door sedans, 2-door hardtop coupes, convertibles, and station wagons—from several manufacturers. Chevrolet Bel Air convertibles, Ford Country Squire station wagons, and Dodge Lancers dotted the parking lots of new suburban shopping malls.
Stylists offered consumers the dream of flight. The results: earthbound autos sprouted tail fins, air scoops, jet exhausts, and canopy windshields. Plagiarizing jet plane and rocket design was popular because it implied advanced technology and an exciting escape from terrestrial worries and cares. Cadillac and DeSoto ended up with the largest fins.
Car makers1 sold automobiles and small trucks under a range of different brand names, each aimed at a different sector of the market:
#1 General Motors (Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC trucks) sold nearly four million cars and trucks.
#2 Ford Motor Company (Ford, Thunderbird, Edsel, Mercury, Lincoln, Continental) sold more than two million cars and trucks. (Ford took over second place in 1952 from Chrysler)
#3 Chrysler Corporation (Plymouth, Desoto, Dodge, Chrysler, Imperial) sold more than a million cars and trucks.
#4 Studebaker / Packard, the world’s 4th largest full-line producer of cars and trucks was created in 1954 when Studebaker and Packard combined. In 1955 they sold nearly 200,000 units.
#5 American Motors (Rambler, Hudson, Nash) sold more than 150,000 cars.
Smaller companies, Willys, Kaiser, and Checker, sold less than 5,000 cars each.