By 1950, the depression and WWII were in the past. The economy was strong again, and people wanted cars. Fast cars, luxury cars, unusual cars and quirky cars were all in demand, and car manufacturers were up for the challenge. People weren't at all concerned about gasoline shortages. A gallon of gas only cost 18 cents in 1950 and climbed to only 25 cents by 1959. With people clamoring for faster, more reliable vehicles, manufacturers could afford to put effort into improving them. Fuel injection engines were being used by 1957. The "autotronic eye" came into use in the 1950's, and most cars came equipped with it by the year 1957. This fun, the new technology would dim the high beams for you when it detected an oncoming car. Here are the answers to some of your questions about the iconic cars of the 1950's.
What were some of the most iconic luxury cars from the '50's?
The Continental Mark II was one of the most iconic luxury vehicles in the mid- to late-1950's. A brand new Mark II cost a whopping $10,000 in 1956. It became a symbol of wealth and prestige for drivers in the United States. The Mark II was a four-seater coupe with leather seats and air conditioning. It was an all-wheel-drive car that was powered by a 285-hp 6-L V8. Oddly, Lincoln changed the name of the Mark II to the Umbrella in 1957.
The 1952 Bentley R-Type Continental symbolized prestige and incredible wealth. The price tag on one of these old iconic cars was around $18,000. This is an extremely flashy '50's luxury car that was also lightweight and fast. It came equipped with a 130-hp, 4.6-L V6 engine with a 4-speed manual transmission. This classic car had a top speed of 101 mph.
The 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville remains one of the most classic iconic luxury cars of the '50's. Its high tailfins are unmistakable. Even people who aren't classic car enthusiasts instantly recognize that shape. This car sold for $4,600 when it was new. It was powered by a 325-hp, V8 engine.
Which manufacturer made the fastest car in the 1950's?
Chevrolet manufactured some of the fastest cars of the '50's. The 1957 Chevy Corvette Dual Quad ran the quarter mile in 6.8 seconds. The 1957 Corvette powered by Chevy's first fuel-injection engine shaved that quarter-mile time down to 6.6 seconds. Chevrolet took the title again with the 1959 Corvette which also did the quarter mile in 6.6 seconds.
Ferrari takes the fastest '50's car trophy, however, with the 1958 Ferrari 4.9 Superfast. It completed the quarter mile in 5.6 seconds. This iconic '50's sports car was powered by a V12 engine with a four-speed transmission.
The second fastest car of the 1950's was also a Ferrari. The 1958 Ferrari 250GT Europa had a time of 5.9 seconds.
What are some of the most striking- or unusual-looking cars form the 1950's?
One of the most unusual cars from the 1950's was the BMW Isetta. They manufactured this strange little car from 1955 to 1964. It was one of the earliest "mini" or sub-compact cars. This was a very small car that looked a little like the car that Cousin It drove in the Addams Family movie. It was so odd looking and had such large windows that it was nicknamed the Bubble car. A few of them were made with only three wheels, but most of them had four. The rear wheels were spaced very close together, though, so even the four-wheeled models appeared to have three wheels.
Powered by only a 247-cc or 297-cc single cylinder motorcycle engine, this little car could only go up to 54 mph. It got incredible mileage, though, with the average consumption recorded at 50-60 mpg. The car weighs only 770 pounds.
What were the most popular cars of the '50's?
All of the cars previously mentioned were extremely popular in the 1950's. Another very popular car of the time was the iconic Ford Thunderbird. It was a two-seater that was powered by an enormous V8. The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air was another huge favorite. It was stylish yet far more affordable than the more luxurious models, with a modest price tag of only $1,800. It came with a super turbo fire 4.6-L V8 engine.
The most popular car in the world in the 1950's was the Volkswagen Beetle. By around 1955, 35,000 Beetles were owned by Americans. That number grew to 300,000 by 1960.