The mid 50’s began a new chapter in the auto industry. The Korean conflict was winding down and material shortages and restrictions had ended. A new era of vehicle design, styling, attractive paint schemes and performance was introduced. This 1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 Convertible is representative of these marketing goals. This highly styled vehicle features a bright two-tone exterior paint scheme and a chic bright molding package. Interior colors are coordinated with the vehicle exterior.
1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 Convertible
The Kaiser Company was started at the end of World War II by the ship builder Henry J. Kaiser. The Kaiser automobiles were built at the former Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan. While Kaiser was noted for their unique design concepts, they faltered as an automobile company by making cars that were very underpowered. The most famous Kaiser built would be near the end of the company’s existence in 1954 and called the Darrin, designed by car designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin. It featured a revolutionary, fiberglass, car body with doors that slid open and closed.
Kaiser-Frazer was a new name plate to Americans after WWII, the company was formed as a completely new company, but their purchase of Graham-Paige gave them equipment and experience they lacked. Master ship builder Henry J. Kaiser teamed up with salesman Edgar Frazer to build this new brand during the post-war car sales boom. Kaiser was the less expensive of the two brands, yet they were very solid cars, well designed and built. Power came from an in-line 6 cylinder engine adapted for automobile use from the Continental industrial engine. The 1951 models were a completely new body, and met with great success with the public. Sitting lower than any comparable offering from the competitors and having more glass area than the competition brought buyers back, as the competition from the big three increased as they brought out their post-war models.
This car represents the end of an era, the last wood-bodied car from Ford. Auto makers had been manufacturing all-steel auto bodies since the mid 1930s; the Ford and Mercury Sportsman models were a premium option recalling the kind of quality workmanship seen on boats and in custom homes of the period. As a manufacturer Ford was unique in that they owned their own forests and large-scale wood working plant in Iron Mountain, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Henry Ford was insistent on being self-sufficient, not being at the mercy of supplier firms. The operation of the forest and wood works plant was vital in the teens, twenties and early thirties when the structural frames of all automobiles was hardwood—the steel was just the stamped “skin” that gave the car body its appearance.
This car is thought to be the last Ford Sportsman built.
Like most American Car Companies, the postwar Packards were basic 1942 models. Vehicle design, styling and engine powertrain were basically carryover styling with minor product change. The standard engine was a straight eight L-head engine displacing 356 cubic inches and 165 Brake HP. This Packard is a two door five passenger Club Sedan with “fast back” rear styling.
The Custom trim level featured distinctive interior trim, rich broadcloth and leather upholstery, special upgraded carpeting and rich imitation wood grain effects on the instrument panel and window door frames. The base vehicle price was $3,140 dollars placing this vehicle in a very expensive price class. The Packard Clipper model series was introduced in 1941 and ended with the 1947 model run. Packard Clipper two door sedans were low volume sellers and are a rare find today!
The Chrysler Corporation was heavily involved with war production and when the war drew to a close, plans were put into effect to resume vehicle production. Like most companies, there was no time to retool for new models, so the new postwar models were largely upgraded and restyled prewar models. Immediate production was delayed due to material shortages created by the war. The days following the end of the war found the United States very enthusiastic and eager to purchase products they could not purchase during the war years. Automobiles were eagerly sought after so the companies continued building the prewar models – and most would not introduce new models until 1949. The revamped older models were well received and vehicle sales during the years of 1946 to 1948 were at an all time high-especially considering sales during the later prewar years were dampened by the Great Depression.
By 1940, the Graham Company of Detroit, Michigan was in deep financial troubles. They needed to redesign their current vehicle line but did not have the financial resources required to retool and produce new body dies. In an attempt to save their ailing business they purchased used body dies from the recently-defunct Huppmobile Company and created a new model called the Hollywood. Interestingly, these body dies were purchased by Huppmobile from the defunct E.L. Cord Company who used these dies to produce the famous Cord Beverly sedan bodies in 1936 and 1937.
Errett Lobban “E. L.” Cord produced automobiles under the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Company brand and the first Cord was introduced at the 1929 New York Automobile Show. Cord automobiles were the first American production car to feature front wheel drive. This 1937 Cord 812 Sportsman has a reverse mounted eight-cylinder Lycoming engine, which connects to a trans-axle which powers the front wheels through an ingenious arrangement of flexible shafts which allow the front wheels not only to power the automobile but steer as well. The Cord’s design by Gordon Buehrig, proved too advanced for the average automobile buyer and by 1938, Cord was no longer building automobiles.
The Pierce Arrow Company was known for making luxury automobiles in Buffalo, New York between 1901 to 1938. During the mid-1930s automobile camping trips became a popular form of vacationing in America. As a result, Pierce Arrow built and sold a small amount of luxury trailers during this time prior to their demise. This example of a rare and desirable Pierce Arrow Travelodge retains all of its original furnishings and decorative items. It is believed that this trailer is one of twelve in existence today.
The Terraplane was built by the Hudson Motor Car Company in Detroit, Michigan from 1932 until 1938. The Terraplane is an advanced design vehicle that was affordably priced and would fill the gap between the lower priced Essex and the higher priced Hudson. The Terraplane, as its name implies, was engineered using design cues taken from the airplanes of the era. In an effort to promote sales before public introduction, Hudson gave the first and second Terraplanes built to Orville Wright and Amelia Earhardt who were aviation pioneers.