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’50s Hot Rods

The fifties were the time when big things were happening on the automotive scene. Corvette was being unveiled. The Nash Healy was on the list of things to buy and the era of the 50’s hot rods was in full swing.

Aside from the sports cars, some of the other more popular hot rods were also coming out in full bore from the assembly lines. Popping off the assembly, along came the Mopar, all of which were typical 50’s hot rods, from the 1954 Dodge that was the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car that year, up to the 1958 Plymouth Fury with its back fins reminiscent of the sharks that were also making the news that year.

The cars that were designed in the fifties were not quite street rods, but they weren’t far off. Street rods were common, but they were spin offs, and the bigger more powerful cars of the fifties were nearly all hot rods. They were big and bold and a power of their own. One of my favorites was the 1950 Mercury.  When I was a teen, living in Wheaton (MD for those not in this area) my buddy owned one of these and I can remember long days in front of his house shaving the hood, deck, doors and filling everything in with lead and bondo. Other than the paint scheme, this is what it looked like.  Now that was a car!

50’s hot rods were power cars. Big and bold, sleek and clean, they had more power than most cars today and were not in any way shape or form considered to be compact. They were huge, and took up half the road quite easily. They were a force to be reckoned with and they were definitely not environmentally designed. These guys were gas guzzlers, but the simple truth was that gas was cheap, the cars were no more than a couple thousand for a new one, and in an era when gas was about 25 cents a gallon so no one really cared if your use of it was excessive.

Chevy and Ford also had their answer to the hot rods that were the prevailing cars. The Chevy Nomad was one of the most wanted cars of the fifties, while Ford came back with their own version of the street rod and the 50’s hot rods by offering their own bold new car to add to the fray. The Skyliner and the Fairlane were both bold and big and had a sleek sports car look and could literally fly with the power of their larger motors.

Each of the major car makers had their own version of the sports car and the 50’s hot rods and each of them was sure that theirs was the best. In the end, all of them achieved a loyal following that lasts to this very day, with nearly every classic car fan wanting a fifties car of some variety or another.


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