Car Buffs Should Be Able to Name These Classic Cars From the ’50s. Can You?

AUTO

By: Ian Fortey

7 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons by Jeremy

About This Quiz

In the 1940s, the Second World War all but ended the automotive industry as resources, skills, and technology were all diverted to the war effort. When it ended, manufacturers got back in the saddle and began to design vehicles anew. Slowly but surely, a new esthetic arose, one that would come to shape the industry for decades to come. The rise of the automobile in the '50s was decorated in full chrome with epic tail fins, hood scoops, massive headlamps and luxurious leather interiors. This was the decade of the Chevy Corvette and the Bel Air. The Ford Fairlane and Thunderbird. When Packard, Studebaker, Nash, and Hudson were going toe to toe with the Big 3 and when if you wanted a car with an optional Remington Shaver and a Thermaster refrigerator, you could get the Pontiac Chieftain Catalina because why not? 

We've obviously come a long way since the cars of the '50s, but sometimes it's fun to go back and see where we came from. So if you think you're up to the task then buckle up for this journey back to one of the most iconic decades in automotive history and see how many cars you can recognize.

Only five of these were built, and you can still see a couple in museums. What is it?

The Alfa Romeo Disco Volante was a very visually stunning concept car from 1952. The name means "flying saucer" in English and the design definitely lives up to the name with a quirky and sleek design. It was built on a unique, tubular space frame.

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Which of these had a drop-down design that gave it a lower center of gravity?

The Hudson Hornet dates back to 1951 and was marketed to those looking for something of a luxury experience. The low center of gravity made it appealing to racers and it also handled really well. That and the streamlined appearance made it pretty popular for a few years.

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Which of these cars was made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its manufacturer?

Introduced in 1953, the Buck Roadmaster Skylark convertible was a showcase for GM's eye for design. It was put head-to-head with the Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta and the Cadillac Eldorado and ended up being the most popular of the three at the time.

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Do you know which of these vehicles was famously owned by James Dean?

The Porsche 550 Spyder was a beautiful car, and infamously the one James Dean was driving when he died in 1955. He had one of the first 90 models built. If you want one for yourself, you can actually pick them up relatively cheap for between $30,000 and $40,000.

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This car was produced for 50 years starting in 1952. Do you know what it is?

The Cadillac Eldorado was one of the top-of-the-line luxury models produced by Cadillac, though not its most expensive. That honor went to the Cadillac Series 70 limousines. In 1936, one of those would cost you $2,445. KInd of steep for the Depression.

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Stephen King named one of these cars Christine. What is it?

The Plymouth Fury premiered in the 1956 model year as the Plymouth Belvedere Fury. By 1959, it was its own model that was actually placed above the Belvedere. The especially furious Fury in the Stephen King book was a 1958 model.

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1950 was the first model year of which of these legendary cars?

The Bel Air was in production all the way until 1981, but if we're being honest, you wanted one from the '50s if you wanted one at all. And from the whole decade, you really wanted the '57 convertible. Chrome headlights, low center of gravity and those epic tail fins, '57 was the year they were all introduced.

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Which of these was produced from 1950 to 1957 and then again, as a wholly different car, from 1966 to 1976?

The Jensen Interceptor of the '50s had very little to do with the one from the '60s. This first version debuted as a convertible built on a wood frame and was only the second car Jensen rolled out after WWII. The first was the Jensen PW, but the company produced less than 20 of them.

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Canadians knew which of these as the Parisienne?

The Pontiac Bonneville was made from 1957 to 2005 and was a monster of a car. When it first showed up, a convertible model was the pace car at the Indy 500. The station wagon models weighed over 5,000 pounds.

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Do you know which of these cars was the first model available with fuel injection?

Most people these days have never heard of a Goliath, but the GP700 was a pretty advanced vehicle in its day. In 1950 it was the first car ever to rock fuel injection, and it was actually in production all the way to 1957.

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This car was named after an estate near Dearborn, Michigan. What was it?

The Ford Fairlane got its name from the estate of Henry Ford, a plot of land known as Fairlane just outside Dearborn. It also shared its name with a comedy movie starring Andrew Dice Clay from 1990. No word if Ford approved of the movie, but the character did drive one.

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Do you know which of these cars was marketed toward people who couldn't afford new cars?

The Henry J was meant to be the most barebones automobile imaginable at a remarkably affordable price, around $1,300 in 1950. To make it so affordable some corners had to be cut. For instance, the trunk didn't open. You had to fold down the back seats to access it.

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Which of these cars was named for a beach in Florida?

The Chevy Delray showed up in 1954, at the time an optional trim on Chevy's 210 series. It wasn't until 1958 that it became its own model, and there's probably been one or two people who have gotten it needlessly confused with the Ford Del Rey, a midsized Brazilian car, over the years.

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This car started as the best the manufacturer had to offer in 1950, then fell to the bottom of the heap by 1955. What is it?

The Dodge Coronet was the top-of-the-line Dodge model in 1950. The 1953 version was outfitted with a Hemi engine as an option and managed to set over 100 land speed records with it at the Bonneville Salt Flats. By 1955 they had redesigned everything, and the Coronet was at the bottom of the heap in terms of trim levels.

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You could get a 1952 convertible model of this car with seating for 6 and a V8 Hemi. What was it?

The DeSoto Firedome replaced the DeSoto Custom and was a pretty beastly car. That V8 Hemi moved the entire 3,700-pound car at an impressive 100 mph. By 1959, you could get the Firedome in an entire rainbow of colors as well with 26 different options available.

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Do you know which of these was a two-door hardtop only available in 1954?

The Packard Pacific replaced the Mayfair in the company's lineup. It was marketed as something of a luxury car with chrome trim, leather interior and a fancy two-tone paint job as standard features. Just under 1,200 of them were made.

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Which personal luxury car started production in 1954 and ended in 2005?

The Ford Thunderbird is one of those cars that's almost synonymous with the '50s. It was actually credited with starting the personal luxury car segment. By 1957 it had some prominent tail fins, a prominent grille and chromed-out headlights to make it one of the esthetic standards for the time period.

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This car has been in production for over 65 years now. What is it?

The Chevy Corvette has been in continuous production since 1953 and is generally considered the most popular and successful sports car in history. That first year, Chevy made 300 units by hand, all of them polo white.

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Gullwing doors were available on which of these models?

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL was available for the 1954 model year as a coupe complete with those epic gullwing doors and then later, for the 1957 year, as a roadster if you were so inclined. It could also hit 163 mph, making it the world's fastest production car at the time.

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This model had the first production V6 engine ever. What was it?

The Lancia Aurelia started production in 1950 and stayed in production until 1958 in a handful of styles including a 2-door convertible and a 4-door saloon. The name of the car refers to a road in Italy, which is how Lancia named most of its cars.

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Do you know this full-sized car introduced in 1959?

The 1959 Buick LeSabre came standard with a 364 V8 engine as either a convertible, a sedan, a station wagon or a hardtop with 2 or 4 doors depending on your door proclivities, very much n line with the esthetic of most late '50s cars.

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Which of these cars won its first American race in 1950?

First manufactured in the late '40s, it was the 1950 Jaguar XK120 that saw worldwide success across numerous races. It took the top spot for teams at Silverstone and the Alpine Rally while winning first in the Pebble Beach Cup as well.

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This car had a rear-hinged hood that lifted the entire front of car off the frame when you opened it. What was it?

After having some success with the Jowett Javelin, the British automaker ventured into making a sports car in 1950 with the Jupiter. The trunk couldn't be opened at all, and lifting the hood was something like cracking an egg, lifting the whole shell, wings and all, up and away from the engine.

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With a 5.8L V8 engine, which of these cars was arguably an early muscle car?

The Studebaker Golden Hawk was pretty much the second most powerful car on the road after the Chrysler 300B. That said, when road tested against the 300B as well as the Corvette and the Thunderbird it actually outperformed them all in acceleration and the quarter mile.

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Do you know which of these was built in Bavaria?

The BMW 501 was introduced in 1950 and it was the first car BMW had produced after the Second World War. It was also the first BMW produced in Bavaria and the first German car after the war to have a V8 engine in it, as well.

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This car was an ultra-light coupe. What was it?

The Lotus Elite had a curb weight of just over 1,000 pounds, making it about 1/5 the size of a Pontiac Bonneville, which is pretty incredible. It achieved its remarkably low weight by not just having fiberglass body, but glass-reinforced plastic for a lot of the load-bearing structure as well.

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Which of these Norwegian cars was compared to Porsche and Citroen?

The wonderfully named Troll was a Norwegian attempt at entering the auto industry that didn't go over super well. From 1956 to 1958, the company only made 5 of the cars despite a lot of fanfare at the time. Its plan was to be the first European company to mass-produce fiberglass automobiles. A Soviet Union trade deal for automobiles effectively destroyed the company, however.

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This was the first North American car built with a fiberglass body. What was it?

The Kaiser Darrin was an innovative car made back in 1954. Not only did it have the fiberglass body that was a pretty cutting-edge idea at the time, it also featured sliding doors that disappeared into the body when you opened them.

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In 1950, which of these had a Remington Auto-Home Shaver as an option?

The Pontiac Chieftain Catalina Coupe was definitely trying to be everything to everyone with its available options. A 7-vacuum tube radio, a tissue dispenser, and of course a shaver in case you left the house with stubble and needed a road shave.

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You could get which of these cars as a 2+2 coupe, a Berlina, a Spider or a Sprint?

The Alfa Romeo Giuletta debuted in 1954. Numerous variants were available like the 4-door saloon, the roadster, the Sprint Zagato, and the Promiscua estate. As you might guess from the look of it, it also spent a good deal of time on the racing circuit.

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This car was only available as a convertible until its final year of production in 1956. What was it?

The Packard Caribbean was a personal luxury car that was decked out in chrome and leather. Only the first production year, 1953, featured rear-wheel cutouts and for the remainder of the car's life, they were enclosed because who wants to see rear tires?

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In 1951, which of these cars introduced its Hemihead V8 engine?

The Chrysler Imperial had been around since 1926, but it received some serious upgrades in the 1950s, especially the Hemi V8 engine. It was also the first car to be decked out with disc brakes, something we take for granted these days.

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"Breeze-Way Ventilation" was a selling feature of which of these cars?

The Mercury Turnpike Cruiser was introduced in 1957 and had a few standout design features to separate it from the pack. Most notably, the rear windshield was retractable, which is what they referred to as "Breeze-Way Ventilation," effectively turning your hardtop into a wind tunnel.

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This same design was introduced 50 years later in 2007. What was it?

In 1957, Fiat introduced the compact 500, a rear-engined four-seater that was so popular the company produced nearly 4 million units through 1975. It was well ahead of its time and its influence can be seen in cars like the Mini of the '60s.

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Do you know which of these was the first successful compact car in America?

The Nash Rambler tried to separate itself from what the Big 3 had to offer by making a smaller car that was also safer than what was on the road. Overhead steel rails were included for safety and stability to make it a standout.

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Despite the name, which of these was made by Ford?

Ford manufactured Edsels for a couple of years from 1958 to 1960. They were actually named for Henry Ford's son Edsel, who had been president of the company and died when he was 49. The Edsel was a colossal failure and to this day stands as an example of a huge mistake in business. It cost Ford about $250 million.

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Do you know which of these cars got a $300 million makeover in 1957?

Chrysler had been producing the New Yorker since 1940, but the 1957 model year saw a major design shift. Decked out with a 392 cu. in Hemi V8 engine with 325 horsepower, it was quite the machine to behold. In 1959, Chrysler swapped the Hemi for a 413 Golden Lion V8.

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Which of these cars was named for a sculptor?

Buick's Electra was introduced in 1959 and was actually produced until 1990. It was named for Electra Waggoner Biggs, a Texas heiress and sculptor who was famous for making sculptures of people like Bob Hope and Harry Truman

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In 1999, which of these ranked third in a poll of the most influential cars of the century?

The Citroen DS was one of the most popular cars ever built. It debuted in 1955. Aside from ranking third in "Car of the Century" it was also selected as the most beautiful car of all time by Classic and Sports Car magazine.

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Do you know which of these was the company's first all-new design since 1947?

Though it was outshined by the DB5 in the '60s thanks to James Bond, the DB4 set the design standard and was quite popular when it arrived in 1958, Previous Aston Martins had all been rather derivative, and this model was a sleek and clearly popular design.

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