Can You Pass This 1950s Car Quiz in 6 Minutes?



By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: Nikada/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Today, we can scarcely imagine the scenario. In 1941, in the span of just a few weeks, the United States government halted all consumer car sales in America. Manufacturers were directed (or coerced) into making war goods instead. So when the ‘50s came, consumers were raring to buy new cars like crazy. Inspired by the feeding frenzy, car makers concocted all sorts of innovations in dozens of new models, some of which tanked, and others that reached iconic status. Do you really remember anything about the ‘50s cars in this quiz?

In the first half of the centuries, the car business spawned hundreds of companies hoping to strike it rich. By the '50s, though, the Big Three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) were by far the biggest manufacturers left standing. They quickly implemented new features like automatic transmissions, air conditioning, among other wacky technologies (like integrated shavers for men) into their vehicles. Do you remember the other cutting-edge capabilities that appeared in '50s cars?

From the Bel Air to the Thunderbird to the Wayfarer and the Suburban, the ‘50s changed the way America and the rest of the world viewed the automobile. Jump into the driver’s seat of this 1950s car quiz now!

In 1955, which company debuted the famous Thunderbird?

In 1955, Ford unleashed the famous rear-wheel drive Thunderbird. The badge was so popular that it survived 11 generations.


What was an unmistakable feature of the 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville?

The '59 Coupe de Ville took its styling to an extreme. It had two of the biggest tail fins ever to hit mass production … and people loved them.


About how much did the 1955 Chrysler C-30 weigh?

Remember when gas was so cheap that car makers gave not a lick about vehicle weight? See the C-300 as evidence -- this luxury sedan weighed about 4,000 pounds.


Which company is revered for a '57 model?

The '57 Chevy isn't just a car, it's an icon of America. There may never again be a car so beloved by so many everyday people.


In the '50s, Lincoln Continentals were meant for which market segment?

In the '50s, Ford wanted to bring back Lincoln in a big way … with the crazily refined Continental. The car's jaw-dropping price tag meant it was best for robber barons and Hollywood celebs.


The Edsel was a product of which company?

The Edsel was a doomed car from Ford. With its hideous grille and other quirky aspects, it had terrible sales, resulting in major losses for the maker.


What sort of car was the Dodge Wayfarer?

The Dodge Wayfarer was a rarity, in that it was one of the few mass-produced roadsters in the early '50s. But it didn't survive … it was put on the chopping block after '52.


In 1950, Pontiac unveiled which car?

The 1950 Pontiac Chieftain Catalina Coupe was a true luxury machine. It had heaters under the seat and a shaver, for those men who were already rushing into the frenetic pace of the late 20th century.


The Series 62 was a car made by which company?

The fourth generation of Cadillac's Series 62 launched in 1954 and lasted for three years. The car was so popular that it accounted for nearly 9 out of every 10 Cadillacs sold.


The 1950s saw a majority of cars using which capability?

Before the 1950s, most cars featured manual transmissions. But in the '50s, automatics became the norm, marking a major shift in car operation.


What was a notable visual trait of the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL?

The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL had fantastic gullwing doors. And they were tiny things, meaning drivers had to climb in and out of the seat as if the car was a fighter jet.


Chevrolet made which car?

The Bel Air was a Chevy product. Better known as simply the '57 Chevy, it captured the hearts of Americans from coast to coast.


What was one cool feature of the 1957 Ford Skyliner?

The '57 Skyliner had a very fun feature -- a retractable hard top. The top was a marvel of engineering that required three motors and hundreds of feet of electrical wiring.


Which engine did the 1955 Chrysler C-300 use?

The 1955 C-300 was a big, heavy car. As such, it needed a heavy-duty motor … and the Hemi V8 definitely fit the bill.


The R-Type Continental was a high-end car from which company?

The 1952 Bentley R-Type Continental was a post-war icon. Its swooping lines and 4.6 L V6 motor made it fun to drive … but only if you could afford the smarmy $18,000 price tag.


What was the 0 to 60 MPH time for the 1950 Jaguar XK120?

The Jaguar XK120 had a 3.4 L six-cylinder engine. It was enough to propel this sleek machine to 60 MPH in less than 10 seconds.


How many seats did the 1955 Ford Thunderbird have?

Ford intended the Thunderbird as a personal luxury sports car. As such, it was anything but a sedan -- the '55 was just a two-seater.


Which company was forced to end the DeSoto marque by the end of the '50s?

Chrysler did its best to keep the DeSoto name alive in the '50s, significantly cutting the price. But then the company abruptly discontinued the line, causing a major uproar with consumers who'd just bought one.


What was the approximate sticker price of the 1957 Lincoln Continental?

The Mark II Continental was a luxury car for the wealthy, with a sticker price of about $10,000. After inflation, that'd be more than $90,000 today.


The 503 Cabriolet was made by which European company?

The 1956 BMW 503 Cabriolet is a very famous car from a very famous car company. In a notable move, the gear shifter was mounted to the floor instead of the steering column, as with most of the company's earlier models.


Which car company accounted for one-quarter of all American auto sales in 1955?

Chevy really hit its stride in the mid-1950s. Its incredibly popular models meant the company made up about 25% of all cars sold in the country.


The '55 Imperial was a popular car from which brand?

The Imperial was a laughably expensive luxury car from Chrysler. It had a powerful Hemi V8 … and a neck-snapping price of more than $15,000 -- or about $150,000 in today's cash.


The Ford Thunderbird debuted in 1955. When was its FINAL year of production?

Ford axed the Thunderbird in 1997. But due to popular demand, the model returned from 2002 to 2005 … and since then, the name's not been used.


The '50s saw which generation of the Lincoln Continental?

In 1956, Lincoln unveiled the second generation of the Continental, aptly named the Mark II. The car's Y-block V8 was a 6.0 L monster.


Crosley tried to make inroads into which part of the '50s car market?

In a decade when most cars were trending bigger and heavier, Crosley went into compacts. The little cars topped out at 50 MPH but sold for less than $1,000. They were failures.


Why did car sales drop by nearly one-third in 1958?

A recession struck in 1957, and it made a significant dent in consumer spending. Car sales dropped by more than 30% in 1958 before bouncing back in a big way.


The Tri-Five were a series of popular vehicles from which brand?

"Tri-Five" is shorthand for the '55, '56, and '57 Chevys. These rear-wheel-drive cars spawned a craze in their own time and even more fanaticism today.


The Plymouth Suburban was what sort of vehicle?

In the late '50s, Plymouth sold its Suburban station wagons to families across the land. The '56 Fury model was no slouch on the highway, as it had a 240 hp engine.


How much did the big 1959 Lincoln Continental weigh?

You didn't need a semi parked out front if you had the '59 Continental. This blue whale of a car crushed the scales at 5,500 pounds.


The La Femme was a female-oriented car sold by which brand?

In 1955, Dodge was on the ropes financially and came out swinging, in part with innovative models like the La Femme. The colors and terminology were all meant to expand the company's reach in the female market … but the concept only lasted for two years.


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