1950's Vehicles

1950s Vehicles.mp4

Vehicles in the 1950's

Vehicle design began to see a major shift in style towards the end of the 1940's, but cars still lacked the power many consumers wanted.  As the look of vehicles continued to change during the 1950's the focus eventually turned to the engine and making it bigger and more powerful.

Many soldiers that had returned home with new skills - like how to work on engines and began modifying their own cars to get more out of them.  Men also began modifying their cars to fit their image. This was the start of the Hot Rod movement in the United States.

But, vehicle innovations weren't just about what was on the ground, commercial air travel also became affordable for many Americans and a new era of vacationing and commuting began to take hold.


Task 1: Watch the Introductory Video to this Unit (5 minutes)

Task 2: Review the provided images, videos and attached links for the vehicles of  the 1950's (15 minutes)

Task 3: Complete a Timeline by Selecting FIVE (5) Vehicles Throughout the Decade (1950 - 1959) to Show Shifting Interests of Americans in the 1950's (30 minutes)

Task 4: Submit Completed Timeline to Google Classroom

A 1956 Look at What the Future of Self-Driving Cars Might Look Like in the Future!

Sports Cars

America entered the 1950s with a sense of adventure and enthusiasm, this iconic decade turned into a period filled with classic designs and power that had never been experienced behind the wheel.  In the 1950s, cars were as much about style as they were about substance, and many of the models are now modern legends.  This decade sparked America’s fascination with fast, sporty vehicles and changed both the way people drove and the reasons they got behind the wheel. (https://www.hertz.com/blog/automotive/birth-sports-car-cars-50s-changed-america )

1953 Corvette

1955 Ford Thunderbird

1955 Porsche 550 Spyder


Commercial and personal trucking was authorized for use on the Interstate Highway System in 1956. During this decade, many Americans moved away from the cities and began moving into suburbs. Jobs, however, stayed in the cities. This prompted a new hunger for automobiles to transport people to and fro to work. This included a voracious hunger for pickup trucks. The big three, Dodge, Ford, and Chevrolet rose as the leaders in the market to meet this new demand.

New pickup truck models began to pump into the marketplace with unique body styles and new features. For example, in 1955 the first contemporary V-8 engine with overhead valves was introduced in a Chevy pickup truck. This improved the horsepower for traveling at high rates of speed. The International Harvester in 1957 introduced the first crew cabin. Initially, the Harvester came with three doors, but a fourth was added in 1961. (https://www.carcovers.com/resources/history-of-the-pickup-truck.html )

1955 Chevy Pickup

1958 Ford F-Series Pickup

1953 Dodge B-Series Pickup

Hot Rods

Hot Rod popularity continued to rise, supported by the formation of the National Hot Rod Association in 1951. Hotrodders moved to custom-made drag strips and avoided public roads. The hot rod culture branched out into several subcultures—including street rods for illegal street racing, dragsters for drag track racing, and custom cars with elaborate cosmetic upgrades. (https://www.buyautoinsurance.com/hot-rod-history/ )

Chevy Hot Rod

Ford Hot Rod

Dodge Hot Rod

Commercial Air Travel

During the 1950s, airlines promoted commercial air travel as glamorous: stewardesses served full meals on real china, airline seats were large (and frequently empty) with ample leg-room, and passengers always dressed well.

After jets were introduced in the late 1950s, passengers could travel to even the most distant locations at speeds unimaginable a mere decade before. An airline trip from New York to London that could take up to 15 hours in the early 1950s could be made in less than seven hours by the early 1960s. (https://theconversation.com/longing-for-the-golden-age-of-air-travel-be-careful-what-you-wish-for- )

The Golden Age of Air Travel

 A TWA brochure from 1955 shows a round-trip ticket from Chicago to Phoenix cost $138, which seems like a good deal. When you account for inflation, though, the not-even-cross-country trip cost about $1,200 in today's money.

According to aviation history expert Guillaume de Syon, "[Depending] on the route, it was four to five times as expensive to fly in the Golden Age." International travel, meanwhile, was so cost prohibitive, only the wealthiest could afford it.

Since flights were a luxurious experience, passengers generally dressed in appropriate attire - three-piece suits and hats for men, and dresses, high heels, and fine jewelry for women. Passengers saved up to fly, and it was a big event - so wanting to look your best made perfect sense.