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1950s

An explosion in population and prosperity in the 1950s moved many Americans into their own homes on newly planned suburban tracts of land. The need arose for every middle class American family to own their own car. Like the modest Ranch houses that filled the automobile suburbs, modest European imports filled the suburban garages. These small cars, as seen in the two following images, still maintain some similarities, particularly the curves, with their 1940s predecessors.

European Import

European Import: Image courtesy of Philip Van Doren Stern, A Pictorial History of the Automobile, 1953.

European Import

European Import: Image courtesy of Philip Van Doren Stern.

On the other hand, Modernism was sweeping the nation. The definition of Modernism is the parting from traditional styles and the embracing of new designs that often celebrate the machine aesthetic. Chrome detailing, fins, flashy colors, and long, low bodies characterize the more exuberant American automobiles of the 1950s. These designs, seen in the following images, abandon the standard curves of the 1930s and 1940s, and boast a more geometric form with shining metallic details.

1955 Chevy

1955 Chevy: Image courtesy of "Rewind the Fifties", 2006.

1956 Ford

1956 Ford: Image courtesy of "Rewind the Fifties", 2006.

1957 Ford

1957 Ford: Image courtesy of "Rewind the Fifties", 2006.

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