The '50s were a decade of change in the world of motoring. At the start of the decade, most servicemen who served in World War II were now settling down, marrying, buying a house and starting their families.
Cars, too, underwent radical changes. If you think of the 1950s, you probably think pointy tailfins and chrome, lots of chrome and yes, when it came to American cars, there was a lot of that. European cars, however, still kept their distinct style while remaining much smaller than their American counterparts.
Saleswise, the 1950s saw booming figures, until 1958 that is. And it was those old traditional rivals, Ford and Chevrolet, smashing it out for the honor of best brand of the decade. Smaller motoring companies, however, were not so lucky and many independent producers disappeared or were forced to merge.
It was also a time of innovation. Cars now had extra options that could be installed, but sometimes only on luxury models. In some cases, although these had been devised in the 1940s, it was only the 1950s that they were implemented properly.
So, put on your coolest shades, slick your hair back and let's see just how much you know about this fascinating decade of motoring.
The Corvette name is loved around the world. From its inception in 1953, the Corvette brand has been the jewel in the Chevrolet crown. Of course, everyone has their favorite Corvette with many citing the C1 and the C2 Stingray as personal preferences.
The bulk of the Rolls-Royce models sold from the mid-'50s to mid-'60s were the Silver Cloud model - 7,322 in all. During those 11 years, three generations were produced all available as either a 4-door saloon, 2-door coupe or 2-door convertible.
Amounting to $200 million, this was a big corporate merger for the time, yet the American Motor Corporation never threatened the stranglehold of Ford, Chevrolet or Chrysler and was eventually shut down in 1987.
Incredibly, 94% of all vehicle sales in the United States in 1955 were either a Ford, Chevy or Chrysler. And to prove their dominance, they did exactly the same in 1956 and 1959.
Studebaker was an independent car maker in the United States. In 1950, they sold over 300,000 vehicles but sadly, numbers dropped from then onward.
Willys is best known for contributing the Jeep to the world of motoring. It started out as a military vehicle, but such was its success that it quickly translated into a civilian model which became popular in the 1950s.
Many new types of body types started appearing in the 1950s. In the beginning of the decade, cars with hardtops were popular, but in 1957 the station wagon started coming to the fore as families opted for this as their preferred mode of transportation.
Early NASCAR racing saw drivers using stock vehicles, hence the term stock car. The Hudson Hornet was so dominant that if you were not driving one, you didn't stand a chance of a NASCAR win, no matter how talented a driver you were.
Produced between 1948 and 1953, the B Series was a pickup truck available as either a 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton option.
The Impala brand has been used by Chevrolet since the 1950s. The first generation, released in 1958, sports that classic '50s look. It was available as a 2-door hardtop or convertible.
A true classic from the '50s, the 300 SL started life as a racing car in 1952 but soon became a production car in 1954 as a two-door coupe. The 300 SL became instantly recognizable thanks to its gull-wing doors. Just over 3,200 of the coupe and roadster were built up until 1963.
Along with the F-150, the Task Force was the quintessential pickup in the 1950s. With its incredible lines, this body shape is still in demand to this day. Power plant options including a 3.9-liter straight six as well as a 4.6-liter V8.
Despite selling over 300,000 units in 1950, Studebaker was in financial trouble. A merger with Packard saw a new company the Studebaker-Packard Corporation with models still sold under the Studebaker name.
It was five years after the World World II and vehicles sales were now booming as most servicemen returning from the war had settled back into society, had jobs and bought homes. In fact, 1950 saw a second consecutive sales record in a row.
For first time in history, 1957 saw the United States importing more cars than it exported. This was an indicator of trends to come.
This classic Ferrari from the 1950s is still in demand today. Powered by a 3.0-liter V12, a Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider sold for $5.74 million at auction in 2012.
That's right, in 1958, 80% of all cars sold were with an automatic transmission. And to this day, not much has changed. Americans just prefer an automatic.
Over the decade, Chevrolet sold 13,419,048 cars! They were pushed all the way by their great rival, Ford, however, which managed to sell 12,282,492 vehicles.
Packard were the first manufacturer to devise the power window as far back as the 1940s. By the 1950s, however, these were becoming an option on many cars.
Studebaker sold over 300,000 vehicles in 1950 alone, and in the decade of the 1950s, it sold 1.2 million units. Studebaker produces a low cost 232.6 cubic inch overhead valve V8 engine, making it the first independent manufacturer to do so.
Willys was responsible for the original Jeep vehicles used by the U.S. military during World War II. The Overland Jeepster was the company's attempt to enter the commercial vehicle market after the war. It was produced from 1948 to 1950. Over 20,000 were built.
Although safety belts had been an option on some makes of cars before 1959, it was Volvo which introduced the three-point system as we know it today. And the carmaker never patented the idea, which allowed other manufacturers to use it as well.
Built in the late '50s, the Sweptside was marketed as the truck of the future. In reality, Dodge truck sales were insignificant and the Sweptside actually used car parts from other Dodge models. In fact, the Sweptside even featured pointed tailfins, so popular at the time. Although it was certainly different, the Sweptside never made a dent in the pickup market and was shelved in 1959.
This four-door limousine was manufactured by Rolls-Royce from 1959 to 1968. In total, 516 were made, all powered by a 6.2-liter Rolls-Royce V8 engine.
Although its sales figures were never in the double digit millions like Chevrolet and Ford, Packard did manage to sell close to 6 million units in the 1950s.
The Buick Skylark was first introduced in 1953. From humble beginnings, it went on to become a sought-after muscle car of the 1970s. The 1953 was a beautiful 2-door convertible.
Only 252 units of the 507 convertible were built by BMW between 1956 and 1959. Elvis Presley owned two 507s, which he bought in Germany while stationed there with the U.S. Army.
Available as a two-door roadster or coupe, the MGA was extremely popular outside Britain with over 95% of the over 100,000 built exported. Over its production that ran from 1955 to 1962, six distinct models were available including a Twin Cam version powered by a 1.6-liter engine.
The beautiful BMW 501, a mid-sized luxury car designed by Peter Schimanowski, was marketed by the Bavarian auto manufacturer from 1952 to 1962. It was available in three body styles - 4-door sedan, 2-door cabriolet and 2-door coupe. Top-of-the-range models were driving by a 2.5-liter V8 engine.
Named after Henry Ford's son, the Edsel was a massive flop and only sold between 1958 and 1960. It's not that the car was bad, it was just really overpriced. And that always turns people away!
Ford, Chevy and Chrysler certainly dominated motoring in the 1950s. Not only did they rack up 94% of all vehicle sales in 1955, '56 and '59 but 1 in every 6 people working in the United States during the decade worked at one of these factories.
The Lincoln Motor Company was formed in 1917, eventually falling under the Ford banner. While Ford vehicles were aimed at the middle-class American, Lincoln were without a doubt a luxury brand.
In 1959, the Mini Mk 1 was introduced to the world. And what a popular car it proved to be. Over the years, it underwent a number of upgrades, but that distinct Mini appeal never left. The last of these cars rolled off the production line in the late 1990s.
Produced by Dodge between 1955 and 1956, this 2-door hardtop was specifically aimed at the fairer sex. Only 2,500 were sold in a two-year period, although little evidence suggests that it was well marketed.
The Thunderbird was originally devised by Ford to compete with the first generation Corvette. Much debate rages over whether this vehicle could be considered as a muscle car, but early models certainly displayed many traits adopted by muscle cars in the 1960s.