The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lady Gaga and the Top 5 Beautiful Cars from the '50s

Today, I'm giving you my picks for the top 5 most beautiful cars of the '50s. I'm not talking about the best made, the best engineered, or the ones with the most powerful engines, etc. I'm just talking here about the beauty of the package.

This is the absolute perfect list because...well, just because. You can disagree with me, but, you'll be wrong. But only because it's my list. If you do disagree, however, and wish to nominate some other car, let me know. I'm interested in your opinion about a car that should be on the list but isn't or why one of my cars shouldn't be on there.

5. Let's start with number 5, the bottom car on my list, the '57 Chevrolet Bel Air 2 door hardtop. It especially looks good in black, but here's a nice one in blue and white.

Many will be upset with me for putting it at the bottom. Actually, I almost didn't put it on the list at all and then when I finally decided to include one of that particular generation of Chevys, I almost went with the '56.

When this car came out in the fall of 56, I went to see it at a Chevrolet dealership in Nashville; they had all the new models in a big tent just outside the main building. I liked the Chevy at the time, but thought it was more of a 3rd year facelift, which it was. The '57 Ford on the other hand had an all new body style that really caught my eye. Over time though, the look of the Chevy grew on me and I came to appreciate the '57 facelift as a subtly and deftly done perfection of an already good design. All the details and features look like they belong there, they're not just added on doodads.

4. My number four car came out in the fall of 1955. The 1956 Chrysler 300B was the second model to bear the 300 designation and the famous Virgil Exner design is practically flawless. From the big, European inspired split grill, to the fully integrated fins housing those tall cathedral taillights, this is a beautiful car. This particular car is part of a collection owned by Richard Carpenter from the top seller 1970's group The Carpenters.

3. From a design standpoint, my number three car, the '57 Plymouth Fury, was arguably the best looking car of all in '57. The fins that looked like they were add ons in '56, were made an integral part of the design in that glorious Chrysler year of 1957 when all of their Exner designed products took the auto world by storm. I read somewhere that the styling heads at GM in particular were really pissed that Chrysler had caught them so flat footed.

2. My number two best looking car from the '50s goes back to the 1953 model year. The '53 Studebaker Starliner hardtop is to me one of the top designs of th '50s. I'm not alone in that view; from Wiki: "The '53 Starliner [is] recognized today as "one of the most beautiful cars ever made." Raymond Loewy claimed credit for the design but several people dispute that; some even attribute the design to Exner who worked with Lowey and at Studebaker before going over to Chrysler. Whoever did it, it's a stunning car. My Grandpa Huggins had one just like this first pic and I was bowled over when I first saw it. This car was truly ahead of its time.

And now the most beautiful '50s car, the top car on my list. The '58 Buick...

Ahhh. I gotcha. I don't really think the '58 Buick is most beautiful car of the '50s, but it's the most something. There's enough chrome on that rear quarter panel and bumper pod to make a Lady Gaga bra. I actually hate to use a pic of a performer who IMHO is all about publicity, but here goes. It just might boost my traffic for today.

Come to think of it, she does look a little like a '58 Buick.

1. Okay, enough of that. Here's my real number one pic, the '55 Lincoln Continetal. A classic design in any era. John Reinhart was the stylist and his design used little chrome in comparison to other cars of the '50s. I won't say anything else about it because the clean simple lines of this beauty say what words can't.


  1. I like your choices! All great cars in their day. They were real cars too, no plastic fenders there. The Lady GaGa insert did hold my attention as well!

  2. Oh don't get me started on Lady GaGa. Her 15 minutes of fame are most definitely up. Her AND Taylor Swift, who not only can't sing but writes mean-spirited songs about former boyfriends.

  3. The 50s were watershed years for auto design and I mourn their passing. This prolly falls in the "get off my lawn" category, but I honestly have trouble telling cars apart these days unless I'm close enough to read the badges.

    My vote for Most Beautiful of the Fifties? The Healey 3000, even though it barely qualifies, what with 1959 bein' its first year of production.

  4. Dan, I'm in love with that Continental. Not sure I ever saw one live and in person. But, the picture made me drool. And, what Buck said, "I honestly have trouble telling cars apart these days unless I'm close enough to read the badges."

    Good stuff, my friend.

  5. Scooney, I've passed your smash note on to Lady G so you can expect to hear from her soon. By the way, I copied Rae on my note to G. as well. Heh.

    Deb, I'm not a huge fan of Swift but she doesn't rankle me the way that "Lady" Gag (misspelling intentional) person does. To do a variation on that old "all hat and no cattle" saw, I'd say Lady G is more surface glitter and less talent. As for Swift, I might say she's a niche singer, but it's an awfully big niche.

    Buck, Regarding today's cars, I agree with you. IMHO most are bland and some look like they were designed by a drugged out cartoonist (e.g. Honda Fit or the Nissan Cube). I had a friend who got one of those beautiful Healys in 1962. It was a sweet looking sports machine. On the list, I was sticking to US cars; maybe I'll do one for foreign makes soon. I know one that won't be on it already: a Citroen 2CV. And I won't put a Fiat 1500 on the list either. Not a bad looker but too many bad memories.

    Andy, Glad you like the Continental Mark II; it's one of my all time favorite designs. As for getting close enough to read the badges on modern cars to be able to tell them apart--some of the badges even look alike (e.g. the Honda and the Hyundai).

    1. I have a KILLER Continental Mark II for sale... Just like the one Elvis had. Your thread was from a few years a go, but I just came across it. She has good taste.

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