Can You Identify These Cool Cars From the '50s?


By: Robin Tyler

7 Min Quiz

Image: Pixabay / werner22brigitte

About This Quiz

If there is one thing that stands out about cars in the 1950s, particularly those designed in North America, it is the chrome, lots of chrome. And pointy tailfins, sometimes to the extreme.

The '50s were an exciting time in the world of motoring and definitely saw a styling shift as cars moved from the rounded looks of the 1930s and 1940s into the long, sleek cars of the 1950s, especially when it came to American models. Across the pond, however, designs kept their distinctive European styling. Here, sports cars were the order of the day and many of them were in demand all over the world, particularly in the United States. Smaller than their American counterparts, these cars are sold for astronomical amounts today.

The question is, how much do you really know about cars from the 1950s? Would you be able to name an American classic from just one image? Or would you be able to pick out the sleek lines of a 1950s model European sports car? What about a classic American truck, would you be able to identify the make and model? Make no mistake; This quiz will test your auto knowledge like no other. That's why getting close to 80% right is certainly a major achievement.

But you can do this! Your knowledge of cars will see you through.

Produced as a vehicle for the military, what make and model is shown in this image?

Designed as a combat vehicle, research on the Mighty Mite started in 1946 but it was only in the late 1950s that it went into production. The body was made from aluminum to keep weight down for airlifting while the Mite was powered by an AMC V-4 air-cooled engine. 3,922 Mighty Mites were manufactured, with most serving with the US Marines.


Ultimate luxury, that's what we have in this image. Fit enough for kings, queens and statesmen. Can you name the car?

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 that 11-year period, three generations were produced all available as either a 4-door saloon, 2-door coupe or 2-door convertible.


A classic '50s family car, which make and model is featured in this image?

Launched in 1956, the Parklane was a two-door station wagon. It was powered by either a straight six or V8 engine and had a 3-speed transmission. Of course, it had that classic mid-'50s look as well.


This make and model had been made since the 1920s. The '50s convertible, however, is pictured here. Do you know what it is?

The Commander badge has been put on a number of Studebakers since the 1920s. The vehicles from the 1950s, however, are in demand with restorers, especially the 1950 Studebaker Commander convertible. This is indeed a classic car.


Tail fins don't get much pointier than that! What vehicle is shown here?

Established in 1902, Cadillac is the second oldest automotive brand in America. The Eldorado, introduced in 1959, had everything you could wish for in a ‘50s classic, including ridiculously long and pointy tailfins and chrome, lots of chrome. Sadly, finding one today is like finding a needle in a haystack.


Can you name this vehicle, first introduced in the 1950s and still marketed today?

The Impala brand has been used by Chevrolet since the 1950s. Introduced in 1958, the first generation had the classic '50s look. Interestingly the name was first used on the Bel Air model, with Impala added to the top-of-the-range vehicle. In 1959, the Impala became its own model.


Built to compete with full-sized offerings from Chevrolet and Ford, what vehicle is featured here?

Introduced in 1959, this full-spec vehicle was aimed to compete with both Ford and Chevrolet offerings in the full-sized vehicle segment. Through the years of production, various models were introduced including coupes, convertibles and station wagons. Production ceased in 1973.


In this image, we have the sports car James Dean lost his life in. Do you know what it is?

This racing sports car was produced by Porsche from 1953 to 1956. The 1.5-liter Type 547 engine produced 108 horsepower. Another popular car at auction time, a 550 sold as recently as 2016 for $5.4 million. It is also famous as the car in which James Dean had a head-on accident and died.


Classic '50s tailfins are found on the vehicle pictured here. But what is it?

Certainly an iconic name in American motoring, the Cadillac Deville was first produced in 1959. The first generation has massive pointy tailfins, much like its stablemate, the Eldorado. Available as a 2- or 4-door hardtop, the Deville was powered by a 6.4-liter V8 engine.


A true beaut from the 1950s, can you identify this first generation car that is still produced today?

The Corvette name is loved around the world. Since 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.


Can you name this vehicle, a mid-sized offering produced in Europe?

Built between 1956 and 1970, the Amazon was one of Volvo's mid-sized car offerings marketed globally. Over 600,000 were produced in those 14 years, with more than half exported.


Name this German sports car, please. It was available as both a 2+2 coupe and a convertible.

In 1955, Volkswagen offered the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia sports car as a 2+2 coupe. Starting in 1957, the Karmann Ghia was also offered as a convertible. Both models combined the chassis and mechanicals of the classic Volkswagen Beetle with the design of the Carrozzeria Ghia and the bodywork of Karmann, the German coachbuilding house.


What is the name of this European convertible? Elvis once owned two!

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.


A major flop that cost an American auto manufacturer millions. Can you identify this vehicle?

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. That said, for the time, the Edsel presented a fairly interesting design.


With a military background, are you able to identify this vehicle, often used as a delivery van?

Built between 1955 and 1964, the Dispatcher used an L-Head 134 engine with the body of the Jeep CJ-3A. It was available as both a soft and hardtop and often used as a delivery vehicle.


Produced in America, what is the name of this 1/2-ton pickup?

Produced between 1948 and 1953, the B Series was a pickup truck available as either a 1/2-ton or 3/4-ton option. A version with wood paneling, called the Suburban was also made available for sale.


One of these sports cars recently sold for over $20 million. Can you identify it?

In 2016, a buyer paid $21.7 million for a 1950s Jaguar D-Type! It was designed expressly for the purpose of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, which it did from 1955-1957.


Do you know the make and model of this famous 1950s car?

The Ford Fairlane was produced by Ford between 1955 and 1961 in the full-size car segment. The model was available in six body styles, with the Crown Victoria Skyliner the top of the range model. It even had a transparent roof.


A rebranded Plymouth Cambridge, this vehicle was only marketed in Canada. What is it?

The Crusader was produced by Dodge in Canada for the Canadian market. Its production ran from 1951 to 1958. Essentially, it was a rebadged Plymouth Cambridge.


Known as the "Aero Jeep," what is the make and model pictured here?

The Bobcat, also known as the "Aero Jeep" was a prototype produced in the 1950s and shared many parts with the M-38 and M-38A1. This vehicle was intended to be used by paratroopers and dropped out of aircraft with them. It never went into production.


This pickup competed with the Ford F-100 and F-150. Are you able to identify it?

Along with the Ford 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, especially for restorations. Power plant options including a 3.9-liter straight six as well as a 4.6-liter V8.


90% of these English sports cars were exported to the United States. Do you know the make and model?

Built between 1959 and 1967, the Austin Healey 3000 was powered by a 2.9-liter straight-6 engine. This two-door vehicle was available as a roadster or convertible and many 3000s made their way to North America. In fact, in 1963, over 90% of the 3000s produced actually ended up in the USA.


With its long trunk and wraparound rear window, this car certainly looks unique. It is a _________.

The Starlight Coupe was a classic car from the 1950s produced by Studebaker. It was known for its excessively long trunk which gave it a very unique look. It also featured an interesting wraparound rear window which was supported by two separate pillars. Models from 1951 onward also had a unique front end called the bullet nose.


This vehicle won the Pan American Road Race in 1952 and 1953. Not bad for a luxury sedan! What is it?

Built between 1952 and 1959, the Capri was a full-sized luxury sedan. Three generations featured in those seven years with the Capri available as a coupe, convertible, sedan and hardtop and as either a 2-door or 4-door. The Capri was often used in racing and won its section of the Pan American Road Race in both 1952 and 1953.


Can you name this classic British sports car, available as a roadster or coupe?

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 run from 1955 to 1962, six distinct models were available, including a Twin Cam version powered by a 1.6-liter engine.


Over 180,000 examples of this European car were built from 1959 to 1965. Do you have any idea what it is?

Around 180,000 models of the BMW 700 were built during its production run from 1959 to 1965. The 700 came in various body styles including a saloon, coupe and convertible. The 700 was powered by a 700 cc motor.


Powered by a 3.5-liter straight-6 engine, can you name this beautiful Italian sports car?

Available as a two-seat convertible and hardtop, the 3500 was built by the legendary manufacturer Maserati from 1957 to 1964. This was a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive car powered by a 3.5-liter straight-6 engine which produced around 220 horsepower.


Which of these was a Formula 1 racer from the '50s?

In the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio, the Mercedes-Benz W196 was a formidable car and saw the Argentine become world champion in 1955. The Mercedes team were famously nicknamed the "Silver Arrows."


Believe it or not, you could order this vehicle in a catalog from a chain store. What is it?

Between 1952 and 1954, a vehicle model called the Allstate could be bought through the Sears catalog. The vehicle itself was actually a Henry J, a two-door sedan which was the brainchild of Henry J. Kaiser. Interestingly, this was not the first time Sears offered a vehicle as part of its catalog. It had done so between 1908 and 1912 as well!


Do you know the make and model of this van? It was produced in Europe.

This classic French light commercial front-wheel-drive van was first released in 1959 and was the flagship of the Renault commercial vehicle range for two decades. Styles offered included a 4-door minibus, a 2-door pickup and a 2-door chassis cab. The Renault Estafette initially had the Renault Ventoux engine.


A mid-sized luxury can, can you name this vehicle produced in Germany?

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 driven by a 2.5-liter V8 engine.


Can you name this classic British sports car, first introduced in 1953?

Introduced in 1953 and produced until 1958, around 36,000 of the ZB Varitone Model by MG were made. This MG model had a top speed of around 86 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 18.2 seconds. It was powered by a 1.5-liter engine.


Certainly a very different-looking vehicle, this car never made it into production. Can you name it?

Certainly an interesting-looking vehicle, the Gaylord Gladiator was a concept car that never went into production. Powered by a Chrysler Hemi V8, this vehicle was to be a luxury car which Jim and Ed Gaylord hoped would rival other manufacturers, such as Rolls Royce. The Gladiator featured a retractable hardtop roof.


Truly beautiful! What make and model is featured in this image?

This classic Ferrari from the 1950s is still in demand today. Powered by a 3.0-liter V12, a 250 GT LWB California Spider sold for $5.74 million at auction in 2012.


Name this open-top 2-seater made in Europe but sold in the United States as well.

Swedish car manufacturer Saab manufactured the Saab Sonett between 1955 and 1967. The Sonett was a 2-seat, open-top, lightweight roadster racer.


Produced only in Australia, what is the name of this vehicle?

Also known as the Holden Business, the 48-215 was a Holden model produced in Australia from 1948 to 1953. It was the first model from General Motors to be marketed under the Holden name.


Today, this vehicle is the longest-running model in the automaker's fleet. It was first introduced in 1955. Do you know what it is?

First released in 1955, the Crown is the longest-running model in the Toyota fleet. It is now into its 15th generation. Today, the Crown is a luxury four-door sedan but over the years there have been many different models.


This small city car was first produced in 1958 and was sold in Asia. Any idea as to what it is?

This small city car was manufactured by Subaru from 1958 until 1971. This was the first model produced by Subaru and over 392,000 were manufactured. The 360 came in a number of body shapes including a 2-door sedan and a 2-door convertible as well as a 3-door station wagon.


Pictured here is one of the first vehicles ever to be made from fiberglass. Name it, please.

The brainchild of Blanchard Robert "Woody" Woodill, the Woodhill Woodfire was manufactured between 1952 and 1958. Made from fiberglass, the Wildfire was the first vehicle ever to be produced using this material. 15 were originally made, with another 285 then sold as kit cars. Interestingly, the Woodhill was capable of speeds of up to 120 mph.


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