Car Stuff

Little-Known Facts About These 17 Vintage Cars

BY Fair StaffSeptember 24, 2018

Separately, old pictures and classic cars are enough to stir the soul. Put them together and you get these photos of vintage rides and the amazing people who drove them. From kit cars to mid-century sedans to rare supercars, these timeless automobiles will make even the most tech-obsessed modern driver yearn for the good old days.

Route 66 Road Trip

1. Getting Their Kicks

Connecting Chicago and Los Angeles beginning in 1926, Route 66 was one of America’s earliest highways—and probably its most famous. It was the main route for the Dust Bowl migrants of the 1930s, has been celebrated in song and on television, and served as the backdrop for countless mid-century family road trips like this one. Notably, Kansas was the first state to pave its entire portion of the “Mother Road” in 1929. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Before The Interstate

2. Before the Interstate

Road-tripping used to mean steering a tank of a sedan along hundreds of miles of small and often inconsistent country roads. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 changed all that, creating funding for 41,000 miles of modern interstate highways. The largest federal works project in American history, the interstate system was intended to enable faster and safer cross-country travel, as well as to aid evacuations in the event of attacks or nuclear emergencies. (Source: twitter.com/OldCarsWeekly)

Oldsmobile Starfire

3. Roadside Attraction

The blue-and-white car on the left of this classic American roadside stop is a 1957 Oldsmobile Starfire. And while you’ve probably heard of the brand behind the so-called “Olds,” it likely hasn’t been recently. Owned by GM since 1908, Oldsmobile was a staple of the American automotive landscape until 2004 when the last one rolled off the assembly line in Lansing, Mich. You might see a few of these around, but chances are it’s part of a collection—or in your grandparents’ driveway. (Source: twitter.com/OldCarsWeekly)

SL 300 Gullwing

4. On The Wings of a Benz

The stunning Mercedes-Benz pictured here is an SL 300 Gullwing. Originally introduced in 1954, it had a top speed of 160 miles per hour—pretty mind-boggling for the time. It’s estimated that about three-quarters of the original Gullwings are still around today. (Source: TheSamba.com)

Chevrolet Bel Air

5. A Breath of Bel Air

The Chevrolet Bel Air, like this 1955-56 model, is one of those instantly recognizable cars from the '50s and '60s. Its wide and long stance helps to lower its center of gravity, while an impressive power-to-weight ratio made it faster and cheaper than the competition. That might have contributed to the car’s long 31-year run until it was retired in 1981. (Source: vintag.es)

Nash Metropolitan

6. Deal of The (Last) Century

A $695 car may sound like a steal, but adjusting for inflation means the price of this Nash Metropolitan is actually around $6,000 in today’s dollars. Often called America’s first sub-compact car, more than 95,000 Metropolitans were produced from 1954 to 1962. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

AMC Gremlin EV

7. The First EV?

This modified AMC Gremlin EV is charging at an Electro Park charging station in Seattle. The Emerald City’s commitment to green transportation carries through to today, with a recent initiative calling for the installation of 20 fast-charging stations on 15 sites throughout the city. (Source: Flickr/Seattle Municipal Archives)

Cadillac Fleetwood

8. Land Yacht

The Cadillac Fleetwood was long known for being one of the larger Cadillacs on the road, which made it something of a status symbol back in the day. The Fleetwood nameplate was used all the way back in the 1930s and on-and-off until the late ‘90s. (Source: vintag.es)

Ford Mustang

9. Mustang Madness

This late-‘60s Ford Mustang shows why it’s nothing short of an American classic. When the Mustang debuted in late 1964, Ford expected to sell around 100,000 of them; they ended up selling 417,000 in their first month on the market. (Source: Flickr/mike)

Chevrolet CK

10. For Work and Play

The first-generation Chevrolet C/K became an icon that changed how many view trucks. Though originally made for work, the C/K would later become a truck people enjoyed for recreation too as it offered comforts previously reserved for passenger cars, like air conditioning. These practical features began to make pickups enjoyable for camping and other leisure pursuits. (Source: vintag.es)

Woodie Wagon

11. Woodie Wagon

Though it’s been revived several times (looking at you, PT Cruiser), the classic “woodie” wagon look started as a way for early automakers to get around metalworking. Eventually, the style became popular—even though the iterations that came after the ‘50s mostly weren’t using wood at all. This one is a Pontiac, though lots of brands made woodies through the ‘70s and into the ‘80s. (Source: vintag.es)

Chevrolet Chevelle SS

12. The Cool Kids

The early 1970s became a golden era for muscle cars. This Chevrolet Chevelle SS was of that generation, where cars got faster and limits were pushed across the board. Chevrolet pulled out all the stops to beat the others, at one point even producing a handful with Corvette engines. This was a very fast car—and these guys seem to know it! (Source: vintag.es)

Ford Thunderbird

13. A Small Coupe with a Big Load

We really hope this fifth-generation Ford Thunderbird wasn’t trying to pull a travel trailer while carrying a boat on the roof, but the attached tow mirrors tells us it probably was. Remember: If you’re looking to tow something with your car, please don’t forget to check the tow rating. Also, we want to party with this guy. (Source: twitter.com/OldCarsWeekly)

Brubaker Box

14. Boxy But Beautiful

Long before boxy options like the Honda Element and Nissan Cube were “cool,” there was this little guy: the Brubaker Box. This Frankenstein of a car was made by an industrial designer who once worked with Chrysler. It featured an AMC windshield, the rear glass of an El Camino and wooden bumpers. (Source: twitter.com/HWarlow)

Volkswagen Microbus

15. Flower Power

The Volkswagen microbus continues to occupy a unique place in American culture—starting with the hippies of the late ‘60s and running all the way through to the hipsters of today. The first iteration of the van was inspired by the factory’s trucklets and built on a VW Beetle chassis. This particular one is a Volkswagen Westfalia, which was modified to be a camper. Volkswagen vans are so iconic today that the German automaker is toying with an electric concept of the microbus, which they showed off at the Detroit Auto Show in 2017. (Source: vintag.es)

BMW M1

16. M1 in Munich

This BMW M1 is parked outside of the company’s headquarters in Munich, Germany. This model was BMW’s only attempt at a supercar. However, there weren’t many made—which is one of the reasons they can now go for upwards of $600,000. (Source: twitter.com/BMW_Classic)

Ford Escort

17. Affordable Appeal

We don’t know what seemingly pulverized everything around the house in this advertisement, but we do know this is a Ford Escort from the late ‘80s. Ford used this inexpensive compact to appeal to the average consumer at a time of serious competition from newcomers like Toyota and Mazda. (Source: vintag.es)

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