The 1950s have been largely defined by its back nine in terms of fame.
For many, Elvis invented rock and roll-although this particular musical style preceded him and he was able to break the glass ceiling to give rock and roll its massive mainstream popularity with white teenagers during the last half of the 1950s.
The cool factor was largely absent in early 1950s pop music because Patti Page, Dinah Shore, Rosemary Clooney and Perry Como dominated the charts with a harmless array of easy listening tunes that were a safe refuge from an increasingly stressful post-nuclear world of Cold War politics and hydrogen bombs.
The post-war era had also been defined by the first wave of new car designs that dotted the automotive landscape in the late 1940s, but the early Fifties have never been celebrated for either their edgy music or automotive style in most car guy circles.
However, we at MyStarCollectorCar actively dispute the notion that early 1950s cars leaned heavily toward blandness and would like to offer five examples of very cool domestic cars built during the late Truman and early Eisenhower administrations.
The first car on our cool quintet list is the 1953 Chevy. The ’53 Chevy was a hybrid because it had some styling cues from its Bowtie model predecessors, along with the shape of things to come-if one considers the straight edge top of its rear quarter panels as an early indicator of the ’55 Chevy and its radical style departure.
In our opinion, the 1953 Chevy has never been given its due as a very cool car from the early Fifties.
The second car on MyStarCollectorCar’s list is the 1954 Kaiser Darrin two-seater sports car built by an extinct car manufacturer that punched well above its weight class during its history. The Kaiser name may have disappeared after a series of mergers based mainly on sheer survival in the shark-infested automotive industry, but the Kaiser Darrin is an outstanding legacy for the innovative company that put style and creativity into this car model.
The third car on our list is almost too obvious: the 1949-1950 era Mercury two-door coupe. These Mercs looked like a custom build even before the creative car guys got their hands on one. The radical style change for the Merc actually began in 1949 and prompted Sam Barris (brother of George “King of Kustoms” Barris) to become a pioneer in the lead sled movement.
The same design principles were applied to the 1949-’50 Mercury and these cars looked fast, sleek and cool even before hot lead and sharp saws were applied to their outer skins by ambitious customizers.
The fourth car on our list is the 1952 Nash-Healey. Earlier models of this iconic American sports car bore a striking resemblance to a British sports car, but the ’52 versions of the Nash-Healey had a unique look unto themselves.
The Nash-Healy was only built in limited numbers during its brief 1951-54 production run, but the Italian-designed influence on the ’52 versions was very obvious that year, and is still cool in 2019.
The fifth and final addition to MyStarCollectorCar’s list is the 1952 DeSoto Firedome. The DeSoto was always associated with people like Richie Cunningham’s father in the ‘Happy Days’ 1970s sitcom where a late 1940s version was considered to be tragically un-hip by the gang.
However, a 1952 DeSoto Firedome offered an early Hemi under its hood and helped create a legendary engine that can still be found under the hood of 2019 Mopars.
The distinctive grille on the ’52 DeSoto also found its way onto many custom builds over the years, but DeSotos left the factory with the grilles.
MyStarCollectorCar believes those two features are ample reasons to include ’52 DeSotos on our cool pre-55 car list.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.