By on July 29, 2017

Image: 1955 Imperial Coupe

The other weekend, I traveled down to the rolling green acres of Kentucky for the annual Keeneland Concours event. There was a wide selection of vehicles at the show, and I love taking pictures.

Read on if you’re ready for some vintage American luxury.

Image: 1955 Imperial Coupe

This Imperial Newport was the top offering from Chrysler in 1955, sold under separate luxury marque Imperial.

Image: 1955 Imperial Coupe

Imperial styling was not bashful — acres of chrome and the stand-up rear lamps assured you were noticed.

Image: 1955 Imperial Coupe

Real wire wheels and real metal trim. Luxury.

1963 Ford Thunderbird

The 1963 Ford Thunderbird was the last year of the second-generation model.

Image: 1963 Ford Thunderbird

Viewed from the rear, the styling is pure spaceship.

Image: 1963 Ford Thunderbird

Two rather wealthy persons can sit in front, with the 6.4-liter V8 stretched out miles ahead of them.

Image: 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk

Produced for 1956 through 1958, the Studebaker Golden Hawk was the top of the line coupe offering from the South Bend, Indiana firm.

Image: 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk

The company dropped the luxurious Golden Hawk from its lineup after a brief but sharp recession in 1958 led to dismal sales.

1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk

For 1957 and ’58, Studebaker supercharged its 4.7-liter V8, boosting output to a very sporting 275 horsepower.

Image: 1965 Pontiac Bonneville

The sheer size of this Pontiac Bonneville from 1965 was impressive.

Image: 1965 Pontiac Bonneville

The flowing lines of the fourth-generation model were quite a departure from prior Bonnevilles, which favored a more squared-off approach to styling.

Image: 1948 Chrysler Town and Country

Available for 1946 through 1948, the Chrysler Town and Country sedan featured some amazing woodwork.

Image: 1948 Chrysler Town and Country

1950 was the final model year for any real “woodie” offering from Chrysler. In 1951, a new Town and Country generation debuted with a distinct lack of exterior tree.

That’s all for today. Let us know if you’d like more Concours Picture Time editions.

[Images: © Corey Lewis]

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55 Comments on “Picture Time: Vintage American Luxury from Keeneland Concours...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    ! MORE ! .

    Being a Geezer I have many memories of these rides .

    I hired a kid in 1979 (IIRC) who was maybe 16 Y.O. and a budding car nut, trying to keep his Father’s tired but still nice 1956 Chrysler Coupe on the road, we had much fun driving it every where for several years after work .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    JimZ

    back when “luxury” meant carpet and a padded dash.

    and IIRC wasn’t the ’63 Thunderbird originally supposed to be a Lincoln?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Other way around as I recall – the ’61 Continental was originally proposed as a T-bird.

      http://www.fordinsidenews.com/forums/48-vintage-ford-discussion/11778-elwood-engel-s-tbird-continental-dailyquiddity.html

      Lots of similarities between the Bullet ‘Bird and the Chrysler Turbine car too.

      • 0 avatar
        TheDoctorIsOut

        No coincidence there, Elwood Engle was responsible for all three designs, he was lured away from Ford after Chrysler fired Virgil Exner, his design themes were blamed for the poor reception of the entire ’61 lineup, IIRC, though Chrysler’s bet that America was ready for smaller full sized cars was about 20 years too soon. Engle’s influence at Chrysler last until the late 60’s I think.

        • 0 avatar
          TheDoctorIsOut

          I’ll add that when I look at that T-Bird and the Bonnie convertible I’m reminded of my belief for that ten-year period between 1960 and maybe even after 1971, that this was the pinnacle of American auto design and influence. Almost nothing at GM did, especially Ford or Chrysler, after that time really matched up in the smoothness, elegance, or originality of what they accomplished in that decade.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I agree. Today might be a golden era for 0-60 times and reliability, but the style of so many cars from the late 40s to the early 70s is incredible.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    Actually, it was the other way around. The 1961 Lincoln was a stretched version of a 1961 Thunderbird styling study.

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GRsTZDMFJbg/TZLATKiVnGI/AAAAAAAAAD0/gqC0ThuWrzE/s1600/1958_Ford_Thunderbird_clay_Engel.jpg

  • avatar
    mikey

    Love that 65 Rag Top.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      Me, too. Consider that Bonneville and the Impala, Eldorado, Corvair, Riviera from 1965 and I’d argue that it was the pinnacle of GM design. The ’66 mid-sizers were also beautiful flowing designs – with buttresses at the rear windows – but the ’66 Riv was growing too big. From ’67 on it was bigger is better, with poorer results in my opinion.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I love them, except the T-Bird, never was a fan of those big ‘Birds.

    No Oldsmobiles Corey?

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I don’t believe there are many of the ’55 – ’56 DeSoto’s still around with the three-tone black over coral over white paint jobs available for concours events.

  • avatar
    GoHuskers

    Great exteriors, a few interior shots of each car would be a great addition.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s difficult for two reasons:

      1) So bright out that it makes the interior shadowy when you’re leaning in the window.

      2) Most of the cars there have their windows closed, so you only get a photo of some glare.

      I have an interior photo of the Imperial as well, but there was this huge box with a trophy in it, in the front seat. Sort of ruined the look.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    I have never seen a woody sedan before. Thank you, I am amazed.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Very nice. You left us – me, wanting more.

    “real metal trim” A friend’s Cadillac ATS also has real metal trim – polished aluminum. That impresses me in this day and age. I’d drive one if I could afford it!

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I will give the ATS credit for offering aluminum, 3 types of real wood, and real carbon fiber as interior trim options (even on the base version).

      • 0 avatar

        I didn’t know that about the ATS, but that’s very nice.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I give it credit for being a (theoretically possible) smaller RWD coupe with good looks, an available manual, and a premium interior.

        What ever its faults, it does have those things in its favor, in my book anyway. I also like the Lexus RC, but the ATS would be a bargain most likely, and have an elegant look, rather than the racey RC. I like the racey look of the RC in a way, but I do appreciate the Caddy’s more subtle approach.

        It would he a tough decision, probably made after driving them. The Caddy’s manual and price would probably win me over. Luckily, I won’t be in a position to worry about such anytime soon. Ha

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          My build-your-own ATS 6MT coupe with V-Sport suspension package (not logos), sun roof, standard real wood (to touch on ajla’s comment), extra cost premium paint to avoid choice of only black or silver (WTF, Cadillac?): $41,505.

          A pretty base RC350 (I forget options I picked, but it was similar other than being a V-6/auto instead of a 2.0T/6MT): $46,500.

          5 grand off before any discounts/incentives, and I get three pedals instead of two? I think it’d be hard to pass up. Sorry DW.

        • 0 avatar

          I have spoken to a couple of different journalist types about the RC, and none of them liked the standard version.

          “A mess.”
          “Too soft.”

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    A 1978 Oldsmobile Toronto is VERY rare? I never heard of it.

  • avatar
    A4kev

    Good job Corey, you picked some beauts !
    With the exception of the 46 T%C those were the cars of my misspent youth.Tell me what you think would happen if that Newport’s front bumper tapped a modern cars rear bumper.
    The big Chrysler/Imperial cars had some very cool torquey V8 options back in the day.
    Looks like it was a good show.

  • avatar

    How did these cars fit garage?

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Good question, my father has a house/garage that date back to the 50’s. It fits old VWs fine but I dont think it’d fit an Imperial too well.

      Maybe people were just really, really good at parking back then.

      • 0 avatar

        My house is from 1938, and the garage would easily fit that Imperial.

        • 0 avatar
          skor

          My house was built in 1927, detached garage in the back. The door is eight feet wide by 8 feet high. Most standard garage doors today are 8 feet wide by 7 feet high although some builders have gone to 7.5 feet high to accommodate the larger SUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        operagost

        People with small garages didn’t buy Imperials.

      • 0 avatar
        nlinesk8s

        I live in an older neighborhood with mostly detached garage. A lot of them have extensions added. The homes built prior to the twenties have garages built for model t’s. You probably can’t get a golf cart in those

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          “I live in an older neighborhood with mostly detached garage. A lot of them have extensions added. The homes built prior to the twenties have garages built for model t’s. You probably can’t get a golf cart in those”

          _THIS_ ~ my 1923 1,158 S.F. Bungalow was fairly expen$ive when new @ $3,200.00, it had *one* electrical out let in every room and a tiny garage I still have, I’ve never even squeezed a Motocycle in…

          Full of junk and termites .

          -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Before I moved into my house the previous owner kept his early 70’s era LTD in the garage. The door is probably 6’8″ or so since the beam on my Mustang checks in at 6 foot and just squeezes in there although the LTD was about two feet longer so it was a tight squeeze fore/aft for him.

      In order to avoid bumping the back wall and to make sure the rear of the LTD was in the garage the owner used a wood plank as a stop of sorts.

      I still use the plank for a similar purpose since my buddy stores his scooter in the garage and I have to get close to the scooter in order to store the Mustang there and avoid bumping the scooter.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      These cars would be a tough fit in the garages I recall as a kid. Most of the developments on Long Island NY from the 50s and 60s had single car garages and no way would some of these beasts fit inside. Funny how things have changed. Today most of the new housing being built is 4,500 to 5,000 square feet and a three car garage is standard. I have no need for a huge house (growing up in an old estate mansion was cool though) but you can never have enough garage space.

      More like this please. I have gone to quite a few car shows on in the northeast and you actually start to recognize some of the same cars. Sad that the great car show that used to happen in Warwick Rhode Island is no more…

      • 0 avatar

        Not in SF Bay area. Typical house is 1500-2500 sqft with 2 car garage. I can barely fit 2 midsize cars in my garage but then no space left for anything else. My house where I live with my wife (son moved out) is 2000 sqft and costs about $1M, 5000 sqft is for very rich people, so called 1%. I cannot imagine how you can live in smaller house though and how garage can be smaller but most live in smaller houses and drive compact cars mostly hybrids or electric cars. My neighbor with two kids has 2 compact electric cars and lives in 1200 sqft duplex. Thats the future we are living in.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        My 50’s era house thankfully was deep enough to put a work bench and a long car in it. Space was tight between my 75 Buick Electra and the bench but fine for every other car I had owned. Its problem was width as the chimney, furnace and water heater are on one side and ate up most of the width between the edge of the garage door and the wall shared with the house. It has double doors but only ~1′ between them.

        The most recent house I purchased solves the width issue but is a little short, additionally the HVAC system is in front of one of the stalls limiting the depth of that space even further. So my son’s Grand Marquis won’t fit on that side, but on the other it fits with just enough room to get by to the area with the work bench and storage shelving.

        On the other side they did put a wall to create the “room to grow your weed” as we call it, that does limit the door swing on the passenger side a bit. But it is a nice room that we use to store my son and daughter’s off season tires and wheels as well as the lawn mower and other items. If I lived there I’d be seriously tempted to knock down that non load bearing wall.

        The lack of depth is interesting as the permit was approved in Dec 77, so there were sill a lot of the pre downsized full size cars as primary transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Detached garages built by home owners are noticeably larger than the attached garages built standard with housing developments. Her house now comes with big useless grand entrance and a small garage with no room for a workbench.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      The length of the garage in my 1928 house is a prime criteria when I buy a car. My A5 just barely fits – I joke that I have to fold the mirrors in when I enter, though I actually clear the mirrors by a couple of inches on both sides. I have about four or five inches behind the car to close the garage door.

      My parent’s house was built in 1957, and their 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 did fit in the garage, though not with all that much room to spare.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Is that center console in the T-Bird factory? It feels a bit out of place in something so old!

    Otherwise you took some nice pics, thanks for sharin’

    • 0 avatar

      From what I’m seeing, they all have the same console. “Cockpit” style to match the rocket exterior!

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Definitely factory and original. Thunderbird’s used to drive me nuts as a kid, with that huge console, but a column shifter for the automatic was the only option.

      Especially since the 55-57 Little Birds came with a floor shifter, no matter what the transmission.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    More like this please!

    I would also like a better look at the red & white 57-58 forward look mopar (300?) convertible visible behind the bullet bird.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Yes, today’s cars are faster, safer, more reliable and filled to the rime with tech. But just LOOK at those cars in the pictures! I find it hard to believe that in 30 years, we’ll be looking back at much of anything from today’s American luxury makers with such joy (unless, of course it’s as some of the last cars that people could actually drive themselves). Long live the chrome and fins!

  • avatar
    skor

    You’ll never see cars like this again, the drag and turbulence would destroy the wind tunnels.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    The Newport and Golden Hawk get my vote. Thanks!

    And, yes, more please!

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    If possible, keep them coming please.

    I love the old iron. No question that I agree with the above statement that today’s cars are safer, more efficient, more reliable, so and so forth.

    But cars from the 50’s had so much detail.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Corey, thank you for the great pictures. I would appreciate more articles covering vintage cars and trucks. I miss the styling of the past but do appreciate the comfort and safety features of today’s vehicles. The styling of most of today’s vehicles elicits as much excitement as a refrigerator and washing machine. I view most of today’s new vehicles in the same light as most appliances–necessary but not very exciting.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Love the Town & Country in that green. The spare must have been murder to dig out of a loaded trunk.

    I wonder if all that old chrome has anything to do with today’s lower sperm count?

    The ionization process of electrolysis uses a lot of water and contaminates it with heavy metals.

  • avatar
    Bercilak

    Those photographs were absolutely beautiful. Please do post more such articles.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    I love seeing articles on old, rare, or exciting cars. Keep ’em coming!

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    In the words of the “Andrea True Connection”: MORE, MORE, MORE!! :-)

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    More photos. . . Yes! As a high school kid during the mid-60s, I always thought the big Pontiacs had the most presence. Was grateful for my Dad’s 66 Impala to tool around in.
    Regarding the unaerodynamic qualities of the 50s monsters, it’s worth remembering that the era predates the Interstate system. The highest speed limit was 60, and many were 50. If you want to experience the joys of early freeways, take a drive on the Pasadena freeway in Los Angeles and imagine taking its curves at 60 mph on bias-ply tires in a vintage chrome barge. Heck even the Washington Beltway (I-495), built in the late 50s, had some inadequately banked curves in one section that would regularly spin out VW Beetles in the rain, driving at legal speeds (also rear-engined Corvairs).


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