Chevrolet, Buick, Mercury, Ford, and Studebaker – all iconic brands that helped define the 1950s. In the post-war generation, an automobile represented more than a mode of transportation. It was a symbol of very American values that included freedom, self-expression, and individuality. Boomers turned what was once simply a practical apparatus into a fashion statement. Cruisers redefined how Americans viewed their cars. Out of that came a new subculture: car culture. Car culture was a culture quickly embraced by America’s youth. The passion of America’s youth for their T-Birds, Corvettes, and little deuce coupes helped to create one of the most influential icons of the era, the American automobile.

1950s dealerships would often paper over their windows to build anticipation of the big reveal, as a new model car was a big deal that called for a grand-opening type of event. The discussion of the release of new models was often the talk of small towns, where everyone knew all the details, including horsepower, features, and the cost. Fashion and architecture spoke to conformity, but the Detroit’s auto manufacturers knew that genuine optimism and enthusiasm was generated within their realm. In 1950, there were 40 million cars on America’s roads, and by the end of the decade, those numbers would nearly double. Let’s take a look at what 30 cars from the 50s, some well-known, a few obscure, others timeless – but all defining of a generation.

32. Alfa Romeo Giulietta


Among the most iconic cars of the 1950s are the Alfa Romeo sports cars. The Italian auto manufacturer introduced a number of variants of the Giulietta between 1954-1965, including the popular 2+2 coupe, Berlina, Spider, and Sprint. The engine was an Alfa Romeo twin-cam straight four and most 1950s models had a top speed of between 87-120 mph. The Alfa Romeo brand earned its stripes by competing in and winning various races around the world.