Spotted: A Random Street in 1955

A variety of vintage vehicles parked on an Atlanta street

12w ago

Atlanta, Georgia is no stranger to the movie industry. Often called the Hollywood of the South, it's common to run into a film shoot when out on a pleasant day's stroll. Recently, I stumbled upon a treasure trove of vintage cars and commercial vehicles parked downtown recently. The shoot had wrapped up but some of the cars were still street parked.

Note: a version of this article was first posted to Oppositelock

This postwar Ford sedan is quite nice with its whitewalls and everything. The distinctive humpback has a lot in common with prewar cars before designs started getting longer and lower. I place the year of the film at around 1955 but the 50s were full of 40s cars. Maybe not ones in this nice of shape, but still.

The newest car there appeared to be this circa 1953 Ford sedan in a lovely shade of blue. Unusually, this car has the Fordomatic 3 speed automatic transmission that first appeared in 1951. Those early torque converter automatics were remarkably sturdy things even if they weren't very efficient or fast.

Then we come to this characterfully patinaed GMC truck from around 1953 as well. It could be much earlier which would make the rust and terrible paint a little more realistic. The chunky but gently curving details on this truck still look good all these years later. The heavy duty GMC trucks are not common sights at all due to their limited appeal to people without a lot of crap to move.

And just look at that curly 'GMC' script on the front! GMC engineers had not chill with their different fonts.

A vehicle that would have been quite old at the time this takes place is this International KB5 bread van. The KB series only ran from 1947 to 1949 as it relied heavily on pre war technology. An immediately post war commercial vehicle like this is a very uncommon sight anywhere. I absolutely adore this thing! It might be looking a little too fresh for what most looked like in the mid 50s but it's a rare treat to see vintage commercial vehicles this old actually getting used and driven.

It's hard to get more rudimentary in construction than this! I think these were official upfits but the bread van body really feels like a callback to the low volume coachbuilt commercial upfits of the 20s and 30s. But due to their simplicity, a shocking amount of 40s and 50s commercial vehicles soldiered on long past their expected expiration date. A junk collector in my hometown used to use a thoroughly decrepit 1950s Ford dump truck that made an alarming cacophony of grinding and rattling noises going down the road. That lasted until the late 2010s when I assume it got scrapped.

There isn't much of a market for these old commercial vehicles in the hands of collectors which is a shame. Sure, they take up a lot of space and are probably pretty stressful to drive, but they're something unique. This particular International isn't heavy on the creature comforts.

This photo is now a desktop background of mine. The old International logo was really quite cool with the triple diamonds.

Another commercial vehicle was still parked on the street after the shoot wrapped up: this GM "Old Look" bus. These legendarily sturdy things were used all over the place but good restored examples are quite uncommon. The setting in front of these old early 1900s department stores is just right for the gentle curves of this industrial workhorse. Why can't our buses be this elegant in appearance anymore?

I was informed by someone walking around that this bus belongs to Tyler Perry and is a replica of the bus that Rosa Parks rode. I can't find any evidence of him having owned this bus though. But it is a good replica comparing photos.

Everything except the fire extinguisher looks about as it did in the 1950s. The meter is even still there. The replica period ads on the inside are a nice touch too. I think I remember the same shade of green being on the inside of the GM Futurliner.

What do you know, another desktop background! I love this photo. After all, it combined my two favorite things, cars and architecture.

Now this is a rare one! A 1941 or 1942 only Studebaker President! The very last of the prewar cars, this luxurious sedan seems a little out of place for the setting but it's a very cool design. The rear of the car reminds me a lot of the Lincoln Continental with the humpback and split rear windows. It has the unmistakable exterior running boards common on basically ever prewar car.

The car's owners had a little trouble with running it out of gas but it was fine. Man, what a beautiful car! The front end tapering to a distinctive point makes me think of a ship's prow.

What a wonderful and unlikely collection of vehicles! It would be hard to pick a favorite out of the bunch but I'd probably drive home in the Studebaker. Usually film shoots don't leave so many cool cars just lying about. I rarely see such cool cars in full public view on sets. Which would you choose from this eclectic group?

Join In

Comments (9)

  • I like that truck, I really want an old truck to turn into a rolling house.

      2 months ago
    • It would be a slow, rattly, and poorly insulated home, but a home nonetheless. At least there would be lots of room for activities.

        2 months ago
    • I would probably get hard sides and make a fold down platform or something. I've seen trucks where a big rear deck folds down.

        2 months ago
  • Great photographs

      2 months ago
  • Great pictures! Do you know what movie they were filming? Would be cool to see them on screen.

    I agree with you, vintage commercial vehicles don't get much love. But boy are they pretty when restored.

      2 months ago
    • No, I do not. I asked but forgot. I was too busy admiring that International.

        2 months ago
  • I thought this was Cuba in 2003 for a minute

      2 months ago
    • Sadly no, I didn't actually time travel nor did I travel much in space to take these photos.

        2 months ago