50s Car Quiz

By: Robin Tyler
Image: Saabkyle04

About This Quiz

The '50s saw an interesting time in vehicle design. Most American cars were big, brash and bold. With chrome. Lots of chrome. By the mid-'50s, everything suddenly became very pointy, most notably tail fins.

On the other side of the Atlantic, British motoring loved the understated sports car. Open top two-seaters were the order of the day and not only were they loved in the United Kingdom, many  of these cars were actually transported to American and sold.  

And further into Europe. Well, the Italians especially were keeping everything beautiful. Every line was pored over in design to make sure it fitted in with the overall look of the car. And they certainly always made beautiful cars in the 1950s. 

Continental cars also tended to be smaller, way smaller in some cases. These small cars were fuel efficient, thanks to their very small engines, often only 500cc. They were perfect for driving through the narrow streets of Europe's ancient cities. 

In reality, these cars were a fraction of the many available in the 1950s, a decade that saw the world try to get back on its feet after the Second World War. 

The question is would you be able to identify some of these vehicles?

Why don't you take the quiz and see?

A true American classic. So much so that many people don't even call it by its brand name, they just say the maker's name and the year, a '57 ______.

One of the most iconic vehicles ever produced by Chevrolet was the Belair. Manufactured between 1955 and 1957, it will always be remembered for its fantastic trim and those beautiful pointy tailfins.

Small, cute and awesome, this car, which was first introduced in 1959, was loved all over the world. What is it?

Perhaps one of the most famous cars ever produced, the Mini first appeared in England in 1959 with the Mark 1. This small car was produced into the late ‘90s with various upgrades and changes over the years. In 2000, BMW bought the brand and introduced the Mini ONE. Although the shape paid homage to the original, these were much larger cars. In the past five years, over 270,000 Mini models were sold in the United States.

With its 500cc engine, this city car was perfect for the narrow streets of Europe's ancient cities. Can you name it?

Who doesn’t love the Fiat 500? No, we're not talking about the modern one but the first model, released in the 1950s. This car took Europe by storm and it's not difficult to understand why. Small, cheap and certainly cute, 500s from that era remain in demand today.

Yet another mini car, this was actually built under license. Any ideas as to the make and model?

Mini cars have a certain charm, and perhaps the most famous of them all is the Isetta. Interestingly, this was not a BMW design, but built under license. BMW built the Isetta between 1955 and 1962.

Produced in the early 1950s, can you identify a car model that was available as a 2-door coupe, convertible and a 4-door sedan?

Available in a 2-door as a coupe or convertible and as a 4-door sedan, the Cosmopolitan was produced in the early 1950s. Power came from a 337 cubic inch 5.5-liter V8 coupled to either a 3-speed manual or 4-speed automatic gearbox.

Recently, an example of this sports car sold for $5.4 million. Do you know the make and model?

This racing sports car was produced by Porsche from 1953 to 1956. The 1.5-liter Type 547 engine produced 108 brake horsepower. Another popular car at auction time, a 550 sold as recently as 2016 for $5.4 million.

Made in the land Down Under, this car, marketed in the early 1950s was actually a General Motors car but marketed under a different name.

Also known as the Holden Business, the 48-215 was a Holden model produced in Australia from 1948 to 1953. It was the first model from General Motors to be marketed under the Holden name.

An amalgamation of a few different parts, this car was often used as a delivery van. What is it?

Built between 1955 and 1964, the Dispatcher used an L-Head 134 engine with the body of the Jeep CJ-3A. It was available as both a soft and hardtop. Many Dispatchers were used as delivery vehicles.

Driven by a 1.8-liter straight four engine, this vehicle was available as a panel van, station wagon and wait for it ... convertible. Weird, huh?

The Duett was released in 1953 and produced right up until 1969. It came in two main body styles, a station wagon and a panel van. Some were also released as convertibles. It was powered by a 1.8-liter straight four engine.

Classic '50s British tourer, that's what we have here. Around 8,000 were made, many coming to the U.S. What vehicle is it?

Over 8000 Y-Type saloons were built from 1947 to 1953. Three different types were built, the YA, Tourer and YB although the YA was far more prevalent. Y-Type MG's were powered by a 1.2-liter engine.

Considered the world's first muscle car, this vehicle certainly had the right powerplant, a V8. Name it, please.

Many muscle car aficionados call the Chrysler 300 the first muscle car. No matter if you agree or not, the 300, introduced in 1955 and produced until 1965, certainly had the cool factor.

Only this British automaker can make only 18 examples of a car and sell them to royalty and politicians. Name the automaker and car model, please.

The Phantom IV was the first Phantom model in 11 years for Rolls Royce. This model was an exclusive, only for royals or heads of state. Only 18 were made, three of which were convertibles. 16 are still known to exist around the world, most notably in either museums or with private collectors.

Available in many configurations, this passenger car even won the Pan American race. What is it?

Built between 1952 and 1959, the Capri was a full-sized luxury sedan. Three generations featured in those seven years with the Capri available as a coupe, convertible, sedan and hardtop and as either a 2-door or 4-door. The Capri was often used in racing and won its section of the Pan American Road Race in both 1952 and 1953.

Can you name the classic European Gran Tourer powered by an Italian 3.5-liter straight six engine?

Available as a two-seat convertible and hardtop, the 3500 was built by the legendary manufacturer Maserati from 1957 to 1964. This was a front-engined rear-wheel drive car powered by a 3.5-liter straight-6 engine which produced around 220 brake horsepower.

Can you name the first car to give us gull wings?

A true classic from the '50s, the 300 SL started life as a racing car in 1952 but soon became a production car in 1954 as a two-door coupe. The 300 SL became instantly recongizable thanks to its gull wing doors. Just over 3,200 of the coupe and roadster were built up until 1963.

In 2016, someone bought this vehicle at auction for $21.7 million. Which of these below is it?

In 2016, a buyer paid $21.7 million for a 1950s, Jaguar D-Type! Simply staggering numbers for an equally staggeringly beautiful car. This car was built with Le Mans in mind and it didn't disappoint, winning in '55, '56 and '57.

An American classic, the first generation of this vehicle is still sought after today. What is it?

The Corvette name is loved around the world. From its inception in 1953, the Corvette brand is the jewel in the Chevrolet crown. Of course, everyone has their favorite Corvette with many citing the C1 and the C2 Stingray as personal preferences.

Identify the true American pickup out of this lineup, please.

Produced between 1948 and 1953, the B Series was a pickup truck available as either a 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton option. Power wise, they only had a six-cylinder flat head engine that produced under 100 brake horsepower.

This brand has been around for many decades but was first seen in the mid-'50s.

The Ford Fairlane was produced by Ford between 1955 to 1961 onward in the full-sized car segment. The first generation had that typical mid-'50s look. Body shapes included a sedan, station wagon and convertible.

Produced for the military, close to 4,000 units of this vehicle were made

Designed as a combat vehicle, research on the Mighty Mite started in 1946 but it was only in the late 1950s that it went into production. The body was made from aluminum to keep weight down for airlifting while the Mite was powered by an AMC V-4 air-cooled engine. 3,922 Mighty Mites were manufactured, with most serving with the US Marines.

600,000 units of this Swedish car were eventually built after it was first introduced in 1955. What is it?

First introduced in 1956, the Amazon was one of Volvo's mid-sized car offerings. It was marketed globally. Over 600,000 were made with more than half exported.

From Australia, this vehicle has many model offerings. Can you identify it?

This mid-sized car was produced by Holden between 1953 and 1968 and was available with a number of body shapes including 2-door coupe utility, 3-door van, 4-door sedan and 5-door station wagon.

In 2012, this European sports car sold for $5.74 million! Can you name it?

A classic Ferrari from the 1950s, the Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider is still in demand today. Powered by a 3.0-liter V12, a Spider sold for $5.74 million at auction in 2012. And it's not difficult to understand why. Not only is it a Ferrari but its incredibly beautiful as well.

First released in 1955, today, this French car is a true classic. Over 1.4 million were made. Do you know what it is?

The most classic Citroen of them all, the DS certainly seemed way ahead of its time design-wise when released in 1955. It was produced for a period of 20 years and over 1.4 million were made. It was available in three body shapes during this time, 4-door sedan, 5-door station wagon and 2-door convertible.

Powered by a 1.5-liter engine, this British open-top tourer was produced between 1953 and 1958. Over 36,000 were made. Can you name it?

Introduced in 1953 and produced until 1958, around 36,000 of the ZB Varitone Model by MG were made. This MG model had a top speed of around 86 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 18.2 seconds. It was powered by a 1.5-liter engine.

An American name but made for Canada exclusively, can you identify a vehicle first produced in 1951?

The Crusader was produced by Dodge in Canada for the Canadian market. Its production ran from 1951 to 1958. Essentially, it was a rebadged Plymouth Cambridge.

Top of the range models of this vehicle were powered by V8 engines. This German model was produced from 1952 for a period of 10 years. What is it?

The beautiful BMW 501, a mid-sized luxury car designed by Peter Schimanowski was marketed by the Bavarian auto manufacturer from 1952 - 1962. It was available in three body styles - 4-door sedan, 2-door cabriolet and 2-door coupe. Top-of-the-range models were driving by a 2.5-liter V8 engine.

A massive luxury car that could easily seat six, this American model was powered by a 6.0-liter V8. What is it?

This 2- or 4-door luxury car was built by Lincoln from 1956 till 1960. It was available as both a convertible and a hardtop with power supplied by a 6.0-liter Lincoln Y-block V8. This large vehicle could seat six people comfortably.

Although it never went into production, this was intended to be a vehicle for paratroopers and would be dropped out of the plan with them. What is it?

The Bobcat, also known as the "Aero Jeep," was a prototype produced in the 1950s and shared many parts with the M-38 and M-38A1. This vehicle was intended to be used by paratroopers and dropped out of aircraft with them. It never went into production.

A model first seen in 1956, this American car was a little different in that it was a two-door station wagon. Do you know what it is?

Launched in 1956, the Parkland was a two-door station wagon. It was powered by either a straight six or V8 engine and had a 3-speed transmission. Although two doors would suggest it was smaller, it wasn't.

A car aimed at the fairer sex? Yes, this was such a model. Can you name it?

Produced by Dodge between 1955 and 1956, this 2-door hardtop was specifically aimed at the fairer sex. Only 2,500 were sold in a two-year period, although little evidence suggests that it was well marketed.

A good old American '50s pickup! A dime a dozen then, hard to find today! What is it?

Along with the F-150, the Task Force was the quintessential pickup in the 1950s. With its incredible lines, this body shape is still in demand to this day. Power plant options included a 3.9-liter straight six as well as a 4.6-liter V8.

Pointy tail fins ... this car had the greatest of them all on its introduction in 1959. Can you name it?

Established in 1902, Cadillac is the second oldest automotive brand in America. The Eldorado, introduced in 1959, had everything you could wish for in a ‘50s classic, including ridiculously long and pointy tail fins and chrome, lots of chrome. Sadly, finding one today is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Aimed at the US market, this German car performed poorly sales wise and was soon scrapped. Any idea as to what it is?

This two-door, two-seater came in the form of a coupe or cabriolet. It was produced by BMW between 1956 and 1959 with 413 built over that period. It was aimed in particular at the US market, but saleswise, performed poorly.

This vehicle saw service with the US military during the Korean War. Can you name it?

Over 115,000 Dodge M37s were built from 1951. This 3/4 ton truck was used by the US Military during the Korean War. The M37 was powered by the Dodge T-245 motor which produced around 78 hp and moved the M37s at speeds of up to 55 mph. This was a true workhorse.

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