"Well mister, I want a yellow convertible, four door DeVille; With a continental spare and a wide chrome wheel..." from Chuck Berry's "Maybellene", a hit song in 1955.
watercolour and ink sketch of vintage Pontiac Super Chief 1957

Cars held a special place in the hearts and minds of Americans in the fifties. The songs of the decade are proof of an endless fascination with anything on four wheels including old jalopies. Here are just a few of the better ones!

“My Buick My Love and I” (1951) Notice the BUICK comes FIRST in that title.

“Your Motor Needs a Tune-Up Job” (1952) How romantic is that?

“Roadside Rag” (1952) Very provocative title…is this in reference to a musical genre or something or someone found along the road?

“Old Jalopy Bounce” (1953) A well-padded derriere is a must for this ride.

“Cadillac in Model A” (1954) When only Model A will do.

“It’s the Mileage that’s Slowing us Down” (1954) Is this ageism at work?

“Ethyl in my Gas Tank” (1954) A precursor for “Put a tiger in your tank” Esso ad of the 1960s?

“Parking Worries” (1954) I love this title especially combined with…
“Woman Driver” (1954)…and….
“Cadillac Funeral” (1955)

“Rocket 88” (1955) It’s THAT FAST.

“Beep Beep” (1958) …an early Sesame Street recording?

“Flat Tire” (1958) which obviously can be paired with…
“Car Trouble” (1958)

“Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Back Seat” (1959) I suppose the next song might be the result of this back seat activity.
“No Wheels” (1959)

It isn’t hard to see that in the fifties, cars were the stuff of dreams for young men in North America.

1957 Pontiac Super Chief in Havana, Cuba

Above is a 1957 Pontiac Super Chief used as a taxi in Havana Cuba.

Cuba’s old cars are highly prized and why not? They have stood the test of time. Of course, many if not most of them, have been adulterated with newer hubcaps or hood ornaments or other fixtures. Many have had a new coat of paint and are lovingly cared for by their owners.

1953 Chevrolet Bel-Air adulterated hood ornament in Havana Cuba

The 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air did not have the angel attached to the hood ornament. It is only when I came home and started to examine the photos we took that I realized that these cars have been modified to some degree.

Most have had body work as rust, with time, will eventually start to penetrate old steel. Hubcaps that were lost were replaced with whatever could be found as in the car below.

photo of rusting old car
old car

1957 Dodge Custom

digital image old car
1956 Chevy bel air

In first photo: digital reworking of a watercolour of 1956 Chevy Bel Air in second photo.

However, even though they aren't truly classic, in the collector's sense of the word, these vintage cars are still classy with their outlandish tail fins and after-burner lights, their wraparound windows, their little decorative turbines on the front grill, their bold flowing design, and of course, all that shiny chrome.

They are part of the charm of Cuba.

Old cars - watercolour and ink sketch of 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air

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