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Our Fave Fab '50s Car Emblems

'50s Car Emblems were a sign of the times

Driving down a modern road in the 1950s must have been like driving down Fremont Street in Las Vegas today. Between bright neon signs, business marquees with futuristic Atomic Age shapes and the glass and chrome of mid-century buildings, the ’50s were flashy and wild.

Our ’50s cars were also the subject of that enthusiasm for “tomorrow design,” reflected in their wildly shaped chrome bumpers, stainless trim and body shapes that often included tailfins covered in pinks, turquoises, oranges and yellows. The enthusiasm for future design in automobiles was seen down to the smallest detail, including emblems declaring the technologies built into the cars that further brought the future to today.

Since it’s not always easy to see the car for all of its parts, we’ve picked out 10 of the most far-out details to decorate the kings of the chrome age.

10: 1959 Cadillac Eldorado

1959 Biarritz

Cadillac was known for its various crests adorning its ’50s models, but it was equally creative with the scripts it used on its models. During the first half of the ’50s, those scripts showed the “Cadillac” or model name in a neon-like font. Inspiration for the later 1959 Eldorado Biarritz emblem with font from the door trim is more surfboard than rocket ship, making us wonder if Cadillac foresaw the surf craze of the ’60s. Regardless, the ’59 Eldo Biarritz’s emblem is as far out as its fins.

9. 1954 Buick Skylark


Buick beautified its 1953 Skylarks with the bird that inspired its name, but for 1954, that winged creature grew bigger and more pronounced on the side quarter panels. The avian emblem was also more three-dimensional for ’54, making it about as coveted as the car itself.

8. 1958 Chevrolet Impala

When you name a car after an agile animal that can run up to 50 mph and leap up to 30 feet, you’d better make it quick and you’d better represent the animal on the vehicle. Chevrolet not only plugged an Impala emblem on its Impala at the model's start in 1958, it stylized the creature to make it look more mechanical. For the added illusion of speed to the emblem, Chevrolet made the stylized Impala appear to leap over cross flags in 1958. Although it experienced a hiatus during the 1970s and ’80s, the stylized Impala emblem returned in 1994.

1958 Impala

7. 1957 Packard Clipper

Packard didn’t have the most Atomic Age design of the 1950s, but it should get an award for the most creative deck lid lock for the period. The 1957 Clipper’s lock was shrouded with a ship’s wheel. For attention to detail, Studebaker-Packard gets an A for effort.

1957 Clipper

6. 1956 Ford passenger car

1956 Tbird

Ironically, Western design was popular during the Atomic Age, and Ford masterfully blended the two with its stylized Thunderbird emblem on the front fenders of ’56 models. The emblem was affixed when a Ford packed Thunderbird Y-block V-8 power.

5. 1953 Hudson Hornet

1953 Hudson emblem

Hudson flew into the Atomic Age with a Hornet emblem that looked more rocket than insect. Although the Hornet’s overall design was growing dated by 1953, its speedy-looking emblem reminded admirers the Hudson Hornet could still buzz with Twin-H power.

4. 1956 De Soto Adventurer

1956 DeSoto

Forward Look didn’t just refer to the design of the 1956 De Soto Adventurer, it also meant to the finish line. What cooler way to announce the power of a dual-quad Hemi than overlapping boomerangs with a checkered flag in their wake?

3. 1950 Oldsmobile 88

1950 88

It doesn’t get more Atomic Age than rockets, folks, and the hot Olds 88 was a rocket — right down to the 303-cid Rocket V-8. Rocket deck lid emblems of ’50 88s let flathead owners know they were just passed by an overhead-valve eight — with style.

2. 1959 Chevrolet passenger car fuelie

1959 Fuelie

What could say “fast and futuristic” during the ’50s better than a checkerboard in a scalene triangle? We’re not sure, but we know we dig this full-size ’59 Chevy fuelie emblem. Like the De Soto fuelie emblem, the design of this emblem would be equally at home on an Atomic Age business marquee. However, it’s a lot cooler, and more portable, when mounted to the front fender of a "bat wing" Chevy.

1. 1958 De Soto fuelie

1958 Fuelie

De Soto’s 1958 “fuel injection” emblem looked straight off an Atomic Age bowling alley marquee and for that, it’s number one on our list. Only a splash of neon would make it more far out, but the gold remains a nice touch. Too bad these fuelie De Soto Adventurer models (and these emblems) weren’t nearly as common as a bowling alley during the Atomic Age.


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