The Crosley Station Wagon was the most popular car in 1950, thanks in part to its fuel efficiency during a time of gasoline rationing in World War II. Other rivaling cars include the Chevy Bel-Air and
The demand for cars grew exponentially after the Great Depression and WWII, and that led to an explosion in car production in the decade following. As the American car industry took off in the 1950s, we saw some of the most distinctive designs in automobile history. Cars became longer and wider, and they were frequently accented with iconic chrome finishings.
We've rounded up our favorite cars from the year 1950. From showy luxury cars to practical family sedans, let’s take a walk through some of the most popular and iconic cars of the year.
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The best cars of 1950
While 1950 may seem like a lifetime ago, here are seven of the most recognizable cars of the year—many of which are still revered by modern-day car enthusiasts.
The best car of 1950: Crosley Station Wagon
KBB fair market range: N/A, but can be found for around $10,000
Powertrain: Spark-ignition 4-stroke engine
The Crosley Station Wagon was the first affordable, mass-market car in American automotive history. Not only was it budget-friendly, but it was also the fuel economy champ of its day. This made the Station Wagon an attractive option, especially due to the gasoline rationing during and after WWII. The boxy car was estimated to have a top speed of 63 mph and a 0 to 50 time of 49.2 seconds.
The Station Wagon was ahead of its time in conserving gas—it’s a remarkable piece of American automotive history. It even made fans of prominent figures like Frank Lloyd Wright, Nelson Rockefeller, and Dwight Eisenhower.
The best family car of 1950: Chevy Bel-Air
KBB fair market range: $ -
Powertrain: 1.6 L I4 or 2.0 L I$
The 1950 Chevy Bel-Air is possibly the most iconic automobile of the 1950s. Its style was defined by its classy and curvy design, becoming an instant hit and rivaled by none. This iconic car was the first convertible hardtop produced by
Chevrolet and revolutionized the market for the next two and a half decades. Well-preserved Bel-Airs are highly sought after by car collectors and enthusiasts today, potentially fetching a price over $100,000. Luckily, most first-gen Bel-Airs can be found in the $30,000 price range.
The best luxury car of 1950: Pontiac Chieftain Catalina Coupe
KBB fair market range: N/A but can be found for around $10,000
Powertrain: 3.9L L-head I6 or 4.4L L-head I8
Pontiac Chieftain was offered in five models: the sedan, sedan coupe, business coupe, deluxe convertible coupe, and the newly introduced Catalina coupe. The Catalina coupe was designed to be “The Next Big Thing” and became an instant hit with its streamlined two-door coupe styling. It also came with attractive features including radio and under-seat heaters. With 108 hp, the Chieftain Catalina Coupe reached an estimated top speed of 78 mph and had a theoretical 0 to 60 mph time of 22.3 seconds.
The best SUV of 1950: Willys-Overland Jeep Station Wagon
KBB fair market range: N/A
Powertrain: F-head "Hurricane" engine
SUVs are a relatively new class of vehicles that didn’t exist back in the 1950s. However, Willys-Overland Station Wagon is one of the pioneers of this class. This versatile vehicle was marketed to be suitable for home and on the worksite, comfortably handling various on-road and off-road conditions. It is estimated that the Station Wagon had a top speed of 66 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 32.4 seconds.
The best luxury SUV of 1950: Land Rover Series 1
KBB fair market range: N/A
Powertrain: 3.5 L "Thriftmaster" I6
The Land Rover Series 1 was originally built for farm and light industrial use, featuring a steel box-section frame and an aluminum body. When
Land Rover realized customers would want more than the bare-bone interiors, they launched the station wagon body option fitted with a more luxurious body built by Tickford. This featured a wooden-framed bodywork, leather seats, heater, one-piece laminated windscreen, tin-plate spare wheel cover, interior trim, and more.
The best sports car of 1950: Ferrari 195 Inter
KBB fair market range: N/A, but has fetched a price of over $700,000
Powertrain: 2.3 L Colombo V12
The Ferrari 195 Inter was the second model built by the automaker for road use and was made to ride on the success of its race-track counterpart. As an upgrade to the 166 Inter, the 195 Inter had a longer wheelbase, which offered additional cockpit space. The interior was tailored to customer requirements with well-padded leather seats, a metal dash that matched the body color, and Jaeger instrumentation.
With only 28 195 Inter built in 1950, this classic sports car was aimed at the most affluent clientele.
The best truck of 1950: Ford F-1
KBB fair market range: N/A, but can be found for around $30,000
Powertrain: 226-ci L-head six (the "Rouge 226")
Ford F-1 is one of the most long-standing trucks in American history. Dating back to 1948, it’s one of the first postwar designs. This 1950 model was designed to provide better handling, a more comfortable and roomier cab, and great customer appreciation. This resulted in this versatile pickup truck that appealed to many. The Ford F-1 is the smallest truck that was offered in the first-generation F-Series and has a gross vehicle weight of 4,700 lbs.
The F-1 and the rest of the series are an important part of Ford’s history as they marked the automaker’s entry into the medium and heavy-duty truck segment.
What cars came out in 1950?
The 1950s is where the American car industry boomed—evolving tech and manufacturing processes meant that more cars were being produced at a faster rate. Manufacturers also started becoming more creative with their car designs, resulting in many classic cars that people still love today.
Check out the table below to see some of the most iconic cars that came out in 1950.
First car built entirely on a production line
Successor to the 2.0 L Sports model
Grand Tourer version of Ferrari 195 S racer
First unibody Fiat automobile
two-cylinder, two-stroke engine
Revolutionary design set the tone for future automobiles
2.1 L Standard Vanguard engine
Good value for a well equipped car
3.4- or 4.0-L V6 or 4.7-L V8
Only 18 were manufactured between 1950 and 1956
Also known as the Volkswagen Type 2 and is the second car made by Volkswagen
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