1950s American automobile culture has had an enduring influence on the culture of the United States, as reflected in popular music, major trends from the 1950s and mainstream acceptance of the “hot rod” culture.
The American manufacturing economy switched from producing war-related items to consumer goods at the end of World War II, and by the end of the 1950s, one in six working Americans were employed either directly or indirectly in the automotive industry.
The United States became the world’s largest manufacturer of automobiles, and Henry Ford’s goal of 40 years earlier—that any man with a good job should be able to afford an automobile—was achieved.
A new generation of service businesses focusing on customers with their automobiles sprang up during the decade, including drive-through or drive-in restaurants and more drive-in theaters.
(Photos © Dave Gelinas)