America at the half way point of the 20th century had seen and done it all. During the first fifty years, we had moved from an agricultural rural society to an industrial urban society or, at least halfway in between, to suburbia. We had gone through the “Roaring Twenties” followed by the “Crash” and the “Great Depression”. We had fought and won two world wars.
By 1950 America had gone through the ringer and had come out bigger and better than ever. We exuded confidence and optimism. Life was good and would always be getting better because we had learned how to do it right. In the past we shrank from the notion of having an important place in the world. Now, we preached PAX AMERICA. Follow us. We know the way to success.
Nothing projected this confidence in the future better than what was produced by our automobile industry. Compare any make or model from 1949 with any from 1959, and you might think you were on a different planet. American cars went from sensible, conservative, 6 cylinder, manual transmission, without any power assists to extravagant, sexy, V-8, powerful, automatic transmission, almost dangerous with and all things wrapped in chrome and with power assist. The imaginations of men like Bill Mitchell and Virgil Exner were allowed to run free.
But, by 1959 some saw our confidence as arrogance. It also became obvious that not all Americans were being allowed to benefit from PAX AMERICA. Our chrome dream machines were getting tarnished.