The 1950s were a pivotal time for the American Automobile Industry. The post-World War II era brought consumerism to a new level; America was enthusiastic, happy with an eye on the Future. Competition was stiff between the automakers; the industry was maturing in an era of technological changes, innovative design and greater profits. By the end of the decade, the industry had reshaped itself into the Big Three: General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. The age of the small independent automakers was coming to an end, as most of them either joined-forces or went out of business.
The 1950's were the Pinnacle of American automotive manufacturing and helped shape the United States into a superpower.
Visit the Museum and experience the innovations, design styling and culture of the 1950s Automobile Industry. Some of the highlights are a 1959 Imperial Crown, 1954 Buick Roadmaster, 1958 Bonneville Convertible, 1954 Kaiser Manhattan and more.
Photography by David Val Schlink
Vehicles of Expression:
On exhibit in our Rosner Gallery - June 1, 2018.
In the world of 1950s rods and customs, a different language was spoken :
Iskenderian, Edelbrock, Offenhauser
Bomber buckets, T-buckets, and tuck ‘n roll
Hopped-up, chopped-down and channeled
Deuces, Mercs and highboys
Frenched, shaved and raked
Leaded, pearl painted and plated
Pinstriped, flamed and baby mooned
These expressive terms are from the era’s “kar kulture” lexicon of what we, looking back, like to call Ol Skool —- As in rodz and kustomz.
This was hot rod jargon of the night school mechanic, the flyboy finding his way post-wartime, the street racer and the lover of sheetmetal curves. An attitude was at work here, born of a youth culture that could be “in your face,” rebellious and unconventional. Its own alternative lifestyle for the period, one with swagger and a drive for self-expression.
Think Elvis (Jailhouse Rock), greasers, rockabilly music, early rock and roll (Bill Haley & His Comets in Blackboard Jungle) and James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause).
Reading noted hot rod authority Ken Gross, I got the back story : After WWII, there were many who craved speed and sensation, finding both in building rods and customizing cars. The movement began in SoCal, near LA, but over time spread across the country.
Attitude drove the craze. But attitude, as a concept, is a difficult challenge to depict visually. Capturing an expression of attitude is more manageable. That’s what I’ve chosen to show here.
In the expressive features of these cars (largely 1950s models, and others from pre-WWII), you will see what fascinates me. Attitude expressed in form, powertrain and design.
Welcome to the exhibition w/o inhibition, Vehicles of Expression.
Thank you for your interest.
David Val Schlink
Accomplished commercial photographer and automotive enthusiast David Val
Schlink, of Morris County, NJ, has had his career's work featured in Fortune 500
corporate publications, as well as in NJ CEO, Design NJ, New Jersey Home and
Style, Hunterdon Life and New York Spaces.