The 1956 Buick Centurion dream car was the first car with a dash mounted TV screen integrating a rear view camera. Some high priced vehicles began offering the technology in the early 1970's. It took until early in the twenty-first century for them to become available as a higher end option most manufacturers and then a further ten years for them to start being used commonly as a basic equipment in many automobiles and now is a common option on even entry level models.
The Thunderbird is Ford's answer to the Corvette introduced just a few months before by Chevrolet in 1955, but the Thunderbird is a personal luxury car rather than a sports car. Third year of production, 1957, the "T"-bird has had a face lift both inside and out, with the 312 cu in (5.1 L) engine with a two barrel as the entry level power, delivering 245 hp (183 kW). There is the power option of the 312 with a two-four barrel carburater set up , or it could also have a Paxton supercharger for maximum output that would give the V8 engine 300 hp (220 kW). The 1957 model Thunderbird set a sales record of 21,380 units that year, proving that Ford is on the right track.
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The letter series Chrysler models are full sized personnel luxury cars focused on performance and built from 1955 through 1965. The letter designations are in many minds the beginning of the muscle car age. The new Hemi 392 (6.4 L) engine was available for the 1957 model year and there was a 390 cu in (6.5 L) engine putting out 390 hp (290 kW) on the table as well, but this is a rarely chosen option with only 18 units factory assembled. There were 1,918 coupes leave the assembly plant and for the first time, there are also 474 letter series convertibles, produced in 1957.
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The Series 62 Cadillac, fourth generation is at the forefront in luxurious and new innovations for the 1954 model year. The sedans unique window revel molding gives a sun-visor effect and the coupes have a “Florentine” style backlit rear window with a smooth, curved look. All units have a full width vent across the cowling at the bottom of the windshield and the headlamps display a prominent visor. Standard Cadillac features include 12-volt electronics and aluminium alloy pistons are newly added this year, as is the parking brake warning light. Options to choose are power seats, power steering, power brakes, power windows and the new auto-dimming headlights. All model Cadillac sport the Eldorado style wraparound window glass, redesigned grill, reverse gull-wing bumpers with tapered “daomar style” guards and the dual exhaust system is designed into the chromed rear bumper extensions for a sleek look.
The Eldorado has its gold crest behind the air-slot fenderbreaks with the lower portion of each rear quarter section sporting fluted aluminum panels. The Eldorado also comes equipped with monogramed door plates and wire wheels, with the Cadillac crest emblazed on the seat bolsters along with other custom interior trim highlights. The Coupe-De-ville can be readily identified by the script across the hardtop on each rear corner pillar and this model also has wider sill moldings. The series sixty-two has scraped the louvers previously on the rear fenders and full length body underscores with a brightly polished metal finish are certain ways to tell the’54 from last year’s models.
There are two engines to choose from in ‘54; a 365 cu in (6.0 L) or the 331 (5.4 L), both are OHV V8’s, which are bolted to the 4-speed Hydra-matic automatic transmission. Popular Mechanics magazine rates the heavy weight Cadillac capable of doing 0- 60 mph (97 km/h) in 17.3 seconds, but maintains a luxurious quite in the passenger compartment.
The 1955 Cadillac has the front parking lights are now directly below the headlamps in the bumpers, also below the wing guards with a refreshed grill with more space between the blades, the rail-side moldings are at right angles to the doors vertical trim, and the Florentene rear window is styled into the sedans now, as well as the coupe. There are three chromed moldings added to surround the plate and the “V” ornamentation and appropriate Cadillac crests are prominently displayed on the rear deck lid. The Coupe De Ville scripting is now forward of the rear window pillars. The Eldorado convertible has extra wide belt moldings for a distinctively designed rear fender and the twin taillights have a more flattened point this year. Tubeless tires are now a standard feature on all Cadillac models as are back-up lights, turn signals and the automatic transmission. The sales reached an all-time high of 118,190 units this year.
The grill is again redone for 1956, now with a finer pattern and can be ordered as the standard satin unit or the optional golden finish. The Cadillac name has been moved to the far left side of the grill and a narrow chromed molding has nine vertical louvers, while crests are mounted on each side of the front fenders. Additionally this year the Sedan De Ville is offered as a counterpart to the Coupe De Ville, which is more opulently appointed than the other four door series 62 models and as a result, sold 41,732 units in the sedan version. A new Eldorado convertible is called the Biaritz to tell it apart from the Seville and has a chrome ribbed saddle molding extend from the windshield to the back window pillar, through to the rear fender fins. Power steering is now a basic equipment item on all Cadillac units from 1956 onward. The series 62 Cadillac again broke the all-time sales record with a combined total of 134,502 units sold in all models and body styles. The Popular Mechanics rates the new 1956 Cadillac at a much quicker, 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 12 seconds flat while delivering 8.3 mpg in traffic situations and they also note that the speedometer is precise.
The tri-five Chevy's are the Bel Air, 150, 210 and Nomad wagon. This line-up is on the same platform and manufactured for three years, from1955 through '57. These have a distinct name because they are from a significant period of change in the mid-fifties, both for Chevy and the automobile industry. These cars are an about face from previous years both in manufacturing and marketing strategies. The Tri-five Chevrolet is well designed, attractive and with a consumer appeal that has stood the test of time. Chevrolet also manufactured its 50 millionth vehicle in 1955.
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5.3L V8 4-Speed Automatic