Welcome to Vintage Paparazzi.

Family Cars

For space, comfort, and fuel economy, family cars of the 1950s were similar to those of today; the big differences were in style, safety, performance, and noise at higher speeds. Any of these family cars would comfortably take you from New York City to Montreal, or from London to Edinburgh, in a day—a big improvement on the much slower family cars of the 1930s.

Volvo Amazon, 1956


Engine1,583 cc, straight-four
Top speed90 mph (145 km/h)

Starting as the 121 in 1956 with four doors and 60bhp, the strong but light Amazon was steadily improved. In its two-door form it sold until 1970.

Alfa Romeo 1900, 1950


Engine1,884 cc, straight-four
Top speed103 mph (166 km/h)

Dr. Orazio Satta set Alfa Romeo on the road to post-war success with this strikingly modern sedan-a monocoque with a twin-cam engine and aerodynamic full-width styling.

Volvo PV544, 1958


Engine1,583 cc, straight-four
Top speed95 mph (153 km/h)

Despite its antiquated styling, the PV544 was a rally winner in its day. It gave a surprisingly lively performance with a four-speed all-synchromesh gearbox.

Riley RME, 1952


Engine1,496 cc, straight-four
Top speed78 mph (126 km/h)

Also made in a more responsive 2.5-liter form, the Riley was outdated in its construction but remained a quality, sporting sedan car for a select clientele.

Borgward Isabella TS, 1954


Engine1,493 cc, straight-four
Top speed93 mph (150 km/h)

A sporty and well-built two-door sedan, the Isabella sold over 200,000 in seven years-but could not save this family company from collapse in 1961.

Ford Zephyr Mk II, 1956


Engine2,553 cc, straight-six
Top speed90 mph (145 km/h)

A six-cylinder engine plus a light weight gave the Zephyr effortless performance. Overdrive models had six gears to choose from.

Ford Consul Mk II, 1956


Engine1,703 cc, straight-four
Top speed81 mph (130 km/h)

In Britain Ford’s small cars retained prewar characteristics, but its mid-range family cars had modern U.S. styling. The Consul shared a basic bodyshell with the Zephyr.

Fiat 1200 Granluce, 1957


Engine1,221 cc, straight-four
Top speed85 mph (137 km/h)

A small but lively sedan with good road-handling, this car sold over 400,000 in three years. There was also an attractive two-seater convertible version.

MG Magnette ZA, 1954


Engine1,489 cc, straight-four
Top speed80 mph (129 km/h)

With an engine from Austin and a body from Wolseley, the MG sedan also boasted twin carburetors, rack-and-pinion steering, and leather and wood trim.

Austin A40 Somerset, 1952


Engine1,200 cc, straight-four
Top speed70 mph (113 km/h)

Comfortable, surprisingly spacious, and agile considering the small engine dimensions, the sturdily built Somerset was a strong seller for Austin: 173,306 in two years.

Austin A50/A55 Cambridge, 1955


Engine1,489 cc, straight-four
Top speed75 mph (121 km/h)

Monocoque construction for the Somerset’s successor provided lower lines and a lighter weight. The addition of a bigger engine created a serviceable family car for the 1950s.

Henry J, 1951


Engine2,641 cc, straight-six
Top speed82 mph (132 km/h)

Kaiser-Frazer tried to boost its flagging sales with this cut-price economy sedan, with a Willys four-or six-cylinder engine. Production lasted until 1954.

Mercedes-Benz 220, 1954


Engine2,195 cc, straight-six
Top speed101 mph (163 km/h)

Mercedes’ first monocoque construction sedan arrived in four-cylinder form in 1953; the more powerful six-cylinder version joined it in 1954. Sturdy and well built, both sold well.

Vauxhall PA Velox, 1957


Engine2,262 cc, straight-six
Top speed87 mph (140 km/h)

Vauxhall’s U.S. ownership was apparent in the styling of this Velox with wraparound windshield. The look put off more conservative British buyers.

Hindustan Ambassador, 1958


Engine1,489 cc, straight-four
Top speed73 mph (117 km/h)

India’s best-known car, still in production today, is a locally built Morris Oxford Series II. Slowly updated over the years, since 1992 it has used an Isuzu engine.

Volkswagen Kombi, 1950


Engine1,131 cc, flat-four
Top speed58 mph (93 km/h)

Volkswagen made the most of the Beetle’s platform construction and low-mounted, flat engine to produce the Kombi van, pickup, camper, and minibus range.

Simca Aronde, 1958


Engine1,290 cc, straight-four
Top speed82 mph (132 km/h)

The steadily updated Aronde sedan, station wagon, convertible, and coupé sold over a million in the 1950s. This was a reliable, spacious sedan with modest performance.

Wolseley 15/60, 1959


Engine1,489 cc, straight-four
Top speed77 mph (124 km/h)

Pinin Farina gave the big Wolseley-and soon Austin, Morris, MG, and Riley too-a new look with a strong hint of U.S. design. The Wolseley was a comfortable, durable car.


It is a quote. The Definitive Visual History Of The Automobile 2011

No Comments
Leave a Comment