Welcome to Vintage Paparazzi.

Large Sedans

In 1950s America all sedans were large and sales figures were huge, justifying annual improvements and restyling. In Europe the economic climate was less favorable, with limited demand in the austerity years after World War II. As a result, updated pre-war cars were produced well into the decade in Europe, especially by smaller manufacturers that could not afford the cost of monocoque construction technology or major engineering changes.

Daimler Conquest Century, 1954


Engine2,433 cc, straight-six
Top speed90 mph (145 km/h)

Daimler made good cars, but struggled to update in the 1950s. However, performance modifications on the Century made it much livelier than the basic Conquest.

Mercury Monterey, 1954


Engine4,195 cc, V8
Top speed100 mph (161 km/h)

Mercury’s first all-new engine since 1939 powered a clean, modern-styled car that was even available with a green-tinted, plexiglass roof panel, 50 years ahead of its time.

Oldsmobile Super 88, 1955


Engine5,309 cc, V8
Top speed101 mph (163 km/h)

With its futuristic styling and Rocket V8 engine, Oldsmobile was king of NASCAR (the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) in the early 1950s.

Hudson Hornet, 1954


Engine5,047 cc, straight-six
Top speed106 mph (171 km/h)

This was the last year for Hudson’s low-floored “step-down” series, introduced in 1948 with the Super Six engine. It was developed into the NASCAR-winning Hornet in 1951.

De Soto Firedome, 1953


Engine4,524 cc, V8
Top speed92 mph (148 km/h)

De Soto introduced the Firedome as its top model in 1952. Its name alludes to the efficient hemispherical combustion chambers in its new V8 engine, which gave 160 bhp.

Alvis TC21/100 Grey Lady, 1954


Engine2,993 cc, straight-six
Top speed100 mph (161 km/h)

Alvis kept its post-war big sedan saleable by boosting the engine to 100 bhp, and adding wire wheels and hood scoops. Graber saved it with modern styling in 1956.

Austin A99 Westminster, 1959


Engine2,912 cc, straight-six
Top speed98 mph (158 km/h)

Austin’s Westminster grew into a distinguished large sedan with Pininfarina styling for the 1960s. It was competitively priced with servo brakes and either overdrive or automatic transmission.

Renault Frégate, 1951


Engine1,997 cc, straight-four
Top speed78 mph (126 km/h)

Nationalized after the war, Renault needed an upmarket sedan. But the Fregate was slow to enter production and was soon outclassed by the Citroën DS.

Vauxhall Cresta, 1955


Engine2,262 cc, straight-six
Top speed80 mph (129 km/h)

Vauxhall’s General Motors parentage was conspicuous in the chrome-laden Cresta; the styling was pure 1949 Chevrolet. Still, it sold quite well in Britain.

Rambler Ambassador, 1958


Engine5,359 cc, V8
Top speed95 mph (153 km/h)

AMC was formed by the 1954 merger of Nash and Hudson. It was the only major U.S. car maker to increase sales in the recession of 1958, thanks to new Rambler models.

Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad, 1956


Engine4,343 cc,V8
Top speed108 mph (174 km/h)

Mid-1950s Chevrolets had low, sporty styling and a potent V8 engine that made even this station-wagon model hugely exciting. Of 1.6 million 1956 Chevrolets, a mere 7,886 were Nomads.

Lancia Flaminia, 1957


Engine2,458 cc, V6
Top speed102 mph (164 km/h)

Styling by Pinin Farina gave the Lancia Flaminia a resemblance to the Austin Westminster, but under the skin this was a much more sophisticated car, with De Djon transaxle and great handling.

Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire, 1953


Engine3,435 cc, straight-six
Top speed100 mph (161 km/h)

A luxurious car that continued to sell to traditional customers for whom Jaguar appeared too modern, the Sapphire came with pre-selector or Hydramatic gearboxes.

Rover 90, 1957


Engine2,639 cc, straight-six
Top speed91 mph (146 km/h)

Rover’s P4 range had radical styling when it was launched in 1950, and stayed fresh into the 1960s. Separate chassis construction and high quality fittings made it a solid car.

BMW 502, 1955


Engine3,168 cc, V8
Top speed105 mph (169 km/h)

BMW’s aluminum V8 engine appeared in 1954 at 2580 cc, but grew the following year to give this big sedan the performance to match its imposing looks and quality fittings.

Peugeot 403, 1955


Engine1,468 cc, straight-four
Top speed76 mph (122 km/h)

The 403 is a rugged and well-engineered car whose later 404 version can still be seen in Africa and South America. Over a million were sold. Fictional U.S. detective Columbo drove a convertible 403.

Humber Hawk VI, 1954


Engine2,267 cc, straight-four
Top speed83 mph (134 km/h)

The last of the separate-chassis Hawks was a solid, well-built, and comfortable sedan. It had good cruising ability thanks to overdrive transmission, but sluggish acceleration.

Humber Super Snipe, 1959


Engine2,651 cc, straight-six
Top speed92 mph (148 km/h)

Humber finally adopted monocoque construction but went for slightly too small a six-cylinder engine in this Super Snipe. Later models had 3-liter engines and better performance.


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

No Comments
Leave a Comment