The 1950s, a time of wonder and entertainment, when Betty White won her first-ever Emmy for Life With Elizabeth and when our dear beloved Queen Elizabeth 2 (Electric Boogaloo) was coronated on live TV. Life somehow seemed much more simple then. Yes, the ’50s were great, and in this time of awesomeness, let’s not forget about the cars.
Today we remember the 5 best and the 5 worst cars of the 1950s. On your marks, get set…go! (Sorry, we've always wanted to say that.)
10 Best: The 1953 Chevy Corvette
Let’s start off a bang with an icon of motoring and one of the most famous American cars in the world, the Chevy Corvette. The car of style and speed, it’s not surprising that a Corvette would be on this list, first released way back in 1953, the now-iconic sports car was hard to get. The manufactures only produced 300 of them during their first year, which made them a product that only a few could get.
If you were lucky enough to inherit one of these cars from an uncle or a grandfather, lucky you, for the rest of us, if we even to think about owning one we’d have to find (from under the sofa) around $300K - $189K and this figure is only going to go up in value. Back then they were a cool $3490. Still a pretty penny back then.
9 Worst: The 1949-1953 Triumph Mayflower
This car overlapped from the 1940s, the Triumph Mayflower. Calling it the Triumph anything is a little on the nose for a company.
The Triumph Mayflower tried to be a luxury car after World War II, which had many poor choices put into its style and performance. It didn't sell very well. Let’s just back away and leave it alone to cry in the corner.
8 Best: The 1951 Jaguar XK 120C
This car is kind of topical if you're one of those people that are into car movies like 2013s Rush or 1968s Bullit, then you’ll probably be going to watch the new Ford vs Ferrari Le Mans movie out later this November. The reason that we bring this up is because of our next car, the 1951 Jaguar XK 120C. This wonderfully smooth looking sports car started life as one of the cars used in the 1951 Le Mans 24 race.
Fun fact in the 120C part of the car’s title, did you know that the C stands for Competition, pretty interesting isn’t it? If you wanted to purchase one of these legendary cars, be prepared to spend a minimum of $90K for one now.
7 Worst: The 1956-1967 Renault Dauphine (N. American variant)
Moving swiftly along to the next unwanted child of the car manufacturing world, let’s give a backhanded round of applause to the Renault Dauphine. Noted for being really underpowered by a majority of the reviews back in the day, it performed poorly physically and financially.
Being described as the “Worst Car of the Millennium” and one of the “20 Dumbest Cars of All Time” it’s quite clear that no one likes, wants or drives the Renault Dauphine. If you wanted to spend some money that you have just lying around, you could be looking at spending around about $15K - $20K for this monstrosity.
6 Best: The 1956 Austin Healey 100
This car, the 1956 Austin Healey 100 is a stylish and beautiful looking car that wouldn’t look out of place if it was being driven by Sean Connery’s James Bond, and we're considering it one of the best cars from the 1950s.
You also wouldn't be out of place driving this great car down a vineyard in a classy perfume ad. It just oozes luxury and wealth.
5 Worst: The Trabant P50 Limousine
Next up is the Trabant P50 Limousine. This was a car that spawned countless jokes at its expense. It was called worthless by the East Germans from whence it came.
One of the many reasons that it was considered to be such a failure is because of how anti-economic it was. It wasted so much fuel when it was being operated that it became a symbol and blame for and of the country’s poor economic position. When your car is being blamed for a recession, that's not great.
4 Best: The 1955 Lotus Mk IX
We’re coming to the upper tier of 1950s classic and respected cars, the all hail Britannia, we love crumpets and tea, British wonder that is the Lotus Mk IX. When it comes to the Lotus, there’s no other better example of a racecar than the Lotus Mk IX, from it’s almost futurist appearance to its iconic chrome paint job, you can’t not love this car.
Being one of the first cars to ever race in a Le Mans race (bringing Le Mans up a lot today), this car and that race have a lot of history. If you wanted to take this piece of driving history out for a spin, you’re looking at spending around $80K to $100K for one.
3 Worst: The Edsel Corsair
Sounding more like an elf from a rejected Lord of the Rings knock-off called, Ruler of the Gold Jewellery, the Edsel is not a very well-liked car. In comparison to the mockery that the Trabant suffered in East Germany, the Edsel that had it tougher.
The Edsel wasn't received well when it was released for purchase. The car itself was said to have been a Frankenstein of Ford and other car parts combined and promoted as a brand new vehicle. No one was ever going to enjoy this car, and it was given such a commercial beating that the word Edsel in the US is paralleled with failure. That’s never good.
2 Best: The Alfa Romeo 1952 Disco Volante
The final best car of the 1950s on this list is the Alfa Romeo 1952 Disco Volante. Looking nothing like a disco ball (disappointingly) and looking more like a retro-futuristic concept car that belongs more on the Jetsons than on a racecourse, this strange-looking red car has a lot of style behind it.
This car didn't have the best name and if we were put in charge of naming this odd and super curvy car we would have capitalized on its weirdness with names such as Mars (due to its red color). Additionally, other names we had considered were the Roswell and the Explorer.
1 Worst: The Chevrolet Corvair
The Chevrolet Corvair started off pretty well when the car was first unleashed into the market.
As soon as some read over the car’s specs, they realized that the way the car was designed, with the engine in the rear, meant that it was dangerous to drive. This danger element to the car meant that eventually, it could lead to accidents. When this fact was revealed to the public, GM was sued.