Car Culture

By:Nathan Sandoval and Corey Bigby

The Impact on The Decade

Cars today have changed the way we do everything and I mean everything. Every building has either a parking lot or a driveway just for people to put their cars. All of this started when people realized that cars weren't just luxuries but necessities. No other time period demonstrates this more then the 50's. Cars were now being changed more and more to be faster and more stylish. Cars now becoming more and more abundant in everyday society government and big business had to adapt to suit the needs of everyday people.


During this era of car culture style was reinvented large crazy fins sprouted out of the common car. The original idea was made after P-38 fighter plane and quickly was put on nearly every car along with big bulky bumpers, vents, and large grills all painted in chrome. Along with the styles many new inventions came about shaping the world we see today. Air condition, Automatic Transmission, Seat belts, Power windows, V8 engines, and power steering were all seen in cars for the first time. Towards the end of the decade people started straying away from the big cars and towards the smaller fuel efficient German cars Volkswagen Renault. The big three companies (Ford, General Motors, Chrysler) started making small cars and the era of big cumbersome cars was over.

Connection to Today and Solutions for the future.

Nowadays cars are used as much as they ever have been with highways bumper to bumper not only in America but also in most other developed countries. Cars being mass produced in America in the 1950's caused a huge uproar in the U.S economy. If we do ever have a huge recession we could try to bring back the automotive industry to America which will really help any economy crisis end.


During the war the car economy failed badly. Since many car plant workers were overseas, but post war soldiers were coming home. Many saw economic prosperity in the economy post the great depression and WW2, and were in the mood to buy. Many soldiers bought one or more cars and the car culture was back up and running. In 1945 the amount of cars was near 500,000 were in 1950 it shot up to somewhere near 8 million. As the car industry grew major companies emerged and smaller ones failed. The biggest three were General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler with these companies growing smaller ones such as Kaiser-Frazer, Nash, Hudson, Studebaker, and Willys-Overland. In fear of their smaller companies they merged with the big three to add to the empire. These mergers are still seen today an example is Willys-Overland (jeep) being a branch of Chrysler. These mergers happen all the time the latest was fiat merging with Chrysler earlier this month.


With the rise of cars brought a whole new economy and business. With most families owning cars it meant families could work in the city and live outside of the city which brought the birth of suburbs. Many families traveled for shopping and entertainment which resulted in shopping malls, dine ins, and the highway. With cars being used for a family's only means for transportation the U.S railroad system plummeted by eliminating most of passenger trains. Without cars being as successful as they are, Disneyland may have not succeeded. Sadly though everything has a downside with more travel with cars meant more emissions. Emissions skyrocketed to the rate we know now. Smog became a common thing in large cities, it was so bad that Los Angeles had “smog alerts” where people with respiratory problems had to get indoors immediately. This lasted through the whole decade until the government stepped in and regulated car manufactures in 1960's.


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The National Highway Act and the Auto Industry. (2001). In J. S. Baughman, V. Bondi, R. Layman, T. McConnell, & V. Tompkins (Eds.), American Decades (Vol. 6, pp. 98-99). Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from

DCL | Douglas County Libraries is a passionate advocate for literacy and lifelong learning. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2016, from