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Car History 101: The "Nifty 1950s"

The 1950s post-World War II era was pivotal for the American automobile industry that brought better quality product to the car buyers of this country. Many historians call it the "Nifty Fifties”, and here at College Collision Center, we have seen the evolution of this industry in Fairbanks, AK and all over the world. Here are some interesting facts about significant things that happened in automotive history in the 1950s.

The Big Three

1950s era motor carsThe industry was evolving rapidly in an era of lightning-fast technological change that enables mass production that lead to economies of scale, innovative designs and larger profits. By the end of the fifties, the industry was led by the Big Three and AMC, and the years of independent smaller automakers were finally over, as the majority of them merged with other carmakers or went bankrupt.

The Big Three refers to General Motors (GM), Ford and Chrysler, all of which had taken over other companies to become conglomerates earlier in the 20th century. Together they accounted for 70 percent of auto sales in the 1950s with a combined market share that grew to dominate the industry, spiking to an astounding 94 percent of all vehicles sales in 1955, 1956 and 1959.

Some of the more notable innovations that were either invented or further developed that promoted for mass production during this decade include automatic transmissions, air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, seat belts and the overhead-valve V8 engine. The race for more power and horsepower was on, which eventually led to the muscle car era in the 1960s.

The "Nifty Fifties”

In the 1950s, car manufacturing became the largest industry segment in the country, with one-sixth of all Americans employed either directly or indirectly by the industry. In subsequent years, the automation of car making and the popularity of imports disintegrated the need for a large workforce within a couple of decades. But in the "Nifty1950s" it was the pinnacle of American automotive manufacturing that helped to convert the U.S. into an economic superpower. Thee Motors of the 1950s

In 1954, American Motors Corporation (AMC) was established when Hudson merged with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation in an unprecedented $200 million deal, which made it the biggest corporate merger in the country's history at that time.

The "Nifty Fifties" set up further success for the carmakers of the world, as the U.S. started leading the way into the 1960s and 1970s with new technology, cutting-edge designs and innovative production processes across the board.

Sources: Wikipedia, and Forbes

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