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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Custom Royal: 1956

Custom Royal: 1956

        At Bob's ("Home of the Big Boy") in a 1956 Dodge Custom Royal convertible in the very mid-Fifties color scheme of coral and black.

June 1956. "Aspects of life in Southern California, including cars at drive-in restaurant, drive-in laundromat, drive-up bank, shopping center." (Next stop: the Pantorium.) Kodachrome by Maurice Terrell for the Look magazine assignment "Los Angeles: The Art of Living Bumper-to-Bumper." View full size.

 

The forward look

Californian made the point that his brother's 57 Plymouth looked as if it were moving forward even when standing. No surprise there, as the head of design at Chrysler at the time, Virgil Exner, intended it that way. He branded the entire mid fifties product line "the forward look." His designs were a very radical departure from the pre 1955 grandpa style Chrysler line.

Not Burbank, it's Pasadena

Those are definitely not the Hollywood Hills in the background, and this isn't Burbank. The hills are pretty clearly the foothills of the San Gabriels, north of Pasadena, and it looks to me like the sign that says "Office" in the background has an address with the words E. Colorado Blvd on it (I used special software to try and make this out). Judging by the now not entirely overgrown firebreak in the background, I would have said the photo was taken along Colorado Blvd somewhere near Kinneloa, that is at about 3121 E. Colorado Blvd in Pasadena. Looking online, I found that someone had mentioned there having been a Bob's at 3130 East Colorado, just east of Pasadena City College. My guess is this is that Bob's.

[You are right! Below, a comparison of the peaks in the 1956 view and the current Google Street View looking north on Kinneloa. - Dave]

Location, Location, Location

I am almost certain that is not the Burbank Bob's. The sign is the tipoff. The original sign is still there today and is much larger and more elaborate than the one pictured. Also, the streets don't jibe. Across the street should be Papoo's Hot Dog Show, which predates Bob's, but there seems to be a trailer park instead. Since the next pic was taken in Sierra Madre, I suspect it may be in Pasadena.

[I share your suspicion. - Dave]

The car hop

looks like he could be Bob himself!

Old Dodge

My dad had a 1956 Dodge Custom, a nice running car but the tinworm had eaten thru it by 1959! Still that '56 ragtop is gorgeous!

Neat car

I used to want one of these in the worst way when they came out. Instead I had a '50 Merc coupe like the one in the background. Wish I had it back now.

American Graffiti

That would be the oldest remaining Bob's, an historical landmark, at 4211 Riverside Drive in Burbank. They have "Classic Car" get-togethers every Friday but if you're out for a bite, better to check out "Mo's" across the street.

http://www.bobs.net/events/classic-car-show\

[Actually this Bob's was in Pasadena, not Burbank. See above. - Dave]

Bob's on Riverside Drive in Burbank

That's Bob's drive-in in Burbank. Not far from NBC. It's still there and good as ever. Every Friday night (at least during the summer) car collectors from all over the San Fernando valley bring their cars to show off. Jay Leno is a frequent visitor.

On the other side of that mountain is the Hollywood sign. Disney studios and NBC and Warner Brothers are within about a mile to the left. Universal is off to the right.

[Actually this Bob's was in Pasadena, not Burbank. See above. - Dave]

A valuable ride

Depending on how well it's been restored, that car would be worth between $35,000 and $50,000 today, maybe even up to $60,000 in some cases.

Can anyone familiar with Los Angeles give an approximate location for this photo, based on the distinctive peak in the background?

Back to the Future

The passenger in the adjacent Buick is either 50 years ahead, on his cell phone, or has a toothache.

[Wrong car. - Dave]

What's wrong?

[The person is in the car to the right of the Buick. -tterrace]

1950s auto design evolution

By 1956 cars like the Dodge convertible pictured were making the Buicks, Cadillacs and Mercurys of the late 1940s and earlier 1950s as seen in this parking lot look pretty dated. We still had my grandfather's 1950 Plymouth in 1956 and though still shiny and new appearing, it was no match style-wise for the cars just a few years newer and looked pretty dowdy. My older brother's gold 1957 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop he got soon after looked as though it were moving forward even when at a standstill.

Rancho Cucamonga?

Perhaps with Mt. San Antonio to the north? Could some SoCal resident let us know?

And, does anyone have a time machine handy—if only for an afternoon?

 
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