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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Bugging Out: 1957

Bugging Out: 1957

From Columbus, Georgia, circa 1957 comes this uncaptioned shot of two guys about to go somewhere. Cola? Check. Bedroll? Ditto. Daddy's Roadmaster? All gassed up. 4x5 negative from the Shorpy News Photo Archive. View full size.

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May flowers

The grassy-looking plant in the foreground is a groundcover/edging plant called liriope (Liriope muscari). It's in bloom, so the photo must have been taken in May.


In 1957 my Uncle Archie had a VW Bug. They were few and far between then and when another one passed, a horn or wave was appropriate.

Not new in '57, but relatively rare.

Columbus' close proximity to Fort Benning meant one would have seen more Beetles per capita there than in most other American towns. Though the renowned Max Hoffman began importing them to the US in 1949, they did not become ubiquitous on American roads until the early 1960s.

But many GIs stationed in Europe returned with cars purchased overseas. The streets of Fort Benning and Columbus would have been home to examples of many marques now largely forgotten -- Panhard, DKW, Lloyd, Standard -- as well as more than a few VWs like this one.

My estimate, only half in jest, is that the mass of steel contained in this Volkswagen would barely suffice to make up the front clip of that Buick.

[By 1955, when Volkswagen sold 35,000 cars here, the Beetle had become the top-selling import in the United States. In 1956, sales increased to 50,000. - Dave]

The '56 Roadmaster

Would be more comfortable.

New on the scene Bugs

MacKenzie Kavanaugh, you are correct; I remember a pilot pal of my dad's had the first Beetle I ever saw, in about 1957, and it was an eye-opener. So different from anything I had ever seen.

My dad, a WWII 82nd Airborne vet, wouldn't consider allowing me to own one, as he said it was Hitler's brainchild. After he passed in 1970, I've owned 13 of the old ones (counting vans, Karmann Ghias, and this version of the Doka double-cab truck, which was my favorite of all) and three of the new versions.

One of us isn't

I used to own a '59 Beetle. It had no gas gauge. You drove it like a motorcycle, using the odometer to keep track of your mileage and (estimated) gas consumption.

There was a black rod (see photo) to the right of the accelerator, which was UP for main tank, and kicked over to the right to enable the reserve, which would get you to a gas station. Important to remember to kick that lever vertical again after filling the tank.

That lever is horizontal, which means that White Shirt is either running on fumes, or is in for an unpleasant walk.

Cool Little Bug

Brings back memories of trying to fit an impossible amount into a small space. Loved my Beetle.

All packed up.

Never forget your ink pen on a camping trip.

That Beetle

Does not look like it can hold that much paraphernalia. Although the one in front might be dad's as you said.

'57 Cool

Well, I was only 9 that summer, but I remember wishing I could look as cool as the guy in a button-down collar shirt, khaki slacks, white socks and loafers. BTW, wasn't the Beetle rather new on the scene in '57?

[No. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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