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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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Crunch Wagon: 1958

Crunch Wagon: 1958

We return to accident-prone Oakland, circa 1958, for this view of a Ford Ranch Wagon that just bought the farm. 4x5 acetate negative. View full size.

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Calling all cars!

The '57 Chevy appears to have the standard CB radio 102" whip and they did have the static ball on top. The '55 Ford Ranch wagon has the regular factory radio antenna but nearly fully out.

Yes it's true that 2-door wagons are now collector wagons because any 2-door vehicle looks nicer. I've had my modified '55 Chevy handyman wagon since 1987 and we love cruising in it. I have a power antenna which hides completely in the right front fender with a red ball matching the red fender. Called a handyman wagon because they were mostly made for light duty for carpenters, plumbers, etc. and on weekends as the family vehicle. Sort of like those mini van thingies of today.

Ford antenna

It's not a whip. It's a standard collapsible AM radio antenna like all the autos used back then. Look closely and you can see the joints. Whip antennas used for communication were always mounted to the rear of the vehicle and did not have a ball on the tip.

Incidentally, tudor wagons of any brand are highly sought after today by customizers. They make excellent long-distance cruisers. Ironic, since they were used mostly as work vehicles when they were new.

Two Doors for Safety

My parents always bought two-door cars. My mom said it was because she didn't want us kids accidentally opening rear doors (on a four-door vehicle) and possibly falling out. This was when we rarely used seat belts, if at all, and jumped around in the back seat while mom or dad was driving us somewhere.

'57 Chevy

A vehicle like this, equipped with a shortwave radio, would be real handy for a photographer or ambulance chaser.

Kilocycle cops?

That 57 Chevy may belong to a local jurisdiction or highway patrol. The Antenna Specialists model lowband whip on the rear fender is still used today by the CHP.

edit: And two seconds after I hit the submit button I thought that the car may be from the newspaper too.

Anything but a Lucky Strike!

Is that a package of Lucky Strike cigarettes on the ground -- not the anti-crumple pack, that's for sure.

Government vehicles?

Just speculating: I think the vehicles are the property of the government. Not federal per se but maybe local Oakland government. Both vehicles have the old 1950's style "whip" radio antennas. A mainstay of government type cars and trucks in those days. I understand there's no markings on the vehicle to indicate this. And, the license plate on the front doesn't look like a government issued tag. But, the Chevy and the Ford both have the same antenna and appear to be the same color. This could have been taken in an area of Oakland's government garage and car pool. The Ford was taken there after the accident. It's obviously not the original accident scene. As I said, just speculating.


The '57 Chevy probably belongs to the insurance adjuster/photographer himself.

Rare new, Rarer now.

The 1955 ford Ranch Wagon is rarely seen today. Very few people were interested in a 2 door station wagon back then. l highly doubt the driver of this car would have survived.

Photobombed, again

That 57 Chevy keeps showing up in the background of these crash scenes.

The photographer would have to have a police radio in order to nail so many crash photos in a year (give or take) of work. I think that explains the aerial.


The driver's door is wedged shut but I suspect he went out through the front.

SHORPY OLD 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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