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Chateau Crestline: 1954

Chateau Crestline: 1954

Dearborn, Michigan. "1954 Ford Crestline Fordor Sedan." With room in back for their 2.5 kids. Color transparency from the Ford Motor Co. photographic archives. View full size.

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Fifties architecture was pretty tame

It’s funny how one's (my) perception of what mid-century modern is accentuates the outliers. This house really only has that triangular piece of trim to be a 1950s house. It could easily be a '70s house without it. I've been looking for a distinctly 1950s house for a photo shoot with an 1953 Arnolt MG Coupe, but overt blatant Fiftiesness is hard to find. Not sure this house cuts the mustard. We’ve been desensitized by googie.

Downspouts

Looking at the Street View of this house posted earlier, it looks like the breezeway, that part of the house between the chimney and the garage has been shortened in using an earlier version of Photoshop. The street view shows an interesting detail peculiar to Detroit houses. If you look at the downspouts in the street view you will see the drains end in some interesting places; the one to the right of the breezeway drains right into the driveway. The house to the right of 1 Boone Lane does the same thing, drain to the driveway. In the winter this will leave a sheet of ice. Detroit area houses originally had a feature where the downspout drained into a pipe that ran underground to the storm drain. In the past 10 years or so Detroit no longer allowed roof gutters to drain drain to storm sewer and the standard practice was to seal up the ground pipe with cement at the ground level and find an alternative place to drain the water. If you look closely at the bottom of the downspout to the left of the breezway, you can make out the black pipe directly under the downspout that the water would have drained into. The original feature of sending the roof gutter water down the downspout and into the storm sewer allowed a lot of freedom in landscaping; it allowed cement or brick or whatever to go right up to the house as a grassy area to absorb the drain water was not needed. But you need it now and the landscaping does not allow for this unless you tear up your driveway or walkway. If you look around the street view at other houses you see some very interesting downspout configurations that you will not see anywhere else. My son owned a Detroit house which had this downspout conversion and when the insurance man came to check out the house to approve his policy application and he said upon inspecting the property that you cannot send the water to the driveway or walkway, this creates a hazard that the insurance company does not like but he overlooked it and sent in his policy approval.

Frank Lloyd Wright in the 'burbs

If you look very closely at the brickwork, you'll notice that the horizontal joints are raked -- essentially scraped out so they're recessed behind the faces of the bricks -- while the vertical joints are flush with the brick faces. This was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's signature techniques to emphasize the horizontality of his Prairie houses. Lots of other modernist architects picked it up -- along, apparently, with some suburban developers. You can see it most clearly on the chimney here, where the shadows give the impression of continuous horizontal bands.

Sals is right

Fast forward to July 2018:

The new V8

1954 was the debut year of the new Ford "Y-block" overhead valve V8, which replaced the flathead. Ford and Mercury shared the smaller engine and Lincoln used a physically larger version. The smaller Y-block was unique for it's its stacked intake ports.

Beautiful, upscale trim package

That Ford marketed for the first time in conjunction with the introduction of its brand new V-8 after 31 years of the famous flathead. This may be an early production model as the V-8 fender badge is actually the one used on the '53 models. The new V-8 was described as a Y-8 and its badge looked like this, would be used through the '56 model year:

https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk001d-qluGtb6aKnwSLUaHfHsYPmAA:1...

It remained in production with various displacements through I believe 1962.

That jacket gets around

Love that Fordor. And the 4 body trunk.

Uh Oh, No Aerial

With no aerial on the roof, and the cable guy still a decade away from showing up late, it's little wonder they're going out in the Crestline. They won't be watching Uncle Milty at #10 any time soon. Maybe they're heading back over to the Joneses' place to watch it on their lovely console model.

Ford Y-block

1954 was the first year Ford cars in the U.S.A had overhead valve 8 cylinder engines, their Canadian cars and trucks had the flathead 8 until '55. The sweet sound of an accelerating flathead is forever ingrained in my memory.

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