1955 Year In Review

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Citroen DS
The 1955 Citroen DS, decades ahead of its time.

Fiat 600
The Fiat 600, part of the Italian postwar 'Economic Miracle'.

BMW 507
The BMW 507, hand built and very expensive.

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
Arguably Volkswagens most collectable sports car, the beautiful Karmann Ghia.

The Brilliant Citroen DS



Seen as one of the most innovative cars of its era, the Citroen DS was introduced in Paris in 1955. For the first time ever, Citroen engineers incorporated self-levelling suspension using hydraulic hydro-pneumatic struts which featured a unique adjustable ride-height facility allowing the DS to raise itself over rough terrain.

Once the engine was turned off it sank slowly until it sat squat to the ground. The same engine controlled ultra-sharp power steering with clutch-less hydraulic gears. All this technology was housed in a futuristic five-seater body that even featured detachable panels

Meanwhile further South, Fiat was to ride the wave of the Italian postwar 'Economic Miracle' when it developed the "Fiat 600". Debuting at the 1955 Geneva Motorshow, the 600 was a two door four seat car with a 633cc (21.5bhp) water cooled four cylinder engine located behind the rear seats and driving the rear wheels. Cheap, reliable and fun to drive, it spawned a series of similar models and would remain in production until 1977!

The BMW 507



BMW would release arguably one of the most beautiful cars of the 1950's, the wonderful BMW 507. Like so many European cars being built at the time, it was targeted at the US market where the company was hoping to bolster its post war image. The Albrecht Goertz design was exceptionally well built, even when compared to the benchmark of the time, the Mercedes 300SL.

Perhaps the only criticism of the car was the BMW engineers decision to use a standard saloon car steering setup, many blaming the resultant lack of road feel for the car not enjoying the race track success that it deserved. The truth is, however, that the 507 was just too expensive to thrash about a race track with, and its hand built construction hindered supply.

The Karmann Ghia



1955 was also the year Volkswagen would introduce arguably their most famous and beautiful sports car, the Karmann Ghia. So popular would this new model prove to be that it would remain in production for an amazing 19 years, finally ending in 1974.

The Karmann Ghia was certainly not the last word on performance, but countered with drop-dead gorgous looks and reliability unequalled at the time. With such good looks and easy maintenance, the car remains as sought after today as it was in 1955 and truly epitomises the affordable and highly collectable unique and classic automobile.

On the entertainment front, over in the US the CBS television network would air the wonderful "Honeymooners" sitcom. Based on characters developed by Jackie Gleason in 1951 (these often featuring on "The Jackie Gleason Show"), he teamed up with Audrey Meadows who played his hapless wife Alice, Art Carney who played neighbour Ed Norton, and Joyce Randolph who played Ed's wife, Trixie.

Unfortunately the show faced stiff competition against the likes of "The Perry Como Show", and despite initial success, the ratings began to decline and the show was axed just one year and 39 episodes later. Now known as the "Classic 39", they have continued as popular re-runs to this day, and served as inspiration for other classic television comedy shows, most noteably the wonderful Hanna and Barbera creation "The Flintstones".

The show was sponsored by none other than car manufacturer Buick, it being common in those days for car companies to sponsor popular television shows in the US. Click here to see the opening credits, complete with Buick sponsorship.

Formula One Championship:

Juan Manuel Fangio (Argentina) / Mercedes

NRL Grand Final:



VFL/AFL Grand Final:



Melbourne Cup:

Toparoa (N. Sellwood)

Wimbledon Women:

Louise Brough d. B. Fleitz (7-5 8-6)

Wimbledon Men:

Tony Trabert d. K. Nielsen (6-3 7-5 6-1)

The Movies:

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture - Marty
  • Best Actor - Ernest Borgnine (Marty)
  • Best Actress - Anna Magnani (The Rose Tattoo)

Farewells:

  • James Dean (Rebel Without A Cause)
  • Albert Einstein (Scientist)
  • Alexander Fleming (Recipient of the 1945 Nobel Prize for his work in medicine)
  • Thomas Mann (German Author)
  • Carmen Miranda (Portugese dancer, particularly noted for exotic Brazillian dance sequences in the 40's)
  • Charlie "Yardbird" Parker (Saxophonist)
 
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