American Car Spotters Guide - 1945

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The lives of those who survived World War 2 had, to a great extent, radically changed. The real impact of this change wasn't to take place, however, until the following decade. The 'Fifties brought television, pastel-coloured telephones, air-conditioning for everyone, and cars which suited the new US life style. Just precisely what this life style was no one seemed to really know. It was a placid period in history in which everybody appeared to be going nowhere.

In 14 August 1945 New York's Times square was crowded as it had never been crowded before; there was hardly room for the mounted policemen's horses to move, bells rang, sirens wailed, people laughed, cheered, wept for joy and probably would dave danced in the streets had there been adequate space. Ever more people converged on is carefree core of humanity. Newsreel cameras purred and radio commentators shouted into the microphones of their portable units. It was V-J Day (Victory over Japan). World War 2 was over. In Europe, Germany had surrendered three months previously in May, and although Japan's formal surrender wasn't to be officially sealed until September, aboard the battleship U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay, the greatest human conflagration the world had ever witnessed was over. Finished. A thing of the past to be forgotten.

From 1939 until that humid day in August in Times Square, the world had been at war. For America, the conflict had begun on an ominous Sunday morning on December 1941, as Japanese dive and Torpedo bombers swooped low over Pearl Harbor. Now it was all a thing of the past. Millions of lives had been squandered along the way, millions of individual human destinies altered, hopes crushed, careers interrupted. V-J Day marked an end to food and gasoline rationing, a change from uniforms back to civilian clothing, a time to spend all the money saved when it was of little use, since luxuries had been almost unavailable.

Culver Cadet
The Culver Aircraft Company hoped Americans would adopt
the aeroplane as their choice of personal transport after the war...
The Culver Aircraft Company, whose little 'Cadet' had only been produced in olive drab, had run a stand-by advertisement for many months in American aviation periodicals, showing a uniformed service-man and his sweetheart longingly gazing at a 'Cadet' disappearing in a glowing sunset. The caption read: 'Worth waiting for.' In the peaceful world of tomorrow, it was commonly believed, everyone would be airborne. Although general aviation had grown by leaps and bounds, the Culver ad was to remain a dream.
Reality in America - as far as individual transport was concerned - possessed four wheels, a six- or eight-cylinder in-line or V8 engine front-mounted, rear-wheel drive, and was definitely earth-bound. America had long ago graduated to the emancipation of the individual to go from 'A' to 'B' free and unfettered whenever he or she felt the desire to do so - whether 'B' was 3 miles or 3,000 distant from 'A'. America was a motorized nation. And Americans enjoyed that unique luxury which had in many ways already become a necessity.
'What's good for General Motors, is good for America', was the adage, but it also included Ford, Chrysler, and the independent manufacturers: N ash, Hudson, Studebaker and Packard. Manufacture of automobiles had petered out abruptly during the first few months of 1942, as America's automobile industry had converted to war-time production. Then, in the sultry summer of 1945, in August, production lines reconverted. The run on new models was on. However, the 1946 cars being anxiously awaited by an impatient populace were little more than slightly altered 1942 versions. It was a seller’s market and, as long as the car was new, whatever Detroit could produce was eagerly bought.

There had been no time for re-tooling to bring totally new designs, so the pre-war models were re-tailored, or 'face-lifted', as the technique was commonly called, the main feature common to all marques being the horizontal-grille theme. Gone from the still towering front-ends were the vertical louvers of the '42 models, but otherwise, the basic body designs remained identical, with individual fenders front and rear, split VW type windshields, high, tapered-brow engine covers and bulbous 'streamlining' so popular during the late 1930s. The streamlining was little more than the rounding off of the square-rigged automotive styling of the earlier part of that decade.
Buick Roadmaster


  Also see: Willys Car Reviews | The History of Willys
Willys and Ford produced 361,349 and 277,896 units respectively of the standardized 'Jeep', which one war correspondent described as 'a divine instrument of wartime locomotion'. 'Jeep' later became a trademark for the Willys design and its successors and descendants. Pictured left are Jeeps for the Canadian Army being camouflage-painted after assembly in England, 1942.
1946 Packard DeLuxe Clipper Sedan


  Also see: Packard Car Reviews | The History of Packard
  The first post-war Packard was built on 19 October 1945. 2,721 followed.
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