Think You Can Name the Fastest Cars of the ’50s From Appearance Alone?


By: Ruby Scalera

6 Min Quiz

Image: Pixabay by skeeze

About This Quiz

When it comes to automotive history, the 1950s were a turning point for style, power and technology. We saw the early years of some of the most famous vehicles ever produced — some of which are still in production even today, and we saw a shift in the way automakers and consumers both thought about cars. There was a movement away from the large, curvy vehicles of the 1940s toward smaller, faster cars that could both dominate on the race track and ride comfortably out to the country for a weekend trip away. 

These early performance vehicles of the 1950s would eventually lead to the muscle cars of the '60s and '70s, but in the earliest days, they were the perfect blend of cute and beautiful, fast and luxurious, achievable and enviable. They held onto some of the earlier designs, and they completely pioneered new ones until the 1950s became an era of the automobile like we had never seen before. 

Which of these powerful and beautiful vehicles do you love most? Put your classic car knowledge to the test and see if you can name some of the fastest vehicles from the 1950s. Don't forget to invite your car friends, just to show them how much you know! 

What fast car was unveiled at the 1953 GM Motorama?

The 1953 GM Motorama was the stage for the very first Chevrolet Corvette, a vehicle that would go on to become one of America's favorite performance cars. It is still one of the fastest performance vehicles available today.


What was this era of Thunderbird called?

The 1950s introduced many great vehicles, including the Ford Thunderbird, which would remain in production for decades to follow. This Baby Bird was build as Ford's response to the Chevrolet Corvette.


In 2007, what incredible car sold for five million dollars at auction?

The Ferrari 250 series started in 1952 and lasted through the mid-1960s. These vehicles were designed with racing in mind, and they continue to blow away the competition today, in speed and value.


What vehicle was tame design-wise, but had an available Chevy big block V8 engine that really made it stand out?

The Chevrolet Delray was a distinct series in the Chevrolet lineup in 1958, well below the other luxurious offerings from GM. Its design was limited, but its power was not. It was only produced as a line for a single year.


What vehicle won the Nurburgring Eifel Race in May 1953?

Porsche has a long and storied history of racing success, due largely in part to the Porsche 550. Only 90 were produced from 1953 to 1956, but they dominated on race tracks around the world.


What classic Italian car had an available 3.5L straight-six engine that could get it up to nearly 150 miles per hour?

Even the smaller engine on the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante produced 156 horsepower. The engine mentioned above, available on later models, got 227. These are power outputs competitive even in today's automotive world.


What was Porsche's very first production automobile?

Porsche has been making vehicles for a long time, but before the Porsche 356, they were either for the track or for another car company, like Volkswagen. This vehicle helped to put them on the consumer car map.


Which of the following statements about the Mercedes Benz 300 SL is true?

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was at home on the open roads and the race track. It could reach speeds of up to 163 miles per hour, comparable to performance cars today, and Mercedes luxury performance vehicles are still delivering.


What was the initial response to the Chevrolet Corvette when it was unveiled in 1953?

The Corvette was anything unlike anyone had ever seen and the public fell in love. Unfortunately, the first few years of production would prove disappointing. Ultimately, however, the Corvette more than hit its stride.


Up until the 2002, the Ford Baby Bird was the only Ford Thunder that:

The Baby Bird was Ford's answer to the Corvette from Chevrolet, though it wasn't marketed as a sports car. Still, it had two seats, and the 2002 revival model did as well, unlike the other eras of T-Bird.


What vehicle was incredibly successful at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and won in 1955, 1956, and 1957?

The Jaguar D-Type was produced specifically to win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, and it did. Unfortunately, not many vehicles were produced, and after a factory fire, even fewer survived.


How did the Aston Martin DB 2/4 differ from the DB2 it was based upon?

The Aston Martin DB2/4 also had larger bumpers and repositioned headlights compared to the DB2. It was produced from 1953 to 1957 and available in a few different body styles and with custom options.


What car won the 1954 Mille Miglia, driven by Alberto Ascari?

Though there were only two models produced, the Lancia D24 was successful on international stages for a year. It was driven by racers like Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio to podium victories.


Which of the following facts about the Jaguar XKSS are true?

Though there aren't very many, the Jaguar XKSS sure makes a statement out on the open road. Originally, there were supposed to be 25 models produced, but only 16 vehicles survived a factory fire.


Where was the Ferrari 250 GT first introduced?

The 250 series was used for both motorsport and luxury road driving. This model was first unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 1954. Could you imagine seeing this amazing car for the first time?


How successful was the BMW 507?

Originally designed for the American market, the BMW 507 ended up costing too much and only 252 were ever produced. That said, it is considered one of the most important and beautiful early supercars produced.


What vehicle won the 1955 Mille Miglia?

Stirling Moss and his navigator, Denis Jenkinson, drove 992 miles in 10:7:48, averaging 99mph, in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. Imagine the kind of dedication you need to maintain those speeds!


What does SLR in Mercedes-Benz SLR stand for (in English)?

Mercedes-Benz has produced a lot of performance vehicles over the years, including SLR models. It was originally Sport Leicht-Rennen, which was then shortened.


What was the last year of single headlights for the Chevy Corvette?

The 1957 Corvette was the last year of the single headlight design and was starting to smooth out and become sleeker, compared to earlier designs. This marked a design turning point that would lead to the style of race cars we know today.


Which of the following statements about the Ferrari 340 is false?

It actually had a V12 engine! Only a handful of them were ever produced but between the beautiful and classic exterior and the power below, it sure made a statement in automotive history.


What is Zora Arkus-Duntov known as?

Zora Arkus-Duntov is considered the reason for the Corvette. When GM was planning to pull their new invention, he persuaded them to give him a chance and he turned the 'Vette into one of America's most iconic cars.


What can the early Corvette's performance success be attributed to?

The Corvette wasn't the first vehicle to use fuel injection, but it took fuel injection to the next level, achieving speed and power output like no mass production American vehicle ever had before.


Which of the following is not a member of the Ferrari America family?

These grand touring cars have V12 engines located in the front, unlike European Ferraris, which were mid-engine designed. These models were built in the 1950s and 1960s as grand touring cars.


True or False: Ferrari has its first victory at the 24-Hours of Le Mans race in 1950.

Ferrari has its first Le Mans victory the years earlier in 1949, but it certainly wasn't the last. Ferrari is widely considered one of the top performance automakers from around the world--and for good reason.


How many models of the Maserati 5000 GT were produced from 1959 to 1965?

The Maserati 5000 GT was also known as the Shah of Persia and sold for $17,000, twice that of the Maserati 3500. That's about what you would spend on a new sedan today — imagine spending it in the 1950s and 1960s!


What does the "C" in Jaguar C-Type stand for?

The Jaguar C-Type was produced from 1951 to 1953. The C-Type version of the Jaguar XK-120 (the road-going model) got about 205 horsepower and it showed. The Jaguar C-Type won at Le Mans twice.


Of which vehicle were the most models produced?

There were 252 BMW 507s, 34 Maserati 5000 GTs, 53 Jaguar C-Types and four Ferrari 340s produced. For enthusiasts, the chance to see any of these very rare and truly incredible vehicles would be an enormous and memorable experience.


True or False: The first generation of muscle car was produced in the 1950s.

American muscle cars--vehicles that focused on performance and power--didn't come into production until the mid-1960s. Still, many of the innovations that appeared in vehicles from the 1950s made those muscle cars possible.


How long was the Aston Martin DB4 in production for?

The Aston Martin DB4 was unveiled at the 1958 London Motor Show and produced until 1963. It has a 3.7L six-cylinder engine and delivered on 240 horsepower for a 0-60 time of 9.3 seconds.


What do you call the doors on the Mercedes 300SL?

Many supercars today still use unique and stylish doors, but the gullwing look like you'll find on this Mercedes 300SL is classic. It's not hard to see why enthusiasts and designers love the look so much.


What was the last Studebaker model until moving to Aventi to take styling inspiration from Raymon Loewy's studio?

The Studebaker Golden Hawk was produced from 1956 to 1958 and had a 5.8L V8 engine. Raymond Loewy was one of the industry's most influential designers and we owe many classic styles and trends to him.


True or False: The 1959 Cadillac Eldorado had a top speed of 124 miles per hour.

It did! Thanks to a 6.4L V8 engine that produced 350 horsepower. It was also a vehicle all about style and luxury and came equipped with some of the most advanced features available on the market.


Which of these vehicles was the fastest?

The Jaguar could do 0-60 in 4.7 seconds, a time that rivals many performance vehicles today. Still, the rest of the vehicles were also fast, especially for the era, and several dominated international motorsports.


Which of the following facts about the Austin-Healy 100 is true?

While it does look small, the Austin-Healy weighed nearly 3000 pounds and had a top speed of 106 miles per hour. The Austin-Healy is a beloved British classic, and it's not hard to see why.


What modern movie did the Hudson Hornet make an appearance in?

The Hudson Hornet is a beloved classic race car that made an appearance in the Pixar film "Cars." While the other two are also car films, "Unsafe at Any Speed" is actually a book written by Ralph Nader on automotive safety.


True or False: The Corvette was once designed with a set of triple headlights.

Though the single and double headlights are often used to differentiate between eras of Corvette, there was never a triple headlight option. Corvettes are small vehicles, so even if they wanted to add one, where would it go?


The original Ford Thunderbird was billed as a:

Though the first generation Thunderbird was meant to compete with the Corvette, Ford focused on comfort and leisure rather than speed and power. The Thunderbirds that followed were very much considered luxury vehicles, albeit with large engines.


Which of the following vehicles is the fastest?

The Hudson Hornet could do 0-60 in 12.2 seconds, faster than the others. While it may not seem very fast by today's standards, the Hudson Hornet was a successful race car and even appeared in the film "Cars."


Which vehicle went into production first, the Ford Thunderbird or the Chevrolet Corvette?

The Corvette was first unveiled in 1953 and the Thunderbird in 1955 as Ford's response. They were markedly different vehicles, despite both being two-seaters. The Corvette was all power and the Thunderbird luxury and comfort.


True or False: A mid-engine Corvette was produced in the 1950s.

There have been many mid-engine Corvette prototypes but the 2020 mid-engine Corvette coming out next year is the first to make it to production. American automotive fans are excited to see how our own Corvette supercar will perform.


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