1958 News & Trivia



  • Dwight D. Eisenhower was President. He was affectionately known as Ike.

    Nixon in Peru, in an Edsel

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  • Richard Nixon was Vice President. He was jostled and spat upon on a visit to Peru.

  • The Democrats control congress. The Senate has 62 Democats, 34 Republicans, and the House has 281 Democrats and 153 Republicans.

  • Nikita Kruschev became Premier of the Soviet Union. (He was already Secretary of the Communist Party.)

  • Charles De Gaulle was elected President of France. The country's Fifth republic was created.

  • Harold Chamberlain, Conservative, was British Prime Minister. He was famous for coining the phrase, "We've never had it so good."

  • Mao Tse Tung launches The Great Leap Forward in communist China. Intended to be a way to rapidly grow industrialization, the program becomes an unmitigated disaster of inhumane proportions. Crop failures cause some 20 million deaths from brutality and starvation.

  • King Faisal II of Iraq was deposed in a bloody coup d'etat, and a republic was declared.
  • News

  • N.A.S.A. ( The National Aeronautics and Space Administration ) was formed.

  • The world's first atomic submarine, the USS Nautilus, travels under the North Pole.

    Alaska becomes state #49

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  • Alaska becomes the 49th State of the U.S.A.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt is voted the most admired woman in the USA.

  • Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles secures an agreement in principle from its NATO allies to position nuclear weapons in its European bases. Each country has veto power over their use.

  • Credit cards appear. American Express is introduced. Also "BankAmericard," the forerunner to the modern Visa card.

  • The US national debt now stands at $280 Billion.

  • A recession hit the US economy. Unemployment rose to above 7%. In June, 5,437,000 were out of work. Inflation was less than 2%.

  • Congress authorized an additional $1.8 Billion ( in 1958 money !) to speed up interstate construction.

  • Dr. Martin Luther King is arrested for loitering in Montgomery, Alabama, when he tries to attend a hearing involving the Rev. Ralph Abernathy.

  • Pope John XXIII became pontiff of the Roman Catholic church. He became a noted reformer of the religion, instituting many modernizing changes, not the least of which was allowing the use of native languages instead of latin during services.

  • The fore runner of the modern "Europen Community" was created. It was first know as the European Economic Community and was an attempt by the frequntly warring European nations to create economic ties and stabilty to make more wars unnecessary.

    Jimmy Hoffa

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  • Jimmy Hoffa becomes head of the Teamsters Union

  • The John Birch Society is formed as an Anti-Communist organization.

  • C.N.D. - The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is formed in London. Its slogan is "ban The Bomb.

  • The Hula Hoop craze begins. The skate board appears in California.

  • DuPont introduces Lycra, first of the Spandex fibres, artificially created elastic materials.

  • "The Pill," the oral contracaeptive, under development since the early 50's, is marketed for the first time.

  • The population of the USA reaches 175 million.

  • 4,255,000 million babies are born. Among them are Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Stone, Holly Hunter, Alec Baldwin, Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Drew Carey, Keenan Ivory wayans, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins.

  • Pianist, "Van Cliburn became the first American to win the prestigious Tchaikovsky classical music contest in Moscow.

    Central Of Georgia Anniversay flier.

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  • The Central Of Georgia railroad celebrates its one hundredthe anniversary. Also, a good friend of mine, Jared Davis, currently the curator of the Texas Transportation Museum, but, back in 1958 a strapping youth of eighten years, began working for the company as a fireman.

  • The Baldwin-Lima- Hamilton Company ceased locomotive production. In their time they built one locomotive every fourteen hours for 104 years. The company, now known as BLH still exists. When the Texas Transportation Museum recently needed some information about its two Baldwin steam locomotives, the chemical composition of the metals used in their construction, pretty detailed stuff, they were able to provide it, by fax, the very same day!

  • Steam locomotive use on regular scheduled services came to an end on April 15, 1958. They had already been phased out of passenger service for some time, but regularly scheduled steam powered freight trains also came to an end on the B&O (Baltimore & Ohio) line at Willard, Ohio. The "event" was witnessed by just six people.

  • The Jet Age begins in earnest with the introduction of commercial passenger jets by the UK's BOAC. The trip between London and New York takes 6 hours, 7 minutes>

    Boeing 707

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  • Boeing begins production of the Boeing 707, the fore-runner, the prototype, almost, of all modern jet ar liners.

  • Lana Turner's 'gangster' boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato was murdered by the star's foureteen year old daughter, Cheryl.

  • French company "BIC" introduces the disposable ball point pen.

  • Eighteen year old Frank Carney opens the first Pizza Hut in Witchita, Kansas.

  • Sweet'n'Low, the artificial sweetener is introduced.

  • Cost of Living

  • In the USA, the price of 1st class mail goes up by one cent to four cents, the first price hike in twenty years.

  • Average cost of a house was $30,000

  • A pound loaf of bread - 19 cents

  • A quart of milk - 25 cents

  • Average cost of a pack of cigarettes - 23 cents

  • One dozen Grade A eggs - 60 cents

  • Coffee is 91 cents a pound

  • A five pound bag of sugar - 56 cents

  • Gold - $35 an ounce. Silver - 89 cents an ounce

  • The minimum wage was $1.00 an hour

  • Average family income was $5,087.00

  • Average cost of a car was $2,867.00

  • Gasoline was 30 cents a gallon.

  • Average annual car mileage was 9,500

    Times Square, 1958

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  • Average car MPG was 14.5

  • Texas News

  • Price Daniel, Democrat, was elected to his second term as Governor. He had previously been a US Senator from Texas.

  • Lyndon Baines Johnson was Majority Leader of the US Senate. He would later become President, having been elected as Vice President, following JFK's assasination.

  • Ralph Yarbourough was elected to the US Senate as junior senator.

  • The state budget exceeded $1 Billion for the first time.

  • Texas Instruments, of Dallas, created the world's first integrated circuit. Developed by Jack Kilbey, on a tiny piece of silicone measuring merely 7/16 by 1/16 of an inch, this development is the basis of all modern electronics. Texas Instruments, also known as TI, introduced the first pocket calculator, in 1967.

  • Chrysler Corp

  • L.L. 'Tex' Colbert was President of Chrysler Corp.

    Virgil Exner

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  • Imperial, having had a banner year, along with the rest of Chrysler Corporation, in 1957, saw sales slump badly. A brief economic recession, and a series of national strikes, including steel, was partially to blame. But, also a factor in this precipitous decline was the bad reutation the 1957's gained for atrocious quality control and rampant rust problems, caused by the meteoric sales of the 'All new for 1957" vehicles. The popularity of the stunning new design caused an unplanned for increase in production. Quality suffered badly.

  • Total Imperial Sales - 16,133, (about half of the previous year)

  • Virgil Exner, Styling chief of Chrysler Corporation, designer of the "55 / 56 Million Dollar Look" and the 57 / 58 / 59 "Forward Look," including of course, the Imperial, suffers a debilitating heart attack.

  • De Soto production is moved to the Jefferson Ave. plant. Imperial production moves, for the Model year 1959, to the Warren Ave. plant. (Two years later De Soto will be killed off and Imperial production moved back to Jefferson Avenue.)

  • The original series of Hemi is discontinued after 1958. The type is built again a few years later, but is never used again in an Imperial or a Chrysler.

  • The Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor, is first introduced by Chrysler on the Imperial. It was lighter and lower than the Carter WCFB it replaced and featured an automatic choke, called "Economy Choke." This choke had a three-stage vacuum piston designed to match the choke position more accurately to engine needs during warm-up. This prevents over-rich mixtures during part-throttle operation. It was said to improve fuel economy and to cut down engine wear by reducing entry of raw fuel into the engine bores.

  • Torsion bar suspension was introduced onto Imperials in 1957. Below is an excerpt from Brookland's 'Road Test' Limited Edition, from one section of the review of the '58 Imperial:
    We found that on tram lines, over loose bumpy roads, and on slippery surfaces there was virtually no tendency for the Imperial to roll, to pitch, or to wiggle its tail. This results no doubt from the excellent torsion-aire suspension, and from the giant six-ply tires that are fitted to the car. These 14-inch "rubber cushions" measured eleven inches across at the tread! With so much rubber on the road, it is little wonder that the Chrysler clings tightly to the tarmac--but ooh, what a lot of rubber to wear!
  • Auto-Pilot, an early, mechanical, type of cruise control is introduced on some Imperials and Chryslers as an optional extra.

  • Fuel Injection is introduced on a tiny amount of cars, mainly 300 D's. The complex Bendix unit proved very unreliabel and all the few cars so equipped were retro fitted with carburetors.

  • The Chrysler line adopts 'Double Compound Curve Windshields, successfully introduced on Imperials the previous year. The glass curves from top to bottom, extending into the roof line, as well as from side to side.

    Princess Margaret

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  • Chrysler Canada supplied six Imperial Crown convertibles to Princess Margaret for use on her visit to Canada in 1958. Her tartan, her own individual pattern, was used to trim the cars' interiors.

  • Plymouth ends the year in third place, with 443,799 cars, ahead of Oldsmobile and Buick

  • Chrysler Corporation builds it's 25 millionth car.

  • Total Chrysler Sales ( Windsor, Saratoga, New Yorker & 300D ) - 63,681. The division dips to 11th place in the market

  • DeSoto output shrinks to below 50,000, (49,445) it's lowest figure since 1938

  • Dodge sales came in at 137,861, or Number 8 in the selling stakes

  • Total Chrysler Corp sales for the year were 710,919.

  • Chrysler purchased 25% of the French Simca car company.

  • Other Automotive News

  • Total car production plummets by 31% from 1957 to 4,165,427.

    1. CHEVROLET - 1,142,460
    2. FORD - 987,945
    3. PLYMOUTH - 443,799
    4. OLDSMOBILE - 294,374
    5. BUICK - 241,592
    6. PONTIAC - 217,302
    7. RAMBLER - 162.182
    8. DODGE - 137,861
    9. MERCURY - 133,271
    10. CADILLAC - 121,778
    11. CHRYSLER - 63,681
    12. EDSEL - 63,110
    13. DE SOTO - 49,445
    14. STUDEBAKER - 44,789
    15. LINCOLN - 17,134
    16. IMPERIAL - 16,133
    17. METROPOLITAN - 13,128
    18. CONTINENTAL - 12,550
    19. PACKARD - 2,622

  • Total Import sales equalled 8.1% of all new car sales.

  • The Automobile Price Disclosure Act of 1958 was passed. This led to the now familiar sticker we now see on all new cars, listing content and MSRP. It was an attempt to provide accurate information to the buyer and put an end to the former practice of not having to reveal the price of the car. Hence dealers could "Price Pack," They would try to seem as if they were giving huge discounts and trade ins, when, in fact they were really selling at or above the average price.

  • Quad headlights become legal in all US states. ( In 1957, some Imperials were built with just one headlight, to comply with 'non-quad' state laws. )

  • Ford introduced the Edsel on September 4, 1957 as a 1958 Model. It had four lines: Ranger, Pacer, Corsair and Citation.

  • The Thunderbird became a four seater, and the phrase 'Personal Luxury' was coined.

  • Ford Motor Comapny produces it's 50 Millionth car

  • General Motors celebrated its 50th year of incorporation.

  • Chevrolet introduces the Impala, as a top line version of the Bel Air. The car goes on to become the world's best selling car for the next thirteen years.

  • Total Chevrolet sales - 1,255,935

  • Ford, now a 5 model line, like GM, stays in second place, despite the poor reception of the Edsel. The makes are Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Edsel and Continetal.

  • The AMC Rambler Ambassador and the 100 inch wheel base Rambler American were introduced in 1958. All Hudson and Nash models were discontinued in 1957 and replaced by the new name, AMC, and the Rambler models.

  • Studebaker ended production of full size cars. The Scotsman, Champion, Commander and President models were all dropped in favour of the compact Lark. It was also the last year for the supercharged Golden Hawk.

  • Packard also ceased to exist, as a Marque. Packard bought Studebaker a few years before, then closed down its own production lines. Packards were built for a few more years, as a top of the line Studebaker in reality, but the name itself was discontinued in 1958.

  • VW introduced a convertible Beetle. Total VW sales go to 18,000

  • Total Volvo sales - 14,000

  • The first Datsuns, now caled Nissan, and Toyotas, first called "Toyopets" were introduced into the USA. Total Toyota sales - 287.

  • Toyota introduces the Land Cruiser in Japan.

    The Trabant

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  • Serial production of the Trabant began in East Germany. This 2-stroke engined micro compact is not exported anywhere!.

  • Goodyear introduced a double chambered captive air system tire, to avoid complete blowouts.

  • There were 36,981 motor vehicle related deaths.

  • Movie News

  • 'Gigi' won Best Picture Oscar.

  • David Niven won Best Actor for "Separate Tables."

  • Susan Hayward won Best Actress for "I Want To Live."

  • Top grossing movie is "Touch Of Evil." Starring Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, plus Orson Welles, who also directed, it was to be Welles' fifth and last American movie. It is a 'Film Noir' crime potboiler and was savaged by the critics.

  • Sci-Fi classic "The Fly" comes out.

  • Alfred Hitchcock put out the classic "Vertigo," starring James Stewart.

  • Robert Mitchum starred in the car classic "Thunder Road," about bootleg liquor running.

  • Spencer Tracy stars in "The Old Man and the Sea., based on Ernest hemingway's 1953 Pulitzer Prize winning book.

  • Other notable movies:Auntie Mame; Cat On a Hot Tin Roof; The Goddess

  • Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward marry in Las Vegas.

  • Pop Music News

    The Top Ten Sellers of the year are:
    1. Danny & The Juniors- "At The Hop."
    2. Tommy Edwards -"It's All In The Game."
    3. Champs- "Tequilla"
    4. Teddy Bears- "To Know Him Is To Love Him."
    5. Pat Boone- "April Love"
    6. Kingston Trio- "Tom Dooley."
    7. David Seville- "Witch Doctor."
    8. Conway Twitty- "It's Only Make Believe."
    9. Everly Brothers- "All I Have To Do Is Dream."
    10. McGuire Sisters- "Sugar Time."
    Other notable hits

    1. Jerry Lee Lewis - "Great Balls Of Fire."
    2. Connie Francis - "Who's Sorry Now?
    3. Peggy Lee - "Fever"
    4. The Coasters - "Yakety Yak"
    5. Elvis Presley - "Hard Headed Woman"
    6. Sheb Wooley - "Purple People Eater
    7. Buddy Holly & The Crickets - "Peggy Sue"
    8. Chuck berry - "Sweet Little Sixteen."
    9. The Big Bopper - "Chantilly Lace."

    Stereo LP's are introduced. These are vinyl discs twelve inches in diameter, and can hold up to an hour's worth of music. To have reasonable quality, from not compressing the grooves too closely together, about 45 minutes becomes the norm.

  • George Harrison joins The Quarrymen group in Liverpool

  • Elvis Presley is drafted and joins the army.

  • Madonna is born

  • Michael Jackson is born

  • Donny Osmond is born

  • Shawn Colvin is born

    It's a great year for Perry Como. He is awarded the first ever "Gold Record," a new sales marker introduced by the record industry in '58. He also wins the Best Male Vocal Grammy for "Catch A Falling Star."

  • Ella Fitzgerald won the Best Female Vocal Grammy.

    Miles Davis

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  • Jazz legend Miles Davis releases 58 Miles.

  • Television News

  • 45 million USA Homes have TV sets.

  • CBS's Gunsmoke is the most popular show on TV

  • The Donna Reed Show makes its debut

  • The Rifleman debuts, starring Chuck Connors

  • Starring 'Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, and his trade mark Pompadour hairstyle, 77 Sunset Strip is introduced to a nation of swooning fans.

  • The Andy Williams Show premieres on 7/3/58, the day Mr. Kroesche bought me.

  • The great quiz show scandal comes to a head when contestants admit to having received the answers in advance.

    Shari Lewis

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  • Shari Lewis entertains kids six days a week
  • Books

  • John Kenneth Galbraith, a noted economist publishes 'The Afflent Society, a critique of consumerism in America. He warns of the dangers of conformity and materialism, plus of decaying cities, caused, in part, by the spread of "gadget laden automobiles."

  • John Keats issues 'The insolent Chariots, a comic indictment of the auto trade and car culture.

  • Jack Kerouac's 'On The Road, published the previous year becomes a best selling phenomenon, influencing the upcoming 'Beat Generation' trmendously.

  • Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak. The book is banned in the USSR.

  • Anatomy Of A Murder by Michigan Supreme Court Judge Barrie Maxwell, using the pen name of Robert Traver. It is a fictionalized account of a real 1952 Michigan slaying and the court room proceedings that followed it. It became a movie the following year, directed by Otto Preminger and starring Jimmy Stewart and George C. Scott. It, like the book, was a commercial and critical success

  • Art Linkletter's collection, Kids Say The Darndest Things is published.

  • Belgian born Claude Levi-Strauss publishes Structural Anthropology

  • Folk Medicine by D. C. Jarvis is published. it is phenomenally popular and goes on to seel over 4 million copies.

  • James Agee wins the Pulitzer Prize for "Death In The Family.

  • Sport

  • Wilt Chamberlain joins the Harlem Globetrotter for one year. His salary - $65,000 a year.

  • Brazil wins soccer's, and the world's greatest sporting trophy, the World Cup. Playing in Sweden, the team has the soon to be acknowledged 'best soccer player of all time', Pele.

  • Drag racer Don Garlits breaks the 170 mile per hour barrier with a Hemi- powered car.

  • A privately owned 300D sets a class E speed record at Bonneville, running 156.387 MPH.

  • Jimmy Bryan won the Indy 500, averaging 133.8 MPH, driving a Blond special.

  • Juan Fangio won the Buenos Aires Grand Prix in February. He retired later in the year.

  • The Yankees beat The Braves 6 - 2 in the World Series

  • Whitey Ford's contact with the Yankees is worth $35,000.00

  • Mickey Mantle, the American league MVP, has a contract worth $75,000.00

  • Army beat Navy 22 - 6 in their annual football game

  • Sugar Ray Robinson maintains his World Middlewight Champ status for the fifth year.

  • The St. Louis Hawks win the NBA World Basketball campionships, defeating the Boston Celtics.

  • The Montreal Canadiens win The Stanley Cup, defeating the Boston Bruins.

  • The Baltimore Colts win the NFL Championship game, defeating the NY Giants 23-17.

  • Arnold Palmer wins his first Masters Tournament.

    Site Navigation & Links

    •Site Entry•
    •Dimensions, Statistics, Facts and Figures•
    •The Imperial: A Brief History•
    •My story, Part 1. From my first to my current owner•
    •My story, Part 2. From 1994 to 1998•
    •My story, Part 3. From 1998 to the present•
    •Cracked head woes in 2001•
    •Photo album•
    •Tom McCahill's 'Mechanix Illustrated' 1958 Imperial Review;
    •Other 1958 Imperials•
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