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A driving tips film featuring late-1950s Plymouths

Published in blog.hemmings.com

1958 Plymouth convertible. Still image from Internet Archive video below.

In these 1958 Sid Davis productions, Driving Tips Series One and Two, many aspects of driver safety and a few regarding good citizenship were explored. However, now six decades since their release, these films are also entertaining to watch simply for the vintage vehicles and nostalgic streetscapes that they depict.

A pair of 1958 Plymouths—a bright red convertible and a green four-door sedan were used as the demonstrators and of course many other vehicles of the era are shown. There are also great shots of Plymouth’s speedometer to reveal the velocity at which the car was traveling to punctuate the main point of certain lessons. The first time it’s shown, the odometer reads only 692 miles. The reading then varies between 691 and 693 when displayed later.

In Series One, warnings against tailgating and how to handle a tailgater were provided, as were the proper procedures for yielding the right-of-way to emergency vehicles. There was even a “do not litter” caution with an explanation of why it’s just wrong and how it can be dangerous.

How to interpret road signs and the meanings of their shapes, and how to negotiate school zones and cross walks, curves and hills, and left turns at busy intersections were also covered. In-car child safety was discussed, and a warning was issued regarding picking up random hitchhikers with an escaped convict scenario used as an example. We were also reminded that a hitchhiker who gets injured in an accident while riding in our car may sue us.

Series Two picks up with the perils of drinking alcohol and driving, as well as speeding. How to properly negotiate a school bus stop and avoid being a “signal jumper” at a red light were also illustrated. Refreshingly, there was even a discussion about how inconsiderate and potentially dangerous it is to drive at speeds that are substantially under the legal limit.

The actions of a courteous driver were explained, as was the importance of being on the lookout for driving hazards. So too was how to avoid driver fatigue and proceed safely when near street-car tracks. Finally, a few tips were provided for freeing a car that’s stuck in the sand.

Each film is roughly nine-and-a-half minutes long, and though the primary focus is on the driving tips, which are presented via dry narration, you will also be treated to eye-catching Plymouths on the picturesque streets of Southern California circa the 1950s.