There’s no question that the 1950s were the decade of flamboyant style. Aviation initially influenced fins, sprouting into something inspired by the space race. Yet among rear fenders, curved windshields, and hardtops, there was one external design feature in particular that impacted automotive styling: Headlights.
Read the full article on Hagerty.com:
All 48 states had not approved of the 4 lamp arrangement by the time the 57 models came out and many manufacturers who had 4 lamp designs had to make last minute changes. Plymouth was ready with four lamps but arrived with two headlamps and two smaller fog lights. The Lincoln in the article picture does not have 4 headlamps. Only two are headlamps. The other two are smaller units like fog or driving lights similar to the Plymouth. Most 57 Mercs had single headlamps. I don't know if the two lamp versions were late production after all 48 states voted for approval or are only on upper scale trim levels. As a kid in the third grade where nothing mattered more than the new cars coming out in September. one of my first pre-built model car requests (dealer promotional units) was of the 57 Plymouth and only because of the 4 headlamps. Big disappointment to discover all 4 weren't actually headlamps, even on the model by AMT.
By 1958 just about every car had the quad headlights, even the Chevrolet Corvair up to around the early 80's when halengin lamps in molded headlight started to become the standard. Only the small cars like the Maverick, the Nova, Valiant, Duster stayed with the 7" seal beams, probably to keep the cost down for these low price point models.
For 58 AMC hedged their bet -- early 58 Ramblers (made in late 57) had single headlights, all other big cars (Ambassador, Rambler 6 and Rambler V-8... little American was dual headlights only) had quads. As far as I can determine base Rambler 6 and V-8 models had two headlights, others had quads. There were still a few states that hadn't authorized quads when production started in late 57, and models sent to those states had duals only. Not many were made, or they were upgraded by dealers or owners later, as they are few and far between now. I've only seen one in person, a base model Rambler 6.
I like the Cadillac. BTW, I miss the quad headlight days because now, so many people drive around blinding everyone with their plastic high beam housings and its sometimes hard to tell if they really are on and if you should flash them. With the quad lights, it was always obvious.
GM built a double headlight 58 Corvette in late 57, and created a classic, now highly collectible, but a sometimes unliked, flashy example. I own one in Australia and would not swap her for any other car.
1957 Lincoln: It started the staggered look (with the 7" on top and 5.25" on the bottom) before it became a thing with tires & wheels. And it's probably the first and last car that had that, in the USA. 60's Jags and 70s BMWs did similar things, albeit horizontally.
If anyone wants to give me one, I'll take any of these cars, but my personal favorites are the Nash and the Mercury. For my taste, the Caddy is just too much, and as much as I love Desotos, I love Nash/AMC and Mercury more. (I've owned four Mercurys over the past fifty years, and one Ambassador.)