Dodge hasn’t always been a man’s car. In fact, there was a once time when the manufacturer of such testosterone-pumping machismo machines as the Viper, Challenger and the Charger had seriously considered a woman’s role behind the wheel. This speculation came at a time when post war America was seeing a serious shift in gender roles, allowing more women to find their independence out on the open road. And with style, no less.
After receiving favorable feedback on Chrysler’s refined showroom model “La Comtesse” in 1954, Dodge began production on a new line of automobile that was marketed for the female motorist. Costing just an additional $143, the Dodge “La Femme” was a special option of the 1955 Custom Lancer, complete with a feminine twist. The hardtop two-door coupe came in a color combination of painted “Sapphire White” and “Heather Rose,” featuring blossoming rosebuds to decorate its elegant upholstery.
The most unique ploy on Dodge’s part wasn’t only that this was a vehicle of grace and class, but should also be seen as an everyday fashion accessory. Each La Femme came outfitted with a pink calfskin purse (bundled with coordinating paraphernalia), a matching rosebud-inspired raincoat, rain bonnet, and umbrella. The items could be conveniently stored in compartments behind the two front seats—so you never had to leave the house empty-handed. The American woman didn’t just drive La Femme, she lived La Femme.
Although the chichi cruiser returned the following year with a new orchid palate, the La Femme’s supposed fanfare wasn’t enough to keep Dodge from discontinuing the “project” in 1957. It is said that out of the 2,500 lady vehicles produced, only about 60 exist today. What a damn shame.
(This post on an unusual Dodge product comes by inspiration of pop culture humorist Charles Phoenix and his stellar new book, Addicted to Americana. If roadside attractions, cosmic kitsch, and wondrous cultural curiosities are your thing, it is without question that this is the book for you.
Some photos of the La Femme below:
Accessories included a keystone-shaped purse, face-powder compact, lipstick case, cigarette case, comb, lighter and change purse.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘How to Undress in Front of Your Husband’: The exact opposite of a feminist film
1950s Calendar Girls: The original victims of Photoshop?
You’ll poke someone’s eye out with those things: Bullet bras from the 1940s and 1950s