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The 1955 Dodge La Femme: Creation & Significance

Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

In 1955, Dodge released the first car designed specifically for women. This lesson explores the innovation behind the Dodge La Femme and its significance during the 1950s.

After World War II

Did you know that during World War II, car production in the United States ceased to exist? Factories that once rolled out Fords and Chryslers stopped building cars, shifting production to things like tanks and airplanes. After the war came to an end, Americans were clamoring for new vehicles. Years of going without many consumer products energized people's desire for consumerism. They demanded new, shiny, and innovative products, and the auto industry listened.

In the years following World War II, the auto industry became highly competitive. Companies did everything possible to appeal to their customers, releasing exciting models that dazzled the public. During this time, another trend in American consumerism experienced a revival. Beginning in the 1800s, many companies designed products specifically for women. Automakers in the 1950s once again capitalized on this concept.

Thousands of women entered the workforce during World War II. While many women returned to their traditional roles as homemakers, others enjoyed a new sense of freedom. Jobs outside the home meant new and exciting possibilities, not to mention increased discretionary income to spend on things like cars! Not wanting to miss such a golden opportunity, the auto industry ventured into the world of female consumerism, designing vehicles that appealed to women.

Early Cars for Women

During the 1950s, automakers like Chrysler presented new car models to the public at various shows and expositions. The emphasis was on looks and novelty, not practicality. As a result, many of these cars were considered 'concept cars' and were never actually mass-produced for purchase. Among these were the Chrysler Le Comte and the Chrysler La Comtesse. The cars were nearly identical with one exception: the Le Comte was painted in manly shades of brown, while the La Comtesse was painted in feminine shades of pink. Designed specifically for women, the La Comtesse received positive feedback from those who saw it in person. The feedback was so encouraging, in fact, that it inspired Chrysler to officially launch a mass-produced vehicle for women.

The Dodge La Femme

In November of 1954, Dodge (which was a division of Chrysler) revealed its 1955 lineup. Among the new vehicles was the Custom Royal Lancer, a hard-top vehicle which gave buyers the option to pick and choose from a variety of possible car colors. Within a few months, Dodge revealed a feminine spin on the Custom Royal Lancer at the Chrysler Building's International Salon in New York City. Both consumers and the media were dazzled by the La Femme, which the company promoted as '...the first car ever exclusively designed for the woman motorist.'

In reality, the La Femme was just a Custom Royal Lancer with very ladylike features. Consumers had the option to buy a La Femme package that included:

  • a pink and white exterior
  • a gold front plate that read 'La Femme'
  • a pink interior with upholstered rosebud fabric on the seats
  • various feminine accessories like a rain cape, lipstick, and a leather bag

The Dodge La Femme
Dodge La Femme

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