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Cars You Didn’t Know Were in “A Streetcar Named Desire”

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It’s not an exaggeration to say that “A Streetcar Named Desire” is one of the most iconic and appreciated stage plays ever penned by Tennessee Williams. However, even though the original Broadway production debuted in the late 1940s, most people remember it best as the Elia Kazan-directed 1951 film adaptation that launched Marlon Brando’s rise to fame.

But, much like many other well-regarded films, it prominently features several vehicles worthy of your attention, even if they take a metaphorical backseat to their human co-stars. As always, these were identified by the eagle-eyed gearheads in the IMCDB community, save for the final one.

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1936 Chevrolet Standard

A tan 1937 Chevrolet Standard Four-Door, which is a street-car, but not a streetcar.
Photo: Bob Adams via CC

Long before the days of family commuter vehicles like the Equinox or Traverse, there was the Chevrolet Standard. At the time, it was meant to be a less expensive alternative to the top-of-the-line Chevrolet Series BA Confederate, which was eventually renamed the Eagle. If you didn’t find that original moniker troubling enough, the Chevy Standard was originally called the Mercury, which would certainly cause some massive copyright issues today.

1941 Buick Special

A Black 1941 Buick Special.  Also a street-car rather than a streetcar
Photo: Greg Gjerdingen via CC

Much like the Chevy Standard, the Buick Special was geared toward drivers who wanted a Buick but didn’t want to pay top dollar. According to The News Wheel — a name you might recognize — the Special launched in 1934 as the Buick Series 40 but was officially renamed after a redesign in 1936. It was also one of the most popular Buick models of its time, which explains why the team behind “A Streetcar Named Desire” chose to feature it in the production. That, and it looks pretty rad.

The titular “Streetcar”

While the name of the film is thematically relevant in numerous ways that are a bit too ribald to get into here, it’s also physically depicted on screen. However, it’s not actually a car. Shortly after the film opens, we meet one of the main characters: Blanche DuBois. On the last leg of her pre-plot journey to visit her sister, she boards a streetcar — one of those things that looks like a bus but runs on rails and draws power from overhead wires — that’s literally named “Desire.”

If you tend to like your movies without immensely challenging themes or events, it’s probably best to avoid watching “A Streetcar Named Desire,” even if it is a phenomenal piece of cinema — excepting the very much of-its-time but still unfortunately present misogyny. But, I think we can all agree that the production team deserves a socially distanced pat on the back for not including any anachronistic vehicles.

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