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Driving Mrs. Maisel: Why the Vintage Rides Take Our Breath Away

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author photo by Lindsay Martell January 2019

"The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" isn't just an awards show darling, racking up Emmys and Golden Globes with the same gleeful energy as its magnetic cast and crew. It's also a love letter to 1950s New York -- stylized, sleek and bustling with big city verve. And while the show's hypnotic banter, gutsy plots and gorgeousness all around (from its characters to its set design) make it binge worthy, its classic cars make it must-drool TV.

Perhaps the most charismatic character? The Big Apple (of course). Just ask Jose Pavon, the show's prop master. "I think New York City plays a major role on the show," he says in an email. "We are able to help recreate certain areas of New York City in this period by adding specific vehicles that are more particular to different [New York City] neighborhoods."

Greenwich Village, for example, has less precious, older model cars parked on the street. Not so for the more upscale zip codes. "We use newer and higher-end vehicles in the Upper West Side with a good mixture of bright colors -- depending on the scene and the time of day."

The result? A show that's busting at the seams with bustling rides. From Chevrolets to Cadillacs, its is downright magnifique when it comes to street chic.

1959 Oldsmobile Super 88

Image courtesy of Internet Movie Cars Database, https://www.imcdb.org

1959 Oldsmobile Super 88

Image courtesy of CascadiaClassic.com

1959 Oldsmobile Super 88

Think striking, clean and classic. Yes, of course that's Midge (Rachel Brosnahan), but it's also the smoky-hued 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 that appears in season one. The lines are pure '50s glamour, and those achingly fierce fins? Flawless. Not surprising Jay Leno snapped one up to add to his massive car collection.

When it comes to setting the stage for the show, Pavon emphasizes that vehicles help create the period -- every tire and chromed layer has added value to each scene. They need to be timely, and they need to be right.

"Vehicle model types and colors have changed through the years. Due to that, we are able to use them to place the show in a precise time and place in New York City."

1955 Cadillac Coupe DeVille

Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

1955 Cadillac Coupe DeVille

If a roaringly retro dramedy set in the late '50s doesn't feature a Cadillac, something has veered seriously off course. The 1955 Coupe DeVille parked outside Midge's luxurious Upper West Side apartment is both stately and sensual. That's not too surprising, given that the name has tony origins. According to cadillacdatabase.net, DeVille is derived from the French de la ville meaning "of the town." It looks perfectly in place alongside her better-keep-up-with-me stride. That's entirely the point, says Pavon.

"We base our vehicle choices for different locations on the personalities of the neighborhoods we are trying to recreate. New cars, used cars, beat up cars or even old cars in pristine condition may indicate an economic background, personal taste or eccentricity."

This is a car built for status, with its come-hither lines and Cadillac kapow!

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

Image courtesy of Internet Movie Cars Database, https://www.imcdb.org

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

Image courtesy of ClassicCars.com

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air

Blink and you might miss this one, and that would be a cryin' Chevy shame. This midnight machine (with white accents) shimmers against the New York skyline. Maybe that's because its ebony/ivory wheels are a perfect match to its silent film-esque appeal. The prior year's model was nicknamed the hot one, but the '56 model seems more muted, more staid. The nose piece on the hood, the emblem and the kind of chrome that may blind ya with its shimmery reflection.

1957 Plymouth Belvedere Convertible

Image courtesy of Amazon Studios

1957 Plymouth Belvedere Convertible

As for the show's vehicular tour de force? This gorgeous 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Convertible. The hue is sort of like Revlon's Cherries in the Snow meets Fire and Ice, and it just works, on every single angular level. It's all lines and beauty and sharp edges. We see it on full display in season 2two as the ride of Midge's smitten new beau.

Pavon says each car chosen for the show coveys a certain mood, or place in time. It helps give the character more layers that express his or her personality to the audience.

"For example, a convertible will be chosen to indicate a beautiful summer day, a hardtop vehicle to indicate the shift in colder weather within our story."

Choosing the Plymouth may as well be the vehicular manifestation of new love. The shot of Midge feeling the wind whip across her face while riding shotgun? Bliss at freeway speeds.

1953 Dodge Meadowbrook

Image courtesy of Amazon Studios

1953 Dodge Meadowbrook

We don't see a lot of this slightly muted sky blue Dodge Meadowbrook, but it makes for some lovely set dressing. And that's a big part of what makes the show so giddily fun to watch. The cars add a pop of stylized, '50s fun to a show that already sings with nostalgia. I love how the inky black n' blue hues of the 1956 Chevy 210 wagon and the 1950 Dodge Coupe perfectly compliment Benjamin's (Zachary Levi) slate blue button-down. Add in the dappled sunlight behind him, and the scene's late afternoon diffused mood hums and hums.

We could get used to "Maisel" moving our hearts like this. One beautiful car at a time.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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