The 1955 Dodge La Femme: A car for women … by men
In the early 1950s, automakers were trying to capitalize on a booming economy and were looking to get as many people interested in their cars as possible. That’s not a hard concept to push past corporate brass, but the ideas sometimes fell apart if they were duds — take, for instance, the 1955 Dodge La Femme.
By the mid-50s, the Big Three were all pushing new creature comforts like power steering, power brakes and automatically shifting transmissions in televised ads starring women. Targeting women in ads seemed to help get more cars rolling away from dealer lots, so Dodge took the experiment a step further and built a car specifically for women.
Based on the well-received 1954 Chrysler La Comtesse concept, the 1955 Dodge La Femme was a special version of Dodge’s Custom Royal Lancer. Looking for ultimate femininity, Dodge made the La Femme trimmed cars available exclusively in heather rose and sapphire white; the two-tone paint scheme bled into the interior with color-matching fabrics. For the 1956 model year, Dodge went with misty orchid and regal orchid — two shades of lavender — for the color combination.
Apparently the color schemes weren’t quite feminine enough for the Dodge marketing folks. Alongside the over-the-top paint, the La Femme sedans came with a pink raincoat and hat, an umbrella and a shoulder bag stuffed with a compact, lipstick, a lighter and a cigarette case.
Like we recently relearned with the Seat Mii by Cosmopolitan, marketing a car designed specifically for one gender might not be the best idea. Dodge moved around only 2,500 of these feminine-trimmed Royal Lancers, and not many survived. Dodge discontinued the trim before the 1957 model year.
The La Femme might have been a flop in its day, but it still stands as a sign of the times (and as a collector’s item). Check out the advertising and galleries above.
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