1955 Dodge La Femme
It's 2022 and women still face a lot of pressure when it comes to cars, whether we're talking about racing or the simple act of buying a new automobile at the dealership. But while this attitude has slowly changed over the past decades, they were in full swing in the 1950s. That's when Dodge tried making a car specifically for women.

Remembering the 1955 Dodge La Femme, the First Car Designed Exclusively for Women

1955 Dodge La Femme ad1955 Dodge La Femme ad1955 Dodge La Femme1955 Dodge La Femme ad1955 Dodge La Femme1955 Dodge La Femme1955 Dodge La Femme1955 Dodge La Femme
The early 1950s saw America enter an economic boom. And having grown up in poverty during the Great Depression, the adults of the 1950s wanted to spend big. And as soon as consumer goods became available after World War 2, they did.

The car industry was also in full post-war swing, and carmakers were looking to explore all possible niches for potential revenue. As a result, Detroit automakers were rolling out countless trims and special editions of their products in an effort to better understand what customers wanted to buy.

Around the same time, American women were expanding their public presence beyond the "housewife" status quo. Detroit automakers, which had designed cars exclusively for men since day one, took notice.

1955 Dodge La Femme
When its marketing department "discovered" that more women were taking an interest in vehicles, Chrysler decided it was time to roll out a car designed for the ladies.

Mopar first tested the water with a pair of concept cars it unveiled in 1954. They were based on the New Yorker and called the Le Comte and La Comtesse. Aimed at female drivers, the latter was painted pink, the color that's usually associated with feminity.

The positive reactions to the La Comtesse prompted Chrysler to greenlight a production model, but the idea was handed over to Dodge. The vehicle described as “the first car ever exclusively designed for the woman motorist" debuted for the 1955 model year with a "La Femme" badge.

Essentially a Royal Lancer with a few extras, the La Femme boasted features and accessories that Dodge thought would appeal to female drivers.

1955 Dodge La Femme ad
Of course, various shades of pink were first on the list, starting with a Heather Rose exterior (combined with white for a 1950s-specific two-tone finish).

The La Femme also came with a pale pink vinyl upholstery with Gold Cordagrain trim and Orchid Jacquard fabric. The car's looks were rounded off by gold "La Femme" badges on the front fenders and the glove compartment.

But Dodge didn't just stick to pink hues and other supposedly cute and feminine design details. It also included beauty-related products in the package.

The list included a lipstick case and a purse, as well as a cigarette lighter. These were available in a variety of colors and finishes, ranging from tortoise shell to pink leather with gold accents.

1955 Dodge La Femme
On top of that, the La Femme came with a rain cape, a rain hat, and an umbrella, all matching the Jacquard design of the interior. And each of these accessories had a custom storage compartment inside the car.

The La Femme's marketing campaign focused more on these products rather than the vehicle itself. Also promoted with vague catchphrases like "By special appointment to Her Majesty... the American Woman," the La Femme didn't really catch on.

With fewer than 1,500 units sold in 1955, Dodge quickly found out that women were more pragmatic than its marketing department had given them credit for. But the company chose to keep the La Femme in production for 1956.

Dodge dropped the purse and the beauty accessories but kept the rain gear. It also replaced the Heather Rose/white exterior with a Misty Orchid/Regal Orchid combo and went with a new vinyl pattern inside the cabin.

1955 Dodge La Femme ad
These changes only made things worse, and sales dropped even more in 1956 when fewer than 1,000 examples were delivered. Dodge consequently dropped the La Femme for 1957, and the nameplate never returned. And while many sources claim that Dodge sold fewer than 2,500 cars in two years, some reports put the figure much lower at only 1,500 examples.

Given that Dodge moved almost 90,000 Lancer models in 1955, the La Femme was indeed a marketing disaster. Far from surprising, considering that there wasn't a single woman involved in the design process.

While Dodge didn't bother asking women what they actually wanted in a car, General Motors did when it established the Damsels of Design division, led by a group of female designers working under Harley Earl. The initiative spawned the Chevrolet Impala Martinique and the Cadillac Eldorado Seville Baroness in the late 1950s.

And none of them were painted pink...

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