The Way We Were: Fort Collins in 1952

Seven decades ago, Princess Elizabeth was ascending to the British throne as its new queen and Chuck Houska was making his home in Fort Collins.  During WWII, Chuck served our country as an airplane mechanic, and in 1952, he utilized those skills and opened Houska Repair. 

Staying on the job for 70 years is no simple task, and we’re honored to still provide quality auto service to our community, just like Chuck did back when only three out of every five families owned a single car! While our excellent customer service has remained constant since our doors first opened, many other things have changed in Fort Collins. Let’s take a peek into the past, and learn more about our fair city in 1952. 

Looking back:

Post-WWII, Fort Collins was booming! The GI bill allowed many veterans to attend college, including Colorado A&M (which became Colorado State University in 1957). New housing developments began to pop up all around Northern Colorado. In the early 1950s, a typical new house was around 1,000 square feet, and for the first time, included a single-car garage.

In 1952, Fort Collins also ended its streetcar services, and automobile ownership exploded. This set the stage for us to open the doors of what has evolved into Houska Automotive – and as they say, the rest is history!

Fun Facts:

  • In 1952, the average cost of a new car was $1,700 and gas was only 27 cents per gallon!
  • In 1952, the average cost of a home in Fort Collins was $9,050.
  • In 1952, the average family income was $3,900.
  • In 1952, the population of Fort Collins was 32,000. As of 2022, the population of Fort Collins is 170,000 – talk about explosive growth!

Houska Automotive is proud to have been a part of the countless monumental changes that have taken place in Fort Collins over the past 70 years. We have remained a constant part of the Fort Collins community, and are proud to have faithfully served our nonprofit community.  Chuck’s legacy at Houska Automotive is carried on by second (Dennis) and third (LJ) generation members of the Houska family.


Discover the rich history of Fort Collins’ first electric vehicles by taking a trolley trip back to 1952. This summer, hop on a restored historic streetcar to make the journey from City Park to Old Town Fort Collins. The trolley is operating 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays, & Holidays from April 30 – September 25, 2022. Fares are only a few dollars, but the history you’ll learn through this experience is truly priceless! You can also see the trolley up close when you come to the FoCo Food Truck Rally, happening each Tuesday evening this summer from 5-7 p.m. at City Park.  Visit for more information.

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