Monday, August 15, 2011


Bel Air by William 74
Bel Air, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Long a symbol of jet-age Populuxe America, the tailfin is probably the one thing people think of when you ask them about cars from the 50's. Fins and chrome. They started off small with the '48 Cadillac, just little fins inspired by the Lockheed P-38 fighter plane (or so Harley Earl said), and eventually grew to rocket-like proportions, right along with America's fascination with the Space Race. And they weren't just an American phenomenon-auto makers the world over used this styling cue, although for not nearly as long.

Anyway, all this is really just an excuse to show some of my favorite fin photos. Up top is the classic '57 Chevy Bel-Air.

'61 Imperial
This here's a '61 Imperial. The wiggiest fins in my book, with those little hanging gunsight taillights.

The famous, melting fins of the '59 Chevy Impala, with those excellent teardrop taillights.

Cadillac had the first, and always seemed to have the biggest too-the towering fins of the '59 Biarritz is almost a cliche. I prefer the subtler looks-relatively speaking-of the '60 Eldo, as seen here.

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