I was reading the New York Times today and came across an article talking about the history of fins on the American car in the late 1950’s. You can find that article here: Tailfins at Their High Point.
While I’m trying not to get to swallowed up by nostalgia, I have to admit that, doggone it, the cars from this era just look better! Performance and quality discussions aside, the style of these cars (and their fins) seems to mirror the enthusiastic approach American looked to the future with in the middle 1950’s. Compare the beginning of the fin on this ‘55 Chevy:
So where did the “fin race” come from?
While the image above from the World’s Fair of 1939 doesn’t necessarily mention fins, the origins of the fin can be traced back to just before World War II and immediately after. This quote from Fifties Fins seems to say it all:
“…had to represent the direction America was taking at the time. Airplanes were entering the jet age, washing machines were automatic…American was on a new path, a path that led to a new and brighter future…”
In the title, Where Today Meets Tomorrow, we can sense this future by examing General Motors approach to the technology of the time. With pages talking about the virtue of design as well as the technology of the day, it’s no wonder they seemed almost breathless when exclaiming…”will unveil the keys to an entirely new way of life….”
I’ve assembled some great resources to help you learn more about this neat historical topic. Spend a few minutes and dream with me, about fins, cars and way of life that too often we do not see today!
Have a great day!
Sources and Links for further exploration:
(1-4) Internet Archive and these resources: