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Cars With Tailfins – Should This Style Make A Comeback?

by Jordan Harris
Are Cadillacs Good Cars

The 1950s were popularly known as the jet age because more people could afford to travel by air and because space travel was becoming a possibility. It was also the age of cars with tailfins.

In spite of the fact that many vehicles soon gained tail fins, the majority of experts attribute Cadillac’s introduction of the feature to the public. American cars first began to have fins in the late 1940s.

Despite having little functional value, the fins instantly associated Cadillac’s premium brand with the scientific marvels that were captivating the public’s attention this time: rockets as well as jet airplanes.

This connection was intentional. The P-38 Lightning fighter plane that Franklin Quick Hershey, the team’s principal designer, saw while touring an airfield in World War II provided the inspiration for the fins.

For Cadillac’s benefit, the tail fins were incredibly well-liked. Following a decade, the company’s lineup came to be recognized for having tail fins.

Other automakers decided to follow suit and fitted tail fins on respective models, and soon everyone driving the country’s highways could recognize the tailfin as a visual theme.

Let’s take a look at some of the best fins ever made.

Cars With Tailfins – #1. Tatra T77 1934

The Czech-built Tatra T77 is the first on our list of cars with tailfins, and it differs from all the others in that it has only one central component as opposed to have a pair of fins.

The Paul Jaray and Hans Ledwinka-designed T77 was propelled by an air-cooled V8 mounted in the back and served as an example of what could be done aerodynamically with a passenger car.

Cars With Tailfins – #2. Cadillac 1948

The first tail fins that were solely for decoration and to tease future developments are where it all began.

GM design chief Harley Earl (1893-1969), who also created some of the most astounding production and concept cars with tailfins of the 1940s and 1950s, was the man behind it. Earl had no idea what lay ahead, or perhaps he did.

Cars With Tailfins – #3. Concept Buick Le Sabre 1951

This is the original concept, a runner that Harley Earl used as his daily driver for two years before Buick began producing a Le Sabre at the end of the 1950s.

Le Sabre’s 215 cu in V8 was an advanced piece of design and engineering that Britain’s Rover would later adopt. They would also use it for more than 20 years of continuous production.

Cars With Tailfins – #4. Bristol 404 1953

Because Bristol Cars evolved from the Bristol Aeroplane Company, there was a lot of overlap in the development and design of these mysterious and pricey grand tourers.

There were only 52 404s produced, and each one had a 1971cc straight-six engine that could reach 110 mph and 140 bhp.

Cars With Tailfins – #5. Ford Thunderbird 1955

We had the option of choosing either the first- or second-generation Thunderbirds, both of which had tail fins, but we went with what most fans believe to be the first and best.

Since all early model T-Birds came as two-seater convertibles and the Thunderbird was the vehicle that invented the “personal luxury car,” as Ford put it, all of these vehicles included a V8 engine as well as a glass fiber hard top as standard equipment.

Cars With Tailfins – #6. Sunbeam Rapier 1955

We shall talk about and take a look at the Hillman Minx, a two-door design by The Rootes Group, later on.

The fins were initially fairly understated, but as the 1950s progressed, a change in design made them to become more noticeable, and that’s how they stayed up until the time the Rapier was no longer manufactured in 1967.

Cars With Tailfins – #7. Chrysler Dart 1956

The Chrysler Dart’s fins may have been a concept car with no chance of being produced, but they weren’t all that outlandish compared to some of the designs on display in showrooms across the US in the latter half of the 1950s.

The 392cu in Hemi V8 engine produced 375bhp, and the steel roof could retract into the space behind the cabin.

Alas, the most recent rebirth of the Dodge Dart doesn’t look nearly as stylish as the old ones. Nevertheless, they’re good cars, so long as you’re wary of the common Dodge Dart problems and 2013 Dodge Dart problems. We also looked at are Dodge Darts good cars, if you’re still wondering.

Cars With Tailfins – #8. Ford Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac Mk2 1956

Fins took some time to enter the mainstream of the automotive industry across the Atlantic. But Ford was one of the pioneers with its Three Graces, also called the six-cylinder Zephyr, four-cylinder Consul, or the Zodiac Mk2.

The Mk2s, which were available in convertible and saloon body styles, have recently grown in value.

Cars With Tailfins – #9. Goggomobil TS300/TS400 1956

Scooter construction was Hans Glas’ (1890-1969) first venture, and in 1955 he moved on to create the Goggomobil saloon.

His most fashionable creation to date, the TS400 and TS300 coupés that had 395cc or 296cc dual-cylinder engines, debuted a year later. Nearly 15,000 of these well-liked automobiles were produced between 1956 and 1967.

Cars With Tailfins – #10. Hillman Minx 1956

The Hillman Minx was a member of the Rootes Group lineup, but it was overshadowed by its more well-known competitors from Ford and Vauxhall.

Because Rootes enjoyed badge engineering quite a bit, it was also possible to purchase this tastefully styled saloon, convertible, or estate in Singer (Gazelle) and Sunbeam (Rapier coupé) forms.

During a production run that lasted until 1965, 1725cc 1592cc, 1494cc, and 1390cc,  engines were available due to annual updates.

Cars With Tailfins – #11. Auto Union 1000SP 1957

The Auto Union 1000SP was a nice-looking two-seat convertible that also went under the name DKW Type 1000.

It had a three-cylinder engine with a tiny 980cc displacement that produced 55 bhp. It was created by Baur and resembled a tiny Ford Thunderbird. 6640 were produced and built for eight years.

Cars With Tailfins – #12. Buick Roadmaster 1957

In 1936, Buick debuted the first Roadmaster, a luxury vehicle for discerning customers. This original Roadmaster set the standard for Buick’s subsequent seven generations and more than two decades.

The 1957 model, available in saloon, coupé, and convertible body styles, was the last generation prior to the Roadmaster name taking a 30-year break. It had a 364cu in 6.0-liter V8.


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Cars With Tailfins – #13. Chevrolet Bel Air 1957

The 1957 Chevrolet was the pinnacle model of the Tri-Frive, which was produced for three years starting in 1955. It featured generously proportioned fins, modern styling, and a plush interior.

The Bel Air, which was actually just a trim level, was at the top of the line; for those on a tighter budget, there were the 150 and 210.

Cars With Tailfins – #14. Facel Vega HK500 1957

Facel Vega was the Gallic version of Bristol, hardly known outside of its native France. As a result, it created expensive hand-built GTs frequently powered by Chrysler V8s.

Perhaps the most well-known Facel Vega is the HK500, which was one of the best-selling models with about 500 produced over four years. The 5.9 or 6.3-liter Chrysler V8 engine provided the power.

Cars With Tailfins – #15. Vauxhall Cresta/Velox PA 1957

As a division of General Motors, Vauxhall enthusiastically adopted American styling for many of its European models from the 1950s and 1960s.

With the Cresta PA, this was the most obvious. All PAs had tailfins, and although there was an installation of the front and rear three-piece screens, by 1960 these had enormous curved screens took their place and these were purely American.

Cars With Tailfins – #16. 1958 Elva Courier

The Elva Courier, which got its name from the French for “she goes” (Elle Va), was a straightforward, inexpensive sports car that one could buy in kit form to keep costs to a minimum.

Riley or MGA engines provided the power to enable top speeds of 100 mph. A total of 400 Couriers rolled out of production.

Cars With Tailfins – #17. 1958 Daf 6000

Although Holland has produced many cars with tailfins over the years, there haven’t been many domestic brands.

The most well-known of these is probably Daf, which entered the market in 1958 with a vehicle equipped with excellent automatic transmission known as Variomatic.

This technology remained unpopular for many years before beginning to gain traction in the 1980s. They are currently widespread.

Cars With Tailfins – #18. Fairthorpe Atomota 1958

In 1954, Fairthorpe unveiled its first automobile. That was the Atom, which in 1958 underwent development to become the Atomota.

A 948cc four-cylinder Standard Atomota Major engine was an option for the car, which featured a 646cc BSA engine with two cylinders as standard equipment.

Few were made, and there are only two known survivors.

Cars With Tailfins – #19. NSU Sport Prinz 1958

The Prinz was the end product of German motorcycle manufacturer NSU’s 1957 foray into automobile manufacturing.

Bertone created a much more smart-looking coupé that had the same mechanics as a 583cc economy car with two cylinders.

A 598cc engine was available starting in 1961, and by the time production ceased in 1967, there was a production of nearly 21,000 Sport Prinzs.

Cars With Tailfins – #20. Opperman Stirling 1958

Although the Opperman may have sounded German, he was actually from Essex. In 1956, the business unveiled the two-cylinder Unicar, of which only a small number came out

The Unicar’s sports version, the Stirling, had a two-cylinder engine with a total displacement of 424cc. Only two of the Stirling rolled out of production and it was available from 1958 to 1958.


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Cars With Tailfins – #21. Peerless GT 1958

This four-seater coupé had a lightweight glass fiber bodyshell that connected to a steel chassis to give it a top speed of more than 100mph.

It also had Triumph TR3 running gear. Before Peerless went bankrupt in 1958, nearly 300 came out.

However, the project was up and running again as the Warwick in 1960, and another 40 or so cars with tailfins, also known as the GT, rolled out.

Cars With Tailfins – #22. Rambler Ambassador 1958

Hudson and Nash-Kelvinator combined forces in 1954 to create the American Motors Corporation (AMC).

In 1950, Nash debuted a small car called the Rambler, and by 1958, the Rambler had evolved into an independent AMC marque and an affordable brand.

The Ambassador, available in saloon or station wagon configurations with a 327cu in (5.4-litre) V8 as standard, was at the top of the company’s price lists.

Cars With Tailfins – #23. Renault Floride 1958

This was the first sports car from Renault, though its 845cc engine didn’t make it particularly quick.

The Floride could be quite a challenge in the bends, though, due to the location of the engine in the back and the swing-axle rear suspension.

The engines were either 1108cc or 956cc for slightly more power in 1962, the Floride got an update to become the Caravelle, which could reach speeds of up to 90 mph with the larger unit.

Cars With Tailfins – #24. Simca Vedette 1958

This one is a strange one. When Ford France decided to sell its Poissy factory to Simca, the tooling for the large saloon also went along with it.

Originally, this vehicle was known as the Ford Vedette. Ariane, a less expensive variation of the Vedette that came out in 1954 but got a facelift in 1958, when it received fins, was also available. The product rolled out of production lines until 1961.

Cars With Tailfins – #25. Studebaker Golden Hawk 1956

In 1956, Studebaker came out with the Golden Hawk, the only Hawk with tail fins, along with the Flight Hawk, Power Hawk, Sky Hawk, and Golden Hawk.

Since 1957, the selection was limited to the Golden Hawk or Silver Hawk, both of which have steel tail fins. They also had naturally aspirated or supercharged V8 engines, respectively.

Early in 1960, the final Hawks rolled out.

Cars With Tailfins – #26. AC Greyhound 1959

The Greyhound, a gentleman’s express that competed with the modern Bristol, would sell alongside the Ace, the vehicle which inspired the AC Cobra.

Only 83 Greyhounds, which were fast, opulent, and exclusive,  came out of production lines between 1959 and 1963.

Cars With Tailfins – #27. BMC Farina 1959

Just several flavors of BMC Farina which rolled out of production could fill up an entire gallery.

This Pininfarina-designed saloon and estate were available in Morris, Austin, Riley, Vanden Wolseley, Plas, and MG forms. It also came in four- or six-cylinder variations.

A facelifted car with small fins came out by 1961.


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Cars With Tailfins – #28. BMW 700 1959

Today, the BMW 700 is no more, despite the fact that nearly 190,000 of them rolled out of production lines over a six-year period.

The 700 was designed by Giovanni Michelotti (1921–1980), and it was available as a coupé and a cabriolet. Its 697cc two-cylinder engine had a top speed of 80 mph.

While you can’t experience such classical beauty in their current lineup, you can still look up what is the best vintage BMW motorcycle to get close enough. Otherwise, you may also find our write-ups on the most reliable BMW engine, the most reliable BMW model outright, and whether BMW are reliable, if that helps.

Cars With Tailfins – #29. Buick Electra 225 1959

The Electra 225 was a large, ostentatious, and opulent vehicle at the top of the Buick line. It only had a 401ci (6568cc) V8 engine, which sent its 325 horsepower to the rear wheels through a two-speed automatic transmission.

Customers could select a coupé, saloon, or convertible, with the latter coming standard with electrically operated windows and seats.

Fins were only a common thing in the 1959 and 1960 Electras; by 1961, they were less popular.

Nowadays, Buicks haven’t nearly been as stylish as they were back in the day. Some even wonder whether Buicks are reliable, and they’re pretty decent. If you’re thinking of getting one, we’ve talked about the Buick LaCrosse problems, Buick Enclave years to avoid, and Buick Encore problems – their most popular models today.

Cars With Tailfins – #30. Cadillac Eldorado 1959

This was the largest, most extravagant, and possibly the most ridiculous tail fins on a car. The Series 62, Eldorado, and De Ville were available in saloon, coupé, and (for the first two) convertible body styles.

These were the ultimate cruisers of their time, powered by a 390ci (6.4-litre) V8 coupled to a four-speed Hydramatic slushbox.

But are the Cadillacs of today good cars? Well, our guide there might shed some valuable insight.

#31. Chevrolet Impala 1959

Just a year after the 1958 model year debut of the Chevrolet Impala, a second-generation model with a new bodyshell and much more impressive fins came out.

Customers had the option of straight-six or V8 engines with saloon, convertible, or coupe body styles. Things had already calmed down by 1960 as fins began to go out of style.


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#32. Daimler SP250 1959

It took many years for the Daimler SP250 to become popular. For so long, the awkward styling turned off prospective buyers. But with only 2645 examples produced and each powered by a fabulously flexible and sweet 2548cc V8, this glass fiber-bodied car has become a true classic and is in high demand.

#33. Edsel 1959

One of the biggest failures in the history of the automobile, Edsel came out as a separate division within the Ford Motor Company.

It debuted in November 1956 and passed away three years later. Moreso, with only 116,000 cars with tailfins sold, or less than half of what the company needed to sell to break even. Ford lost $250 million on the Edsel project. However, nice fins.

#34. Ford Anglia 1959

Europe’s car designs still had influence from Ford company in America. With its reverse-rake rear window and fins, the Anglia 105E represented a radical design for Ford.

Initially only available in 997cc 105E form, the 123E option debuted in 1962 and features a 1197cc engine.

#35. Gilbern GT 1959

The GT was Gilbern’s first model and is infamous for being the first production vehicle from Wales. With its glass fiber 2+2 bodyshell and BMC engines, it was a stylish vehicle.

There were nearly 300 that came out between 1959 and 1967.

#36. Goggomobil Dart 1959

The coupé featuring the Glas Goggomobil has already come out. Three years after the Goggomobil made its debut, an Australian company called Buckle Motors unveiled a Barchetta. This came as a two-seater that came without doors and that made use of the Goggomobil’s drivetrain.

About 700 Goggomobil Darts came out between 1959 and 1961 with the same rear-mounted engine configuration.

#37. Imperial LeBaron 1959

In an effort to compete with Ford’s Lincoln and GM’s Cadillac, Chrysler introduced the Imperial as a model in 1926.

In 1955, it split as a separate luxury marque. The Imperial Le Baron of 1959 with its chromework, size, and enormous fins, is emblematic of the brand and is always powered by a V8 and packed with the newest comfort amenities.

#39. Mercedes Fintail 1959

These saloons, coupés, and convertibles sold as the pricey 220S and had fuel injection 220SE in 1959 and were collectively known as the Fintail.

In 1961, less expensive 190 and 190D options came out, but these vehicles were common with the wealthy.

There were tailfins everywhere in the 1950s and 1960s, and then they vanished overnight.

These days, you won’t find such design traits in modern Mercedes models. Nonetheless, if you browse through our write-up on the Mercedes classes explained, as well as the most reliable Mercedes models, you can still find one that’s pretty great.

#40. Skoda Octavia 1959

Skoda debuted its 440 and 445 saloon and estate models in 1954. Four years later, a convertible version of this came out under the Felicia name.

A year later, the 440/445 had a significant technical change to become the Octavia. Furthermore, this was also available in saloon and estate versions.

The back wheels ran by a 1221cc or 1089cc four-cylinder engine set up front back wheels.

 #41. Sunbeam Alpine 1959

The Sunbeam Alpine, the Rootes Group’s response to the MGA and later the MGB, was elegant, enjoyable to drive, and well-made.

Even the first cars with tailfins were fairly speedy, reaching speeds of about 100 mph. Furthermore, when the Carroll Shelby-developed Tiger, a Sunbeam Alpine with a Ford V8 packed under the bonnet, debuted in 1964, things really got nasty.


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 #42. Triumph Herald 1959

The Herald was Triumph’s take on the small family car, and it was introduced the same year as the Ford Anglia and BMC Mini.

The Herald, which was available in saloon, coupé, convertible, and estate body styles, had excellent all-around visibility. Furthermore, it also had an extremely small turning circle. The bonnet had a flip-up design that made maintenance a breeze.

When the last Herald came out in 1971, those fins were starting to look quite worn out.

#43. Lea-Francis Lynx 1960

Lea-Francis got his start building bicycles. The first car came out by 1904, but production didn’t start until the 1920s.

It all came to an awkward-looking finish with this two-seat sports automobile.

Only three examples of the Lynx, which had a Ford Zephyr engine with six cylinders, came out before Lea Francis faded into history.

 #44. Peugeot 404 1960

No, the Peugeot 404 hasn’t already been featured in this gallery. Likely, you’re thinking of the 1959-era BMC Farinas, so named for Pininfarina, who created them.

The Peugeot 404, which was also from Pininfarina, came out a year later. We don’t really understand how the design firm was able to get away with selling the same design to two distinct businesses.

#45. Volvo 1800 1960

The P1800, unquestionably the most fashionable Volvo ever produced, gained notoriety in the 1960s as Roger Moore’s mount in the hit television series The Saint.

Although the 1800 engine—hence the name—was the power behind the car at first, there was later a 2.0-liter engine with either twin carburetors or fuel injection. This was starting in 1969.

Alas, this design trait has been eschewed for more minimalistic design in modern Volvos. And while you’re there, be sure to check out our guide on the Volvo XC60 model years to avoid.

#46. Amphicar 770 1961

Hans Trippel, who was a lot of things but never pessimistic, believed he could produce and sell 20,000 Amphicars annually. Subsequently, this was when the vehicle was first introduced.

However, he only sold 800 of these oddball amphibious cars with tailfins. Each had a Triumph Herald 1147cc engine, over the course of seven years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s The Tallest Car In The World

The Bucyrus RH400 has a crawler length of 10,98 meters, an undercarriage width of 8,6 meters, and an overall height of 10,175 meters.

What Is The Longest Car Ever Made

The super limousine known as The American Dream now measures 30.54 meters, according to Guinness World Records. Guinness World Records has published a picture of the now-restored car on its website and social media pages.

What Is The Fin On Top Of Cars

A roof antenna is mounted on the car’s roof and is smaller. You’ve undoubtedly recently noticed a radio antenna for the reception that resembles a tiny wing resting on the rear of a car top. Because you guessed it, it resembles a shark fin, it is known as a Shark Fin antenna.

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