21 of the greatest tailfinned cars

Fins ain’t what they used to be. In fact, the appendage that became such an automotive trademark from the 1950s was consigned to the design trash can many years ago.

Fin-tastic

Influenced by the aviation industry’s move to jet power, the Le Sabre’s high-tipped fins were a taste of what was to come later in the decade.

1951 Buick Le Sabre concept

Chrysler’s Virgil Exner was keen to ‘out-fin’ GM and by doing so created what was then claimed to be the most aerodynamic car in existence.

1956 Chrysler Dart

From Rootes Group’s ‘Audax’ platform, the ’56 Hillman Minx’s design came from Raymond Loewy Studios in the US, which had been responsible for the finned Studebakers from earlier in the decade.

1956 Hillman Minx

GM called it the ‘Hot One’ in its sales literature, and with its first-time addition of rear fins, a Ferrari-inspired ‘chip-cutter’ front grille and chrome spears on its front fenders, the second-generation Chevrolet Bel Air was a radical departure from its predecessor.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Few cars would have burst through the cloud of post-war austerity in Britain like Vauxhall’s PA Velox and its more upmarket Cresta sibling.

1957 Vauxhall Velox/Cresta PA

In its seventh-generation guise, Buick’s Roadmaster grew by 10in (254mm) in length, and while there had been subtle fins on the previous model, the ’57 car’s were more obvious and accentuated by a chromed panel along the rear fender.

1957 Buick Roadmaster

In its seventh-generation guise, Buick’s Roadmaster grew by 10in (254mm) in length, and while there had been subtle fins on the previous model, the ’57 car’s were more obvious and accentuated by a chromed panel along the rear fender.

1957 Buick Roadmaster

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