Invented by GM and introduced on Cadillacs for 1948, tailfins sparked a styling race with the Big Three that peaked in the late-fifties and influenced car designers from around the world.
General Motors design chief, the legendary Harley Earl, is generally credited as the mastermind behind the tailfin. Harley was influenced by WWII fighter aircraft, particularly the twin-tailed Lockheed P-38 Lightning and the little bumps on the Caddies rear fenders mimicked the fighter plane’s vertical rudders.
Little did anyone know, these small appendages that Earl borrowed would grow to become huge, chrome trimmed wings taking their influence not only from aviation design, but from rockets and spacecraft as well.
It was all downhill after that. GM got scared and toned down it’s styling for 1960, Chrysler and Ford followed suit and by the mid-sixties it was over.The “Golden Age of Detroit” would soon be over as well.
The best looking fins? Your humble author votes for 1960/61 full size Chryslers. How bout you?