The tailfin era began when small fins were introduced on the 1948 Cadillac. Tailfins were the dominant styling feature through the 1950s and 1960s, regarded by many as the “golden age” of American auto design. Here are some of the cars we spotted that sported tailfins during that time.
The Chevelle was Chevy’s mid-size model, and its SS (Super Sport) version became one of the most popular muscle cars of all time. Here are a few Chevelles that we’ve run across recently.
1964 Chevelle SS
Introduced in 1964, the Chevrolet Chevelle was originally available with 283- and 327-cid small-block V-8s with up to 300 bhp. This ’64 sports a Chevy 355 small block.
In 1965, a Z16 option was installed in in 201 Chevelles, which added a 375 bhp, 396 cid big-block engine, and things took off from there.
In 1966, Chevy spun off the Chevelle SS 396 a separate model, and they sold more than 72,000 cars that year alone. A new standard V-8 made even the base 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle a genuine big-block muscle machine, like the one pictured here.
The 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle was again improved with better tires, available front disc brakes, and a new transmission.
Thanks to great new sheet metal design and affordable pricing, the 1968 Chevelle SS 396 became America’s most-popular muscle car.
The 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 brought midsize Chevy muscle to an unprecedented array of body styles. The COPO models, which stood for “Central Office Production Order” helped create some immortal muscle cars, including the 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle COPO 427.
In 1970, Chevelle SS power peaked with the 450-bhp LS6 version of the 454-cid V-8. The 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 packing the LS6 V-8 was among the quickest muscle cars ever.
In 1956, record players were introduced as an option in Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge and Plymouth vehicles. Featuring a slide-out turntable under the dash, the Highway Hi Fi system could be turned on with the flip of a switch. However, when driving on less-than-perfect roads, drivers faced an annoying reality – the records would skip.
Certainly, those early in-car record players are a long way from today’s connected vehicles, but they did open the door for a wave of new in-dash entertainment options we enjoy today.
The 1968 Shelby American was destined to become a classic. With its 428 “Cobra Jet” engine, delivering an understated 335 HP, it was a meaner machine than the Ford Mustang fastback it was based upon.
It was also a great-looking car. Both the Cobra GT 350 and GT500KR featured separate high-beam headlamps in the grille. Functional hood scoops delivered fresh air to the engine. Missing from the grille, however, was the classic Shelby logo found on later ’68 models.
Shelby also included new, sequential horizontal taillights and an integrated Kamm-type rear spoiler, making this one of the hottest-looking Mustangs ever.
1968 Shelby American GT500KR
1968 Shelby American GT350
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From the beginning, Ford chose to market the Thunderbird as a personal luxury vehicle, focusing more on its comfort and convenience features, rather than its sporty styling and appearance.
This decision ushered in the personal luxury car segment of the automotive market. Thunderbird held the leadership position in this segment, nearly uninterrupted, for decades.
1955 Ford Thunderbird
The ’55 Thunderbird was a two-seat design available with a detachable fiberglass hard top and a folding fabric top. It shared some of the style features of other Fords of the time, like the single circular headlamps and tail lamps and modest tail fins.
But it had a more streamlined body, and added sporty touches like a hood scoop and a 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer that suggested it was a higher performance car than other Fords of the time.