“The person responsible for the tailfin craze was Harley Earl.”
“Harley J. Earl (November 22, 1893 – April 10, 1969) was first Vice President of Design at General Motors. He was an industrial designer and a pioneer of modern transportation design. A coachbuilder by trade, Earl pioneered the use of freeform sketching and hand sculpted clay models as design techniques. He subsequently introduced the “concept car” as both a tool for the design process and a clever marketing device.
Earl's Buick Y-Job was the first concept car, he started "Project Opel", which eventually became the Chevrolet Corvette, and he authorized the introduction of the tail-fin to automotive styling. During World War II, he was an active contributor to the research of camouflage.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harley_Earl
Here’s something a little bit different tonight. I’m honoring the great automotive designer Harley Earl. Now I don’t think Mr. Earl had a direct hand in the 1960 Cadillac but he is responsible for the tailfin craze of the 1950s. He had an enormous on industrial design and especially cars of his era. Growing up in the 1950s his designs dominated my car world. My family didn’t own a Cadillac but my best friends family did. We traveled many times together in those big “boat” Cadillac’s owned by my friends’ father. I loved those cars and have great memories of riding in them. Later as teenagers when we finally got our drivers licenses my friends’ father still drove nothing but big Cadillac’s, so we borrowed it often. Can you imagine how a bunch of teenagers felt cruising the highways and byways in a Cadillac? It was heaven. It was sculpture on wheels so my jump to this height of excess and 1950s decadence is only natural. Is it art? You bet. Art is a reflection of the culture it’s created in, and those Cadillac’s epitomized the decade as well if not better than anything else. (To me anyway.) I found this old hunk in a bramble covered car graveyard just recently. It sure took me on a time trip as I stood there remembering. Sigh….back in the good ole days. Thanks Harley!
“The person responsible for the tailfin craze was Harley Earl, long-standing design chief at General Motors. Earl seemed just as passionate about airplanes as he was about automobiles and felt a particular kinship with the Lockheed P38 Lightning, a World War II fighter aircraft that featured twin "boom" fuselages. The stylist's rendering of the 1948 Cadillac displayed modest, but clearly identifiable P38-inspired fins. Earl's airplane influences would also show up in his work on the 1953 Corvette, a car that showed off not only a set of tailfins, but a wrap-around windshield also inspired by the P38's bubble-top center canopy.”
“Throughout the 1950s, tailfins were slowly but surely adopted by every domestic, plus a few foreign manufacturers that were clearly copying - and adding to - this feature. And why not? The public seemed to love fins (not that they had much choice), and mimicking Cadillac, that stalwart symbol of opulence and the brand most sought after by movie stars and pop singers, offered implied riches and social standing to anyone perched behind the wheel. It didn't matter that your typical Ford, Dodge or Chevy owner was probably in hock up their eyeballs for the privilege of driving some modest coupe or sedan. For these folks, fins were a part of the new-car sizzle that announced to the world that they were in tune with the times.”
“On the eve of Harley Earl's retirement in the fall of 1958, Cadillac unleashed its boldest lineup yet. The 1959 version was big by every measure. The car was 20 feet long, six feet wide and weighed 4,670-5,060 pounds, depending on the model. Among its many touches was a rear grille between two fake jet exhaust pods (another Harley Earl aircraft design statement) that featured an egg-carton look similar to the front.” (The Herald-Mail) http://articles.herald-mail.com/2005-01-23/news/25021239_1_harley-earl-fins-virgil-exner
“The 1960 model year was an impressive beginning to a new decade. During the Sixties, Cadillac styling became more graceful and restrained as Bill Mitchell gradually unified the design. Few new engineering advances were introduced, but orderly design development and a conservative styling approach set Cadillac apart from other luxury makes and maintained its reputation as "The Standard of the World." To the American public, Cadillac remained a symbol of prestige, success, and good taste.” http://www.100megsfree4.com/cadillac/cad1960/cad60.htm
“Elegance is the word that expresses it!” Here’s an image of a 1960 Cadillac magazine ad.