Did they do anything? No. Did they look cool? You’re goddamn right. Here’s a look at four of our favorites:
1962 Chrysler Imperial
The Imperial model had been around since 1955, and entered its second generation in 1957, but each year Chrysler made small tweaks to keep the car fresh in a competitive market. In 1962, Chrysler went bold and perched the taillights in a ‘gunsight’ model. 14,337 models were created in that year featuring a 6.8L ‘Wedgehead’ V8 block with 380hp and a healthy 525lb/ft of torque. The Imperial was tweaked a bit more ‘sensibly’ for 1963, but it’s the ’62 model that continues to stick in our heads.
1959 Chevy Impala
The second generation Impala was a short-lived but visually stunning example of a tailfin beauty. When you normally think of a tailfin-equipped car, you imagine two vertical extensions at each rear corner of the car. The ’59 Chevy Impala took it to a whole new level, with massively outward-protruding tailfins on the trunk lid, because…style. A range of V8 engines were available, ranging between a tepid 170hp to a more potent 350hp (named the Special Super Turbo-Thrust, by the way, tell your mother). Production was a healthy 490,000 units, before it was replaced by the more conventional-looking third generation in 1960.
1959 Ford Galaxie Skyliner
The 1957 to 1959 line of Ford cars were called, well, the Fords. The top of the line model was called the Galaxie. It was no coincidence that the tail light cluster had a strong resemblance to a jet turbine, since jet liners were seen as the height of luxury and extravagance of the time. The tailfin itself was nicely defined, and housed a separate light. Your engine choice ranged from 4.5L 205hp, to a 5.8L with around 300hp, which, for those days, were fairly modestly-sized. Ford didn’t release too many models featuring tailfins, but when they did, they certainly didn’t half-ass it.
1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 Hardtop
Another classical period coupe from its era, another bold and beautiful tailfin. The ’59 Oldsmobile Super 88 had just entered its fourth generation, and with that refresh came arguably the boldest tailfin design from the company so far. The design of the fin is firmly integrated into the body, where you can trace its lines right back to the A-pillar. A 6.5L ‘Rocket’ V8 came standard on the Super 88 with 315bhp, making the car go as well as it looked.
These are our favorites, tell us about yours below.