1959 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1959 Cadillac Sedan DeVille

Thumb through an old magazine—were talking pretty old here—and you’re likely to come across car ads that featured vehicles staged in images with jet aircraft. In fact, we have a collection of such ads right here. It is no coincidence that what sociologists sometimes refer to as the Jet Age occurred roughly concurrently with the automotive tailfin era. The tailfin era, which is difficult to nail down, peaked between 1955 and 1961.

General Motors’ Design Chief Harley Earl is generally credited with beginning the tailfin era by including small rear-fender fins on the 1948 Cadillacs. There are those to give credit for the Caddy fins to an Earl subordinate, designer Franklin Quin Hershey. Regardless of who made the final decision, it is indeed the ’48 Caddy that is understood to be first of the breed.

What’s fun about tailfins is how differently brands employed them in their respective designs. As we only had space for a dozen print ads in the gallery below, we sought our some of our favorite, and the most incredible designs.

As the 1959 Chevrolet is often considered “peak tailfin,” we made sure to include that vehicle in our collection. Note also, that the Mercedes-Benz vehicle included here is said not to have included fins as a design element, but as a functional tool designed to assist drives of the car when moving in reverse. The cars, often referred to as “Fintails,” were built between 1959 and 1968.

What’s your favorite tailfinned car? Let us know by leaving a note below.

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Classic Car Ads: Tailfins

1948 Cadillac

1948 Cadillac
1948 Cadillac Ad

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1956 Studebaker

1956 Studebaker Hawk
1956 Studebaker Hawk

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1957 DeSoto

1956 DeSoto Ad
1957 DeSoto Ad

Dead-Brand Madness! 10 Classic DeSoto Ads


1957 Dodge

1957 Dodge Ad
1957 Dodge Ad (Canada)

Fratzog Madness! 10 Classic Dodge Ads


1957 Ford

1957 Ford Ad
1957 Ford Ad (Canada)

Favorite Car Ads: 1960 Ford


1957 Lincoln Ad

1957 Lincoln Ad
1957 Lincoln Ad

Luxury Madness! A Gallery Of Classic Lincoln Ads


1959 Cadillac

1959 Cadillac Ad, Tailfins
1959 Cadillac Ad

Wreath and Crest Madness! A Gallery of Classic Cadillac Ads


1959 Chevrolet

1959 Chevrolet Ad, Tailfins
1959 Chevrolet Ad

Bow-Tie Madness! 12 Classic Chevrolet Ads


1959 Ford

1959 Ford Ad
1959 Ford Ad

Favorite Car Ads: 1976 Ford Mustang II


1959 Pontiac

1959 Pontiac Ad
1959 Pontiac Ad

Poncho Madness! 10 Classic Pontiac Ads


1961 Imperial

1961 Imperial Ad
1961 Imperial Ad

Review Flashback! Luxury Sedans of 1973 (Comparison Test)


1965 Mercedes-Benz “fintail”

1965 Mercedes-Benz "fintail" Ad, Peilstege
1965 Mercedes-Benz “fintail” Ad

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Classic Car Ads: Tailfins Gallery

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Classic Car Ads: Tailfins

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