Fins Were In at the Atlantic City Car Show and Auction

by on January 12th, 2011
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Thousands of buyers, sellers, and spectators attended the Atlantic City Car Show and Auction, making this three-day event one of the hottest attractions in town. As car enthusiasts wandered through rows of classic cars, hot rods, and trucks, their favorite vehicle was quickly replaced by another favorite. With so many different styles on display, it was hard to pick out one star, but a design characteristic that stood out from all the rest was the spectacular fin designs of the ’50s and early ’60s. Apparently, these car designers thought size really did matter, as they competed for who could design the biggest, and most spectacular tail fins. Just as they were in then, these rocket-inspired tails were in again at this year’s Atlantic City Car Show. Here’s a rundown on the cars in competition for the most impressive fins.

Ford Fins

In the war of the fins, Ford showed the most restraint of the Big Three. Ford’s contenders were several ’50s Thunderbirds, a ’56 Fairlane Sunliner, and a customized ’60 Sam Foose Starliner, with its signature curved, horizontal fins.

Mopar Fins

If the auction had an award for biggest fin, the 1960 Plymouth Fury might have taken home the prize. There’s nothing subtle about this tall fin, with its in-your-face side ornament. Also from the Mopar family, a 1956 Imperial Custom showed off its exaggerated vertical fins, topped off with gun-sight tail lights.

GM Fins

If quantity determined the winner in this competition, then GM came out on top by the sheer number of premier fin cars in the show. A 1955 Nomad, with a hint of a fin that would be evident in later designs, brought in one of the highest prices at the auction – $70,000. Joining in the parade of other notable GM finned-cars were 1957 Chevys, a 1956 Pontiac Star Chief, a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, a 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood Special, and a 1960 Cadillac Eldorado.

A Bird Fin?

Although classic-finned cars had disappeared by the mid ’60s, the tallest fins at the show were on a 1970 Plymouth Superbird. These pseudo fins were not just for the style, they were actually functional, since they supported a high rear spoiler. Although these NASCAR-inspired Superbirds are quite rare, this one is even more unique, because it was specially modified for the Environmental Protection Agency as a rolling laboratory for emission testing. This Superbird received a bid of $175,000 – not bad for a car design that dealers had a hard time selling, or even giving away, when they were new.

The Return of the Fin?

Whether or not you like the fin design, it might be interesting to see its return, if for no other reason than to escape the cookie-cutter designs of today. We can only hope some brave designer will try for a comeback of the fins, or some equally interesting styling feature. Who knows, the fins made their mark once, and they might be able to do it again.

Other Auctions in 2012

Author attended car show and auction.

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