33¢ Tail Fins and Chrome
Celebrate the Century – 1950s
Issue Date: May 26, 1999
City: Springfield, MA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
With shiny silver chrome, flowing tail fins, and bright color schemes, cars of the 1950s represent a time in American history which has been called the “era of excess.” It was during this decade that cars became longer, wider, and lower. The American love affair with the automobile was stronger than it had ever been.
One distinguishing feature of the 1950s’ automobile was the tail fin. Chrysler designers were responsible for turning the tail fin fad into a national phenomenon. It was on the company’s 1957 models that the fins received attention, and competing manufacturers quickly duplicated the look. The craze later got out of hand when in 1960, a tail fin on a Chrysler model stretched as far as the front door.
Automobile styling features included futuristic- looking dashboards, which displayed speed and fuel level. To give cars a streamlined look, wraparound rear windows were added. Chrome grilles spanned the entire front end of the car. Fuel injection and increased horsepower improved the engine.
The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air was arguably the decade’s most distinctively styled car. It had a massive grille connected to the bumper, prominent fins, and was four inches longer than the previous year’s model.