Thursday, February 13, 2014

Opel Kapitän's Curious Almost-Tailfins

The redesigned Opel Kapitän for 1954 lagged behind General Motors' new 1954 styling of its Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac brands in America.  These latter featured low hoodlines and panoramic windshields, features not added to Kapitäns until the 1958 model year.

The new Kapitän's styling reminds me of that for Chrysler's 1953 Plymouth line, an example of which is in the photo above.  Imagine a stretched Plymouth and focus on the front half: oddly similar to the '54 Kapitän, as can be seen below.  So its looks were already a little unfashionable when it was launched.


Aside from the resemblance to Plymouth, the most curious styling feature is those seemingly tacked-on tail lights blended into almost-tailfins.  They represent an extension of the belt line to the rear -- nothing intrinsically wrong with that.

For me, the problem is with the main fender line.  It starts out decently enough at the front and continues almost horizontally beyond the doors, at which point it curves downward to the lower edge of the body.  My complaint is with this curve.  The rounding of the fender panel contrasts with the comparatively flat surface of the "fin" near where they joint.  This gives the "fin" its tacked-on appearance.

A better solution would have been to extend the fender line to the ear of the car, eliminating the downward curve.  This extension could have been used as the lower base of the tail lights, creating a more integrated rear-end appearance.

1 comment:

James said...

Actually, those fins might have been physically tacked on. This body went through a facelift in 1955 - straight-edge front fenders were added (with tiny headlight overcappings), flat hood and the fin was trimmed with more agressive-looking taillamp.The fin's upper edge is even straighter than before. On some pictures,(like here you're able to see a gasket, sealing the fin to the rear fender, preventing penetration of water. Therefore, those were 2 separate body panels.