Monday, February 19, 2018

When Plymouth Lost Its Tail Fins

This post is a continuation of the theme of how Chrysler Corporation cars lost their 1950s tail fins.  I wrote about Dodge here, and now deal with Plymouth, Chrysler's entry-level brand.

One of the justifications for adding tail fins to cars was that for style and marketing reasons, their shapes could be fairly easily changed from model year to model year to keep designs seeming fresh and appealing.

Tail fins on passenger cars turned about to be yet another of those 1950s styling fads whose welcome soon wore out (others include three-tone paint schemes and panoramic windshields).

Here is the Plymouth tail fin story using the top-of-the line Fury 2-door hardtop as the example:


1957 Plymouth Fury 2-door hardtop, Barrett-Jackson photo.  Plymouths were given tail fins for 1956, but these were tacked on to a fin-less 1955 design.  The new '57 Chrysler line designs incorporated tail fins from the start.

Same car, rear view.

1958 Plymouth Fury 2-door hardtop.  Plymouths were given a very light facelifting for '58.  Note the wide door cut lines on the car in this publicity photo.  Quality control was not a major priority in those days.

1959 Plymouth Fury 2-door hardtop, Mecum photo.  The final year of the '57 body received a stronger facelift, including larger tail fins.

1959 Plymouth Fury 2-door hardtop, rear.  The faux- spare tire cover on the trunk lid was borrowed from the 1951 Chrysler K-310 concept car.

1960 Plymouth Fury 2-door hardtop, Hyman Ltd. photo.  All Chrysler Corporation brands save Imperial were given new unitized bodies for 1960.  Plymouth's tail fin reverts back to the 1957 design theme.  The trunk lid of this car retains that faux- spare tire cover affectation.

1961 Plymouth Fury 2-door hardtop, cropped publicity image.  Tail fins were "plucked" as Chrysler styling chief Virgil Exner commented with respect to forthcoming 1962 designs.  Front end styling is awkward, fussy here, and the same can be said for 1960 Plymouths.

1961 Plymouth Fury 2-door hardtop, Mecum photo, rear.  More attractive than the frontal design, but the bumper needed to be set farther back to better protect the attractive overhanging trunk ensemble.  The rocket-ship tail lights are another example of 1950s styling theme overkill.

1961 Plymouth Fury 2-door hardtop, Barrett-Jackson photo.

1957 Plymouth Fury 2-door hardtop, Mecum photo.  These images illustrate how the 1957 and 1960 restylings differ.  For these 2-door hardtops, the most noticeable fundamental difference has to do with the passenger compartment greenhouse.

1 comment:

jrm said...

The '58 was a rare example of a facelift that improved the design- slightly less "fussy" in '58, a really attractive car in its two-door hardtop configuration. '59 and on sadly took on a mannered, almost grotesque look.