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How the Cadilac got it's fins.

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10290.  Mon Nov 08, 2004 1:26 pm Reply with quote

During the 1950's contrary to this side of the pond, America had a period of unprecedented affluence. They had just come out of a depression and war so the American people decided to go on a spending spree. To meet demand the american car industry went into overdrive, however by the mid 50's everybody that was going to get a new car had one. As the cars hadn't had time to wear out the demand slowing began to ease. The likes of General Motors and Ford watch as their market began to slow due to oversaturation, they wondered what they could do to halt the slide.

It was then that the chief designer at G.M. camne up with a plan to save them it was known as "dynamic obsolescence". The idea was to get people to replace tehir cars year after year, not because they had worn out, more simple because they were old fashioned! All American carmakers had to follow suit or fall by the wayside. Charles Kettering the then President of GM put it in the simplest terms " The simplest way to ensure sales was to keep changing the product - the market for new things was indefinately elastic.

Earl had always been a fan of airplanes and based his initial design on the Lockheed P38 which he had spied in it's prototype stage in 1948, it had 3 fuselages each of which had a tall vertical tail. Starting with the the rather understated fin on the 1948 Caddie, which was initially received a mixed reaction, the cadilac's fins were born. During the early part of the 50's there was a concerted marketting plan to sell the fins as a mark of luxury . Gradually over the next few years the fins got a little bigger and a little sharper until reaching a peak in 1959. By the early 60's the fins had all but disappeared following mandate from the US government to increase efficiency and safety on new cars, two things that had been overlooked in the 50's drive to sell new cars, after all if it didn't make the cars look prettier or sell more cars the auto industry were'nt interested.

10300.  Mon Nov 08, 2004 3:24 pm Reply with quote

They had just come out of a depression and war so the American people decided to go on a spending spree.

And it's not over yet... but now everybody's refinanced their houses to the point of negative equity, and they're not manufacturing anything any more, it could get nasty in the not to distant future when all those financial chickens come home to roost.

10303.  Mon Nov 08, 2004 3:28 pm Reply with quote

And were the fins unsafe, then?

10305.  Mon Nov 08, 2004 3:35 pm Reply with quote

Beehive wrote:
And were the fins unsafe, then?

ok so I didn't check my eats shoots and leaves, although do I detect a sentence begining with "and"?

Also the fins weren't so much unsafe as totally useless, their sole cause for being was to make the car obsolete in 12 months time

10315.  Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:11 pm Reply with quote

although do I detect a sentence begining with "and"?

"And God said...." - anything that's good enough for the Good Book is good enough for me.

And that reminds me of a cracking quotation from Field Marshal Montgomery, taken from a sermon he once gave:

"And God said - and on the whole I'm inclined to agree with him....."


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