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Top Ten Tail-Finned British Cars

There is an inherent problem with owning a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, asides from the fuel bills – it is not exactly designed for the roads of the UK. So, here are ten local alternatives – a sort of British Graffiti...

Ford Consul/Zephyr/Zodiac Mk. II

The fin treatment is modest but still noticeable – more than enough to make your new Zodiac stand out from the ranks of the Austin A90 Westminster and the Vauxhall Cresta Es, without sacrificing your social standing. Just take a look at this 1956-vintage promotional film, which is about as far removed from rock and roll as is humanly possible -

Ford Anglia 105E

A car of firsts from Dagenham – their first with a four-speed gearbox, their first with electric windscreen wipers (!) and the first British small car in its class with prominent fins. This last detail tended to be over-looked in comparison with the reverse-slope rear windshield but the 105E’s coachwork was intended to create an impression of international glamour on a limited budget. And after seeing this 1959 PR film, who could deny that Ford GB succeeded in their aims -

Ford Consul Classic

If you are going to be over-the-top with a family car, then there is little point in being half-hearted – be completely and utterly over-the-top. That seemed to be the design philosophy behind the Consul Classic the car in which to ‘Set The Style – Make The Pace’ according to Ford.

Ford Zephyr 4/6/Zodiac Mk. III

The Mk. III made its debut in 1962 and by the time it was replaced in 1966, Britain’s Teddy Boys were largely exiled to the provinces and most of them were approaching their 30th birthdays. But those canted fins were essential aspects of the big Ford’s appeal, from the heights of the Zodiac to the entry-level (and rather slow) Zephyr 4 -

Hillman Minx “Audax”

The Minx is not the oldest member of the Audax family – that honour goes to the Sunbeam Rapier of 1955 – but the Hillman was the most likely to have been encountered by the average Briton. And, even if your budget only ran to the entry-level “Special (virtually nothing as standard) you still have the pleasure of driving a ‘new and exciting chapter in Hillman history’ -

Humber Sceptre Mk. I/Mk. II

The Sceptre was launched in 1963, the year when The Beatles made all previous be-quiffed pop singers look dated virtually overnight, but the first post-war compact Humber succeeded as it was such an agreeable vehicle. It’s Hillman Super Minx and Singer Vogue stablemates also sported flattened tail fins, but the Sceptre’s lower roofline emphasised those trans-Atlantic looks.

Sunbeam Alpine Series I/II/III

The first cinematic “Bond Car” and one of the most elegant open tourers in its class -

You can understand why the narrator is rhapsodising ‘here is a grace and elegance of line’, although this equally applies to the subtler appearance of the Series IV and Series V. And did we mentioned that a Series II was driven by 007? Back projection-tastic…

Vauxhall Victor F-Type

That the replacement for the Wyvern E would sport quasi-American lines was to be expected – Vauxhalls had sported US stylistic tropes from many years. What did come as a surprise on 28th February 1957 was that new Victor resembled a Chevrolet Bel Air scaled down for the roads of Croydon or Wilmslow -

Vauxhall Velox/Cresta PA

Think Lonnie Donegan and His Skiffle Group singing about the Cumberland Gap. Think coffee bars with chromium-plated Gaggia machines dispensing espresso at 9d per cup. Think The Six-Five Special on BBC Television. Think John Lennon meeting Paul McCartney at a village fete on 6th July - See Video Below. A new Cresta PA was the perfect car for the newly affluent society.

Wolseley 6/99

If the 15/60 of December 1958 were not a sufficient shock to the system, the Gerald Palmer styled 6/90 was succeeded by the 6/99 in July 1959. How could such car, although undeniably handsome in its Italian-American way, be a true Wolseley, the marque that embodied all that was upright, decent and proper? The answer may be seen here -






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