The Man Who Gave Us Fins

A recent passing of note that flew well under the radar, but for this obit in the New York Times.

Chuck Jordan was vice president of design for General Motors when General Motors was General Motors. 

Chuck Jordan gave us tailfins. 

Cadillacs and Chevrolets of the late fifties and early sixties looked like they were going to take off.

1959 Cadillac

You did not want to be standing behind those things as the car was backing up.  We had a ’60 Chevy wagon that had fins like tray tables.  You could eat off them.

Whether you love the look or not, those were the days when car design changed from year to year.  When the debut of the new models in the fall was a big event. 

Those cars had “attitude” because people like Chuck Jordan had attitude.  From the obit: 

Mr. Jordan fought to retain the pre-eminence of designers in Detroit decision-making, against engineers, brand managers and market researchers. He loathed focus groups.

“A good designer doesn’t need Mr. and Mrs. Zilch from Kansas telling him what to do,” he told Motor Trend in 2006.

Maybe more of us need to think like Chuck Jordan.


About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in Living in the Past, News, Noticed, People and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Man Who Gave Us Fins

  1. Li'l Em-Kel says:

    The ’59 Caddy was the very pinnacle of findom. I loved it.

    My second favorite was my father’s ’57 Dodge with a push-button transmission and fins you could pick your teeth with. I loved it, too, until that day when, during a backyard game of Pickle (Some call it Monkey-in-the-Middle. I call it Pickle. Hhhmmmm.), I inadvertently speared myself on the right rear fin. All the air rushed out of my lungs and didn’t rush back in. Having the air knocked out of me was as close to death as I have ever been (as far as I know). Still, it was a real cool car, and I should have looked where I was running.

    The Dodge was undamaged.

  2. pete says:

    steel is real, and no one will ever call a 2007 camry a “classic.”

    rest in peace mr. jordan.

  3. Li’l em

    Having had the privilege of knowing you for more than 2 decades, I can say this: If you were a car, you would have fins. Sharp enough to pick your teeth with.

  4. Graham says:

    Now I know what I want for Christmas.
    Gerry tell my wife – I want a car with FINS!!!
    And I don’t mean a car full of Finnish people either………

    • Gerry says:

      Wouldn’t that be cool? I got to drive a friend’s late fifties Chrysler New Yorker. They don’t call them “land yachts” for nothing, and you can live in the trunk!

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