Back in the day, or to be more precise during the WWII era, GM was producing the V-12 Allison engines in huge quantities and most of them found their home inside the amazing P-38 Lightning fighter that was being built by Lockheed for the American Military.
During this time, Harley Earl was frequently inside the secret production locations of Lockheed in order to help implement the installation on the V-12 inside the aircraft, and it was during these visits that he was mesmerized by the fins of the aircraft.
Not too long after this, the war ended so building cars was what Earl had to do was focus on building cars again but he could not get the image of the P-38 out of his head. Next thing you know, tail fins started growing on most of the Cadillacs, and soon the whole American car industry seemed to have adopted this design.
All of a sudden wings were getting marketed by car salesman as an important feature for stability throwing around examples of land speed breaking cars that featured them and could not function properly without them.
They went so far as to explain how aside from reducing drag they were helping the car remain stable at crosswinds thus requiring less input and effort by the driver to keep the car driving straight resulting in a well-rested driver.
The fact that for most of the time the cars were not going nearly fast enough for the fins to achieve any effect, was seldom or never mentioned.
After this amazing era of huge fins on vehicles, things started to slow down, and not too many of them were mentioning the “amazing” effects that they had on drivers and driving, but we are sure glad they were “in” for a while since there are some amazing vehicles that we love till this day made during the fins era.
source : www.throttlextreme.com/