Hooniverse Asks- What's the Jet Age's Most Evocative Production Car?




With over a century under its belt, the auto industry has marched through many an expressive era. The earliest cars evoked the memory of their nag-drawn predecessors, even so far as being anointed horseless carriages. Some eras – like the ’30s and ’80s have expressed societal proclivities for streamlined shapes, made real in metal with the appearance of worn bars of soap. 

However, no era expressed in automotive design has been more noteworthy than the post-war jet age. Predominantly the mid ’50s to early ’60s, car design of this era attempted to replicate the speed-defining shapes and imagery of the emerging jet aircraft that at the time were the most prominent examples of progress and innovation. Motor show cars took this to the extreme, featuring every aspect of then-modern aircraft design, from bubble canopies to stabilizing fins and even turbine engines. Production cars never took the look quite so far.

Fins, jet exhaust tail lamps, and chrome in the shape of contrails did still adorned many of the industry’s products of this time – mostly from American manufacturers, but also trickling across the oceans to that of a number of import brands. The question for today is what car is the greatest exemplar of the jet age? Which car looks most like that era’s aircraft, or has the most emblematic features that have been translated from aircraft to road craft? What in your mind is the Jet Age’s most evocative production car?

Image: [remarkablecars]

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49 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What's the Jet Age's Most Evocative Production Car?”

  1. Kris_01 Avatar

    Someone's gonna say '59 Caddy without a doub, and it'll be game overt. But before we go there, let me humbly suggest a '59 Dodge?
    <img src="http://www.smcars.net/forums/attachments/dodge/60535d1180974597-dodge-custom-royal-lancer-hardtop-1959-1959-dodge-custom-royal-lancer-20fvl.jpg"&gt;

    1. danleym Avatar

      Beautiful car. Dodge had some great designs in the late 50s.

  2. citroen67 Avatar

    Most evocative? Surely up for debate. But…by far MY personal fav from that era!
    <img src="http://lyndawilloughby.com/sitebuilder/images/1959_Cadillac_with_flames_edited-898×375.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. citroen67 Avatar

      As a side note, the most evocative non-production car(also a 1959 Caddy), was this Cadillac Cyclone Concept…IMHO. The style of it is just amazing! It looks like something that should be fired from under the wing of an F-16!
      <img src="http://www.automania.be/files/Image/CADILLAC/CONCEPT%20CARS/MOTORAMA%201949%20-%2061/1959CadillacCycloneW59HV_CA.jpg"&gt;

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Jet age it is!

    2. Kris_01 Avatar

      Hah. Called it; game over.

  3. Vavon Avatar

    Born from planes; Saab 92
    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2010/02/ursaab.jpg&quot; width="600/">

    1. Irishzombieman Avatar

      It looks like a cartoon that somehow came to life. Love it.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        And the back end looks like a Spy vs Spy character.

  4. $kaycog Avatar

    I like this 1958 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser with continental kit. Jet age, indeed.
    <img src="http://www.screanews.us/SamSites/JpgCarFins/1958_Mercury_Turnpike_Cruiser.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

    1. Alcology Avatar

      Needs some preparation H.

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      So they melted a Fiat 500 of the time just to give it an underbite (underbutt?)?

    3. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

      Offroad abillity, 0°, 3' rear out angle.

  5. OA5599 Avatar

    Though you can talk about the jet age without using the word "Muntz", you can't without using "Jet".
    <img src="http://www.cartype.com/pics/2827/full/muntz_jet_ad_52.jpg&quot; width=500>

  6. scroggzilla Avatar

    You can't get more 'jet age' than a Supersonic
    <img src="http://www.coachbuild.com/gallery/d/15361-2/Ghia_Supersonic_Fiat_8V_1953_black_01.jpg"&gt;
    Ghia Supersonic Fiat 8V…..also available with Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo or Jaguar running gear

    1. scroggzilla Avatar

      and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Aston Martin DB4 Bertone Jet
      <img src="http://www.coachbuild.com/gallery/d/22778-2/Bertone_Aston_Martin_DB4GT_Jet_1961_13.jpg"&gt;

  7. TurboBrick Avatar

    1961-1963 "Bullet Bird" Ford Thunderbird. The greenhouse could be a little more streamlined but that tail section makes it look like it could just launch into space at any time.
    <img src="http://www.nashnut.com/kiss12-61bird2.jpg&quot; WIDTH="500">

    1. Maymar Avatar

      Thankfully, the Sports Roadster nicely handles the roofline issue.
      <img src="http://www.autoviva.com/img/photos/342/ford_thunderbird_sports_roadster_1962_large_115342.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>

  8. PilotMan Avatar

    <img src=http://www.collectioncar.com/files/3307-101324565178-10.jpg">
    I'll go with either the 56 or 57 Eldorado Biarritz, the integrated exhaust pipes are awesome.

  9. Irishzombieman Avatar

    Rephrased slightly, what car was most jet-like?
    There is only one answer to that question. The most jet-like car was the the jet-powered Chrysler Turbine Car .
    Ran on anything that burns. The president of Mexico ran one on tequila. Fifty five were built, so it sorta makes the "production" requirement.
    <img src="http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/2/4829/4581/24572290001_large.jpg&quot; width="400/">

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      That's really pushing the definition of "production car" a bit, don't you think?

      1. Irishzombieman Avatar

        It is.
        But 55 is definitely beyond prototype. It'd be a relatively high number for a high-end Ferrari–total 250 GTO production was only 39.

        1. OA5599 Avatar

          They weren't intended for sale to the public, though. Not prototype, not production, but experimental.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      And as it turns out, it's kinda hard TO do it, too.

      1. stigshift Avatar

        Ugggghhhh….I hate Mondays…

  10. PotbellyJoe Avatar

    <img src="http://images.forum-auto.com/mesimages/867468/12521-1960-dodge-polara-2.jpg&quot; width=500>
    1960 Dodge Polaras always catch my eye at shows. For good and bad reasons. The coupe is unique, but the wagon… Well. Fins on the side even with the long roof? Why the hell not.
    <img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8036/7920710394_f6b453bca2_b.jpg&quot; width=500>

  11. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    <img src="http://www.elitismstyle.com/blogazine/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/1958-DeSoto-Firedome-4-Door-Sportsman.jpg&quot; width=512>
    There are more well- known and iconic models from the era, but I don't think anything puts all the jet age styling cues together so pitch- perfectly as the '58 DeSoto.

    1. Irishzombieman Avatar

      And the name! Ach! I'd shout it every time I said it!
      "Hey, Joe. Nice car. What is it?"
      "It's a FIREDOME!"

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        And when people got in, I'd have to say "Welcome to the Firedome" in a Chuck D. voice.

        1. Irishzombieman Avatar

          Aww yeeeah.

      2. Vairship Avatar

        And what happens when you get into an accident? FIREDOOM!

  12. Vavon Avatar

    Obviously the right answer is de jet-powered Rover Jet 1!
    <img src="http://www.autodrome.fr/rover_t1-jet1.jpg"&gt;

  13. Devin Avatar

    For my serious answer, there's something about the inboard fins that looks more jet-like than other fins.
    <img src="http://www.plan59.com/images/JPGs/cadillac_1958_eldorado_biarritz_01.jpg&quot; width="500">
    According to Robert Cumberford, the look is actually inspired by a potato.

    1. salguod Avatar

      Nice, but I'm partial to the '57 over the '58. Partly because I think the trim is cleaner, but mostly because Dad has one jsut like this that's been in the family since '59:
      <img src="http://www.gmphotostore.com/images/53217647_pr.jpg"&gt;

  14. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    Messerschitt KR200 some say it had the canopy of a real plane.
    <img src="http://gomotors.net/pics/Messerschmitt/messerschmitt-kr200-01.jpg"&gt;

  15. wisc47 Avatar

    The Studebaker Commander's nose definitely looked like it came from the nose of an early fifties jet.
    <img src="http://image.hotrod.com/f/featuredvehicles/hrdp_1004_1950_studebaker_champion/28151188+pheader_460x1000/hrdp_1004_01+1950_studebaker_champion_starlight+front_view.jpg"&gt;

  16. BrianTheHoon Avatar

    Since all my favorites are covered, I'll show some love for the two-wheeled jet-age whips: the 1957-Aermacchi-Chimera!
    <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-odpxuhrlQZ8/TtQlPky3KjI/AAAAAAAADbg/H-J8tW2_p0U/s1600/H88-1957-Aermacchi-Chimera.jpg"&gt;

  17. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

    I'm gonna say the '58 Pontiac, because what other car had a jet (or rocket, if you prefer) engine and contrails rendered in chrome along the sides: <img src="http://www.nashnut.com/archives/58pon2.jpg">Well, one other one I suppose, the '60 Chevy Impala, but not nearly as exuberantly as on the Pontiac:<img src="http://latemodelmustang.autotraderclassics.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/1960_chevrolet_impala_red.jpg"&gt;

    1. Tiller188 Avatar

      The Pontiac also has the advantage of having little chrome pieces that look like (to my eyes, anyway) shock diamonds in the wake of its trim rocket. That's just awesome.

  18. '76Mini Avatar

    Simple; All of them.

  19. B72 Avatar
  20. Archie1954 Avatar

    1960 & 1961 Chryslers