The styling of automobiles typically reflect the times they were designed in. For example, the art deco details of the cars of the 1930s reflect the architectural and graphic trends of the times. The bullet shaped fronts and elevated tail fins of the 1950s cars reflected the beginning of the space age. The beefy muscle cars of the 1960s illustrated the fascination America was developing with raw performance. Courtesy of Patrick Volvo of Schaumburg, Il, a full-service Volvo dealer, we survey some examples of cars that perfectly represented the feelings of the times.
1940s – Tucker
Most post-war cars were warmed-over designs of pre-war models. The reason for this is pretty simple: during the war virtually all of the car manufacturers were building war machinery, not cars. Preston Tucker, a brilliant automotive visionary, however, had other ideas. During the war, he fleshed out his design for a radical new kind of car and as soon as the war was over (1945), he founded Tucker Motors. With a new company and a radical new car, he immediately went on the road to secure funding. Unfortunately this was via questionable methods and he failed to raise enough to keep operations going. The result was that Tucker built just 51 cars before he ran out of money and the company collapsed. By 1950, Tucker Motors became a national scandal and the federal government indicted the company’s executives for fraud. Today, because of their rarity, Tuckers have become one of the most valuable collector cars available.
1950s – Cadillac Eldorado
Launched in 1953, the Cadillac Eldorado was an ultra-exclusive flagship model that attracted the rich and famous worldwide. Standard equipment included GMs’s Hydra-Matic drive, wraparound windshield, special cut-down doors, leather-and-cloth upholstery, chrome wire wheels, fog lamps, white sidewall tires, vanity and side mirrors, and a “high-tech” signal-seeking radio. By the end of the 1950s, the redesigned four-door Eldorado cost more than a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and was considered one of the most elegant cars in the world.
1960s – Ford Mustang
Sporty 2-door cars came before Lee Iacocca’s Mustang but nothing has ever matched its level of popularity. Introduced at 1964 World’s Fair, the Ford Mustang perfectly tapped into the youth market and was a tremendous success. Ford sold 1.7 million Mustangs in its first 36 months. The Ford Mustang has been credited for kicking off the great pony car battle of the 1960s. By 1967, it had been joined the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird and the Plymouth Barracuda but it held its own in sales. Today original Mustangs command impressive prices in the collector car marketplace.
1970s Dodge Daytona
The Dodge Daytona was a wild looking car. With its pointed beak and large rear wing, many wondered why this car was designed so flamboyantly. As it turns out, the Dodge Daytona was built for one reason – to compete at the 1970 NASCAR series. Back in those days, winning at NASCAR meant vastly increased car sales. However, while its beak and rear wing may have made a difference on the track, its looks were considered goofy by the average car buyer. It didn’t sell very well. However, driven by Richard Petty at the 1970 NASCAR series, the car won many races and firmly established Dodge as a manufacturer of serious racecars.