Mercedes-Benz Vehicles of the Fin Tail generation
Despite the fact that three fin tail generation cars were introduced and placed well, it was still the Mercedes-Benz 220 that won the 1960 Monte Carlo Road Rally, an epic highway trial which annually tests vehicular metal. The fin gen began with the 1948 Cadillac small fin which grew to enormous proportions peaking in 1957 through 1960 although fins were still a noticeable feature well into 1970's design years. The Mercedes Ponton of 1953 was Germany's equivalent design change.
Later safety, environmental and fuel consumption concerns dominated automotive engineering. The Mercedes models 220, 220Sb, 220 SEb as well as the 300 SE were among the first European vehicles to feature the classic tail fins associated with American cars of the time period. New "passive safety" features were installed such as, front and rear crumple zones, padded steering wheels, padded instrument panel, yielding and recessed controls and brand new safety door locks.
Though the fin generation is long history we now enjoy unparalleled levels of safety that the fin tail generation ended helped usher in. Safety glass was invented to prevent severe lacerations. Seat belts kept passengers firmly in their seats. Headrests prevented whiplash from a rear-ended vehicle. Standard features now include mandated headrests, restraints, air bags and catalytic converters.
When fin designs rolled off the assembly lines in rapid succession Detroit was headed in a bold departure from a previous cookie cutter-like precision making cars individuals. Colors and styles varied among both the domestic and foreign car to an extent never before seen. The standard engine was a V-8 but Germany's Mercedes-Benz, currently celebrating its 125th anniversary, offered a diesel turbo. The Benz never reached the jet engine appearance that America's auto designers emulated after WWII yet a small tail fin still was evident and served as a testament to a passing golden era of history.