By on January 27, 2012

While waiting for my wife to stagger out of the dentist’s chair after a root canal, I grew bored with the October, 1994 issue of Highlights and other similar waiting-room reading material and noticed this painting on the wall. It turned out to be the illustration made by the Denver architectural firm that built the dentist’s office building, back in 1949.
Look at those fins! Harley Earl generally gets the credit for the first postwar Detroit tailfins, which went on the ’48 Cadillac. It wasn’t long before artists trying to pitch building plans started adding this futuristic styling element to the idealized cars in their illustrations. Sure, it looked dated as hell 15 years later, but by then you saw Chrysler Turbine-influenced cars gracing these paintings.
You’ve really got to admire the snazzily-dressed gentleman— no doubt heading out to his parked Caddy— giving the once-over-twice to the babe with the 11″ waist. Owooooo!

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14 Comments on “1949: Architectural Illustrators Need Tailfins To Sell Buildings!...”

  • avatar

    Did you find all the hidden things in the picture in the Highlights magazine?

    Are Goofus and Gallant still around?

    It looks she dropped a pen on the ground (line in front of her foot). He’s just waiting for the show.

    • 0 avatar

      As a kid waiting my turn in the dentist’s chair, I really hated it when some kid before me circled the hidden objects instead of just noting them mentally.

  • avatar

    Architectural renderings are mostly done by CAD programs these days, and lack the hand-painted appeal of this example. There are all kinds of clip-art car and people and tree objects that can be spliced in to provide additional uncanny-valley creepiness.

  • avatar

    Right! Who’s tailfins, the Caddy’s or the babe’s?

  • avatar

    Look at those fins! Harley Earl generally gets the credit for the first postwar Detroit tailfins, which went on the ’48 Cadillac.

    The GM crowd always attributed tailfins to the influence of the P-38 planes that GM styling drew for training manuals for the war effort. The ’48 Caddy is most frequently mentioned, but I think you can see proto-fins on the prewar Lincoln Continentals and on the Tucker. In those cases it was done with chrome taillamp housings but I think the intent was the same, to visually raise the rear end of the car, giving the car more of a forward leaning stance.

    • 0 avatar

      So I guess that’s why today’s cars did not need fins anymore, as their trunk height is already very, very high. I think I like fins more, at least that did not lead to gunslit rear windows that’s a pain to look out of during parking. In fact these tailfins probably helps you during parking, making the corners of the car visible and easy to judge, important due to the sheer length of the cars these fins are normally attached to.

  • avatar

    I remember 1949 quite well. I cannot imagine anyone being surprised that he would be giving her the once over. Sex has been a big seller every since we started drawing.

    Oh yeah. The tailfins. They were more appealing to me than the later ones. Even my 57 has fins that are too large. Would have preferred a 55.

  • avatar

    As an Architect, it is not surprising that we show whatever vehicles are current in our renderings, often with a stylish car in the foreground. I included my TT in several drawings during the decade that I had it, and several others in the office also used the TT in their drawings. I have now acquired/created a CAD version of my current car, an A5, for my drawings. It’s sort of my signature on the drawing.

  • avatar

    I miss the realistic color paintings in magazines from back then, common until the early 1970’s when offset printing was more advanced and affordable to reproduce color photograhy more accurately.

    What I find even more interesting and kind of aggravating is to see classic 1960’s cars used in commercials today! If they want someone in a convertible, why not use a present-day Camaro or Mustang or 200?

  • avatar
    JAZ the Airhead

    Is Dapper Dan also having a post-dentist smoke? I’m surprised the secretary didn’t pour him a Scotch for the walk to the car as well.

  • avatar

    I’m still impressed at the conceptual artist who included a BMW 850i and Citroen XM in their illustration of a Toronto condo building.

  • avatar

    Those are my parents. Well, they remind me of my parents. Dad was one of those suit-wearing smoking guys, and Mom was a 40s babe. Nice little illustration, I think. Thanks for sharing it.

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