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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Fins: 1961

Fins: 1961

Big brother and little brother pose in Mom's new 1961 Cadillac. Seems big brother did a little damage. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Oldsmobile in background

The car in the background behind little brother's head is either a Pontiac or Oldsmobile, not a Chevy, I am thinking Oldsmobile. The '62 Chevys were not as angular as that car.

[The car on the right is the Chevrolet. Car on the left is a 1960 Pontiac. No Oldses in this photo. -Dave]

Old Cars

Nothing like old cars. Most things on them can be fixed with a few wrenches, pliers and a screwdriver.

Four wheeled optimism

Mr Magoo, your comment is so right. The cars of that era were the embodiment of optimism and aspiration. The designers wanted their car to stand out from the crowd and each year a new one would appear almost completely different from the last. The fact that these cars are so revered and stir such emotion is an example of what cars meant to people in the 50's and 60's. Although modern cars are more efficient etc. the fact that the retro trend in car design keeps popping up shows the basic shortcoming of modern car design techniques, computers have replaced the soul that was injected into the styling.


What a beautiful photo -- so sharp and clear! I'd like to know the kind of camera it was taken with.

I remember cars like that in my neighborhood on Long Island. Looks like The Wonder Years -- and they were. I was 6 in '61.

Wow. This jumped out at me

Wow. This jumped out at me immediately. While in high school in the mid '80s I inherited my infirm aunt's '62 Caddy DeVille, which was a sage green color. I instantly became a hit at school. During homecoming we papered the Caddy up and it was dubbed the Batmobile. First car I'd ever had that had no a/c, FM radio, or headrests. But I loved the thing, bad as it was on gas, and drove it til it died one day in 1985.

Cadillac Style

I drive a 61 DeVille daily, it gets more respect than a new Escalade. Great, colorful pic.

Ray in CT


Ah, just like our '64 and '66 Pontiac convertibles... It had to be pretty sunny and warm to get all the snaps done on the tonneau covering the stowed top. broke a lot of fingernails on cool days trying to get the snaps snapped!

Way to go, Dad!

Angelo Frank! As the owner of a 1964 PV-544, I must congratulate your dad on his choice of wheels!

Sleek Convertible

My dad had to be different. He owned a 1961 Volvo PV-544 back then. It looked like a 1940 Ford. My mom got handed down our 1952 Oldsmobile 98 4-door, which I learned to drive on. What a tank that car was.

The obscured car...

...appears to be a '62 Chevrolet Impala.

Oh, and I'm a former Studbucket owner as well - in my case, a '63 Lark.


In "Unsafe at Any Speed," Ralph Nader claimed a little girl was killed after she ran into a fin on a 1959 Cadillac, while riding her bike or something. Ripped open her torso or some such gory injury. Nader also had harsh words for the sharp lower-body fins, which are properly called "skegs."

In the year of its greatest height, the Cadillac fin bore an uncanny resemblance to the tail of the stegosaurus, a dinosaur that had two sharp rearward-projecting horns on each side of the tail. In 1964 a California motorcycle driver learned the dangers of the Cadillac tail fin. The cyclist was following a heavy line of traffic on the freeway going toward Newport Harbor in Santa Ana. As the four-lane road narrowed to two lanes, the confusion of highway construction and the swerving of vehicles in the merging traffic led to the Cadillac’s sudden stop. The motorcyclist was boxed in and was unable to turn aside. He hit the rear bumper of the car at a speed of about twenty miles per hour, and was hurled into the tail fin, which pierced his body below the heart and cut him all the way down to the thigh bone in a large circular gash. Both fin and man survived this encounter.

The same was not true in the case of nine-year-old Peggy Swan. On September 29, 1963, she was riding her bicycle near her home in Kensington, Maryland. Coming down Kensington Boulevard she bumped into a parked car in a typical childhood accident. But the car was a 1962 Cadillac, and she hit the tail fin, which ripped into her body below the throat. She died at Holy Cross Hospital a few hours later of thoracic hemorrhage.

We Are Going Backwards

Dagnabbit folks! Don't mean to be a cranky old geezer, but these incredibly beautiful, artfully designed, forward, streamlined, futuristic, jet-age, space patrol-ish, magnificent vehicles bring back so many wonderful memories of the 50's through the 70's, when we felt as though we were moving forward, we were modern, we were progressing into a Jetsons future, everyone seemed happy and upbeat and prosperity flourished. What happened? Many cars today are so downright ugly, the design is dowdy and square, the colors are bland grays, creams or blacks, no more two-tones, no more bright interiors (you may choose from gray or tan), no more chrome, sleek lines or white-wall tires, no outstanding or unique features. We keep hearing about the geniuses among us and yet there seems to be a severe shortage of brilliant designers in cars or anything else. Lots of copycat stuff, commonality and boredom. I know energy is a problem, but still that should not rule out STYLE and brilliant design. Anyone who lived in past decades knows what a boost one got from driving or even just seeing a snazzy, jazzy, cool, inventive vehicle. I just consider myself very lucky to have been there for the best years of American automobile manufacturing. This photo is a favorite, evocative of how good youth felt at one time.

Swell-looking guy in a nice car

At least the little brother got to be groovy...

Sharp Car

I had a college professor who mentioned that when he was 12, he was chasing after a stray baseball and broke his arm running into the fins of a '59 Cadillac. Looking at this one, its amazing he didn't impale himself as well.

The coral Cadillac

My aunt had one of these and drove it for many years. From the mid 1950s to mid 60s, Cadillac offered two convertibles -- the Series Sixty-Two (pictured here) and the Eldorado Biarritz.

Where is this?

Does anyone know where this was taken? Would be interesting to see if there is a Google Street View.

Those were the days!

Wow! Those were surely the days. No carbon credits, global warming, gas prices or other modern ills to worry about. What I wouldn't give to live back then.

Babe Magnet

What a neat car; mom had to be cool. Big brother is trying to find a way to lose little brother and cruise over to Sally's house. PS - My folks had Stud Buckets' Studebaker - moss green.

Lucky Fella

That's the ultimate Prom mobile! Most excellent!

Stud Buckets

Didn't anybody have a Studebaker?


You are correct, those are leaves. And that's a '62 Impala, 4-door hardtop in the background.

Joe from LI, NY


Looked close as I could and it just looks like a number of light, tree and bush reflections. I don't think Big brother would have such a smile on his face if he had done any damage to Mom's Caddy, Little brother would have tattled on him anyway. Beautiful Car. Nice Pontiac 4-door hardtop in the background and not too sure of the other, Maybe a Chevrolet.

Sweet Caddy

But what's the "damage"? Those are leaves in front of the rear fender.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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