If you happen to be of a certain age, you will remember tail fins on the cars from your childhood.
Although most people think the trend of having tail fins on cars lasted approximately from 1955 to 1965, the first subtle appearances of tail fins began in the late ’40s. What started as a small chrome trim piece on a tail light, or a subtle fin of a few inches in length.
Growing in size each year until they (literally) peaked in 1959. American cars were not unique in this fad. By the early ’60s, the appeal began to wane. With a few exceptions, by 1965, they had disappeared from the automotive landscape.
General Motors and Chrysler deserve the credit with starting the finny “arms race.” Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell at GM and Virgil Exner at Chrysler attempted to wow the public with each new model year by introducing the most outlandish fins on their vehicles. Ford was in the mix too. Remember, the original Thunderbird also employed design elements that took their cues from jet aircraft. This trend carried through to the 1963 model year. The full-sized Ford lost its fins by 1962.
Even European automotive designers got into the act. French Italian designers have always been avant-garde, but even the British and Germans, who tend to be more conservative, slapped fins on some of their cars.
The ultimate fins of the era belonged to the 1959 Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz. The eye-popping red paint job and fins that look like they could impale someone made this car unmistakeable…Even today.
Presented by: Steve Pease
Date: April 1 – 30, 2021
Pricing: A2P Member fee: $15
Non-A2P Member fee: $30
Television and movies do not reflect real life. Surprised? The Private Eye’s image in the mind of most Americans (and elsewhere) was formed on the screen and in pulpy mystery novels, and it’s mostly wrong. We don’t pull guns, beat up thugs, drink whiskey with a straw or take dirty photos thru motel Venetian blinds. We’re in a tough business, and we need insurance, permits, equipment and coffee. Oh, and good shoes and a comfy chair.
This 12 Lesson course will present a very practical view of the single-person PI business based on my experience as a licensed PI2 in Colorado. I’ll cover the main duties of the investigator, the effort needed to run a sustaining business and a few anecdotes to illustrate points. I’ll recommend resources, steer you away from a few, and suggest a couple things you can do to experience the PI life, AND, get some real-life details into your stories.
So your Hero is over 35, and maybe over 55. And they want to make a career change? What the hell do they bring to this? EXPERIENCE. And maturity from those hard lessons earned and learned during a working life. The punk kid hasn’t learned yet. You have. Most PIs aren’t life-long PIs, but they have been curious forever. Most have done something else, reporter, librarian, civil servant, cop, military, nurses. Their minds have discipline. They’ve been people watchers. They know an opportunity when they see it, so here they go. And they will succeed at THE core PI task: Find Out About. My Lessons aren’t simple Conference handouts. They’re writing resources. You can lurk. And you can imagine and ask. My two main mystery characters are late life PIs. Let’s see how this works.
Steve Pease is a licensed Private Investigator in Colorado. He is retired from a career in Intelligence and space engineering. He also teaches a course in writing against the intelligence cliché. He has published military history and SF/mystery/horror fiction as Michael Chandos. He is working on a romantic-suspense novel featuring an elegant lady who runs a lacey tea shop – and who knocked off her abusive husband with some lethal tea and put him in the rose bed.
After World War II, the American public wanted new cars, not rehashed models from before production halted in 1942 for national emergency production. As a result, U.S. carmakers offered products in all price ranges.
Returning GIs started families, the suburbs grew at an unprecedented rate and peaked in the 1960s. Many growing families had moved away from the cities and needed economical ways to commute to their jobs in the cities.
Enter, the American-designed and British-built, Nash Metropolitan measured less than thirteen feet in length, and was often called America’s first sub-compact car. Production began in October 1953. Over the next eight years, over 95,000 Metropolitans were produced and sold by Nash/Hudson, then Rambler, and finally AMC.
They designed it as a second car in a two-car family, for Mom taking the kids to school or shopping, or for Dad to drive to the railroad station to ride to work. A commuter/shopping car with a resemblance to the big Nash, but the scale was tiny. The Metropolitan’s wheelbase was shorter than the Volkswagen Beetle.
The miniscule two-seater came as convertible or hardtop models. No extra-cost, standard features (optional on most cars of that time) included electric windshield wipers, cigarette lighter, interior map light, and a continental-type rear-mounted spare tire with cover. While an AM radio, heater, and whitewall tires were listed as optional extras, it appeared all Metros left the factory with these items. Trunk space was accessed by folding the seatback forward.
In December 1956, the Austin Motor Company of Britain acquired the rights to sell the Metropolitan to non-North American markets. Modifications allowed manufacture of both left and right-hand drive models.
Several more changes came in 1959, including a glove box door, seat adjusters, vent windows, opening trunk lid and tubeless tires. The last Metropolitans came with a British-made 55 hp Austin engine.
Production of the funny little car stopped in 1960, but ‘leftovers’ were sold for under $1700 for another two years.
In popular culture, “The Little Nash Rambler” song was released in 1958 and often thought to refer to this teeny car. It was actually based on the larger, four-seat, Nash Rambler.
With the 1960s, came the birth of “muscle cars”, cheap gasoline and the need for speed. National pastimes included drag racing, and a return to NASCAR racing.
While some manufacturers offered one or two “economy” models like the Chevrolet Corvair and Ford Falcon, the little Metropolitan had no future. It faded into memory and became a curiosity for collectors.
Hollywood did not forget. The little car can be seen in: Clueless (1995), The Wedding Singer (1998), Blue Hawaii (1961) and others. It made many TV appearances, including Starsky & Hutch, The Ghost Whisperer, Square Pegs, and even The Simpsons!
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