Cohort Outtake: 1959 Buick – Just Missing The Third Central Fin

Buick 1959 fqposted at the cohort by robadr1

(first posted 2/11/2015)    Although some might object, I think this 1959 Buick has been rather suitably modified, except for one key missing detail: it’s lacking the third fin on the rear deck, sticking straight up like a dorsal fin. That way it would look just like GM originally planned for it to look. Seriously.

Buick 1959 concept tri-fin

For the all-new 1959s, the GM stylists were encouraged to let their hair down. Or maybe LSD was put in the water coolers; it was still legal back then, and seen as having therapeutic benefits as well as stimulating creativity. The result was this proposal for the ’59 Buick, which got pretty far along in the planning phase.

Buick 1959 concept

Hey, it’s working for me; but then I did indulge in that substance a bit back in the day. Maybe that’s what it took, and when the first sober executive walked in…well, it wasn’t hard to whack off that dorsal fin and clean up the rear end a bit. The rest of the clay and fiberglass mock-up look like they mostly survived for the production ’59.

Buick 1959 rr

Now someone just needs to recreate that third fin.

In the creative frenzy that led to the abandonment of the original Harley Earl-led ’59 designs during his vacation in Europe in the late summer of 1956, for fresh ones led by Bill Mitchell, we can assume that the Buick proposal was the first to be “locked in”, because all the other divisions were told to use the basic Buick body shell and adapt it for their divisions. The ’59 Buick is the mother of the whole gaggle of GM ’59 cars, and it’s not hard to see that it is arguably the most organic or cohesive of them all. The rest just had to find themes to try to make their designs look as distinctive as possible. That worked better for some than others.

Buick 1959 ff

The Buick reminds me of a ray, with its large horizontal surfaces, fins and rather beady little eyes.

Buick 1959 int

Buick’s love for two large low-set primary instruments was already well under way. Gotta’ love the visibility through that huge windshield.

Buick 1959 triplefin

Here’s the front end of the triple-fin version. Long, low, wide and mean; now somebody out there graft on that third fin on a ’59 Buick. It just doesn’t quite look right without it.

Here’s an in-depth look at the madness that was going on in the GM Design Center during the development of the 1959 models:  Special Interest Cars via