Rocket-mania inspired more than just brassieres during the Cold War. Car designers tried to come up with the most rocket-like features during the 1950s and early 1960s, including nose cones and rocket-like fins. And racing fiends were adding actual rockets to their cars, as early as 1946. Here's a complete history, with a huge gallery.

The first rocket car actually came before the Cold War proper. The Don Hulbert special was built for the 1934 Indy 500, with a V8 engine that failed to qualify. But Andy Granatelli and his brother bought it in 1946 and added eight JATO rockets to the rear, boosting its speed to an amazing 85 MPH. The car is still racing today.

Car companies started making their actual passenger cars more rocket-like with the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone, featuring cool-looking nose cones and fins. Some models also included a see-thru dome that could slide back. The 1959 Cadillac Coup DeVille also included some very rocket-esque fins.


But the real rocket action in the 60s and 70s came from race cars with actual rockets attached, like the Budweiser Rocket, seen above. And the Blue Flame, which set a new land-speed record of 623 MPH in 1970:

But my favorite is probably the Spirit of America, which included an actual military surplus J47 jet engine and set a land-speed record in 1963. Too bad it roared into an 18-foot salt-brine pond. And then there's the British Thrust 2, which just looks like it's trying too hard:

Budweiser Rocket Car image by Petite-Bourgogne