Showing posts with label 1950s Classic Concept Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1950s Classic Concept Cars. Show all posts

Pontiac Club de Mer

Pontiac Club de Mer 1950s American classic concept car

The Pontiac Club de Mer prototype was inspired by land speed record cars. Head of design Harley Earl - and studio leader Paul Gillian - were given the styling brief. It went without saying that 'space-age' imagery - pretty much ubiquitous in the '50s - would get its foot in the design door, too!

The most obvious lift from LSR cars was the shark-like stabilising fin at the rear. The front-end featured retractable headlights. The low nose tapered into a blunt arrowhead. Two chrome bands flowed up to air scoops at the back of the hood. The Club de Mer was a shoo-in for the '56 'Motorama'. It acquitted itself well - alongside GM's other 'dream car' exotica.

Not that the Club de Mer was all style, and no substance! Beneath the aerodynamic hood was a 4,392cc, 300bhp V8. First and foremost, though, the car was a trend-setter. 'Club de Mer' evoked Meditteranean panache. That was blended with all-American élan. A tad outlandish for some tastes, perhaps ... but then, the Pontiac Club de Mer was was in 'show' business!

Dodge Firearrow

Dodge Firearrow 1950s American classic concept car

The Dodge Firearrow was an American-Italian collaboration. Coachbuilders Carrozzeria Ghia - based in Turin - finessed the fine details. Their craftsmanship was second to none. Resplendent in red - and sporting a polished metal belt-line - the Firearrow was an elegant, well-proportioned automobile.

Ghia liaised with Virgil Exner. He was chief stylist for the Firearrow. Exner - and his colleagues in the Chrysler art department - came up with a clean and tidy design. Restrained and tastefully-placed lines were the backdrop for a plethora of neat features. The way the bodywork overhung the wheels was a sweet touch. Inside, the wooden steering wheel bespoke class. Twin seats were sumptuously upholstered.

The Dodge's engine was an all-American V8. 152bhp shot the Firearrow III coupé up to 143mph. The Firearrow timeline was a long one. It started out as a show car mock-up. A working prototype duly followed. Decked out in yellow - and with wire wheels - it featured in '54's 'Harmony on Wheels' extravaganza. After that - along with the coupé - came the Firearrow and Firebomb convertibles. The idea was just to whack a bit of wow factor back into the jaded Dodge brand. But - so big a hit were they with the public - that a limited production run was soon mooted. It was privately funded - by Detroit's Dual Motors. 117 Firebomb replicas were built. They went under the name of the Dual-Ghia. Virgil Exner - and his feverish work ethic - had delivered on two fronts. Dodge received its much-needed facelift. And the Firearrow lit up the landscape, in its own right!

Cadillac El Camino

Cadillac El Camino 1950s classic concept car

When it came to Fifties 'dream cars', GM set the bar high. The Motorama was a travelling show of avant-garde automobilia. The Cadillac El Camino was a 'space-age' case in point. El Camino Real - The Royal Highway - was a sobriquet for Highway 101. While the El Camino sounded Spanish, it was American as apple pie. It was also one of the most influential concept cars ever created. Many El Camino features would be seen on production Cadillacs, by decade's end.

Show car though it was, a V8 was duly dropped into the engine bay. 230bhp was, in theory, available. El Camino capacity was 5,422cc. Had Cadillac's boffins wanted it to go touring, it was good to go. As it was, the lure of the open road played second fiddle to the car's publicity-seeking uses.

To that end, the El Camino had styling to die for. Its pearlescent paint-job, in particular, was a cinch to turn heads. Silver had never looked so good! And the radical roof-line was almost as engaging. Curvaceous windows - and deftly-drawn pillars - were a visual treat. Brilliantly topped off by brushed aluminium. Front bumpers referenced bullets. Front arches revealed intricate wheels. At the rear, tail-fins were a pop-up delight. The El Camino blended seamlessly into the Motorama mix. Cadillac's class of '54 also comprised the Espada and Park Avenue. But the El Camino, above all, would be their blueprint for the future.