The late 1940’s, throughout the 1950’s and into the 70’s Concept Cars were the talk of the day as car manufacturers, particularly General Motors and Chrysler, made many concept cars mostly to illustrate and excite the buying public of what they could expect to see in car design in the future.
The world was firmly into the jet age and there is no doubt aircraft design was starting to influence car design in a big way, and there was no-one better than General Motors chief of their design team Harley Earl to lead the way.
Harley didnt just design cars, he sculptured them.
Deemed to be the very first true concept car, Harley’s 1938 Buick Y-Job was a magnificent masterpiece that cost $5million in todays equivalent , was hand built as were all concept cars, and used as Harley’s personal car until 1951 when he upgraded himself to his newest concept, the Cadillac LeMans for personal use.
These and other GM concept cars are on show in the GM Heritage Museum and it is good to see cars of yesteryear being saved in safe keeping.
Most concept cars were destroyed by the manufacturers to prevent them getting to the general public, and you can’t blame them for doing this as they were experimental, invariably in-complete and not necessarily safe or suitable to be on the road.
But some were roadworthy and have come up for sale occasionally, especially the one-off production models as you will see towards the end of the video. The Cadillac Cyclone photo below is not a turbine powered car but it does illustrate aircraft design influence.
The main players in concept cars were GM and Chrysler Especially during the 1950’s and 60’s with both producing jet turbine powered concept cars, but I don’t think either made these with any intention of mass production as this type of engine just had too many hurdles to overcome for use in an automobile.
But they did excite the public and were a great drawback at car shows where the companies latest models were released.
Concept cars of the day were a major drawcard at these shows, and while many of them were strictly a non-operational show creation with the sole purpose of showing what is possibly coming in the future.
Items we take for granted like power windows, disc and power assisted brakes, air conditioning, compound curved windshields, gas-filled shock absorbers, CCTV monitoring, and so the list goes on.
Concept cars today are still major show attractions and we see designs from mild styling trends ready for next year, to wild way-out futuristic ideas that we think “that would never come about’
But could it? Who knows what will happen even just within the next 20 years.
Special thanks to History TV for this top rated concept cars video.
Photos are screen shots from this video.
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