Welcome to the second part of The Forgotten Concept Cars of the 50's! Here, you'll find a collection of photos of concept cars from the same year that are considered forgotten. Legendary concept cars are not included. This part contains photos of concept cars from 1955 to 1959. Go right here for Part 1, which contains photos of concept cars from 1950 to 1954. Enjoy!
The 50's continued with the fibreglass bodied Dream Cars (concept cars) that were built in house or by a coachbuilder like Ghia. Many concept cars on this post went into production. Please bear in mind that it was difficult to find much information on each individual car, but I did my best.
Quick note: the commentary was done by my son Nakita.
1955 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Spider Prototype by Bertone; it was based on a production Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint. Alfa Romeo invited two famous Italian coachbuilders, Bertone and Pininfarina, to design the spider (roadster) version of the Giulietta Sprint. When Bertone and Pininfarina submitted their prototypes, Alfa Romeo picked the latter's and put it into production a year later. This was Bertone's rejected submission.
1955 Buick Wildcat III Concept; the last of three Buick Wildcat concept cars to make a public appearance before the 30-year hiatus. It was a fully functional concept car to study the realistic styling, because its predecessors from 1953 and 1954 were considered to be too radical for production cars at that time. Some of the Wildcat III's design elements appeared on production cars from GM after its unveiling. Despite the fame, it was destroyed on GM's orders. Buick recycled the model name for a car that went into production in 1963.
1955 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Concept; the 1954 Cadillac La Espada Concept's successor. Like the previous Cadillac concept cars of the 50's, it was based on a production Cadillac Eldorado. Its production counterpart got some cosmetic tweaks before it went into production a year later.
1955 Cadillac XP-32 La Salle II Sedan Concept; Cadillac paid more attention to the car's mechanics than the exterior design. It had many functional mechanical components such as independent suspensions, direct injection V6 that was made of aluminium, wheel-mounted drum brakes and so on. Many of its mechanical components appeared on production cars from GM after its unveiling. "The front window (windscreen) went over the top (roof). People (probably) got tan driving it!" Nakita commented.
1955 Cadillac XP-34 La Salle II Roadster Concept; the roadster version.
Fun fact: Cadillac borrowed the scalloped sides from a production first generation Chevrolet Corvette (C1) for this concept car. "It was prettier than the other car (Corvette C1)," Nakita pointed out.
1955 Chevrolet Biscayne Concept; the backwards Corvette. Just kidding... or maybe not, because it was based on a production first generation Chevrolet Corvette (C1). Like the Cadillac La Salle II concept cars, it was another engineering experiment. It is unknown why the scallops were reversed. Chevrolet recycled the model name for a car that went into production three years later. "Was it faster in reverse?" Nakita asked.
1955 Chrysler Falcon Concept by Ghia; Chrysler's Chevrolet Corvette C1 competitor that never was. Very little is known about it. It was powered by a V8 engine that produces 125kW (170hp). Some of its design elements appeared on production cars from Chrysler after its unveiling.
Fun fact: it was the last Chrysler-produced car to have side exhausts until they reappeared on the pre-facelift first generation Dodge Viper RT/10.
1955 Chrysler Flight Sweep II Concept by Ghia; it was Chrysler's desperate attempt to steal the spotlight from GM. It was a rolling sculpture to experiment with the idea of using tail fins. Interesting, many of its design elements sloped sharply at a 56º angle for its unveiling in 1956. After showing Nakita how to use the level app on his iPhone, "This is 56º? Everything was at 56º!" he exclaimed before making sure I'm level.
1955 Chrysler Flight Sweep I Concept by Ghia; the cabriolet version.
1955 DeSoto Adventurer II Concept by Ghia; the 1954 DeSoto Adventurer Concept's radical successor. Unlike its predecessor, it was an overly futuristic running concept car that was powered by a FireDome HEMI V8 that produces 120kW (160hp). It had a two speed PowerFlite automatic transmission. The car simply can't stay in the hands of the same collector for a long period of time. Recently, in 2012, it was restored and sold at Barrett-Jackson auction for the price of a Canadian cow named Missy ($1,200,000 USD). Lead pyjamas are required to check out the car because it currently resides somewhere near uranium mines in Colorado, USA.
1955 Ford La Tosca Concept; sadly, it was only a 3/8-scale model, but to make up for it, it was placed on the chassis of a remote controlled car. Amazingly, it can be controlled remotely from 1.6km (1mi) away. Despite being a 3/8-scale model, many of its design elements appeared on cars from Ford after its unveiling.
1955 Ford Mystere Concept; it was a rolling sculpture that represented Ford's vision of the future. It had one large canopy window that acted as the roof, windscreens and windows, a joystick to control the vehicle (it can be swung between front passengers), a radio-telephone and a telly in the back. It was designed specifically for a turbine engine if it goes into production, but sadly, it never did.
Fun fact: in 1998, Mercedes-Benz made the joystick technology in cars a reality. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, the project was cancelled.
1955 Ghia Gilda Streamline X Coupe Concept; it was designed by Chrysler and built by Ghia. It was an experimental vehicle to experiment with the idea of using a turbine engine as an alternative to a standard car engine. The turbine engine was intended to run on any kind of combustable fuel such as petrol, diesel, methanol and the like. Unfortunately, the original concept car never had a turbine engine installed, so it became a rolling sculpture. It spent many years travelling around Europe before landing in a new home at Henry Ford Museum. In 2001, Blackwood Collection somehow got their hands on the unrestored Gilda and sold it for the price of a nice 3-bedroom lake cottage in New Zealand ($125,000 USD). Its current owner restored the car to its original state and installed an AiResearch turbine engine that produces 50kW (70hp). The turbine engine idles at a whopping 54,000RPM, but it's too loud to be road legal. "What does it sound like?" Nakita asked. "I don't know, but you can feel it. We will have to go to the next air show and feel those jet plane flybys," I promised.
1955 GMC L'Universelle Concept; it was an experimental vehicle to experiment with the idea of moving the engine further forward for weight balancing and load capacity. The idea quickly became a reality when it appeared on Chevrolet Corvair-based vans and trucks that went into production in 1961 (Corvan, Greenbrier, Rampside and Loadside). "Did that Pontiac van (1986 Pontiac Trans Sport Concept) got the (gullwing) (passenger) door from this car?" Nakita asked. "Looks like I missed that. Well spotted!" I said.
1955 Lancia Florida Concept by Pininfarina; it was basically a production Lancia Aurelia, but with an Italian coachwork. Only 4 examples were built, one two-door coupe (B55) and three four-door sedans (B56, pictured). The Florida B56 had front and rear hinged doors like a present day Rolls Royce Phantom.
1955 Lancia Nardi Raggio Azzurro (En: Blue Ray) I Concept by Vignale; it was based on a custom Pan-American Road Racing chassis, but with the mechanicals from a production Lancia Aurelia 820. Unlike many concept cars of the 50's, its body was made entirely of steel. It was mostly a styling study with futuristic design elements such as double humped plexiglass roof, side windows that slide upwards under the roof (instead of going down into the door), bespoke wire wheels, floor mounted gear shift and so on. It was succeeded by the Raggio Azzurro II three years later.
1955 Lincoln Futura Concept by Ghia; this is what it looked like before a car customiser named George Barris destroyed it by turning it into the Batman Mobile for the 1966 telly series "Batman". It was based on a production second generation Lincoln Continental (Mk2). Many of its design elements appeared on cars from Ford after its unveiling.
Fun fact: Ghia used a paint mixture that had ground pearls (hard white ball that is formed in pearl oysters) to make it shiny. "It was a big pearl on wheels," Nakita commented.
1955 Lincoln Futura Concept by Ghia; the rear.
1955 Lincoln Futura Concept by Ghia; the Futura-based Batman Mobile. In 2013, it was sold at Barrett-Jackson auction for the price of a 257-carat diamond ($4,200,000 USD). Before it was sold, it spent 45 years on display in a permanent Hollywood Gallery exhibition at Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California, USA. "Brennen Sie es auf den Boden!" Nakita ordered in disgust. "Ja, they should've repainted it black and called it a day," I said in agreement.
1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Concept by Carrozzeria Boano Torino; the first concept car under Henry Ford Junior's management. Very little is known about it. After spending some years at car shows, it became Ford Junior's daily driver car. At some point, he handed it over to a very lucky friend. Last year, it was restored with an estimated value of over $1,200,000 USD, but it was never sold. Its whereabouts today are unknown.
1955 Mercedes-Benz Rennwagen Schnelltransporter Konzeptfahrzeug (En: literally, Racing Car Fast Transporter Concept); the MOST AMAZING breakdown truck of all time. It was based on a production Mercedes-Benz 300S (W188) chassis that was stretched, but with an 3.0L M198 I6 engine from a production Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W198). Ja, Sie haben richtig gelesen, a 300SL-powered breakdown truck. Some of its design elements, especially the doors and wings, came from a pre-facelift production Mercedes-Benz 220A (W180). It was used to transport the iconic Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow race cars. After the 1955 Le Mans tragedy that claimed 83 lives, the transporter was later used as a breakdown truck to transport Mercedes-Benz's prototypes from places to places. In 1967, Mercedes-Benz's engineer and racing manager, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, had the transporter junked for no apparent reason. In circa 2008, Mercedes-Benz built a replica for the 75th anniversary of the Silver Arrow race cars. After teaching Nakita how to fingerspell a phrase in German, "Oh mein Gott, es ist wunderschön!" he commented in amazement, "I think this is my favourite car on this list."
Note: the transporter in the above photo is a replica.
1955 Mercury D528 Concept; it was an experimental vehicle to to experiment with interior comfort and space efficiency. It had AC (Air Conditioner), spare tyre and jerrycan hidden in the front wings, retractable rear windscreen and luggage compartment in the rear. It was powered by a Ford V8 prototype engine called XY-3. It was nicknamed Beldone when it was featured in the 1964 film "Patsy". "What happened to Mercury?" Nakita asked. "It died of boredom in 2011 after producing dangerously boring cars for nearly half a century. The 50's was their peak years," I answered.
1955 Pontiac Strato-Star Concept; like its older sibling, the 1954 Pontiac Strato-Streak Concept, it was based on a production Pontiac Catalina. Interestingly, it had roof panels that open upward above the doors when either door is opened. It was probably designed for big and tall Americans. Despite its beauty, it was never publicly displayed.
1955 Volkswagen EA (De: Entwicklungsauftrag, En: literally, Development Order) 48 Prototype; Volkswagen's Mini Cooper competitor that never was. It was a 4-door hatchback that was designed to be a cheaper alternative to Volkswagen Typ 1 (Beetle). It was powered by a front-mounted air-cooled two-cylinder Boxer engine (basically a Typ 1 engine that was cut in half) that produces 13kW (17hp). Unfortunately, Volkswagen feared the EA 48 will hurt the struggling Typ 1 sales and cancelled the project. In early 70's, it was resurrected for the Volkswagen Golf/Scirocco/Polo development.
1955 Volkswagen EA 48 Prototype; the rear.
1956 Alfa Romeo Super Flow I Concept by Pininfarina; it was based on an Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM race car that won second place in the Mille Miglia. Pininfarina used the same chassis to experiment with four different bodies and this was the first one. There may appear to be a huge gap in the wings, but they were actually covered with plexiglass. The wings were transparent to allow the driver see his or her front wheels... For some reason. The front doors were horizontally cut in half, the top half opens like a gullwing and the bottom half opens normally. Pininfarina then turned it into...
1956 Alfa Romeo Super Flow II Concept by Pininfarina; ..this! It was basically the same car, but with steel wings, different coloured plexiglass roof and new two-tone paint. The project was later retired until 1959 when Pininfarina started working on the third body.
1956 Buick XP-301 Centurion Concept; the first car to use a rear view camera instead of a standard rearview mirror. The gears can be changed by turning a dial on the steering wheel. The front seats automatically moves backward when either door is opened for easy entry. It is unknown if it had an engine. Buick recycled the model name for a car that went into production in 1971. The Centurion can be seen on display at Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan, USA. "It's a very pretty car. Very sharp!" Nakita commented.
1956 Buick XP-301 Centurion Concept; the rear.
1956 Buick XP-301 Centurion Concept; the interior.
1956 Cadillac XP-48 Eldorado Brougham Town Car Concept; it was a rolling sculpture to experiment with luxurious features. It had almost everything greedy rich Americans need such as thermos bottles and glasses, privacy screen, pillows and blankets, radio-telephone, AC, cigar humidor (a wooden box with constant humidity to store cigars) and so on. The front half of the roof was made of velvet and it can be removed. Many of its design elements appeared on the less luxurious third generation Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, which went into production a year later. "Red velvet cake?" Nakita asked. "Velvet fabric," I corrected, "some words have more than one meaning."
1956 Cadillac XP-48 Eldorado Brougham Town Car Concept; the rear.
1956 Chevrolet Impala Hardtop Concept; it was based on a production first generation Chevrolet Bel-Air. It went through many prototype stages before it went into production two years later. Its production counterpart had tail fins, more mouldings and some cosmetic touches.
1956 Chrysler Dart Concept by Ghia; it was based on a production Chrysler Imperial and powered by a modified Chrysler 392 HEMI V8 that produces 280kW (375hp). The front half of the roof can be removed. It was the first Chrysler to have a low drag coefficient. Despite that, the aerodynamic design elements never appeared on production cars from Chrysler after its unveiling. It was later modified with a different body and renamed to Diablo for 1957.
1956 Chrysler Norseman Concept by Ghia; it was an experimental vehicle to experiment with the roof styling and engineering. Its entire roof was supported from the C pillar with no structural support due to the lack of pillars and windscreen frame. The roof's front end rested atop the frameless windscreen. Despite all that, it had a mechanical sunroof. Unfortunately, when it was being shipped from Genoa, Liguria, Italy to New York City, New York, USA for the 1957 Motorama, the cargo boat crashed into another boat and sank. The tragedy claimed 46 lives. The wreckage and its shipping containers, including the one with the Norseman inside, are still submerged somewhere off the coast of Massachusetts, USA. Despite today's technology, the car was never recovered. "That car looks angry," Nakita commented. "That's how I'd feel if I've been trapped in a shipping container for 58 years," my husband said.
1956 Ferrari 410 Superamerica Concept by Ghia; the first and last Ghia-bodied Ferrari one-off. Because of its unusual appearance, it quickly became the most disliked car when it was unveiled. Ferrari wisely cut Ghia off and continued its 410 Superamerica limited production with other coachbuilders like Vignale, Bertone and Pininfarina.
1956 Fiat Abarth 750 Type 215A Coupe (left) and Type 216A Spider (right) Concepts by Bertone; they were based on a production Fiat 600. Abarth was performing a series of modifications to increase the overall performance of their cars. The modifications required a special aerodynamic body. Bertone happily supplied Abarth with a coupe body (750 Type 215A). When it was unveiled, it gained much attention and Fiat and Abarth pushed Bertone to build the spider version of the coupe. After a matter of weeks, the 750 Type 216A spider gleefully joined its sibling. After that time, they mysteriously vanished. "They looked so happy together!" Nakita commented.
1956 Fiat Abarth Record Car Prototype by Bertone; despite being powered by a tiny 0.7L I4 engine from a production Fiat 600, Abarth was able to break more than ten world records with it. Only two records had been published publicly: 4,000km (2,485mi) at a constant average speed of 155km/h (95mph) and longest distance travelled in 72 hours of 10,125km (6,290mi).
1956 Fiat Multipla Marine Concept by Pininfarina; the most uncomfortable Italian "woody" of all time. It was based on a production Fiat 600. It had an open-top body with wooden benches instead of comfortable seats. "I'm an ant (termite) and I'm hungry!" Nakita said, clawing at the air.
1956 Jeep Commuter Prototype; it was based on a production Jeep CJ-5. It was later evolved into the Jeep FC-150 (Forward Control), which went into production later that year. This prototype was designed and built by Kaiser-Jeep in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Deutschland. "I wish they (new Jeeps) looked like that," Nakita said sadly.
1956 Lancia Flaminia Prototype; it was based on a production Lancia Aurelia. Its production counterpart had front hinged doors (instead of front and rear hinged doors on the prototype) and it went into production a year later.
1956 LAZ 695 Lviv Prototype; "it looked like a big fizzy drink (Coca Cola) can on wheels!" Nakita pointed out.
Here's a photo of a Coca Cola can for comparison.
1956 MZMA G2 Moskvich Prototype; very little is known about it. It was basically a MZMA G1 Moskvich race car, but with a streamlined body. It is unknown what record(s) it broke before it retired two years later. It's likely everything was made domestically because of the foreign trade ban in Soviet Union. "That (cockpit) looked like a small Beetle," Nakita pointed out.
1956 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket Concept; it was a fully functional rocket on wheels that was powered by a Rocket V8 engine that produces 200kW (275hp). It had many technology that was very advanced for that time such as roof panels that open outward when either door is opened, steering column that can be tilted by a push of a button on the wheel, steering wheel mounted speedometer, seats that elevate, move forward and then swing toward the doors when either door is opened for easy entry and so on. It's likely Oldsmobile borrowed the opening roof panels technology from the 1955 Pontiac Strato-Star Concept. Oldsmobile recycled the model name and added "88" to it for a bland car that went into production a year later.
1956 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket Concept; the interior.
1956 Packard Predictor Concept by Ghia; despite its jet-like appearance, it was the WORST concept car of the decade. Well, in terms of politics. Spoiler alert: it was partially responsible for the death of Packard.
Let's look at the bright side first, shall we? It was the first car to have those design elements and features crammed in:
- Power windows
- Power T-top panels
- Reversed rear windscreen
- Cathedral taillights
- Hidden headlights
- Steering wheel mounted pushbutton transmission
- Reversible seat cushions (leather on one side and fabric on the other)
Okay, brace yourselves for some bad news.
- The electronics were severely deflective because Ghia screwed up the wiring. Every time a button was pressed, it causes a short circuit, causing the car to start smoking (hello 2012 Lincoln MKZ Conept, how are you?).
- None, I repeat, none of its design elements appeared on cars from Packard after its unveiling. It was just an expensive concept car with no purpose.
- It was Packard's desperate attempt to boost the sales of their already stale production cars. Their strategy failed because people were understandably more interested in the Predicator.
- Packard stupidly bought an American automaker called Studebaker, which was already doomed with financial troubles. After building the Predicator, Packard had hardly any money left.
- Packard died two years later.
So hopeless, so so so hopeless. "Stupid Packard," Nakita criticised.
1956 Plymouth Plainsman Concept by Ghia; it was based on a production second generation Plymouth Belvedere. The most interesting feature was the rear-facing third row seat that can be elevated or folded into the floor. When it arrived in the US from Italy, the panicky US Customs officials freaked out and gave Chrysler two choices: pay a hefty fee to keep it permanently in the US or keep it for 18 months then get rid of it. Chrysler wisely found a loophole, chose the latter and then shipped it to a Chrysler dealer in a country called Cuba. In 2010, it was restored and went up for grabs at RM Auctions, but it was never sold because it didn't exceed the estimated value. A year later, it went up on eBay, but it was never sold for the same reason, although it had a bid of a new Hasselblad camera kit ($30,000 USD). "Why did they (US Customs officials) get scared of it?" Nakita asked. "I don't know," I admitted.
1956 Pontiac XP-200 Club de Mer Concept; the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special Concept's successor. Unlike many concept cars, it was stripped down to the bone for weight reduction to set speed records. It is unknown what record(s) it broke. It was powered by a Pontiac 287 OHV V8 that produces 220kiW (300hp). Unfortunately, GM heartlessly ordered Pontiac to destroy the car for no apparent reason two years later.
1956 Rambler Palm Beach Concept by Pininfarina; it was based on a Rambler, but the exact model is unknown. Interestingly, its front and rear bumpers were made entirely of plexiglass, and they were plated with chromium. It was Rambler's vision for AMC's (American Motors Company) success. Speaking of success, AMC dropped dead at 22 after cancelling many great opportunities. "Mercury, Packard and AMC, what was going on?" Nakita asked. "Their handlers were incompetent, meaning they can't get anything done due to poor management. It was and still is very common in the American auto industry," I answered.
1956 UAZ 450 Prototype; it was later evolved into the UAZ 451, which went into production at some point in the late 50's. It was nicknamed Bread Loaf, cute!
1956 ZIS 112 III Concept; it was based on a production ZIS 110. There isn't much information on it other than that, the name and a few photos. It's likely it was a race car.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe Concept by Ghia; it was GM's failed attempt to look like a Ferrari. It was basically a production first generation Chevrolet Corvette (C1), but with an Italian coachwork. Like a Ferrari, it had wire wheels, wooden steering wheel and dashboard, leather interior and Ferrari-like design elements. Unlike a Ferrari, it was merely an underpowered Corvette. At some point, it was recovered and restored in Portugal with 3800km (2350mi) on the odometer.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette XP-64 SS Prototype; the best example of GM's incompetence. GM decided that Chevrolet should build a new race car to race in the 1957 Sebring 12 Hour race at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, USA. Chevrolet ordered their Corvette engineers, including the famous Zora Duntov, to slap together a race car using spare Chevrolet Corvette C1 parts that were lying around and a magnesium body. The engineers started the development on a very tight schedule. Due to the lack of time to perform a series of tests, the car had many problems and it retired after only 23 laps. Despite the early retirement, GM was satisfied with the results. Sir Stirling Moss was one of the drivers and he publicly criticised Duntov for making poor decisions during the XP-64 SS development.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette XP-64 SS Prototype; the rear. The plexiglass canopy window was part of the requirements for the Sebring 12 Hour race, but oddly, it wasn't required to be attached during the race.
1957 Chevrolet XP-84 Q-Corvette Concept; I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it was only a 3/8-scale clay model. It had many proposals such as gullwing doors that take half of the windscreen with them, powered by a new Chevrolet 283 direct injection V8, rear transaxle for weight balance, rear mounted starter motor and removable roof panels. Chevrolet prepared a Corvette C1 chassis for the project. However, due to the lack of funds, GM ordered Chevrolet to scrap the project. Many of its design elements, especially the rear, appeared on the second generation Chevrolet Corvette (C2), which went into production in 1962.
Fun fact: production fifth generation Chevrolet Corvette's (C5) layout was based on the blueprints for this 40 year old project.
1957 Chrysler Diablo Concept by Ghia; it was basically 1956 Chrysler Dart Concept by Ghia, but with the body of a cabriolet and smaller fins. It was originally painted black, but Chrysler asked Ghia to repaint it red to represent the colour of the devil (Diablo means "Devil" in Spanish). In 2013, it was restored and sold at Barrett Jackson auction for the number of calories in a 285kg American burger ($1,375,000 USD).
Fun fact: did you know that Lamborghini named their Countach successor after this concept car? Friendly reminder: Lamborghini was owned by Chrysler at that time.
1957 Fiat Turismo Veloce (En: Fast Tourer) Coupe Concept by Pininfarina; only 125 examples were built. It was basically a production Fiat 1100, but with an Italian coachwork and a tuned 4-cylinder engine that produces 40kW (53hp). In 2007, one of the examples was restored and sold for price of your kid's university tuition ($51,700 USD).
1957 Fiat Stanguellini Spider Concept by Bertone; there isn't much information on it other than the name and a few photos. It's likely it was based on a production Fiat 1200. "It looked like a Corvette (C1)," Nakita commented.
1957 Fiat Abarth 500 GT Coupe Concept by Zagato; despite having many photos on the Internet, there isn't any information on it. My best guess is that it was the coupe version of the production Fiat 600 that never was. In 2011, Zagato did it again, but this time on a production current generation Fiat 500. It didn't turn out well.
1957 Fiat Abarth 750 Coupe Goccia Concept by Vignale; there isn't much information on it other than the name and a few photos. My best guess is that it was another coupe version of the production Fiat 600 that never was. It likely had a massive scoop for the engine in the rear.
1957 Fiat Abarth 750 GT Coupe Concept by Zagato; it was basically a production Fiat 600, but with an Italian coachwork and a tuned engine. Zagato built many examples that were converted to race cars that raced for many years before they retired in the late 60's. It was nicknamed Double Bubble because of the double humped roof.
1957 Fiat Abarth 750 Spider Concept by Zagato; the roadster version.
1957 Ford Thunderbird Experimental Race Car Prototype; it was Ford's failed attempt to compete against Chevrolet Corvette C1 in motorsports. It was based on a production first generation Ford Thunderbird. It had many third party components slapped together to experiment with the overall performance such as suspensions, body materials, brakes, cooling and exhaust systems and so on. It was powered by a Ford 312 Y-block engine that produces 260kW (350hp). It was nicknamed Battlebird by the media. In 2010, one of two Battlebirds was restored and sold at RM Auctions for the price of a 500 year old china ($280,000USD).
1957 Lincoln Typhoon Concept; despite having a few photos on the Internet, there isn't any information on it. My best guess is that it was the third body styling prototype after the 1952 Lincoln Nineteen Fifty X Concept and 1953 Buick X-100 Concept.
1957 Maserati 3500 GT Prototype by Carrozzeria Touring; very little is known about it. It was based on a production Maserati A6. Its production counterpart got some cosmetic tweaks before it went into production later that year. Carrozzeria Touring designed the coupe and Vignale designed the spider.
1957 Toyota Proto Concept; there isn't much information on it other than the name and a few photos. "I wish they (new Toyotas) looked like that," Nakita said sadly.
1957 Toyota Proto Concept; with the plexiglass(?) canopy window opened.
1957 Wartburg Bellevue Prototype; there isn't much information on it other than the name and a few photos. My best guess is that it was based on a production Wartburg 311 that was stretched into a stretch ("limousine"). It was half sedan and half cabriolet (plexiglass(?) roof in front and soft roof in back). It's likely it never went into production. After teaching Nakita how to fingerspell a phrase in German, "Seltsam, aber interessant," he commented.
1958 BMC Mini Prototype; the earliest prototype; it was later evolved into the first generation BMC Mini (Mk1), which went into production a year later. The "Cooper" name was added for Austin and Morris Mini Mk1's three years later. Did Mini, sorry, I mean *says obnoxiously loud* MINI forget how small their cars were? "Yes, yes! They did!" Nakita answered.
1958 Buick XP-75 Concept by Pininfarina; it was designed by Buick and built by Pininfarina. It was powered by a Chevrolet 348 "Big Block" V8 engine, but the exact power output is unknown. It had power windows, automatic transmission, AC and so on. The most important feature was the horizontal rear fins, which appeared on cars from GM after its unveiling, like the second generation Chevrolet Impala. It was later evolved into three less exciting cars, Buick Special Skylark, Oldsmobile Cutlass F-85 and Pontiac Tempest, which went into production three years later. Oddly, none of these cars had horizontal rear fins. Sadly, due to GM's love of destroying great opportunities, the XP-75 was brutally destroyed.
1958 Cadillac Skylight Cabriolet Concept by Pininfarina; very little is known about it. It was basically a production third generation Cadillac Eldorado, but with an Italian coachwork. It was one of several concept cars that later became the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham.
1958 Cadillac Skylight Coupe Concept by Pininfarina; the coupe version.
1958 Chevrolet XP-700 Corvette Concept; the Chevrolet Corvette C1 Grand Prix that never was. It was based on a production first generation Chevrolet Corvette (C1). It had many design elements that were similar to those found on the Corvette C1. Other than that, it had a protruded grille, double-humped one-way mirror for a roof, gill-like scalloped sides, side exhausts, sleeker front and rear ends and Grand Prix-like wire wheels. The rear end appeared on the second generation Chevrolet Corvette (C2), which went into production in 1962. "It was nicer than the (production) Corvette C1," Nakita commented.
1958 Chrysler Dual-Ghia 400 Prototype by Ghia; it was designed and built in-house. It looked just like its Ghia-bodied siblings that shared the same chassis, the 1956 Chrysler Dart Concept and 1957 Chrysler Diablo Concept, but it was built on a new Chrysler Imperial chassis. It's likely it was a sportier version of the Dart because, like the model name suggests, it was powered by a Chrysler HEMI V8 engine that produces 300kW (400hp). Its current fate is unknown.
1958 Ford DePaolo Concept; unfortunately, it was only a 3/8-scale clay model. It was designed and sculpted by Buzz Grisinger, who entered it at the 1958 Ford Stylerama, a Ford-sponsored styling contest. It was named after Peter DePaolo, an Indy 500 champion. "I'm happy that (straight) line hater (Luigi Colani) didn't design it," Nakita mocked.
1958 Ford La Galaxie Concept; very little is known about it. It was a rolling sculpture to study the styling for the vapourware nuclear-powered cars of the future. Some sources said it had a nuclear reactor in the boot that was actually an empty lead chamber.
1958 Ford Volante Concept; yet another 3/8-scale clay model. It was Ford's vision for flying cars of the future. 56 years later, cars are still not flyable.
1958 Ford X-1000 Concept; yet another 3/8-scale model. It had a plexiglass canopy window, tail fins that were supposed to be floating and magnetically controlled (the fins can be tilted without touching the trunk) and gauges on the steering wheel. It also had the famous three seat arrangement like in the McLaren F1.
1958 Ford X-2000 Concept; it originally started as a 3/8-scale clay model. It was Ford's vision of the year 2000... *laughs weakly* Alex Tremulis and his team were in the process of building a full size clay model when Ford ordered them to scrap the project. The clay model was finished at some point and it became a fully functional concept car. Its whereabouts today are unknown.
1958 Ford X-2000 Concept; the interior. "What was that rainbow coloured music box (jukebox) doing there?" Nakita asked. Centre console jukebox? Clever.
1958 Jaguar E1A (Experiment #1 Alloy) Prototype; it was based on a chassis that was similar in design to the Jaguar D-Type. The project was completed in secret and everyone involved, including an anonymous reporter who test drove the prototype, was tight-lipped. It was faster, narrower, shorter, lower and lighter than a D-Type or a XK-SS. It had a modified 2.4L XK6 I6 engine. It was later evolved into the first generation Jaguar E-Type (Series 1), which went into production three years later. After showing Nakita a photo of a production E-Type, "I like that one (E1A) better (because) it had no eyes (headlights) like an alien!" he commented.
Note: the anonymous reporter snapped this photo above when he or she took the prototype for a test drive on a backroad.
1958 Lancia Nardi Raggio Azzurro (En Blue Ray) II Concept by Vignale; it was based on a Lancia Aurelia 824 Spider, but with mechanicals from a Lancia Aurelia 820. Like its older sibling of the same name from 1955, it was a steel bodied styling study.
1958 MG EX205 Prototype; it was based on a production MG MGA. It was later evolved into the MG MGB, which went into production four years later.
1958 Plymouth Cabana Concept; wagon with front and rear hinged doors, anyone? Very little is known about it. It was an experimental concept car to experiment with the idea of using one-piece plexiglass(?) canopy window in the rear.
1958 Simca Fulgur (En: Flash) Concept; it was Simca's vision for the year 2000 (heh). It was supposed to be nuclear-powered and gyroscope-driven by a self-driving computer. It's likely it was a rolling sculpture. Simca got bought out by Chrysler and then Peugeot S.A. (PSA) long before they can see what year 2000 looked like. "What did cars look like in 2000?" Nakita asked. "New cars we have today, sadly," I answered. You know that's true, right?
1958 Simca Fulgur Concept; the rear.
1958 Simca-Fiat Special Concept by Ghia; it was originally a 3/8-scale clay model that was designed and sculpted by Virgil Exner's son, Virgil Exner Junior, when he was studying for his Master's degree at University of Notre Dame. After he graduated, Exner Junior turned it into a reality by building a full size running model on a production Fiat 1100 chassis with mechanicals from a production Simca 8.
1958 Volvo P958 (Project September (9) 1958) X2 Prototype by Frua; did you know that the Volvo P1800 was actually designed in Italy? It was designed by Pelle Petterson when he was working at an Italian coachbuilder called Frua. Volvo had three P958 prototypes, the X1, X2 and X3. Only the X2 was selected and it later evolved into the Volvo P1800, which went into production two years later.
1959 Alfa Romeo Super Flow III Concept by Pininfarina; the third Pininfarina-bodied styling concept car. It was based on the same chassis that was used for the first two Super Flow bodies.
1959 Aston Martin DB4 Prototype; it was based on a production third generation Aston Martin DB (Mk3). DB4 went into production a year earlier, so my best guess is that it was built in the mid 50's, but didn't make a public appearance until 1959. In 2008, it was restored and sold at RM Auctions for the price of Princess Diana's dress ($215,000 USD). "It's beautiful," Nakita commented.
1959 Cadillac Cyclone Concept; the last jet-like GM concept car of the 50's. It had an one-way mirror canopy window that opens outwards when either door is opened. The canopy window can be opened and slid backwards under the trunk by a touch of a button. There was another button that activates the doors to open outward by 7.5cm (3in), allowing the driver and passenger to slide them to the side. There were radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging) sensors in the front rocket noses for the accident avoidance system. It had a rear-mounted automatic transaxle for an improved overall vehicle balance (the canopy window covers the transaxle effortlessly). The most amazing feature was the intercom, which allows the driver or passenger to communicate with people outside of the car without any need to open the canopy window (well, unless you get a speeding ticket). It was powered by a Cadillac V8 engine that produces 240kW (325hp). Interestingly, its exhausts were sticking out on the side just ahead of the front wheel wells. It was later evolved into the iconic Cadillac XP-74 Cyclone Concept, which made a public appearance in 1964. "With them (exhausts) sticking out like that, it probably got dirty (sooted) all the time," Nakita pointed out.
1959 Cadillac Cyclone Concept; with the canopy window and doors opened.
1959 Cadillac Cyclone Concept; with the trunk open for the canopy window.
1959 Ford Levacar Mach I Concept; it was George Jetson's first car. Just kidding... or maybe not. It was a full size prototype that was supposed to be powered by three pocket-sized turbojets instead of wheels. It was proposed to reach 800km/h (500mph). It's likely Ford got slapped across the face by reality and sheepishly swept the project under the rug.
Fun fact: the Levacar Mach I was inspired by the Messerschmitt Me-163, one of the world's greatest NSDAP inventions.
1959 Ford Selene I Concept by Ghia; very little is known. very little is known about it. It was the 1962 Ford Selene II Concept's predecessor that had absolutely nothing in common. It was Tom Tjaarda's first project when he worked at Ghia as a designer.
1959 Renault 900 Concept; the most confusing concept car of all time. What you see here is the front of the car. It had a long bonnet-like trunk in the rear and forward-looking cabin in the front. It was based on a production Renault Dauphine, but with two Dauphine I4 engines put together. "What was Renault trying to accomplish with that clown car?" my husband mocked.
"Das ende!" Nakita finished. Thank you very much for viewing. Cheers!