Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Lost Show & Concept Cars: 1954
Three Corvette-based show cars were among the attractions of the 1954 GM Motorama. From foreground to background are the Corvair, Nomad, and the prototype hardtop car. The latter featured a detachable hardtop and roll-up windows; both features would be adopted for the 1956 Corvette. The white Corvette is a production model.
The 1954 Pontiac Strato Streak was a four-door pillarless (no center post) hardtop. It was inspired by the European, Lancia. It was equipped with a straight-eight; 1954 was the final year of this engine. The fate of this car is unknown.
When the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 sold at Barrett-Jackson/Scottsdale several years ago, it created quite a stir among enthusiasts. Some believed it was the car shown on the 1954 GM Motorama circuit. In reality, it is not. It was not even completed by GM! This is what I call the fourth or three built. A body with its doors not even cut out along with enough parts to complete the car (with the exception of a Corvette frame and an engine/transmission) was sent to E.L. Cord of Cord automobile fame. He never built the car and it was subsequently owned by many individuals over the years until it was finally put together in the early 1990s. The pictured car is the third F-88; it was built for GM executive, Sherrod Skinner. Does it still exist?
For the 1954 GM Motorama, two fiberglass dream cars with the Oldsmobile name were exhibited. This one is the Cutlass, a radical departure from the cars being sold at the time. Note its louvered backlight and tapered fastback roof. Another photograph of this car shows it with a Michigan state license plate so it was a running car. It is rumored to have been sold by GM. Does it still exist?
The 1954 Cadillac El Camino (Spanish for "The Royal Highway") was a two-passenger luxury sports car. Cadillac would not field such a car until the '80s with the introduction of the Allante. The spirit of the El Camino lives on with the current Cadillac XLR. The El Camino was reportedly scrapped.
An convertible version of the El Camino was this 1954 Cadillac La Espada (Spanish for "The Sword"). Its color was originally, "Apollo Gold." Unless a second example was built, it was later repainted, "Sword Silver." According to a GM press release this car was equipped with a convertible top which formed a perfect arc when in the up position. In reality, the car may have had no top; no photos seem to exist showing the top up. The fate of this car is unknown, though reportedly its near twin, the El Camino, was scrapped.
Among the trio of fiberglass Cadillac dream cars created for the 1954 GM Motorama was the Park Avenue (and you probably always thought the name belonged to Buick). This show car served as a prototype of the ultra-luxurious Eldorado Brougham which debuted for the 1957 model year. The Park Avenue was probably scrapped.