1950s Cars For The 21st Century
By James Grahame
You have the chance of a lifetime to experience a fleet of classic GM concept cars at the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance on Saturday August 16, 2008. Nearly all were featured in one of eight GM Motorama shows between 1949 and 1961, which showcased a stunning array of mouth-watering automobiles to feed America's post-war appetite for mobility.
The 1953 GM Motorama marked the first time that show cars were presented to the public, including the futuristic fiberglass Chevrolet Corvette. Amazingly, GM ordered the destruction of many of these pre-production vehicles after their exhibition. A company executive was required to witness them getting cut and crushed, although I suspect they were none to excited at the thought of demolishing these gems.
Several were eventually discovered in a Detroit junkyard by auto enthusiast Joe Bortz, who restored them to their former glory. The Bortz collection will be exhibited alongside nearly a dozen dream cars preserved by GM.
All that's needed to bring some of them up to date is a touch of carbon fiber trim, an iPod dock and an eco-friendly engine that runs on hominy grits.
The experimental Firebird gas turbine car mirrored the nation's fascination with sleek jet aircraft. You can almost imagine the smell of charred tricycles and incinerated garages doors throughout the nation. Still, GM's turbine couldn't hold a candle to Ford's fanciful (and potentially apocalyptic) nuclear-powered concept.