If you take a look at some of the concept cars that Chevrolet has developed over the years, and even today, you will realize that an eye to the future is always incorporated. The designs always seem to look futuristic, and although the cars on display cannot fly, they definitely did have a futuristic jet-age look and feel. The very first concept car to appear at an auto show, was the Buick Y-Job in 1938. Harley Earl’s design was an immediate success, and the concept car in general became a viable prototype made to showcase an idea, a new styling direction, and/or showcase new technologies.
So for our Throwback Thursday, let’s check out a couple of Chevrolet’s concept cars of the past.
1954 Corvette Nomad
With the success of the new Corvette in 1953, Chevrolet decided to try a new idea, the Corvette station wagon. The 1954 Corvette Nomad was designed by Harley Earl and his design staff, and debuted at the 1954 General Motors Motorama in New York City. Although the wagon possessed many design cues from the Corvette—and did make use of many Corvette components, the Nomad was actually built on a modified 1953 Chevrolet sedan chassis.
The Nomad concept was fitted with a 150 hp Corvette six-cylinder engine with a Powerglide transmission. This fiberglass show car had enough room to seat six passengers, and the tailgate had electrically-powered glass.
This four-door hardtop was heralded by GM as “an exploration in elegance.” At the 1955 Motorama, the car made its debut and featured the all-new 265 cubic-inch small-block V-8 engine. Sitting in the cockpit, the driver was greeted by a “Stratospheric” windshield that curved into the roof line, and swiveling front seats were incorporated to aid vehicle entry and exit.
The design was a stretch from then-current models, but the long fairings encompassing the headlamps, and the series of vertical grille bars baked by fine mesh was truly a futuristic design. There are distinctive reverse facing side coves that wrapped around the rear of the car, and the rear doors open in suicide fashion. The car was painted in brilliant Atlantic Green, and if you look closely, you might see a few design ideas that made their way to future Corvettes.
1956 Corvette Impala
Appearing at the 1956 GM Motorama show was the Corvette Impala. This five passenger conveyance featured a Corvette grille and grille surround, as well as other Corvette components. The Corvette Impala emblem on the front, and rear license plate, led show-goers to believe that the Corvette was to become a passenger car.
Show goers had no idea how correct they were, as Chevrolet built this Corvette-inspired passenger car to find out if such a vehicle was desirable. Apparently, the design did not garner the appeal that Chevrolet was hoping for. Not only did the car have design features from the Corvette, it also sported the 265 cubic-inch V-8 from the production two-seater. Just like the Corvette, the Corvette Impala was built with fiberglass body panels.
Probably the most famous of Chevrolet’s concept cars is the XP-755 concept car known as the Mako Shark. The car was designed in 1961 by Larry Shinoda with General Motors’ Styling and Design supervisor Bill Mitchell.
Rumor has it that Mitchell had an actual Mako shark mounted on the wall in his office, and he wanted the paint on the car to match the shark’s blueish-gray upper body that blended into white underside of the fish. After several attempts to match the fish’s color scheme failed, the team supposedly “borrowed” the fish one night, and painted it to match the car.
1967 Waikiki Camaro
Before Camaro became a household word, Chevrolet wanted to test different variants of the car. This led to the 1967 Waikiki concept. This was an uncharacteristically low-budget concept car designed to show the versatility of the new Camaro.
As near as we can tell, Chevrolet just added a pair of rectangular headlights, a different grille, simulated wood side-trim, and wire wheels. Waikiki badging was also included on each front fender. Although the skyline in the background doesn’t look very Hawaiian, you get the point.
1970 Camaro Kammback
If you’re like us, your first thought when seeing this concept has to be, “really?” The Chevrolet sports-wagon ponycar was actually on schedule for a 1970 introduction, but never appeared in showrooms.
When the 1967 Camaro went on sale, General Motors designers were already planning their next-generation ponycar, as work was ongoing to design the all-new 1970 model. When looking at optional models for the ponycar, development of an F-body sports-wagon was contemplated as a companion model for the hardtop. The idea seemed practical, as many consumers still remembered the 1955-1957 Nomad wagon and its two-door styling.
Under the guidance of Frank Haga and Bill Porter, Chevrolet mocked up full-size sports-wagon. As one could have predicted, the front of the sports wagon was to be identical to the coupe, but an extended roof line with long side windows would be added. The abruptly-ended rear end of the body prompted the “Kammback” nickname. Although not verifiable, it is thought that tailgates were likely designed as top-hinged hatch lids with a small window.
Management at Chevrolet wanted the Kammback to go into production, but they worried that the extra tooling expense was cost-prohibitive, and the project was scrapped.
Article courtesy of Chevy Hardcore, written by Randy Bolig.
In 1964, Americans were headed to worlds unknown with the Mariner Spacecraft program, The Beatles invaded America, and President Lyndon Johnson escalated the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. For Chevrolet, somethings changed, some stayed the same, and some brand-new models were released.
The Chevy II changed very little for 1964. That is, unless you don’t count the addition of a V-8 to the lineup as a big change. The new, 195hp optional V-8 came to the game with 283 cubic-inches. Unfortunately, drop-top fans were not happy, as the convertible went away this year. Now offered with the available SS option, 10,576 Chevy IIs were produced with the Super Sport “SS” option in 1964.
The Impala received a minor restyling, to give it a more rounded look. The 409 cubic-inch engine returned as the big-block option, and was available with dual four-barrel carburetors on the 425hp engines. Super Sport models continued to feature the engine-turned aluminum trim.
New for 1964 was the Chevelle. Initially, the intention was for the Chevelle to go head-to-head with the Ford Fairlane. Two-door hardtop coupes, and convertibles, four-door sedans, and four-door station wagons were offered throughout the entire run. Six-cylinder and V-8 engines were offered on all models. Originally thought to be an upsized model of the Chevy II, GM’s “senior compact” A-platform Chevelle used a body-on-frame construction, using a suspension similar to its full-sized cars, with a four-link rear suspension.
Early 1964 Chevelles had a Malibu SS badges on the rear quarter panel. The $162 Super Sport package was available on the upscale Malibu two-door hardtop and convertible models. The option added special exterior trim and SS emblems. Inside, the bucket-seat interior featured a console on models using the Muncie four-speed-manual or Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission. The available 283 cubic-inch four-barrel V-8 delivered 220-horsepower, which was the same rating as the 1957 Chevy with the Power-Pak 283 cubic-inch engine. The Chevelle could also be ordered with a 327-cubic-inch V-8 with either 250 or 300hp. Both engines used a four-barrel carburetor.
Regardless of what Chevrolet you were driving, you were the envy of others that parked next to you in the drive in, as you watched It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
Article courtesy of Chevy hardcore, written by Randy Bolig.
It would be hard to build a custom vehicle for someone who has specific requests about what the car should look like, especially when they don't know the car is actually being built.
That's the case of Carrie Flanders' husband, Steve, who not only took extraordinary measures to purchase and oversee the construction of his wife's dream car, but to also successfully hide the fact it was being built for her over the last three years!
Steve, who owns and operates Brothers Truck Parts (an aftermarket supplier of '47-87 Chevy truck parts) in Corona, California, has spent many of his 48 years collecting and building all sorts of vehicles, and it's been a hobby ever since he graduated high school. As Steve's high school sweetheart, Carrie, has endured his love of cars for just as many years, and she used to joke about Steve's collection of up to 20 cars at a time with the fact she drove the family Suburban.
Over the years Steve has offered to buy some sort of fun car for Carrie to drive, but she never took him up on the offer, that is until one day when she says she found her "dream car." Carrie had captured a cell phone picture of a ratty old primered station wagon that had been driving around town and showed it to Steve, reminding him of his offer. Steve researched the car in the photo and found it was a 1957 Oldsmobile Fiesta wagon.
Out of the wagon business through most of the early '50s, Oldsmobile reintroduced the body style in 1957 with pillar and pillerless versions and, in limited production, a top-of-the-line Super 88 Fiesta hardtop wagon. Not exactly a run-of-the-mill vehicle or particularly easy to find.
Without telling his wife, Steve began the search for her car by checking out the Internet and, after losing out on a few because they sold before he could get to them, Steve eventually tracked down a likely candidate completely across the country in Connecticut.
It was a 74,000-mile, rust-free, original-paint car with all its trim intact and in good shape, so the deal was made and the wagon stealthily shipped to the truck parts store's warehouse. The original idea was to add a decent drivetrain and update the chassis so the wagon could compete with a contemporary vehicle, but the first shop Steve took the car to couldn't provide the quality of workmanship he was looking for, so he pulled the project.
Dave Welch, of A.R.T. Customs in Jurupa Valley, was already doing work for Steve on another vehicle in his shop and, after some conversation about how it should be done, Steve turned the wagon project over to Welch to get it finished. Welch, helped at his shop by Jason Dunaj, went through the car from top to bottom.
The chassis features airbags front and rear (with ShockWaves and an AccuAir system added up front) as well as a four-way disc brake setup. A custom four-link was also fab'd, and Welch designed the custom aluminum 28-gallon gas tank, which was made by No Limit Engineering. Circle Racing Wheels' billet smoothie 18x9.5 rears and 18x8 fronts are wrapped in Falken 285/45R18 and 245/50R18 tires (ground for a 1.75-inch whitewall) and topped with original '57 Olds poverty/dog dish hubcaps.
Rather than go with a vintage powertrain, Steve wanted a higher level of reliability for his wife's ride, so an '07 5.3 Chevy LS motor, backed to a 4L60E transmission, went into the engine compartment. Welch fab'd the mandrel-bent 2-1/4-inch exhaust for the wagon and used Flowmaster 70 Series mufflers. An aluminum radiator from Northern Radiator helps keep the engine running cool, and the motor was topped with a modified engine cover that features a gold paintjob (like the engine blocks of the original Olds Rocket engines) and a custom Rocket 88 emblem from South Bay Customs.
Welch and Dunaj also finished the car's bodywork before covering the car with House of Kolor products—from primer to clear. To get the right shade of magenta, 16 different blends were concocted before the final hue was decided upon. Once the car had its color, it was shipped to Frank's Hot Rod Upholstery in Temecula for its threads. Frank, with son Frankie, created the vintage look of the interior while updating certain areas to contemporary standards. A combination of magenta, gray, and white vinyl and cloth was used throughout, including the factory bench seat that is now equipped with six-way power actuators from an '07 Suburban.
Now when she drops the kids off at their school, people point and take pictures.Back at Steve's shop for the final six months of assembly, the team had to be careful when Carrie would come by. Luckily she never saw the project, partially because the guys took extra care to cover it or block it from view with stacked boxes when she would visit the facility!
Welch and Dunaj continued on finishing up the car with a Power Plus Series 20 wiring kit from American Autowire and installing a substantial stereo system. A Custom Autosound CAS-630 unit with Bluetooth interface was coupled to Alpine MRX-V70 five-channel amplifier and Alpine speakers, and the vintage Coleman ice chest resting in the back of the car actually houses a Kicker-based subwoofer system that helps crank out the sound. Also wired up is the Dakota Digital universal gauge kit that was modified to fit the original Olds gauge housing, and Vintage Air Gen IV A/C is delivered through four dash vents fitted to the dash by Welch. Charles Sihilling Metal Polishing in Santa Ana, California, took care of all the car's chrome and polished trim pieces.
When he first got the car, Steve thought a quick go-through would do the job but, as time and reality eventually checked in, the process took a bit longer. During that time Steve was trying to figure out on what occasion would it be right to surprise his wife with the gift.
As it turned out, the car was being finished in the summer of 2014, just in time for the couple's 22nd wedding anniversary. The pair had decided to renew their wedding vows and, after the evening's ceremony and festivities were over, Steve handed over the claim ticket to the valet to retrieve the family car.
Unbeknownst to Carrie, arrangements had already been made to swap the family car for the wagon, and she was genuinely floored when it rolled up to the curb. Surprised to say the least, she first exclaimed "That's a Fiesta!" when she saw the car rolling down the street. But then she noticed their valet driving it, and it started to sink in, but it didn't really hit her until they had started driving back home on how her husband had managed to pull off such an elaborate undertaking.
Now when she drops the kids off at their school, people point and take pictures, something Carrie is slowly getting used to. Plus she has also found a lot of women who see her driving it give her a "thumbs up," something that didn't happen when she drove her Suburban. Now when she gets behind the wheel, she says "Every day is a fun day when I get to drive it."
Article courtesy of Hot Rod Network Street Rodder, written by Eric Geisert.
Chrysler’s relationship with Italian design firm Ghia brought it a fair amount of time in the spotlight, a fact that did not go unnoticed by rival automaker Hudson. Fresh from the success of the Hudson Hornet in NASCAR, and looking for a way to market its new-for-1953 Jet compact, Hudson contracted with Italy’s Carrozzeria Touring on a Jet-based grand tourer, ultimately called the Italia. Counting the initial prototype, 26 were reportedly built, and next month the second-to-last production example, chassis IT10024, will roll across the auction stage in California.
The Hudson Italia was designed by Frank Spring, Hudson’s chief stylist, and Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni, his counterpart at Carrozzeria Touring. The Italia project was a consolation prize for Spring; his initial design for the Hudson Jet was so radically altered by the time the car hit production that Spring threatened to quit. To pacify him, Hudson management dangled the carrot of a concept sports car, something that Spring had long pestered the company’s management to build.
Designing an all-new model from the ground up was deemed cost-prohibitive, so it was Spring who made the initial contact with Touring. Production Hudson Jets were shipped to Touring in Milan, where the steel body was replaced with a superleggera body of hand-formed aluminum over a frame of thin-wall steel tubing. To call the design radical is a bit of an understatement, and the Italia sported triangular fender vents above the front wheels (presumably to aid in brake cooling, though these vents were not ducted), triangular bumper adornment, a wrap-around windshield and faux “exhausts” in the rear fenders that held taillamps, directional and stop lamps.
Inside, the Italia’s most unique feature was its two-passenger Mid-Century Modern seating. Each front bucket utilized a relatively conventional seat bottom, coupled with a twin-cushion upper that used foams of different density in each pad for added comfort. The gap between the cushions was intentional, and allowed the seats to “breathe” for added passenger comfort. One departure from convention was the use of leather seat belts, which were optimistically mounted to the seats themselves instead of a stronger and more rigid structure.
Though the Italia presented a more sporting appearance than the Jet, it was offered only with that model’s 202-cu.in. L-head six-cylinder engine, topped by a two-barrel Carter carburetor and rated at 114 horsepower. The sole transmission offering was a column-mounted three speed, but despite this, Hudson reportedly had plans to run the car in the touring car class at the La Carrera Panamericana. Doing so would require a run of 25 cars for homologation purposes, so Hudson contracted with Touring for an additional 25 cars after the initial prototype was completed.
The Italia proved to be a tough sell, and not just because of its unconventional styling. Despite cheaper labor, the expense of building the car in Italy raised the manufacturing cost, prompting Hudson to slap an F.O.B. Detroit dealer price of $4,800 on the coupe. In 1955, that was nearly double the retail price of a Ford Thunderbird, $1,866 more than a Chevrolet Corvette and $1,132 more than a Kaiser Darrin. In fact, it was even $495 more than a Cadillac Coupe de Ville, limiting the Italia’s appeal to a select group of well-heeled buyers; reportedly, just 19 Hudson dealers agreed to purchase Italias, leading to some confusion on the actual number built, shipped or sold in North America.
When American Motors merged with Hudson in 1954, it soon became apparent that the Italia program had reached its end. Perhaps angered by the loss of future business, Touring refused to manufacture or distribute spare parts, leaving potential Italia buyers to source comparable replacements on their own in the event of body damage.
The early history of chassis IT10024 is a bit hazy, but by the end of the 1950s the coupe had been acquired by UFO researcher Trevor Constable. It’s not clear how long Constable owned the car, but during his stewardship, a rear window wiper, fog lamps and Italian flag badging were added. At some point during the car’s history, possibly under Constable’s time with the car, the six-cylinder Hudson engine and three-speed transmission were pulled, replaced by a 283-cu.in. Chevrolet V-8 coupled to a four-speed, floor-shift manual transmission, though this drivetrain would also go missing.
Sometime in the early to mid-1970s, chassis IT10024 was acquired by collector Carl Mendoza, who parked the car (minus its driveline) in a San Jose garage. It would remain there for the next four decades, the property changing hands and the car eventually changing owners by default. As offered, the car remains without engine or transmission, though sourcing a Hudson straight-six and three-speed transmission should not prove especially problematic for the Italia’s buyer.
Gooding & Company anticipates a selling price between $100,000 and $125,000 when the car crosses the auction stage at Pebble Beach. For additional information on the company’s California sale, visit GoodingCo.com.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, wirtten by Kurt Ernst.
For 1957, Dodge invited consumers to “Step into the wonderful world of Autodynamics” with its newly styled range of “Swept-Wing” automobiles. Atop the brand’s model range were the Custom Royal models, which came powered by the Red Ram V-8. Those wanting more thrust from their Custom Royals had several options, including the range-topping 310-horsepower Super D-500 V-8. Last weekend, a 1957 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer two-door hardtop with both the Super D-500 V-8 and Airtemp factory air conditioning traded hands at the RM Sotheby’s auction in Detroit, selling for a fee-inclusive price of $49,500.
Chrysler’s marketing department kicked into high gear to promote the new 1957 Dodge models, which featured Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look” styling. Ads described elements of the new design by sparing no hyperbole; the grille, for example, was a ““crisp, clean Mono-Grille that’s smartly massive,” while the front lamp arrangement boasted “hooded, Twin-Set Driving and Parking Lights – in a distinctive side-by-side ‘foreign car’ arrangement.” Describing the overall look of the 1957 Dodge models, ad copy read, “The graceful, classic lines sweep back, back, then flair up with a dramatic flourish of soaring swept-wings.” Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that sales grew by nearly 17 percent from the year before.
Changes to the Custom Royal models weren’t limited to the exterior, either. Underneath, the new front suspension utilized torsion bars for a big improvement in ride quality, while the rear suspension retained a tried-and-true leaf spring design. Further aiding ride comfort, wheels were decreased in size from 15-inch to 14-inch, allowing the use of a taller tire sidewall to soak up bumps and potholes.
The standard engine for Custom Royal models was the 325-cu.in. Super Red Ram V-8, which produced a respectable 260 horsepower. Those wanting more output could select the D-500 engine option, which raised output to 285 horsepower from the same displacement, but the top engine choice was the Super D-500, which added a second four-barrel carburetor to deliver 310 horsepower. The three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission became an option in 1957, but a three-speed manual transmission was also available for those who preferred to row their own gears.
Chassis 37275779, the car sold on July 25, was well-equipped, built with options such as air conditioning, a power front seat, power brakes, power steering, power windows and a push-button radio. Recently restored in paint code TLC (Glacier White with Velvet Blue Metallic), the car was sold from the collection of Howard and Norma Weaver.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Kurt Ernst.
When Preston Tucker’s automobile factory closed, it left behind the makings of more than a dozen additional vehicles, some of them rather easy to assemble, some a little more difficult. Now, more than 65 years later, one of the latter will soon make has made its public debut and become quite possibly the last Tucker to ever be built.
For the last quarter century, the total number of Tucker 48s built (not including the Tin Goose prototype) has stood at 51: 37 built and sold from the factory in Chicago, 13 completed after Tucker shut its doors, and one built from parts decades later. Yet Tucker enthusiasts have long known of a collection of parts floating around the collector car community that could, feasibly, come together to build one more Tucker. Those parts just needed somebody intrepid enough to put them all together.
A number of collectors tried, according to Jay Follis, former president of the Tucker Automobile Club of America. Ezra Schlipf, who bought much of the contents of the Tucker factory at its bankruptcy auction in 1950, sold most of the parts necessary to build a whole car – the cowl, dash, seats, and chassis of car #1052; the front sheetmetal from car #1018; NOS bumpers, front doors, quarter panels and decklid; and an engine and transmission – to Stan Gilliland, one of the co-founders of the Tucker club. Gilliland never assembled the parts into a whole, though, and ended up selling the lot to Dick Kughn, who in turn sold it to Wayne Lensing, who had planned to use the parts to create an exhibit replicating the Tucker assembly line.
Meanwhile, Tucker enthusiast John Schuler of Aurora, Indiana, had begun his own search for a Tucker to purchase or restore. “When I started, there was this period where nobody was selling Tuckers,” he said. “And then when they did start selling them, the prices kept going up.” He did manage to buy a Tucker six-cylinder air-cooled engine, but he kept missing out on private sales or getting outbid on Tuckers at auction.
Schuler knew of Lensing’s parts collection, but plenty of other Tucker enthusiasts before him had tried and failed to convince Lensing to sell the parts. “I think my timing was just right,” Schuler said. “Wayne’s dream was getting a little harder to fulfill, so he decided to sell.”
So in the spring of 2010, Schuler sent the parts to Tucker expert Martyn Donaldson to have him take inventory of the haul. According to Tucker historians, factory engineers used chassis #1052 as the testbed for the automatic transmission Preston Tucker initially envisioned for the car; the engineers were actually able to get it running and driving around the factory with a dashboard and seats bolted to the chassis. Tucker #1018 had been wrecked in 1948, but its front sheetmetal remained undamaged. Schuler couldn’t likely source another automatic transmission – only one complete automatic transmission car had been built – so he had Gilliland rebuild a Tucker Y-1 transmission for the car.
The only major parts the haul didn’t include were rear doors, a roof, and a floor. Donaldson then sent the partially assembled car on to Brian Joseph at Classic and Exotic Service in Troy, Michigan, where Joseph not only fabricated a floor and roof, but also a pair of rear doors, using patterns from other Tuckers the shop has worked on.
“I didn’t realize when I started what a big job it was,” Schuler said.
With the entire assembly/restoration completed earlier this month and the Tucker now running and driving and painted maroon like the Tin Goose, Schuler said he believes #1052 will be the last Tucker built using mostly original parts. “Jay, who’s been around the Tucker hobby long enough to know, said he doesn’t think there’s enough parts out there to make another car,” Schuler said.
The most recent Tucker to be completed using original parts like Schuler’s was #1051, which Chick DeLorenzo completed in the late 1980s using body #1054. Some observers tend not to think of that car as an authentic Tucker, and Schuler said he’s already heard similar criticism of his car. “There are a few people against it,” he said. “Why? That’s a good question. We’re not saying this car is something it’s not, we’re not saying it rolled off the assembly line, we’re just saying it’s basically some Tucker parts we’ve put together. I think most people will be excited about seeing another one.”
Tucker #1052 debuted this past weekend at the Concours d’Elegance of America in St. John’s, Michigan (where it won its class), and will make a followup appearance at the Red Barns Spectacular at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, where Follis serves as director of marketing. This year’s 35th annual Red Barns Spectacular will also include a De Lorean gathering to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Back to the Future films, a special display of highwheelers, and a Tin Can Tourist Camp.
The Red Barns Spectacular will take place Saturday, August 1. For more information, visit GilmoreCarMuseum.org.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.