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.