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In Celebration of 100th Birthday, GM Releases List of Top 10 Concept Cars

Posted in auto industry, Classic, Concept Cars, GM, History by Suzanne Denbow | August 28th, 2008 | 2 Responses |

Narrowly escaping the “blatant self promotion” tag under the shield of their centennial celebration, yesterday GM released a list of the 10 most innovative, groundbreaking concept cars they’ve designed over the past 100 years.

1. 2007 Chevrolet Volt

Scheduled to go from concept to reality in 2010, the Chevy Volt is an extended-range electric vehicle expected to produce zero emissions and consume absolutely no gasoline when averaging about 40 miles a day.

2. 2002 AUTOnomy

The first vehicle designed “from the ground up”, the AUTOnomy was GM’s answer to CEO Rick Wagoner’s question: “What if we were inventing the automobile today instead of a century ago?”

3. 1990 Impact

The precursor to the Chevy Volt, the Impact was GM’s first sport step into the Electric Car field. Some auto enthusiasts speculate that the Impact’s, well, impact, extended beyond GM itself, citing the design similarities between it and the Toyota Prius.

4. 1987 Sunraycer

GM’s solar-powered concept car that won the first World Solar Challenge in Australia, video of which became the most heavily watched film footage in elementary school science classes ever, scandalously upstaging Bill Nye.

5. 1970 Vauxhall SRV

Reportedly never intended for production, the Vauxhall SRV was a media stunt of sorts [albeit an expensive and meticulously engineered one] intended to publicize the Vauxhall line as being on the cutting edge of automobile design.

6. 1965 Experimental Opel GT

An aerodynamic sports coupe, when the Opel GT hit the market abroad in 1968, it became the first European concept car to ever reach actual production.

7. 1961 Chevrolet XP-755 Mako Shark

With Chevy Volt production still 2 years away, the 1961 Chevy Mako Shark is undoubtedly one of the most successful concept cars, at least in terms of longevity and popularity. As a concept car, the Mako Shark served as Chevy’s blueprint for the Corvette, introduced 2 years later in 1963.

8. 1954, 1956, and 1958 Firebird series

Heavily influenced by the aggressive design of early fighter jets, GM’s Firebird concept cars were designed by Harley Earl and were intended to serve no other purpose other than showcase the exceptional talent and skill GM’s design arm possessed.

9. 1951 Le Sabre

GM’s first post-war concept car, the Le Sabre was pitched as “an experimental laboratory on wheels.” All of it’s technologically advanced designs, like a rain sensor that automatically raised the roof and windows during inclement weather, were fully functional and admittedly impressive, even against today’s standards.

10. 1938 Buick Y Job

A pre-war offering from GM, the Buick Y-Job was the brainchild of Harvey Earl and is generally viewed as the first “concept car” ever completely created. When Early retired from GM in 1959, he explained his design philosophy which had catapulted GM into the realms of tremendous success, “You will never know what the industrial products of the future will be like, but the secret is to keep trying to find out.”

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2 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    The 58 Firebird (I assume the one on the right) looks like something everyone wants to have. A bubble to protect you from boring conversations while you’re trying to do 100 on the local winding road.
    Other than that, most people that have any car knowledge can pick out details that actually did transfer into production cars.

    I’m still waiting for my transporter beam though.

  2. The 1954 Oldsmobile F-88, was a fiberglass sports car, built on a shortened ’53 Olds chassis, for the Motorama show of 1954. The story I heard from a collector who used to own one – and graciously allowed me to have a ride in it – was that Chevrolet leaned on the Powers That Be at GM, back then, to kill the F-88. Chevrolet’s Corvette was itself struggling to gain acceptance by enthusiasts. Hence, Chevrolet didn’t want competition from another division – so the story went.

    In January of 2005, the very car I had ridden in back in December of 2001, was sold at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. The final price tag was $3.24 million, including buyer’s fee. Yes, it’s arcane; but at that price, I think maybe it could subplant something on Suzanne’s list.