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6 Futuristic Cars from the Past

Posted on: July 23, 2014 by Platinum Direct

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It doesn’t matter if you were a child of the 1950’s or the 1990’s, we all thought that by the year 2000 we would be driving around in flying Delorean’s and skating on Back-to-the-Future style hoverboards.

Alas, these cars remain very much a dream of the future but it if you were to buy a car as an investment toward this future you might want to take your pick from the spectacular concept cars below. Dreamt up even as early as the 1940’s, these vehicle designs are still considered sophisticated and ahead of our time.

1. l’Oeuf Electrique, 1942

l'Oeuf Electrique
Source: inautonews.com

Putting aside the ridiculous translation of its name, the Electric Egg is a compact vehicle and the brainchild of designer Paul Arzens. The car was created for his personal use in response to the limitations on resources during the Second World War in Germany. Built in 1942 the key benefit of this design, apart from its size and curved transparent plexiglass exterior, is the deft 90kg rear mounted electric motor. Never put into production, it is currently owned by Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris.

2. Tasco Prototype, 1948

Source: jalopyjournal.com

The Tasco was an exercise in exploring futuristic technology and materials that weren’t part of the normal industry practice. Built in 1948 by The American Sports Car Company (TASCO) and designed by Gordon M. Buehrig, the Tasco was the first car with a T-top roof that Buehrig patented and went on to sue General Motors for using on their 68 Vette without licensing.

Sporting a Mercury V8 Engine, the Tasco includes fibreglass steerable front fenders and utilised the relatively new vacuum-forming process to create 3-D models with ABS plastic. This method was later employed worldwide in future car manufacturing techniques. The prototype was donated to the Auburn Cord Dusesenberg Automobile museum by Richie Clyne.

3. General Motors Firebird XP-21, 1954

1954 GM XP21 Firebird
Source: oldcarbrochures.com

The Firebird was futuristic for its day largely because of the ambition to create an engine that was fuel efficient with a sleek design. An homage to the air travel and space travel obsession during the fifties, General Motors built the Firebird in 1953 and was the brainchild of GM Styling Vice President, Harley J. Earl. The Firebird boasted the first gas turbine automobile built in America which was intended to be used as an efficient and economic model for future vehicles. The Firebird’s sleek design was unfortunately outweighed by the noise it produced and the impracticality of being a single seater vehicle. The model is currently housed in the General Motors Heritage Centre, Warren, Michigan.

4. Chrysler Ghia Streamline X ‘Gilda’, 1955

Ghia Gilda Streamline X Coupe Concept
Source: supercars.net

Employing the science of aerodynamics, the 1955 Gilda was ahead of its time. Combining a strong focus on synthesising automotive and aerodynamic principles, Chrysler partnered with Italian company Ghia and their engineer and chief stylist Giovanni to produce Gilda. Strongly influenced by jet airplanes, the Gilda was shaped liked a missile with the wings acting as purposeful aerodynamic aids. Gilda’s pointy fins went on to influence vehicle designs from Chrysler’s brand, Cadillac and General Motors. With a unique aviation researched gas turbine engine, Gilda is permanently displayed at the Henry Ford Museum and nicknamed after the 1946 movie starring Rita Hayworth of the same name.

5. Cadillac Cyclone XP-74, 1959

Source: boldride.com

Another creation conceived during an era where the aesthetics of design were heavily influenced by space travel and aircraft, the Cadillac Cyclone XP-74 was a visual embodiment of this fascination. Also built by Harley J. Earl in 1959, the Cyclone features futuristic jet aircraft trims, including a bubble canopy, sweeping fenders and afterburner tail-light housings as well as an intercom system by which those in the car could communicate with those outside without having to open the full canopy. With a front mounted 390in engine, the Cyclone was never finished with Earl pulling it from production prematurely. It did however predict crash detection technology, which is prevalent in vehicles today.

6. Ferrari 512S Modulo, 1970

Ferrari 512S Modulo
Source: classicdriver.com.au

The design of the Modulo heavily referenced space craft from science fiction entertainment of the day and was an exercise in pure creativity of automobile production with no pressure or expectation of the outcome. In 1970 Ferrari gave one of their 512s to coachbuilder, Pininfarina, with designer Paolo Martin at the helm. The result was the Modulo’s spaceship like design, which won 22 awards with its glass canopy that slides forward to allow entry and exit. The mid-mounted V12 engine was visible through 24 aesthetically intriguing holes above the engine cover and the diminutive vehicle stands at a modest 37 inches high. Only one was ever produced, which is housed at the Museo Pininfarina.

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