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OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: vairchet ()
Date: October 08, 2011 10:14AM

What does this remind you of? Do you think GM design teams scam each other? I have got to admit this is another part of General Motor's history I've never heard about let alone the car.

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: vairchet ()
Date: October 08, 2011 10:22AM

More photos:

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: Mel Francis ()
Date: October 08, 2011 11:39AM

I helped Joe Bortz on this restoration and since the rear bumpers were long gone, new parts were made up in fiberglass, which were then chrome plated. As an interesting note, the closest taillights to the original ones were '60 units, bought
from Clark's. They required special adapters to make them fit into this rear fascia, then new bezels were also made up and chrome plated, along with new exhaust tips. In fact, this car and the Monza SS share the same exhaust tips, since the ones on the SS are the leftover, cut-off sections from the Biscayne!

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: jrdriver8 ()
Date: October 08, 2011 12:35PM

Too cool! Thanks for posting this.

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: zarfnober ()
Date: October 08, 2011 12:52PM

You rock Mel! Cool car here,

Rocco

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: bill darcy ()
Date: October 08, 2011 03:02PM

Kinda makes ya wonder how we wound up with jellybean shaped cars.Great post vairchet.Thanks for sharing.

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: gmorphan ()
Date: October 08, 2011 03:44PM

I love the old Motorama type cars of tomorrow. I remember hearing about one particular junkyard up around the GM Design Center where a lot of these cars had ended up. GM had required that they be destroyed, but surprise, surprise. And it's a great thing that some of them weren't. grinning smiley

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: Mel Francis ()
Date: October 08, 2011 04:09PM

The junkyard that GM dealt with was called Warhoops Auto Parts and that was the place that Joe Bortz found the '55 Biscayne, after laying in pieces at the rear of the yard for 30 years. It had been scrapped in 1959 and was exhumed in 1989.

What's really important about this car is that it was the first design study for GM's new mid-size cars of the '60s. By using a perimeter frame, the engineers were able to lower the passengers between the rails and get the overall height down to 52", from the height of 59" on the regular '55 Chevrolet.

Many sections of the body had to be rebuilt, due to damage both in the scrapyard and during its first attempt at body restoration, which didn't go well. My job was to eliminate all the initial rework, straighten the car and put it back together with all the new sections blended.

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: MattNall ()
Date: October 08, 2011 04:19PM

Fascinating work! I'm sure!!





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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: Mel Francis ()
Date: October 08, 2011 05:01PM

It was a fascinating, once-in-a-lifetime experience working on this car, Matt.

I learned a lot about how GM built their early fiberglass concept cars and it was all very high quality construction. After studying the original panels' construction, I duplicated the same layups and materials they used.

Almost none of the original steel body parts had survived. Luckily, all the trim on this car was brass castings, chrome plated, so these parts came through in excellent condition and in some cases, gave me the contour information I needed to shape the new roof panel, for instance.

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: Mel Francis ()
Date: October 08, 2011 05:29PM

Here's an interesting shot that has been photoshopped to show how the car might have looked, if the headlight laws hadn't been so restrictive, forcing them to be mounted up so high. The designers wanted to put them in the fender tips, inside the enclosures. There are lights in the enclosures, but they were made more like parking/turn signal lights. This whole front end is a forecast of the later '64 Riviera styling.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/2011 05:31PM by Mel Francis.

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: jimc ()
Date: October 08, 2011 06:12PM

The "photoshopped" Biscayne without the headlight pods is a much more pleasing design, too Bug Eye Sprite look, the designers should have stuck to their original thinking.

Thanks for sharing.

jimc
1965 Corsa

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: gmorphan ()
Date: October 08, 2011 07:37PM

HOW DO I GET A JOB WORKING ON THIS KIND OF STUFF? cool smiley Very cool!

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: Mel Francis ()
Date: October 08, 2011 08:16PM

Right jimc,

If I owned this car, I'd make a quick mold of the existing hood, modify it without the headlights, laminate a new part and paint it to match the car. I'd always keep the original, but displaying it with the alternate hood shows the strength of the conceptual design, rather than ruining the look with those federal-reg, Bug Eye lamps. In fact, the Bug Eye came later in the 50s. This car might have influenced the design of the Bug Eye! This might also have been the reason it was scrapped, because the front started to look downright ugly, by '59.

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: lgoodwin ()
Date: October 08, 2011 10:09PM

Cool looking car, I love those suicide doors! I found this photo with caption "Cadilac Eldorado 62 Antique Car". Any idea what this is, it's history and relationship to the 55 Biscayne concept?



1962 Corvair 900 sedan1967 Corvair Monza 140/4-speed1968 Corvair 500 coupe1983 Mexican Mustang 5.0
1962 900 sedan needs a home1967 Monza 140/4-spd1968 500 coupe (now my son's)1983 Mexican Mustang 5.0

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: MattNall ()
Date: October 08, 2011 10:15PM

both built by GM design studio...





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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: Mel Francis ()
Date: October 09, 2011 07:29AM

That car was the '56 Pontiac Club de Mer, another amazing concept that was scrapped in the late '50s. The photo above is taken of a replica that was constructed recently by an independent custom builder and sold at the Barrett Jackson auction about three years ago.

Notice, once again, how small this prototype was. Since the European sports cars were so small in the '50s, American designers wanted their sporty cars to be just as compact, so we have cars like the original Monza SS, so small that they are almost too small for any real safety or comfort.

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: Mike Stillwell ()
Date: October 09, 2011 08:39AM

Now why am I not suprised that Mel had a hand in this. Very nice work, my friend.

Mike
YS-117

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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: MattNall ()
Date: October 09, 2011 08:51AM

Seems all divisions had Concept cars.. Here's the Olds...





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Re: OT (sort of): GM Dream Cars
Posted by: Mel Francis ()
Date: October 09, 2011 10:39AM

Right, that's the '54 F-88 MKI and the two pictured here are the '57 F-88 MKII (destroyed) and the final one, the '59 F-88 MKIII. The last one was harley Earl's retirement car, though it was later taken back by GM and destroyed, also.

Why all the destruction of these amazing cars? I think it relates to the clash between Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell's personalities, since there's been no volume of such activities since. The Heritage Center is filled with vehicles that are less important than these lost ones and thankfully, saved ones from the Earl design years.

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