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« Motorama Class of 1954 | Main | Quote for the Day »

July 28, 2008

Motorama 1956 Show Cars

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Yesterday I wrote about General Motors' big traveling Motorama exhibit and its show cars. I mentioned that some of the most interesting cars were featured in the 1954-56 Motoramas, the best of the crop appearing in 1955.

In the previous posting, I dealt with the 1954 show and today I'll present three cars from 1956. I'll save the 1955s for next time -- why end with a whimper.


Buick Centurion
Glass-wrapping technology seems to have advanced since the 1954 Motorama because the Centurion's windshield wraps over into the roof as well as around to the sides. Double-wrapped windshields appeared on some production cars from GM, Ford and Chrysler for the 1959 model year. The Centurion's main Buick identity cue is the "sweep-spear" chromed paint-tone separator along the side. The windshield and backlight (rear window) pillars have complementary angles, a theme explored on some of the 1954 show cars.

Chevrolet Impala
The Impala (a name Chevrolet soon applied to production models) looks like it shares the same body as the Centurion, above. General Motors stylists in 1940s and 50s were masters at taking common body shells (typically three, shared in various combinations by the five brands) and applying style themes that identified each brand so strongly that many buyers might well have been ignorant that their hot new 1950 V-8 Olds Rocket 88 shared its body with the lowly "stove bolt six" Chevy owned by the next-door neighbor. The Impala/Centurion show car seems on the small side compared to contemporary production cars (I have no statistics to validate my hunch), but it was definitely small compared to standard Detroit cars from the late 50s to the mid 1970s. However, compact models began being introduced at the start of the 60s, so perhaps these show cars were anticipating that move.

Oldsmobile Golden Rocket
I mentioned in yesterday's posting that most Motorama show cars of the mid-50s were surprisingly practical. The Golden Rocket shown here pretty well fails that measure. True, the car was (or could have been) drivable. But the curious three-pronged front end would have paid for luxurious retirements for insurance adjusters had that motif actually been produced. The Golden Rocket seems to be yet another "What the hell" from the Olds styling section, though in a different vein from the F-88 created for the 1954 Motorama.



posted by Donald at July 28, 2008


OH GOD, you're killing me. The Golden Rocket is insane!

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 28, 2008 6:49 PM

That Olds looks more like the Batmobile.

I sort of like the Impala. It almost looks like one of today's car designs trying to be retro.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on July 28, 2008 8:07 PM

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