3 of the Most Unique American-built Cars
There have been many unique cars built that each has their own interesting characteristics. Three of these cars are classics built in America during the 1940’s and 50’s; we’d like to take the time to showcase them today.
The 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special was a concept car that was unveiled at the 1954 General Motors Motorama. It was the first 2-seater sports car ever made by Pontiac. It was designed by the renowned Harley Jean and hand built by Hommer LaGassey and Paul Gilland. The build of these cars was very exceptional; they had an all plexi canopy with gull-wing panels and a fiber glass body. The front end had glass covered recessed headlights, two louvers on the fender and two silver stripes leading to the functional air scoops. As for the rear, it featured twin exhaust chrome ports, a custom spare tire that made the cars appear to be jet-powered and bold fenders. The interior boasted a cockpit feel with leather bucket seats and brush finished dials.
Pontiac only built two of these cars, one in Emerald Green and one in Metallic Bronze. They built them with the intention of unveiling them simultaneously at Pan Pacific Auditorium in LA and the Waldorf in New York. These two vehicles still exist and are now both owned by the same Illinois man. He bought one of them at a 2006 Barrett-Jackson auction for $2.8million.
The 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt, nicknames the “push button” because a simple push of a button opened up the rear deck lid, doors and windows. It was made during an era when aerodynamics was “all the rage”. The vehicle was built with slab sides (smooth with no bubbles or creases), hide-away headlights, and enclosed wheels. While it was modeled after the 1940 Crown Imperial, it was definitely ahead of its time. There was nothing particularly unique underneath its hood; it had a 323.5 cubic inch 8 cylinder engine that produced 143hp. Only 6 of the Thunderbolts were built and all of them had different trim and color schemes. Four of the six are still known to be in existence.
Finally, the 1950 GM Futurline “Parade of Progress”was designed by Harley Earl and other General Motors designers to be a self-contained display and transport vehicle. It featured inside lighting, a retractable stage, a center “cupola” cockpit driving position, and dual wheel front axles. This vehicle was used in the Parade of Progress exhibit by “Boss” Kettering that ran with General Motor’s Motorama from 1940-1956. 12 of the Futurlines were built, and three are known to still exist. One of the three has been restored with a 400 cubic inch General Motors truck engine, an on board generator and air conditioning in the driver’s cockpit. This restored version was bought for $4.1 million at a 2006 Barrett-Jackson auction and has been touring Canada for promotional events.