December 5, 2022

In the 1960’s the average car cost just under $3,000 and gas prices were under .35 cents at the time.  General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler all dominated the American market with 93% of the Automobiles sold in America, but in the early ’50s imports came over and caused American automakers to not just think about large cars, but caused them to compete with smaller sized vehicles as well. Obsessed with aircraft, fins, dome roofs, and advancing technology American car companies produced some of the greatest concept cars in those times. This is part 1 of Amazing American Concept cars of the ’60s.  

1959/1960 Cadillac Cyclone

The 1959 Cadillac Cyclone was designed by Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell. It was heavily inspired by aviation and rocket designs of the 1950s. It was ahead of its time and gave a futuristic feel. The Cyclone featured a fully powered flip-top canopy that disappeared in the trunk when the driver preferred the top down. With the top up in place, the Cyclone’s top received a vaporized silver coating to deflect the sun’s rays as well as van sliding doors to help passengers enter and exit the vehicle. You may be asking yourself how they interacted with people outside of the vehicle when the top was raised. Designers simply put a rectangle compartment that could be opened on the door. To make sure owners could be heard the Cyclone was equipped with an external speaker. That’s not the only cool features that the Cyclone showcased, Cadillac equipped the front torpedo-like fenders with a high-tech radar-based guidance system. This allowed for the possible advancing of smart roads and now typically standard on most vehicles a proximity warning system that would relay an alert to the driver of oncoming obstacles. The Cyclone was powered by Cadillac’s 390 cubic inch V8 which produced 325 horsepower.

1961 Chrysler Turboflite

The futuristic Turboflite was designed and constructed for Chrysler by the coachbuilding firm of Ghia of Turin, Italy. It was designed by Maury Baldwin. It came equipped with a Chrysler’s third-generation C2A turbine engine which came in weighing half as much as a conventional V8 at the time. it never received a functional powertrain, but a 110-volt outlet was connected to showcase all of its features like the raising canopy and lighting. On the rear, the Turboflite sported a mammoth of a rear wing that inspired the Dodge Charger Daytona and the Plymouth Superbird which was created nearly eight years later.

Plymouth XNR Concept (1960)

Originally called the Plymouth Asymmetrical, but later was renamed the XNR. This would have been Plymouth’s first full-blown sports car, the XNR was going to directly challenge the Chevrolet Corvette and the Ford Falcon, but the show car never made it into production. The XNR body lines paid homage to various jets, rockets, and other aircraft. XNR chassis was used from a modified Plymouth Valiant. The XNR produced 250 horsepower and had a top speed of 150 miles per hour which was very impressive for the ’60s. When the XNR didn’t make it to production it was returned to its original builder which was the Italian firm Ghia and saw many buyers. Eventually, it was restored and auctioned off for nearly a million dollars!

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