the view through the windshield
1951 Le Sabre - Postwar General Motors Dream

In 1938, Harley Earl, head of General Motors Styling Division, designed the Y-Job, arguably the first concept car. It contained many novel features and Earl often drove it to help showcase the company's capabilities and hint at future design directions.

After World War II, the once-futuristic Y-Job was beginning to look dated, so Earl, now a vice-president at GM, commissioned a new concept car, the 1951 Le Sabre.

This so-called "dream car" drew its design inspiration from the F86 jet fighter aircraft (especially the narrow and rounded front and rear scoops) and other aircraft-inspired design elements such as the wraparound windshield and tailfins, which became common on automotive designs later in the decade. The Le Sabre was billed as an "experimental laboratory on wheels" and was powered by a 215 cubic-inch, supercharged V-8 engine with two carburetors and fuel tanks.

One carburetor drew premium gasoline from the first tank when the car traveled at low or constant speed. When the driver accelerated, the second carburetor drew from the second tank, which was filled with methanol. The Le Sabre also featured a convertible roof that would automatically close when activated by a rain sensor.

The Le Sabre was equipped with other advanced features, including a 12-volt electrical system (most cars of the period were 6-volt), heated seats, electric headlights concealed behind the center oval 'jet intake' grille and electric lifting jacks integral to the chassis to aid tire changes.

For weight savings, The Le Sabre was constructed of aluminum and cast magnesium. It was powered a newly-designed cast-aluminum 215 cu.in. hemi-head V-8 with a Roots-type supercharger. The result was an impressive 335 horsepower and 381 pound-feet of torque.

After the Le Sabre made the rounds of various auto shows, Harley Earl used it as his personal vehicle. The Le Sabre is still owned by General Motors and now part of the GM Heritage Center collection. I saw the Le Sabre in person when it was on loan to the Henry Ford Museum in 1995. It looked stunning in person; photos and illustrations don't do the car justice. (10/29/15)

Cars In Scale
This 1:43 scale handbuilt white metal model was the first of a series of concept cars produced by Great American Dream Machines in 1987. I purchased mine from Georgetown Hobby in New York. The owner was also the founder of GADM. The model was contract-manufactured in England by Scale Model Technical Services Ltd.
Remember When: 1951
auto blogIn 1951, the Korean War dominated the news. In April, President Truman stunned the nation by firing General Douglas MacArthur. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were found guilty of spying (passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union). The husband and wife were given the death penalty and executed in New York's electric chair at Sing-Sing Prison in 1953.

The 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution, limiting the number of terms a president may serve, was ratified.

New fads included Tupperware house parties and group psychotherapy. The comic strip Dennis the Menace debuted, as did TV program 'I Love Lucy'. The first tests for color television pictures were broadcast from Empire State Building in 1951. In the first broadcast of Edward R. Murrow's 'See It Now' series, Murrow showed the split-screen image of the Golden Gate and Brooklyn bridges and tells viewers it is the first time to see the Atlantic and Pacific oceans simultaneously.

Charles F. Blair, Jr. made the first solo flight across North Pole. UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer), the first business computer to handle both numeric and alphabetic data, was introduced.

The first nuclear power plant was built by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Deaths included Will Kellogg (of corn flakes fame), auto designer Ferdinand Porsche, comedienne Fanny Brice, news magnate William Randolph Hurst and pianist Eddie Duchin.

Top songs included Tony Bennett's 'Because of You', Nat King Cole's 'Too Young', Rosemary Clooney's 'Come On-A My House' Les Paul and Mary Ford's 'How High The Moon' and Patti Page's 'The Tennessee Waltz'.

Top movies included 'A Streetcar Named Desire', 'The Day The Earth Stood Still', 'Alice In Wonderland', 'The African Queen' and 'An American In Paris'.

In the World Series, the N.Y. Yankees beat the N.Y. Giants, 4 to 2. And legendary Yankee Joe DiMaggio retired.


More AutoSketch car drawings can be found here.
Other Pages Of Interest

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copyright 2015 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved. Drawing copyright 1989, 2015


Disclaimer

The facts presented in this blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

Spelling, punctuation and syntax errors are cheerfully repaired when I find them; grudgingly fixed when you do.

If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive.

If I have slandered any people or corporations in this blog, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal) and try to prove to me that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.

Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.


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