Home WORLD 1953 Firebird I and 1958 Firebird III – GM Concept Cars

1953 Firebird I and 1958 Firebird III – GM Concept Cars

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Jet engines were all the rage back in the 50’s. The same technology that revolutionized air travel could also power a car, so GM built a series of space-age concepts for their Motorama shows. Built as a statement to the world, Harley Earl and his team built a car around a jet engine for Firebird 1.

source: dupontregistry / image: Jay Leno’s

It is as loud as a 747 and it sets fire to everything behind it. This isn’t exactly practical, so Firebird II improved the formula which resulted in Firebird III.

source: dupontregistry / image: Jay Leno’s

Jet turbines make incredible power and they offer years of smooth running. The final Firebird has a double-bubble cockpit with a central joystick for control. It would be amazing until you realized it has no air conditioner!

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The one main problem that kept them from mass production is thirst. They will burn any type of fuel oil or gas- in large quantities. Not that gas was expensive back then, but the tank would have to be enormous for daily driving. Instead of a 5,000 rpm redline, turbines can see 50,000 rpm without a sweat.

This requires one heck of a transmission to send power to the tires, and the technology just wasn’t available. A turbine electric generator would make for a screaming exotic car for sale, so maybe GM is foreshadowing something wild…They rarely allow these cars outside, so thanks to Jay Leno’s Garage for this blast from the past.