Firebird III GMs Turbine Powered Wonder—An Experiment for Tomorrow
The new C7 Corvette Z06 may be supercharged and have 650 horsepower, but it doesn’t have Unicontrol and a Sonic Key. The Firebird III was an experimental car that GM hoped would “startle even Buck Rogers.” It was one of the jet age inspired Dream Cars that were conjured up in GM’s Design staff under the direction of Harley Earl. It was the third Firebird and it looked at a future without steering wheels and a bubble toped canopy right out of—well, a fighter jet. It’s fins were also in keeping with Earl’s aviation fixation. At the GM Arizona Proving Ground, the car goes on auto pilot and demonstrates its automatic doors, lights and an engine that can start itself. Let’s also not forget that the thing had two engines.
This video features Norm James creating a yarn drawing of the Firebird III. Stephan Hapsburg is in it. There are shots of the Firebird III under construction, and at the Desert Proving Grounds with all three Firebirds in driving in formation. Well worth the watch.
GM Styling Shows the Future in 1953
This video is a bit corny, but hang in there. There are all kinds of interesting shots of studios and designers from the day. Bonus: Chuck Jordan at 13:13 and with a pipe at 15:43. His renderings are in the background.
About the video: GM asked its in-house film team to show what is beauty. Inspired by nature with its abundance of beauty in sea shells, flower petals and birds in flight the filmmakers strove to find those shapes that occur in nature and are man made that are the essence of beauty. This is what they hoped the stylists at GM and other industrial designers would bring to consumers. A look at what we thought was the epitome of style in the early 1950s.
Besides Chuck Jordan I recognized Joe Farrar, but nobody else. Who’s in the video?
Watch Art Center’s tribute to Joe Farrar. It is REALLY good, and features many designers including Geza Loczi, Larry Erikson, and many others.