Friday, 27 January 2012

1955-57 Gaylord

So, this car is a Gaylord. Stop sniggering at the back.

In a quest for 'the ultimate sports car', Ed and Jim Gaylord commissioned Brooks Stevens to build them a prototype for the 1955 Paris Auto Salon, bearing their name. Which wasn't as funny then. Sporting the chrome, fins and scallops of the cutting-edge American cars of the period, it had an opening rear deck into which the chain-driven retractable hard-top would retreat. Under the bonnet was a 331ci Chrysler Hemi with GM Hydra-Matic transmission, all based on a chrome-moly tube chassis of Jim Gaylord's design.
The pictures you see here are of a second 1957 prototype, showing a slight stylistic evolution from the original but remaining basically similar. Its most notable feature is the aforementioned retracting roof, which prompted Alfred P. Sloan, then GM Chairman, to say to his engineers: 'You bastards told me this couldn't be done. So how did these idiots do it?'

The fact that you've probably never heard of the Gaylord is unsurprising. The aspirations for 'a Cobra class performer and a Rolls-Royce class tourer' were ambitious but not unrealistic, but it came at a time when the American auto industry was just too brutal to allow independent pioneering enthusiasts to flourish. Impressive and potentially brilliant as it was, the Big Three just couldn't allow it to happen.
You can learn more here.

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