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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The 1951 Buick LeSabre Concept Took Inspiration From Jet Fighters


1951 Buick LeSabre Concept

The LeSabre became part of the Buick lineup in 1959, but it started as a stunning concept car introduced by General Motors in 1951. It was designed by GM art department head Harley Earl who took inspiration from fighter jets. Those jets represented the most modern, advanced engineering of the day and Earl wanted to carry that theme through to automotive design.

The LeSabre was a follow-up to another beautiful Earl design, the 1938 Y-Job, which was the world’s first manufacturer’s concept car. Both were built to be road-worthy vehicles and Earl drove the LeSabre for two years after it made the auto show circuit. The body was aluminum, magnesium, and fiberglass and it was powered by a supercharged V8 engine.

1951 Buick LeSabre Concept Profile

It was capable of running on either gasoline or methanol, mimicking Indy roadsters of the time, and had a rear-mounted Buick Dynaflow automatic transmission. This was later changed to a GM Hydramatic. Its slick, jet-inspired design was complemented by slick new features. It had a 12-volt electrical system instead of the usual 6-volt, heated seats, electric headlights hidden behind the front bumper, and bold dagmars that would gain fame for their use in Cadillacs.

This concept LeSabre was the first time GM used a rear-mounted transmission and the first use of the aluminum-block 215. The transmission found its way into the Pontiac Tempest while the engine would appear in numerous cars including the Buick Special, Skylark, and even in British marques like the Rover P5B.

1951 Buick LeSabre Concept Rear