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Revisiting fanciful failures in the past at Pebble Beach Concours

17 Sep 17
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In the realm of concept cars, the dustbin of broken dreams is littered with mechanical detritus. There are a couple of memorable gems, however, one of those failed projects. One — featured in the current Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance — may even claim to have made guest appearances at three 1960s television series.

The Reactor, a fancifully futuristic 1964 custom coupe, appeared at the first Star Trek collection, on Batman and at the humor Bewitched, in an episode especially composed for thenbsp;car.

1 look at its retro-revolutionary layout lets you know why. This George Jetson-meets-Popular Mechanics mashup looks like it was created by someone motivated by psychedelic drugs. Its pointed platypus snout and wraparound glass, topped off with tail fins, makes it seem a little like a folded paper plane wrought in aluminum. It’s tough to tell whether designer Gene Winfield was seriously trying to project in the future, or if he meant the automobile as anbsp;joke.

It was powered by a turbocharged six-cylinder power plant from Chevrolet’s ill-fated rear-engine Corvair compact, turned around and mounted at the front. The hood, doors, concealed headlights and roof could be managed by remotenbsp;controller.

Equally adventuresome, but perhaps more serious, was the 1967 Gyro-X prototype constructed for a California firm that pictured a production vehicle. Although it had two wheels, this totally enclosed one-passenger apparatus was no motorcycle. It utilized a hydraulically-driven gyroscope to keep it vertical. With the gyro idle in the rest, two training wheels extended to keep it from falling over.

Science amp Mechanics magazine road-tested the model and reported it could reach a top speed of 200 km/h and not tip in turns. However, it never got beyond the prototype phase. Its appearance at the Concours was its first running performance because its recentnbsp;recovery.

Maybe the biggest eye-popper of this dream-car category, however, was the . The famous 1950s singer bought the car to get a shocking (at the time) $150,000 (U.S.) so that he and wife Sandra Dee could roll up to the 1961 Academy Awards in it. Constructed over seven years by Andrew DiDia, it had an aluminum frame, double wraparound windshield and has been painted with 30 coats of Swedish Pearl Essence, supplemented with crushnbsp;diamonds.

Studebaker, a casualty of the 1960s, made the 1962 Sceptre coupe with a plan to put it into production in 1966. Its full-width headlight assembly, designed to minimize glare to oncoming cars, looked like a monobrow in chrome. As the provider’s fiscal fortunes faltered, however, development of the Sceptre wasnbsp;suspended.

The American Dream Cars category is a first in the Concours‘ 67-year history.

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Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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