The Elegance at Hershey, a world-famous Concours d’Elegance, has announced the first-ever showing at The Elegance of two very famous and important concept cars from the collection of General Motors. Through the courtesy of the General Motors Heritage Center and GM Design, these two magnificent automobiles will be on full display Sunday, June 9, in the Italian Gardens in the rear of the equally famous Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pennsylvania. This will be a rare opportunity for car aficionados to get an up close and personal look at two of the cars that have influenced designers over the years.
The 1951 General Motors LeSabre show car wowed audiences when introduced as it was the first concept car produced by the GM Styling Section following WWII. Combining functional styling and advanced engineering, it has been a favorite of car buffs from the beginning and still is today.
The LeSabre reflected GM Styling Vice President Harley Earl’s fascination with the sleek designs found in high-performance aircraft of the day. Lightweight materials were used throughout the car and the 201.87 inch long car was carried by a supercharged V-8 engine.
A unique feature of this car is the two rubberized 20 gallon gas tanks – one to hold gasoline, while the other held methyl-alcohol. The alcohol gave the car additional power after the accelerator pedal was pushed beyond the half-way position. The engine is only 215cid supercharge, but puts out 330hp with the help of the alcohol. Another unique feature and an industry first is the wrap-around windshield, which became very popular in subsequent GM models. When introduced, electric windows and a built-in hydraulic system enabled the car to be lifted to change a tire! This car has to be seen as the list of other notable features is extensive and, of course, the design of the car could not be more dramatic!
The second car to display at The Elegance is the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone, which must have influenced a lot of “far-out” designs and one could almost see this car being used in a TV show like the Jetsons, minus the wheels! Its canopy is also reflective of airplanes as both the driver and passenger have a 360-degree view of the surroundings. The canopy is stored under the rear hatch and flips 180 degrees to cover the passenger compartment. It is no longer power-operated, due to safety concerns.
The Cyclone was a major engineering achievement, as well as being a dramatic styling exercise. It not only had the power canopy, but a device that would scan the road and let the driver know if there was a foreign object on the road. The doors would open electronically, allowing them to be slid back for easy entrance. (The doors are no longer power-operated.) There is an intercom system for the driver and passenger to talk with people outside of the car when the canopy is up, and the instruments are designed very similar to an aircraft.
A 325hp V-8 engine is nestled in the nose of the car with an unusual feature of the exhaust routed just ahead of the front wheels. It also has a transaxle. Another feature to note is that the headlights are power and flip up 180 degrees from under the front grille to sit out in front of the front cowl facing forward. This car made its debut in February 1959 to much acclaim.
A unique feature of The Elegance at Hershey is that this show does not rope cars off. Visitors will have a fascinating opportunity to really get to see these 2 special cars and an expected 73 other magnificent automobiles up close and personal.
Here’s a quick list of the weekend’s events:
The Grand Ascent – June 7 & 8, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; $10 tickets per person, vintage race car hill climb & ride-alongs!
Cars & Coffee – June 8, starting at 8 a.m.; $10 per person, no pre-registration required, bring YOUR car!
Concours d’Elegance – June 9, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; $40 tickets per person, garden party with the finest cars you will ever see!