Back in 1951, this convertible Buick LaSabre was not just extreme looking, it was way ahead of its time. It had technology advancements that weren't even thought of yet and would give us a sneak peek into the future of the automotive industry.
Harley J. Earl was the lead designer of this beautiful piece of machinery. From 1927 to 1958 he was General Motors' Head-of-Styling and had his hands in the cookie jar of many breakthrough designs and technology projects throughout his career.
One of the first things that really set this car apart is the fact that it could function on gasoline and methyl alcohol. There were separate fuel cells for both sources and an easy way to switch between the two from the convenience of the driver seat. It also had one of the first smaller engines that could produce high horsepower, much like what we see in today's vehicles. This beauty used a 215 cubic-inch V-8 HEMI aluminum block that was topped off with dual carbs, aluminum heads and a supercharger that produced 29.5 PSI. All this was good for 335-hp @5,500-RPM. In 1951 that was an outstanding number for such a small engine.
The styling was nothing short of artwork for this Buick LaSabre. Earl designed the first wraparound windshield that was said to give the driver a panoramic view. It also saw the likes of GM's first rear brake coolers that used functioning rear scoops on the back quarter-panel. They were designed not only to cool the brakes but also the battery that was positioned in the back.
One of the very noticeable features that people hadn't seen too much of was the hidden futuristic headlights that would pop out from behind the grille with a flip of a switch. Also, the Buick LaSabre had a feature on it that to this day is only really used on Indy and Formula-1 cars. The automatic jack system was the first of its kind and allowed you to work under your car without a floor jack or jack stands. Maybe today that doesn't sound like much, but think back to 1951 and the stock emergency jack that would be provided for you if you had the unfortunate flat tire. Oh yea, remember, there were no cell phones to call TripleA or a friend and no OnStar type systems.
Another feature that may really stun you is the automatic sensors that could recognize rain and put your rag-top and windows up without you being around to control them. The Buick even had a backup source of power so if your battery were to die you could still at least control features like the radio, windows and the rag-top.
This car was designed from Earl's imagination and his love for jet-airplane designs. The sleek styling-lines and the flamboyant curves are what really sets this Buick apart. The interior even showed a little bit of aeronautical passion in it with a dashboard that included an altimeter, tachometer and a compass. Earl adopted this 1951 Buick LaSabre as his own and drove it till he had about 50,000 miles on it before handing it over to the GM museum in the 1960's.