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Concept Car of the Week: Oldsmobile Golden Rocket (1956)

Fri, 04 Apr 2014

From 1949 to 1961, General Motors ran its own motor show. Called Motorama, the annual event was a showcase for concept cars which revealed prospective design and technology directions for all of GM's brands and for cars in general.

Each year, one-off creations were designed and built for GM's multiple divisions, from Chevrolet all the way up to Cadillac. And it was at this show in 1956 that the public first saw a bronze metallic two-seater on the Oldsmobile stand called the Golden Rocket.

Up front, if featured a rounded shark nose with a suggestive chrome grill running vertically up its leading edge, while a pair of shark fins at the rear gave the car a very fast look, while previewing future Cadillacs.

The full front section of the fiberglass body brings to mind the fuselage of an airplane, while the profile echoes the teardrop section of a wing. Bullet-shaped chrome inserts on the car's nose and tail round-off the rocket mimicry.

And the space-age look was backed up by serious performance for a car of the time. It used the 3.8-liter (234ci) Rocket V8 that produced 275bhp - a lot considering the whole car weighed just 1,133kg. For comparison, that is the same power-to-weight ratio as a Porsche Cayman S.

The interior was just as striking. The airy cabin featured a split rear window as found on Oldsmobiles of that era and later on the Corvette C2.

To climb into the glass bubble that topped the Golden Rocket, designers thought of a rather complex entry mechanism. When the door was opened, a roof panel would open simultaneously, after which the seat would rise by three inches and swivel towards the entering occupant.

The fragile-looking two-spoke steering wheel had the speedometer mounted in its centre, while the steering column would also tilt up and down, providing an elegant and easy way to step in and out of the car.

The Golden Rocket's seats were upholstered in blue and gold leather. After several years of show duty, the Rocket's gold paint was resprayed in blue. After this the concept disappeared, and what became of it is unknown.

First seen Motorama 1956
Length 5,107mm
Width 1,915mm
Height 1,257mm
Engine Rocket V8, 3.8-liter
Power 275bhp
Weight 1,133kg

Your author, Flavien Dachet, is a UK-based, French-born car designer. You may know him as the purveyor of KarzNshit, a photo blog that if it isn't already in your bookmarks, it certainly should be.

By Flavien Dachet