1956 Pontiac Club de Mer Concept Car – James Bond Cool
Pontiac has been known throughout the years for making some of what this author considers to be the most interesting concept cars. The 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer Concept Car is no exception, as you will see here. This car had the looks we expect from a mid-50s roadster, and the power to match. This car should have made it to production, so what happened?
The 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer Concept Car was built as an experimental car for the General Motors Motorama car show in 1956. This particular Pontiac was built to showcase their commitment to “futuristic design”. If you think the design looks suspiciously similar to its GM cousin, the Chevrolet Corvette, you are correct – they were both designed by the legendary Harley Earl. If you have read this blog in the past, his name will sound familiar, as he designed many of the cars we showcase here.
The “de Mer”, as it was called at GM, was built as a sleek, low-slung, sports roadster which was meant to set records on the Bonneville Salt Flats – much like the 1954 Bonneville we covered previously. Like many other cars of this era, the body was meant to mimic the look and feel of a rocket, which is quite obvious when viewing the rear-deck dorsal fin spoiler. The overall styling resembled the shape of a fighter jet, and was believed to be the most aerodynamic design they could conjure.
Remember, this was in 1956, when the designers did not use wind tunnels and computer simulations to design cars, so this was all based on theory and “gut feeling”. One notable feature, shown below, is the dual windshields, with both the driver and passenger having their own windshield. This made for a very cool design that looked great and was the inspiration for the original Batmobile design.
Good Looks and Power To Match
Under the hood was something that was not theory – a brand new Pontiac engine called the Strato Streak, which was the most powerful GM engine available at that time. This was a 287 cubic inch engine that was factory fitted with high lift camshaft and dual 4 barrel carbs. This combination made 300 horsepower at 5100 RPMs and 330 lb ft of toruque at 2600 RPMs. This made for a quick and enjoyable car. 300 horsepower may not seem like a lot, however in this little roadster, 300 horses was plenty to make it move around a track. To put this in perspective, the 1956 Corvette only had 225 horsepower, so this was a much more powerful car, and about the same size.
A Sad Ending
This innovative and interesting car was made – although they only made one car and one 1/4 scale model of the car. The original car had flaws, such as the windshields we mentioned earlier. The dual windshields looked cool, but there was no way to put the top up during rain. It was also so simliar to other designs at GM, they were afraid it would potentially steal sales from Corvette and other cars in their lineup. There was a mockup built to look like the orginal, however the one original is no longer around.
The only one ever built was demolished in 1958, and the project was abandoned. It lived on to inspire other designs, but the original 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer Concept Car only exists now in these few photos taken during the experimental phase. Would you buy this car if it were available? Do you like this style of car? Comment down below to let us know!
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