For the first time on the East Coast, twelve of General Motors’ most significant, dramatic and historic one-off concept cars will be on display starting August 3rd in the Audrain Automobile Museum’s 15th exhibition titled, Styling the Future: A History of GM Design & Concept Cars. Co-curated by noted appraiser, historian and writer, Donald Osborne, this exhibition highlights the many engineering, design, and human advancements that were completed behind the scenes in order to create these unique automobiles.
Harley Earl was hired by General Motors in the mid-1920’s, and was put in charge of GM’s newly formed Art & Colour section in 1927. This was the automobile industry’s first in-house design department introducing sophisticated looks that stood out from the engineering-driven designs seen heretofore. This design shift differentiated the status of each car from others within the General Motors brand family. The 1938 Buick Y-Job, which will be seen inside the Audrain, was the auto industry’s first ‘concept car’, a car designed and built not to go in to production, but instead to provoke the public and draw their attention to the brand’s future products. Later concepts like the Cadillac Le Mans and Chevrolet Corvair were designed to be shown at Motorama, an auto show staged by GM from 1949 to 1961 to highlight the best of their current products, design and technology.
Generously loaned to the Audrain from the General Motors Heritage Center in Warren, MI and the Lingenfelter Collection in Brighton, MI, many of these cars have not been seen together by the public, and never has this number of GM concepts ever been shown in a curated museum exhibition. Many of the design and engineering features seen in these concept cars were revolutionary developments applied to production models in following years. Developments like the rain-sensing convertible top on the Le Sabre and turbine engine powered Firebird III were well ahead of their time, and demonstrated to the public that of which GM was capable.
Styling the Future is brought to the Audrain by their premier sponsor, AIG Insurance. With operations in more than 80 countries, AIG has been committed to ensuring clients stay prepared in both business and in life, whether planning for retirement or recovering from a natural disaster. Transportation for Styling the Future is exclusively provided and sponsored by Reliable Carriers, Inc. What began as a single truck and trailer over half a century ago, Reliable is now the largest enclosed automobile transport company in the United States.