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Old 04-12-2024, 11:36 PM
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Default GM’s Marvelous Motorama Celebrates Dream Cars From the 1950s

GM’s Marvelous Motorama Celebrates Dream Cars From the 1950s

By Brett Foote - March 19, 2024

GM’s Marvelous Motorama brings six amazing and historically important concept cars from the 1950s to the Petersen Automotive Museum.

The Petersen Automotive Museum’s ever-evolving conglomerate of amazing and interesting automotive displays was updated yet again recently, this time, to include something extra special – a group of six concept cars from General Motors that make up a new exhibit called “GM’s Marvelous Motorama: Dream Cars From the Joe Bortz Collection.” Amazingly, all six of these cars were displayed at GM’s famous Motorama shows in 1953, 1954, and 1955, but this is the very first time all six have been under one roof, together.
This collection is especially interesting today, as we can clearly take a look back at these stunning machines and see how they impacted GM styling, in general. That was by design during this era, of course, as the legendary Harley Earl used these styling exercises to dream up new ideas. Several of these special machines were were saved from the scrap heap years ago, later purchased and restored by collector Joe Bortz, making such an exhibit possible. Recently, Chevrolet Forum had the chance to check out GM’s Marvelous Motorama in person, and needless to say, it was worth the wait.

1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special

First up, we have the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special, which is precisely what one might think just by looking at it – Pontiac’s interpretation of the Corvette. This example is one of just two built, and still bears its original paint, trim, and interior, which cannot be said of most concept cars of this age. Sadly, the Bonneville Special never came to fruition, but it’s also nice that this example has survived to tell its story to this day.

1941 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe Custom

This particular 1941 Cadillac Series 62 isn’t just any ordinary luxury machine – rather, it was owned by legendary actor Clark Gable, who wanted it customized to help him stand out a bit from the pack. As such, it sports some cool touches like a chopped roof, blanked rear quarter windows, and select shaved chrome trim, coupled with a raked windshield, to boot.

1953 Buick Wildcat

This 1953 Buick Wildcat was one of several concepts with fiberglass bodies to be displayed at the 1953 Motorama, as that material was far easier for designers to mold into various shapes and test out experimental designs. As Buick’s first performance car, the Wildcat also featured some cool touches like push button doors and “Roto Static” front wheel hubs, which remained stationary while the wheels and tires were rotating. Some of its styling elements – like the front buffer bombs and side sweep lines – wound up being used on a number of production vehicles, too.

1955 LaSalle II Roadster

The 1955 LaSalle II Roadster is notable for the simple fact that it was the followup to Earl’s very first project at GM, the original LaSalle Roadster. As part of a more affordable line of Cadillac vehicles, LaSalle went away after 1940, but GM considered reviving it via these concepts, one of which was a coupe, and this one, a roadster. It featured a radical design, but certain elements – like the large side coves – wound up making it to production vehicles – in that case, the 1957 Corvette.
Photos for Chevrolet Forum by Derin Richardson
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Tags: 2024, events, exhibits, General Motors, Marvelous Motorama, news, Petersen Museum
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Brett Foote

Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.

He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.
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