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Message  Predicta le Sam 10 Nov - 18:05

La Firebird 3 Concept Car General Motors de 1958 - 59

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Message  Predicta le Sam 10 Nov - 18:06

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Message  Predicta le Sam 10 Nov - 18:08

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Message  Predicta le Ven 15 Mai - 5:26

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The two-passenger Firebird III features a double bubble cockpit, multiple winglets and a toned-down power plant guided by an aircraft-inspired control system. Dual power sources – a primary 225-horsepower Whirlfire GT-305 gas turbine engine and a two-cylinder 10-horsepower gasoline engine which runs the accessories – power the Firebird III. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Firebird III is the Únicontrol. The console-mounted knob allows both the driver and passenger to control §teering, accelerating and braking, all wîth a twist of the wrist.

Source - GM
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Seven fins or nine, marked the third Firebird iteration, GM engineering and design insisted this was 'a practical workshop for testing new car advances.' Fifty years ago, the 'third bird' boasted an ultrasonic key that opened the door automatically, a completely foamed plastic interior, uni-control steering (no steering wheel, shift lever, brake pedal or throttle), tell-tale warning lights instead of gauges, automatic cruise control, electronic road guidance, light-sensitive automatic headlamps and a temperature control that allowed you to set the inside temperature before getting into the car. Many of these features are commonplace today, they were quite radical a half-century ago. The Firebird III made a brief appearance with Elvis Presley in 'it happened at the World's Fair.'
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Message  Predicta le Ven 15 Mai - 5:34

In the early 1930s, General Motors had done a reasonable amount of research on the feasibility of gas turbine engines in vehicles, but it wasn't until the early 1950s that they actually began building an actual engine. Emmett Conklin led the project.
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A series of three concept vehicles that were designed by Harley Earl, the GM Firebird was built by General Motors for the 1953, 1956 and 1959 Motorama auto shows. These vehicles were inspired deeply by innovations in fighter aircraft design at the time. These designs were never intended for production, but instead to showcase the extremes in both technology and design that GM was able to achieve. Still making regular car show appearances today, these concepts were very recently placed on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
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The Firebird XP-21 was created in 1953 by the research team and was eventually referred to as the Firebird I, basically a jet airplane on wheels. The first gas turbine powered vehicle tested in the U.S. the design was incredibly impractical, and featured a bubble topped canopy over a single seat cockpit. This first concept also had a bullet shaped fuselage that was made completely of fiberglass, short wings and a vertical tail fin. The entire vehicle weighed 2,500 lbs and had a 370 hp Whirllfire Turbo Power gas turbine engine which had two speeds, and expelled jet exhaust at around 1,250 °F.
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Conklin was originally the only person that was qualified to drive the concept, and he tested it up to 100 mph. Unfortunately, when he shifted into second gear, the tires lost their traction under the extreme engine torque and he immediately slowed down the vehicle due to fear or an imminent crash. Later, race car driver Maury Rose tested the vehicle at the Indianapolis Speedway. This concept vehicle was never intended to test the speed potential or power of the gas turbine, but basically the ‘practical feasibility' of its use. The braking system features drums on the outside of the wheels to facilitate fast cooling unlike the standard drum systems, and the wings had aircraft style flaps for slowing from high speed.
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The second of the three gas-turbine powered experimental Firebirds that were developed by GM during the 1950's, the Firebird II was in an attempt for alternative means of automobile propulsion. It was publicly unveiled at the GM Motorama of 1956 at the NY city's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It was a revolutionary form of family transportation that was destined for travel along the 'Safety Autoway' of the future. The Firebird II was a much more practical design, and was a four-seat family vehicle. Featuring a low and wide design, the II featured large dual air intakes in the front, a vertical tail fin and a high bubble canopy top.

Harley's vision for the Firebird II was that of a four-seat family vehicle that was comfortable and enjoyable to drive. He created two identical bodies for the Firebird III, one made of titanium and one of fiberglass.
The entire exterior of the one vehicle was constructed of titanium at it was the first time this lightweight metal was used in the construction of a motorcar. At Earl's insistence, the titanium body was left unpainted and was brush-finished to a satin luster. With an engine output of 200 hp, the team figured out a way to solve the exhaust heat problem, feeding it through a regenerative system which allowed the whole engine to operate at nearly 1,000 °F cooler, and also to power the accessories. This vehicle the first to utilize four wheel disc brakes, with a fully independent suspension along with a sophisticated guidance system, intended to be used with the 'the highway of the future', as an electrical wire would be embedded into a roadway that would send signals that could aid future vehicles and avoid accidents.

Aerodynamic, the Firebird II featured a low tapered nose to the dorsal fin deck and duel tanks suspended from the rear fender on either side of the car. When a magnetic key was inserted into a slot on the body panel, sections under the transparent canopy automatically lifted up from the doors. The Firebird II featured a luggage compartment that could hold up to eight pieces of specially styled lightweight fitted luggage. The compartment that was just placed below the rear deck also rose to waist height easily with just the flip of a switch. The inside of the Firebird II came with four individually adjustable, reclining lounge seats that provided maximum passenger comfort and also snack tables for use during automated travel.
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Constructed in 1958, the Firebird III was finally unveiled at Motorama in 1959. Much like its counterparts, this third model was yet another overly extravagant prototype with a titanium exterior and seven short wings and tail fins that were extensively tested in a wind tunnel. The III was a two-seater powered by a 225 hp Whirlfire GT-305 gas turbine engine and a two cylinder 10 hp gas engine to power all of its accessories. The outside featured a double bubble canopy and various technical advances that made it much more practical. These advancements included cruise control, air-conditioning and anti-lock brakes.
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Other revolutionary advances in the design included special air drag brakes, very similar to those found on aircrafts, these emerged from flat panels in the bodywork of the vehicle to slow it down from high speeds. An automated guidance system was also placed in the vehicle, to avoid accidents and 'no hold' steering, which was controlled by a joystick that was positioned between the two seats. The Firebird III featured a much more futuristic design and driving it was much like flying a plane.

By Jessica Donaldson

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Message  Predicta le Ven 15 Mai - 5:38

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Message  Predicta le Ven 15 Mai - 5:41

The third design, the Firebird III, was built in 1958 and first shown at Motorama in 1959. It is another extravagant concept with titanium skin, and no fewer than seven short wings and tail fins that were tested extensively in a wind tunnel. It is a two-seater powered by a 225 hp (168 kW) Whirlfire GT-305 gas turbine engine, and a two cylinder 10 hp (7.5 kW) gasoline engine to run all the accessories. Its exterior design features a double bubble canopy, and more technical advancements to make it more practical, such as cruise control, anti-lock brakes, and air conditioning. It also featured "space-age" innovations, such as special air drag brakes, like those found on aircraft, which emerged from flat panels in the bodywork of the car to slow it from high speeds, an "ultra-sonic" key which signaled the doors to open, and an automated guidance system to avoid accidents and "no hold" steering. The steering was controlled by a joystick positioned between the two seats.[7] This gave the car a more futuristic feel and simulated the experience of flying a plane.
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Specifications

GM internal code : XP-73
Wheelbase = 119 in (3,023 mm) [8]
Length = 248.2 in (6,304 mm)
Height = 44.8 in (1,138 mm) (canopy top)[8]
Ground clearance = 5.3 in (135 mm)
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Message  Predicta le Ven 15 Mai - 5:46

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58 GM Concept Car. While some of Harley Earl’s other concept cars had styling influenced by aircraft design, the Firebird III might have been the first that looked as if it could actually fly. The fiberglass-bodied vehicle had a wide, tapered nose; twin bubble canopies for the driver and passenger; and seven jet fighter-esque fins. The car’s technology was as cutting-edge as its appearance. Special drag brakes popped out of flat panels to slow the Firebird at high speeds. In the cockpit, a joystick-like "unicontrol" device took the place of the steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedal. Instead of a rear-view mirror, the car had a rear-mounted camera that transmitted images of the road to dashboard TV screens. Just in case all that stuff was too difficult for a driver to master, the Firebird III also was equipped with an automated guidance system, designed to follow directional radio signals given off by future high-tech highways that, unfortunately, have yet to be built.
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Message  Predicta le Ven 15 Mai - 5:55

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Message  Predicta le Ven 15 Mai - 6:02

The GM Motorama Firebird III: In the car field, it was as much of a mind blower as the SR-71 was in aviation, by Wallace Wyss

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Thinking back more than a half century ago, I think I saw a wooden Marquette scale model of the gas turbine-powered Firebird III skeletal body shape before I ever saw the real car. I thought it looked like the bleached skeleton of some dead killer whale that washed up on the coast somewhere. I had seen the Firebird I and II earlier but they looked more like jet planes with severely clipped wings. The Firebird III was a great leap forward. I remember the car got a lot of ink back then. Around ’58, it had the tallest tailfins going, in fact it had not only fins at the fender tops but also a huge central fin. Not to mention tiny fins splayed out at the bottom–similar to those on a shark. Utilizing an ultrasonic key, the Firebird’s large, butterfly doors opened via high frequency sound waves…

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It was built in the Harley Earl era, and embodied everything he wanted a “dream car” to be–advanced power plant, advanced steering, and exotic materials. And the shape–it was outer worldly. Reminds me of the SR-71. Back when it was still secret, a guy told me whenever they would bring in a new supplier and roll back the hanger door to show them it for the first time they would always say: “JE-SUS CHRIST!”, so naturally it was nicknamed the “Jesus Christ plane.”
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I think I wasn’t as wary of the engine as the one-stick-does-everything Unicontrol, a joystick that allowed the driver to go, stop, and steer with a single lever. You pushed it forward to accelerate, pulled it back to brake, move it side to side to turn. I could envision disaster happening if I drove it (in fact, driving another concept car from Mercury, without a steering wheel, just small wrist twist bracelets, I did lose it…). All these actions in the Firebird III were activated by servos controlled by three primitive analog computers, but you have to remember back then all this was figured out by wooden slide rules. GM claimed the system protected you if you suddenly shoved the stick too hard in any one direction but I wonder how many times it was crashed
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The car was huge. An electronics package took up a good deal of the space between the Firebird III’s U-shaped engine cradle and the left rear body. The fuel tank and twin 12-volt batteries took up a lot of room on the right side. A tiny 12-bhp APU (for Auxiliary Power Unit, a small piston engine) drove the 1,000-psi steering and braking pumps, and powered both a 110-volt alternating-current generator (so that the car didn’t need to be plugged into house current for outdoor demonstrations) and another generator for the 12-volt batteries drove the air-conditioning compressor and fed the pump to keep pressure up to 3,000 psi in the air/oil suspension system.

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Like a Citroen, it automatically adjusted ride height, regulated by car speed. It had a variable-rate spring by its valving. Surprisingly, for a vehicle of such an advanced shape, it had a beam axle. But it used more modern control arms attached to the front subframe. The rear was deDion and the roll center was only 19 inches off the ground, very good for anything from Detroit at the time.

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The brakes are another surprise–they are not discs, but drums sized 11×4-inch cast into each of the alloy wheels. The drums were faced with iron, and the shoes used sintered metallic linings. Special cast-in cooling passages between the drum and wheel surface took in air at the hub and spun it out through slots in the perimeter. It had some sort of grade retarder that slowed the car plus an air brake flap (though Mercedes had that feature already on the 300SLR back in ’55).


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Message  Predicta le Ven 15 Mai - 6:03



GM showed it at their Motorama show and never quite mothballed it. I saw it recently through the fog at Pebble Beach where it was part of a larger GM display. Again, it looked like a killer whale washed up on the beach. A lot of the design features were adopted by other GM cars first, then everybody was picking it bones.The 1959 Cadillac featured some of the Firebird III’s surface development and its severe rocker panel tuckunder. The 1961 Caddy boasted the Firebird’s rear skegs – those stubby little fins angling out off the bottoms of the rear fenders. The Pininfarina design for the Ferrari 365GTC/4 stole the whole grille shape.The fact it had so little chrome might have started the whole auto industry thinking chrome was history.

To go back to the SR-71 again, recently I spent some time at March AFB at a symposium on the SR-71 Blackbird, and I think someone there said it started out in ’59. But though they look like kissin’ cousins and still evoke similar expressions of astonishment when seen for the first time, the SR-71 spy planes weren’t just concepts, they were operational–flying for 25 years. And now that they are all in museums I get a chuckle out of the fact that nothing in any air force inventory over 50 years later can match its Mach III capability.

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Even today its pilots can tell you astounding stories like the one about the pilot who flew ocean to ocean across the U.S in 62 minutes and four seconds. Harley Earl said he wanted the car to look like one astronauts would drive to the base where they have a rocket waiting to take them to the moon. Well, we went to the moon. But in the astronaut’s reserved parking spaces, the cars looked more terrestrial like Corvettes and Cobras. But he had the right idea…just no follow-through…

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THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of The Story of Smokey Yunick’s Boss Mustang and 49 other Entertaining True Tales From the World of Rare and Exotic Car Collecting, available from Enthusiast Books, Hudson WI.

http://www.carbuildindex.com/45887/the-gm-motorama-firebird-iii-in-the-car-field-it-was-as-much-of-a-mind-blower-as-the-sr-71-was-in-aviation-by-wallace-wyss/

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