To avoid sinking into obscurity after WWII, General Motors needed a head-turning, eye-popping new design. It took until 1951 before they developed the right concept to fit the bill. Designed chiefly by GM’s style guru Harley Earl, the resulting Le Sabre XP-8 has been billed a ”dazzling high-tech two-seater” as well as a ”mobile experiment, a flexible project” if you will.
GM went so far as to call the XP-8 an Experimental Laboratory On Wheels in its promotional material. The overstatements aside, the Le Sabre XP-8 (or LeSabre, one word, depending on the source) did feature many unique design elements. To begin with, the LeSabre XP-8 featured a revolutionary low-slung body. The design was not the only unique feature of the body. It was made from honeycomb and sheet aluminum, multiple large magnesium castings, as well as fiberglass. Jet airplanes were the rage of the day and GM could not resist, as seen in Chrysler’s Streamline X Gilda, the so they placed hidden headlights behind a grille reminiscent of a jet intake and an interior full of aircraft-inspired instruments, as well as the world’s first panoramic windshield. Additionally, the XP-8 was equipped with rain sensors that were capable of closing the power top and gullwing bumpers with ”Dagmars”. The name is derived from a period actress also known for her front-facing protrusions
The only example of the XP-8 was toured about the world for a short time, then became Harley Earl’s personal car, accruing more than 45,000 miles with GM’s design chief behind the wheel. It is currently being displayed at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA.
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