1950s Gaylord Concept Cars

1950s Gaylord Concept Cars Fate
The Gaylord interior went top-drawer with a wood-face panel for the copious instrumentation.
The Gaylord interior went top-drawer with a wood-face panel for the copious instrumentation.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Several factors determined the 1950s Gaylord concept cars fate. It was not a pretty ending.

The Gaylord's price was announced at a lofty $14,500, and was soon pushed to $17,500. At $14,035 more than a base Corvette, the price tag virtually guaranteed that the Gaylord would fail to attract enough buyers to make the car a commercial success. But price alone did not undo the car, which justified its lofty expectations.

Among the car's more unusual features were a spare tire that slid out from beneath the trunk on a tray, plus a vast array of instruments, each with its own warning light, set into a dash trimmed with oriental wood.

Though it weighed nearly two tons, the Gaylord performed like a sports machine half as heavy. Top speed was 120 mph, 60 came up from a standstill in less than 10 seconds, and the fine chassis delivered smooth, stable handling on all kinds of roads.

But like others of its ilk, the Gaylord dream was not to be. What really killed the project is that Jim Gaylord was a perfectionist, satisfied with nothing less than exactly what he planned, and quality on the first two "pilot" cars didn't suit him.

This led to a dispute with Luftschiffbau Zeppelin of Freidreichshaven, which was contracted to build production models in 1956. By early 1957, the project was officially dead. Only four chassis were ultimately completed, one of which sported several beautifully color-coded components.

The chassis for the Gaylord concept cars was Jim Gaylord's own design.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The main fault with the Gaylord enterprise was lack of solid production planning, something both brothers later admitted. But then, it's always easier to criticize in retrospect. What no one can deny is their brilliant chassis -- virtually unbreakable and worthy of any sports car ever made.

Styling suffered from period fads, but the basic shape was original and exciting. Remove the fins, the wrapped windshield, and the excess tinsel and you're left with a car that still looks good.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out: