1955 GMC L’Universelle Motorama Concept

Submitted by Markydoodle October 4th, 2011
Certifikitsch WinnerClassique d Camembert
1955 GMC Truck and Coach Division concept van photographed here the day of the 1955 Motorama in San Francisco.
Don’t you wish you could drive one of these around today?  I love the dagmar front bumpers.
The lines are reminscent of the Chevy Nomad and Pontiac Safari wagons of the day.  It was to be equipped with front wheel drive, and a six cylinder power plant behind the front wheels.  The taillights look very 1955 GM.
And check out the brushed aluminum ribbing along the lower sides.  Beautiful car, the precursor, of course, to the Corvair Greenbriar vans that came out in the 60’s.  http://hooniverse.com/2010/09/12/maximum-corvair-day-the-corvair-95-vans-rampside-and-greenbriar/

10 Responses to “1955 GMC L’Universelle Motorama Concept”

  1. Allee Willis

    First of all, this makes me completely ill that I sold my 1962 Corvair a few years ago. It wasn’t running and hadn’t for quite a few years and it was taking up much-needed space in the driveway. I let it go for $500. The only thing that would make me feel good about that now is to own this most gorgeous and fabulous vehicle that you posted here. DYING OVER IT!!!!!!

    How many of these were actually made? If you ever see one of these for sale let me know. I have no place to keep itand no $ to buy it with but it’s the best looking van I’ve ever seen.

    • Mark Milligan

      My cousin that worked for GM responded, “Concept vehicles in those days were hand built for show and often were not driveable. Those that were driveable were not built for the long haul. After they had outlived their use they were scrapped unless they were saved for GM’s “archives”. The scrapyard operators had to sign a document that the vehicles were destroyed. Occasionly a vehicle would resurface in someone’s collection, but usually had to be rebuilt to be presentable.”

  2. Mark Milligan

    I will email my cousin who was a career GM engineer, spending time in the design studio and the proving ground. He’ll probably know how many of this type of concept vehicle were made for motoramas. My Uncle in Nebraska would get really cool one-offs from Detroit, that they wouldn’t normally sell through dealerships when Neil was in the design studio. Nothing beyond typical production models, but for example he had an el camino with wood grain sides, that wasn’t an option even offered. He’s the one that lives in Birmingham.

    I don’t know if I ever told you that I had a corvair in high school. I paid $35 for it. I won’t go into the details of how I came to acquire it, because my kids might read this at some point. But it was a fun fun car, and it handled well, and was pretty quick. But it leaked oil, and eventually burned oil. But it wouldn’t quit running, so at least it had that going for it. It was a blue coupe, and somebody had painted it from the original white. I loved that car. It was an extra car (for $35, even a kid can have a spare,) and a guy I knew told me years later that he’d stolen the muffler off of it for his convertible monza, and I never even knew it, I thought it must’ve had a hole in it.

    This may be in the top 5 favorite for 1950’s auto design for me. It’s just so pleasing to my eye.

    Thanks for the Classique d’Camembert!

    • Allee Willis

      I’m still salivating over this.

      I got my Corvair for $200 on Santa Monica Blvd. in West LA. Was driving and saw the for sale sign on it. Was white with a red interior but when I changed it to pink – the original paint was all but off – you could see that it originally started out red. Why anyone would go from red to white with a Corvair in 1962 is beyond me. Anyway, it was that cheap because it didn’t run well. I spent a lot on it but never with the right mechanic so all I was doing was repairing repairs that had just been done. I finally retired it and just used it in sets that I did, most predominantly in Shelley Duvall’s HBO special, Mother Goose Rock ‘N Rhyme.

  3. childstari

    i love this concept van too!! my husband just went to a car show in carlisle, pennsylvania and bid on an old corvair but didn’t get it. i’ll have to ask him if he saw any of these!

    • Mark Milligan

      Troy it amazes me that I’d never seen this before a couple of weeks ago. In my opinion, this design wouldn’t be (slightly modified for safety standards) out of place on today’s streets. As well, other than the VW mini buses, this was the design that lead to the corvair mini-vans, which predated by 20 years the mini-vans Chrysler touted as the beginning of that genre in the 80’s.