1959 Cadillac Cyclone XP-74
The Cyclone was the last General Motors concept car created for the famed Motoramas, the design heavily inspired by the aviation and rocket designs of the 1950’s. This is its second iteration with chopped fins and a retractable bubble-top, which folds under the deck lid for a sleek and open silhouette.
Fun Fact: The black “nose cones” at the front of the car are sensors for a radar-operated collision avoidance system.
This Jetson-like bubble-topped show car made its debut at the inaugural Daytona 500, and looks to have borrowed a few design ideas from NASA.
Designers Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell gave the Cyclone a flip-top canopy that was fully powered and would disappear in the trunk, resting on an airbag, when not needed. The top was also coated in vaporized silver to deflect the sun’s rays, and the sliding doors would jut out at the push of a button, allowing easy opening and easier entry. The rectangle in the door was a compartment to allow outside interaction without flipping the top, and external speakers ensured that the driver’s voice would be heard.
The black points on the leading edge of the front fenders hid a radar-based guidance system meant to interact with future “smart roads,” and the concept even boasted an untested proximity warning system that would relay an alert to the driver of oncoming obstacles.
Powered by Cadillac’s 390-cu.in., 325-hp V-8, the Cyclone appeared at various car shows after the Daytona 500 and was a part of GM’s popular Motoramas, which operated until 1961. It would undergo several styling changes (including a 1960 fin-ectomy, which reduced the size of the tailfins seen here) before its ultimate retirement.
This can be seen at the Taubman Museum of Art’s exhibit
Drive! Iconic American Cars and Motorcycles until Feb. 3, 2019 in Roanoke, VA.
Information from the book used with permission of the museum.
After you go to the Taubman Museum of Art go up the street to see The Virginia Museum of Transportation for a double treat!