|
English
|

1955 GMC L'Universelle Truck

GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - This photo was taken in San Francisco in March of 1955, just before the Motoramas opening in that city. Dagmar bumper cones are attention grabbing on a Cadillac; even more so on a GMC truck.
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - This photo was taken in San Francisco in March of 1955, just before the Motoramas opening in that city. Dagmar bumper cones are attention grabbing on a Cadillac; even more so on a GMC truck.
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - The rear side doors opened in a folding gullwing fashion, which gave unfettered access to the cargo area and made for an impressive display of function.
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - The rear side doors opened in a folding gullwing fashion, which gave unfettered access to the cargo area and made for an impressive display of function.
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - Here you can see the chrome ribs on the lower rear pan. The strong design kinship to the Chevy Nomad and Pontiac Safari two-door wagons is clearly evident from this angle.
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - Here you can see the chrome ribs on the lower rear pan. The strong design kinship to the Chevy Nomad and Pontiac Safari two-door wagons is clearly evident from this angle.
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - Among the galaxy of experimental cars at the General Motors Powerama in Chicago will be this GMC 'dream truck' L'Universelle, which has created a sensation at public showings since its introduction in January. Although still in the 'show truck' category, plans are being made to put the revolutionary new vehicle into production.
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - Among the galaxy of experimental cars at the General Motors Powerama in Chicago will be this GMC 'dream truck' L'Universelle, which has created a sensation at public showings since its introduction in January. Although still in the 'show truck' category, plans are being made to put the revolutionary new vehicle into production.
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - This interior shot of L'Universelle shows a smartly appointed passenger compartment with an easy to read dash and stainless mesh trim. Floor mats were used instead of carpeting. Note the emergency brake lever to the right of the accelerator pedal.
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - This interior shot of L'Universelle shows a smartly appointed passenger compartment with an easy to read dash and stainless mesh trim. Floor mats were used instead of carpeting. Note the emergency brake lever to the right of the accelerator pedal.
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - Styling The Look of Things
GMC L'Universelle Experimental Truck, 1955 - Styling The Look of Things
Images: GM; www.shorey.net
Rating:  31    -11    +42
1955 GMC L'Universelle Dream Truck - Department X
Front wheel drive for increased load capacity
The GMC L’Universelle concept truck was unveiled in 1955 to show forward thinking in the area of delivery vehicles. The futuristic styling of L’Universelle influenced design in the 1960s with the first compact passenger van from Chevrolet, which was built on a Corvair chassis.

www.gmphotostore.com


The relationship between Pontiac and GMC goes back much farther than their merging in 1996. Pontiac has occasionally collaborated on projects with GM's truck division since the '20s-the most widely known example was in the 1955-59 period, when Pontiac V-8s were installed in GMC trucks. The two divisions' products were often sold side by side at the same dealerships, so the combining them into one marketing unit was a natural progression.

In January of 1955, GM debuted its '55 L'Universelle show van at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, at the opening of that year's Motorama. Though not a conventional "dream car" as one would normally find at the Motorama, it nonetheless shared the same level of innovation as the one-offs displayed by the General's other divisions. Moreover, the bronze-colored van shared many of the same Harley Earl-inspired design elements used on both production and non-production GM cars of the time.

Body Design

Up front, a pair of frenched headlamps with chrome bezels were set in slightly from the front corners, giving visual width. Between them was a horizontal grille that picked up the contour of the headlamps on its outer edges. At the front corners were vertical turn signals with Pontiac-inspired mini "Silver Streaks" that extended down to the "Dagmar" projections of the wraparound bumper. Between the bullet-shaped protrusions was a slender bumper bar and rolled lower pan. A stylized "GMC" badge stood above the grille, just below the panoramic windshield.

In addition to some Pontiac and Cadillac-inspired design cues, one could find other divisional influences. The forward-sloping B-pillar called to mind the Chevy Nomad/Pontiac Safari and the side cove formed by the sweeping front fender line could also be seen on the '55 La Salle II Motorama cars. The latter would soon become a Corvette styling icon. A lot of '55 production Chevy could also be seen, from the rear quarter and taillamp design to the rear wheelwells. Its large ribbed stainless steel lower body moldings would soon find favor in production Cadillac and Pontiac offerings. The vertically ribbed lower rear pan and recessed license plate housing were used on several other Motorama cars of the era such as the '53 Cadillac LeMans.

Perhaps the most dramatic design features of L'Universelle was its twin side doors, which opened up in a "folding gullwing" fashion, giving unfettered access to the cavernous rear cargo area. They gave a cutting-edge feature to this innovative idea truck.

Interior Design

L'Universelle's interior was designed to work around the powertrain, which was situated in essentially a front mid-engine location. Being a truck, it was not as flamboyant or luxurious as its Motorama brethren, lacking air conditioning and other conveniences. Nevertheless, it was appointed in a fashion similar to the production GM cars of the '50s, which is to say that it was a bit more upscale than the typical commercial vehicle. A single bench seat gave a rather upright seating position and was covered in a vinyl with expanded vinyl seating inserts. Its dash was fairly simple in design. A floating gauge cluster housed a 100-mph speedometer, with water temperature and fuel gauges on either side. "Idiot lights" for the generator and oil pressure were directly below the speedometer and the transmission gear selector was below them. The tri-spoke steering wheel was a two-tone cream and bronze design with a ribbed center button and integrated horn ring. To the left of the steering column were controls for the headlamps, windshield wipers and heater. To the right was the AM radio housed in a concave panel trimmed in stainless steel mesh, a Harley Earl favorite.

Unconventional Driveline

L'Universelle's design concept called for a rear cargo area that would provide a low, flat floor, excellent space utilization and also make a low ride height easily obtainable. Knowing that a conventional rear-drive layout would compromise the concept too much, GMC design engineers came up with a radical front-drive powertrain layout that would show GM's innovative problem-solving capabilities.

A custom 108-inch wheelbase chassis was constructed for this GMC prototype. It featured an independent front suspension with unequal-length upper and lower control arms; tube type shocks and parallel torsion bars. This helped greatly with the packaging of the front-drive system. The rear suspension was quite a bit simpler than the front, using parallel leaf springs and a dropped-center beam axle, which would allow for the required low floor.

In keeping with the production GMC light- and medium-duty trucks of the era, L'Universelle featured the new overhead valve Pontiac V-8 engine, which was introduced in the '55 Pontiac and GMC lines. Displacing 287 ci, it featured a 3.75-inch bore, 3.250-inch stroke and an 8.0:1 compression ratio. It also boasted such technical innovations as a ball-stud rocker arm system and reverse-flow cooling, which directed coolant into the cylinder heads first and then to the block.

With a two-barrel carburetor, the 287 was rated at 180 hp at 4,600 rpm, with 264 ft-lbs of torque at 2,400. Since L'Universelle was built in time for the January Motorama opening in New York, it did not receive the late-year four-barrel version of the 287.

Due to its unusual location and the forward placement of the passenger compartment, a conventional radiator location would not have worked. Even in the unlikely case that it would have even fit up front, it would no doubt have transferred engine heat to the front seat occupants, an unpleasant scenario to say the least. Instead, the radiator was positioned in a sealed bulkhead above the engine and behind the passenger compartment. Cooling air was ducted through a grille located on the roof.

The Pontiac V-8 was attached to a custom longitudinal front-drive transaxle based on the four-speed GM Hydramatic transmission, which necessitated the rear of the engine to face forward, like the '36-37 V-8-powered Cords. Since the powertrain was backwards, the differential had to work in a reverse rotation compensate for this situation. Otherwise, it would have four speeds in reverse and only one forward speed!

All of the effort put into design and engineering really paid off. L'Universelle was a compact and versatile vehicle with one of the best examples of component packaging and space efficiency to ever come out of Detroit in the '50s. Though it was 10 inches lower and 10 inches shorter than panel trucks of the time (188 inches overall), it had a substantially larger cubic-foot capacity and a load floor half the height-only 13 inches off the ground. All of this thanks to the front-drive system, which eliminated the space-robbing driveshaft hump and rear differential.

It is clear that quite a lot of versatility was designed into L'Universelle. In fact, it was speculated in GMC-generated literature that minor manufacturing changes could turn the van into a small bus, taxi, station wagon or sportsman's car. Indeed, this GMC prototype would have been a very stylish and useful vehicle to take on hunting or fishing expeditions.

After the 1955 Motorama stops in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston, GM also showed GMC's L'Universelle in Chicago at the Powerama, a one-time-only outdoor event similar in concept to the Motorama. The focus of the Powerama was not automobiles, but rather the products and services of GM's non-automotive divisions. GMC was especially well represented, with their diesel trucks and of course, the GMC Dream Truck. Other divisions included Allison, Detroit Diesel, Frigidaire, Euclid, Fabricast, and Electro-Motive. Though attended by millions of people between August 31 and September 25, 1955, the Powerama was not moved to any other cities and was never held again.

Conclusion

Though nearly half a century has passed since GMC's L'Universelle graced a Motorama turntable, it accurately predicted the dimensions, layout and packaging of the minivans that have become a staple of American life. Closer to its own era, it also influenced the design of Chevy's rear-engined Series 95 trucks, the Corvair Rampside and Loadside pickups, Greenbrier vans, and Corvans. It's really too bad that this is yet another dream machine that disappeared without a trace.

Don Keefe - www.hotrod.com


Перспективный фургон GMC L’Universelle (1955 год) — взгляд из пятидесятых на небольшие развозные автомобили будущего. Позже эти идеи были воплощены в первом минивэне Chevrolet.

Авторевю 2000-11


Большие американские вэны по сей день строятся по классической компоновке: двигатель – спереди, ведущая ось – сзади. Но если бы наш сегодняшний герой, роскошный концепт GMC L'Universelle, пошел в серию, то все могло бы измениться раз и навсегда. Итак, начало 1955 года, США, где-то в Нью-Йорке...

В послевоенные годы корпорация General Motors регулярно устраивала передвижную выставку Motorama, целью которой было продемонстрировать новейшие разработки GM. Motorama начиналась с большой январской презентации в отеле Waldorf Astoria в Нью-Йорке, после чего караван концептов и прототипов отправлялся в большое турне по всей стране: Чикаго, Майями, Лос-Анджелес, Сан-Франциско, Бостон... Так же было и в 1955 году, а главной звездой «Моторамы» того года стал GMC L'Universelle – очень нестандартный вэн даже по меркам сумасшедшего американского дизайна тех лет.

Проект создавался совместно с Pontiac – компанией, которая была наиболее близка к GMC: машины использовали много общих компонентов, к тому же распространялись через единую дилерскую сеть. За дизайн вэна отвечал Харли Эрл, перед которым стояла непростая задача – создать автомобиль мечты в кузове, который изначально мало для этого подходит.

Во внешности L'Universelle читаются фамильные черты сразу нескольких марок General Motors: массивный передний бампер с «пулями» по углам и клыкообразными указателями поворотов отсылает к моделям Pontiac той эпохи, а панорамное ветровое остекление и наклоненные против хода центральные стойки – к Chevrolet и Cadillac. По бокам кузова установлены съезжающие вверх двери типа «крыло чайки» - все по последней моде того времени.

В салоне радикальных решений было гораздо меньше. Внутри не нашлось места даже для таких привычных по американским меркам штукам, как кондиционер. Все-таки утилитарный автомобиль, да еще и для выставки. Радио, трехспицевый руль, размеченный до 100 миль в час спидометр, декоративные планки из нержавеющей стали и диван, обтянутый винилом – вот и все, что предлагается водителю и пассажиру. Посадка – по-грузовому вертикальная.

Как вы могли заметить, L'Universelle сильно отличается от фургонов того времени, причем не только американских. Он ощутимо короче (длина – всего 4775 миллиметров), имеет низкий пол, низкую крышу, но объем его грузового отсека превосходит все аналоги середины 50-х годов. Достичь этого удалось благодаря тому, что двигатель здесь располагался по центру – сразу за диваном водителя и пассажира, а тяга от мотора подавалась на переднюю ось.

V-образная «восьмерка» объемом 4,7 литра была позаимствована у Pontiac, ее отдача составляла 180 лошадиных сил и 358 Ньютон-метров. Поскольку расположить радиатор спереди из-за компоновки не представлялось возможным, его оставили в моторном отсеке, а подача воздуха к нему осуществлялась через вынесенный на крышу воздухозаборник. Однако это было даже не самым странным техническим решением. Чтобы двигатель теперь вращал передние колеса вместо задних, его, грубо говоря, просто развернули вместе с коробкой передач! В результате у L'Universelle была, грубо говоря, всего одна передача переднего хода и четыре скорости назад!

Тем не менее, L'Universelle стал одним из первых примеров практичных переднеприводных фургонов, которые на американский рынок впервые вывела марка Chrysler лишь спустя двадцать лет. Длина колесной базы концепта составляла 2743 миллиметра, при этом его передняя подвеска была независимой, а задняя – простая, рессорная, так как требовалось сохранить пол багажного отделения максимально низким.

Автомобили, которые становились частью «Моторамы», обычно не планировались для серийного производства, однако L'Universelle действительно хотели поставить на конвейер – точнее, собирались выпускать на его базе маршрутные автобусы, вместительные такси, автомобили для дальних путешествий. К сожалению, смелости на этот шаг GM не хватило – руководству показалось, что концепт получился слишком ярким и необычным для массового производства.

Помимо Motorama, конецепт ненадолго стал частью Powerama – стационарной выставки, которая была отдана на откуп техническим партнерам GM: Allison, Detroit Diesel, Frigidaire, Euclid, Fabricast и так далее. Последняя Powerama состоялась в 1955 году и L'Universelle стал жемчужиной этой выставки, а Motorama просуществовала до 1961-го.

Хотя серийным красавец L'Universelle все же не стал, его появление не осталось незамеченным. Отголоски концепта заметны в заднемоторных Chevrolet Series 95 и Corvair Rampside, а также в родственных Loadside, Greenbrier и Corvan. Самое главное – он показал, что автомобиль мечты может иметь даже утилитарный кузов и передний привод. Долой стереотипы!

motor.ru
Comments
Dark_Merlin
Friday, February 15, 2008
Это Аэробуханка или микроавтобус для перемещения в межпланетном пространстве. Пристегните ремни, мы взлетаем!
Discuss this car
Author
E-mail
Add your comments