1956 GM Firebird II
Harley Earl poses with the Firebird II
The GM technical team with Firebird II during the 1957 promotional shoot. (L to R) Emmett Conklin, Bill Turunen, Gene Flanigan, Bert MacKenzie, Bill Hoef, Bob Tarien, and a GMR technician
Firebird II during the promotional film shoot in 1957
GM Firebird II - Motorama'56
GM Firebird II - Motorama'56
GM Firebird II, 1956 - Interior
GM Firebird II, 1956 - Brochure Cover
GM Firebird II, 1956 - Motor Trend Cover
Images: General Motors Corp., www.conklinsystems.com
GM Firebird II Experimental Car, 1956 г. Первый в Америке газотурбинный двигатель требовал соответствующей формы. Дизайнер Х. Эрл
Firebird II was displayed on the opening day of the General Motors Technical Center in May 1956 and was the highlight of GM’s 1956 Motorama. This space age design featured an exotic all-titanium body which required heat application of 920 degrees Fahrenheit to simply work with. Rather than welding and burnishing the metal, Harley Earl and GM Research Laboratories developed an epoxy resin that could bond titanium to body framing without weld marks. Beyond the surface area, the Firebird II featured a fully automated guidance system to navigate the “superhighways of tomorrow”.
GM Press Release
General Motors’ experimental Firebird II is the first American gas turbine passenger car specifically designed for family use on the highway.
Successor to the Firebird I
, America’s first gas turbine passenger car which was introduced by GM in 1953, the new Firebird represents a report from General Motors to the nation on GM’s progress in gas turbine development.
Designer of the Firebird II is Harley J. Earl, GM vice president in charge of styling staff. He also designed the original Firebird.
Firebird II, powered by a new gas turbine engine, has been tested at GM Proving Grounds tracks and successfully operated on public highways. Its engine, developed by GM Research staff, features a regenerator – or heat exchanger – which recaptures more than 80 per cent of the exhausted heat and uses it to heat incoming air. With this revolutionary regenerator, the Firebird II gas turbine engine gives promise of being able to operate as economically as today’s piston engine cars.
The body of the Firebird II is made of titanium, a metal of the approximate strength of steel but weighing little more than aluminum. This marks the first time that an auto body has been constructed from the “wonder metal” titanium. Although plentiful in the earth, titanium presents problems so far as welding and plating are concerned. It is non-corrosive and immune to salt water atmosphere.
Firebird II was designed by Mr. Earl so as to be adaptable for use on electronic highways of the future, if such highways ever become reality. The theory of electronic highways is featured in the 1956 General Motors Motorama, of which the Firebird II is the automotive star. Al though the theory of electronic highways is not new, Firebird II is the first automobile ever designed for adaptation to such a highway. On such a highway, all cars would be controlled electronically for direction, speed, and spacing interval, thus eliminating driver error from automobile operation.
Firebird II also features special all-metal brakes, a central hydraulic system, an air-oil suspension system, and other features developed by GM research and engineering in cooperation with other GM divisions.
GM Press Release
The Firebird II represented a progress report on the feasibility of gas turbine powered vehicles. Unlike the original, single-seat Firebird I that developed exhaust temperatures of more than 1250 degrees F, the four-passenger Firebird II featured a regenerative gas turbine engine that operated nearly 1000 degrees cooler. Other innovations included the first use of wheel disc brakes, fully independent four-wheel suspension and the sophisticated electronic guidance system for use on the "electronic highway of the future."
"Firebird II" был создан конструктором Харди Эрлом в 1956-м году. В том же году автомобиль был представлен на выставке "Моторама" и стал её "изюминкой" благодаря своему характерному дизайну и ряду других специфических особенностей, основной из которых был газотурбинный двигатель.
Помимо дизайна и оригинального двигателя, автомобиль имел корпус из титана, созданный без применения сварки (все детали соединялись между собой при помощи специальных эпоксидных смол), впервые примененные дисковые тормоза, полностью независимую систему подвески и экспериментальную систему навигации ("протонавигатор").