After the end of World War II, American car manufacturers found themselves in a bit of a jam. For more than four years, they were prohibited by law from building new cars, and the first new models rolling out in 1946 were just rehashed 1940 models. But by the late 1940s, automakers both major, minor, and completely independent were rolling out some pretty radical designs. This gave rise to the Kustom Kulture, lead sleds, and the Europeanization of American sports cars.
At the forefront of this design revolution, Gordon Buehrig, the man responsible for, among other cars, the Cord 810, commonly considered one of the best looking cars of its era. In 1948 he unveiled a car so forward-thinking, it would take GM another 20 years to steal his ideas. DieselPunk gave us the full rundown on Buehrig’s one-off Tasco Prototype.
The Tasco Prototype, which cost an astounding $57,000 to build back in the 1940s, utilized a 1939 Mercury frame that was channeled for a low-riding look. It was powered by a 150 horsepower V8 engine, and had ambitions of matching the European sports cars that were popular with American GIs returning from the way. The Tasco’s body was constructed entirely from aluminum, and Buehrig designed the world’s first known automotive T-tops. His design would be copied on the 1968 Corvette, and Buehrig would sue GM for utilizing his patented design.
The one-off Tasco never entered production, even though it utilized many of the same design techniques employed by European sports cars of the day. It wouldn’t be until the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Corvette came out in the early ’50s that America would have a decent sports car to turn to with these design elements. Today the Tasco prototype occupies a purgatory for project cars of sorts, but its impact on automotive history simply can’t be denied.