Weird and Wonderful 4 – 1948 Tasco

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No 4 in the series of Weird and Wonderful stuff that has popped up on the internet.

The 1948 Tasco (The American Sportscar Company) is a one off Aluminum prototype with coachwork by Derham. Designed by Gordon Buehrig, chief designer at Duesenberg and an aircraft designer during the war years, the design was heavily influenced by fighter planes, the canopy has a sloped-back windshield and streamlined appearance and the wheels are enclosed in aluminum, like the ones used as landing gear, it also has aircraft style controls. The molded fiberglass front fenders turn with the wheels.

 

The project was backed by a consortium of businessmen who hoped to sell the Tasco to wealthy sportsmen to compete in European-style sports car races held in New York State. It was based on a chassis from a 1947 Mercury, which was modified to accept a new body and was powered by a modified Ford V-8 with 150hp. The one-off Tasco cost a reported $57,000, the production target cost was $7,500 so it wasn’t surprising that the project failed and the car never went beyond the prototype.

The Tasco was the first car in the world with a ‘T top’ roof – the design was patented and Buehrig sued GM when they produced a similar design 20 years later on the Corvette.

 

Unusually for the time, Buehrig used the relatively new vacuum-forming techniques to create small 3D models during various phases of the design development, a process that was later adopted industry-wide.

The Tasco is in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum.

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Cars we love but can’t have… No 2

The second in our new series of wonderful vehicles we’ve spotted on the internet, would love to own but probably never will…1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-3

1949 Georges Irat convertible by Labourdette
This lovely car turned up recently at the Artcurial Auction at this years Retromobile. It’s a prototype and so a one off and very unlikely to join our collection. It fetched €57,216 in the February sale.Irat-auction

Georges Irat was a French car producer from 1921-1953. They weren’t very successful and had financial difficulties. The companies biggest success was a small roadster produced in the 30’s with a Ruby engine although less than 400 were produced.Irat-other-1938-roadster
irat-otherposterDuring the war the company experimented with electric vehicles while making industrial motors. It was during this time that the revolutionary prototype, mounted on a magnesium frame was developed and first appeared at the 1946 Paris Motor Show with a 1100cc flat-four engine, possibly a Ruby from their earlier roadster.1946It was shown again in 1947 with a revised front, new wheels and revised styling.Georges-Irat-1946original6A third prototype appeared in 1949 with a 2 Litre engine, no bumpers and a fixed glass cover over the center-mounted headlamps but the design never made it into production, partly due to lack of materials after the war and the government not approving it. Years later the body coach built by Labourdette was found in the old Georges Irat factory and a Simca Eight chassis was used to underpin the car so it could be used. It is now powered by a 2L Simca engine and is reported to have a top speed of 150kph.original-2originaloriginal-3The model sold looks immaculate and has been beautifully restored. There is some wonderful detail in the car and it’s small size and streamlined shape make it very desirable.1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-1 1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-2 1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-4 1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-5 1949-georges-irat-cabriolet-par-labourdette-6 detail-button detail-chasisplate detail-dash detail-engine detail-interior detail-interior2Georges Irat did go on to produce a few other cars including this 1950 Barquette which I cannot find any information about. In the early 50’s Georges Irat moved the company to Morocco and ended up building small Jeep like vehicles conceived by Emile Petit, these were known as La Voiture du Bled.

Irat-other-Barquette1950-2 Irat-other-Barquette1950 irat-other-LaVoiture du Bled1953
irat-other-Voiture_du_Bled Irat-other-Voiture-du-Bled2While researching this blog this handful of pics turned up, taken in 2007, the car is obviously red, not the white of the original or the restored version but it has the bumpers of the earlier prototype. So I don’t know if it’s an earlier prototype or has just been restored to the version that was auctioned – if anyone knows, please let us know…Original-72007-1 2007-2 2007-3 2007-4

The Renault Fiftie…

In a previous post we reported on taking Regie the Renault in 1996 to the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Renault 4cv. Well Renault also choose to celebrate this significant date in their history in another way, by producing a ‘modern’ version of the 4cv – The Renault Fiftie which was ‘launched’ at the 1996 Geneva Motorshow.Renault-Fiftie-posterRenault-Fiftie-4cvRenault-Fiftie-drawingRenault-Fiftie-interior-drawingDSCN4201DSC02714

We were very excited about this and had hoped to see it at the anniversary celebrations but unfortunately it was on display elsewhere. We did manage to get a look at it, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed the following year and thought it looked even better in the ‘flesh’. We have seen it again since at Retromobile. This was the first of the ‘rebirth classics’ – a new car designed based on a loved classic, it was followed by designs for the new VW Beetle, BMW Mini and of course the Fiat 500. Unfortunately unlike the rest, the Fiftie was never put into manufacture, although the prototype was a fully functioning car. The all new mid-mounted 1.2l engine survived and made it into production in the Twingo and Cleo.Renault-Fiftie-beachCOX19969030406COX19969030702

Designed by Benoit Jacob under the direction of Patrick le Quement, Renault’s vice president of corporate design, the Fiftie was built on a cutting edge carbon fibre and aluminium platform lifted from the Renault Spider. The body work drew heavily on it’s predecessor with a three slat ‘Moustache’ front grill, a pointed front end, curves, rear louvers with the overall shape also bearing a passing resemblance to the 4cv. The prototype was even in yellow in honour of the original little ‘butter pat’ as the early yellow 4cv’s were known. The wheels were inspired by the ‘star’ wheels of the early 4cv complete with the air vents in the rear wheel arch and added to the period look.Renault-Fiftie-retro4Renault-Fiftie-retro Renault-Fiftie-retro2 Renault-Fiftie-retro3Renault-Fiftie-wheel

Inside the design was utilitarian in the spirit of its ancestor with linoleum on the floor and linen and wickerwork upholstery but the dashboard was something much more futuristic with a large screen mounted in the middle of the dashboard that grouped the car’s entertainment, climate control, driver assistance and telephone functions into a single unit. The seats were fixed with the steering wheel and pedals being adjustable. The roof was in four removable panels that could be stored under the rear window so the Fiftie was a decoverable – just like Regie! The design included a wicker picnic basket hidden in the boot.COX19969030810 Renault-Fiftie-interior Renault-Fiftie-interior2 COX19969030814

The contemporary, fun, Fiftie received very good reviews at the time  with people loving the mix of past and future, it’s happy go lucky attitude and cute but dynamic styling but the carbon-fibre body was expensive – the one off was reputed to have cost £3 million and was too costly to put into production and so the Fiftie remains just another one of Renault’s wonderful concept cars. Looking today of the huge success of the ‘retro’ remakes of the Beetle, Fiat 500 and Mini one can’t but help wonder if this was a costly mistake by Renault, especially as nearly 20 years on it still looks up to date. We for one would have loved one! Fiat500-1 mini-2 vw-2