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Sunday, January 17, 2021

The “ghost car”, a revolutionary invention that shocked the world 80 years ago

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Futurama was, starting in 1939, a window to the world of tomorrow. With a mega-sample format, it had space for several years at the Universal Exposition in New York. There, the different companies sought to venture into unprecedented solutions for the next 30 years and millions of people watched in astonishment the advances that were going to change their lives. From the automotive sector, General Motors It sponsored the Motorama space, where the most important developments of the company in those years paraded. There were no limits to your imagination and there were no limits to your research resources. The Detroit giant, then, flourished year after year with different prototypes that remained in the history of the automotive industry.

The production of the Six DeLuxe demanded a cost of 25 thousand dollars, a fortune for that time.

In full fury of that expo, in 1940, appeared one of the most brazen inventions in history: a bombastic 1939 Pontiac Six DeLuxe with transparent bodywork. For the first time, a prototype of these characteristics was being manufactured on the planet, for which a material called Plexiglas had been used, which was also very robust. Of course, the Pontiac (a brand owned by General Motors) quickly became popular as the “ghost car.”

The revolutionary Plexiglas had been developed by a chemical company, called Rohm & Haas, and even because of its strength it later proved useful to protect fighter and bomber pilots in World War II. The rubber trims and tires were specially made in white, while the chassis received had a copper wash. To put it in tune, for its part, the dashboard was bathed in a chrome coating. The production of the Six DeLuxe demanded a cost of 25 thousand dollars, a fortune for that time.

The rubber moldings and tires were specially made in white, while the chassis received had a copper wash.

“A see-through car, the first built in America, is the most striking of the Fisher Body Division exhibits at the General Motors Highway and Skyline Building at the New York World’s Fair. Created to showcase the rigid interior bracing and other features complete with raise and lower windows, open and close doors. The only missing material is the insulation that is normally applied to the interior surface working with a new material, a transparent synthetic plastic ”. This is how the company’s statement described the presentation of the exotic model. Prologue size brought together hundreds of thousands of people in the now famous show.

The Plexiglas was light and strong, but it couldn't isolate the heat from the engine.

After the successful irruption of the Pontiac in New York, and the repercussion in the press as “The Ghost Car”, General Motors decided to build a second unit to exhibit at the Golden Gate Exposition, in San Francisco. That example was based on the Pontiac Torpedo, but it was destroyed years later. The Pontiac Plexiglas, meanwhile, was exhibited in Washington and remained until the end of World War II. It belonged to the brand until 1973 when it was bought by billionaire Don Barlup.

The Pontiac remains in the hands of a collector: it has only 138 kilometers on its odometer.

That year he appeared again in public at a meeting of the Pontiac Oakland Club International. After a partial restoration, Barlup sold the Pontiac in 1979 to a collector named Leo Gephart. He was under the tutelage of his family until 2011, when he was auctioned with just 138 kilometers on his odometer. The Plexiglas had caused a sensation because it was a light and resistant material, but could not isolate the heat from the engine. That defect undermined the idea, at some specific point, of making the Plexiglas Six DeLuxe. As ephemeral as it is revolutionary, it remains a landmark for being the first “ghost car” in history.

To put it in tune, the interior of the Pontiac received a chrome plating.


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