Concept cars were more exciting back when the future held promise of a supersonic jet-age modernity. Inspiration came from velocity itself, not a backpack. Case in point is the Firebird. Not the Firebird of muscle car era and Burt Reynolds fame, but rather the turbine-powered Firebird of the future. The Firebird XP-21 was the first of the line, and lit up the turbines for the 1954 General Motors Autorama. The Firebird II was next in 1959, with 1961 bringing the Firebird III roaring around the streets of Detroit! The citizens need not have worried about getting toasted. The 1956 pamphlet for the Firebird II calmly assuaged potential jet car pilots that "unlike the blast from a jet engine, the exhaust from the Firebird II is pleasantly warm." GM unfortunately decided that the coming of warm jet cars driving themselves along the autoways of tomorrow was from a future delegated to comic books, science-fiction, and Jay Leno.
GM Turbine Firebird Pages [External]