As the economy picked back up after World War II, so did imagination. Everywhere you looked, auto manufacturers and just your Regular Joes were designing some pretty outrageous machines that seem wild to us even today. One of those incredible futuristic-yet-somehow-retro-classic cars was the 1948 Tasco Prototype.
This prototype was the single vehicle ever designed by Tasco, The American Sports Car Company. To say its name was ambitious would be an understatement—after this one single attempt at challenging the status quo, Tasco called it quits. Only one model was ever made, and it was, uh, not received particularly well.
Designed by Gordon Buehrig and backed by plenty of investors, this was supposed to be the American car that would take on its European brethren at Watkins Glen. Let’s show not only our ingenuity, but also how capable we are of winning!
It started with a 1947 Mercury chassis that was heavily modified to accommodate the wild shit Buehrig had in mind. America at the time was obsessed with aviation, a result of advances being made in the field and the high-flying pilots of WWII. It made sense to try to combine the aesthetics of a fighter plane with that of a sports car.
That meant it featured an enclosed cockpit like you’d find on a light aircraft and the introduction of the first ever T-bar roof, which didn’t end up in production for twenty more years, fitted with two plexiglass panels that you could lift out. The wheels were enclosed, too, and the front two even turned with the wheels. The inside dashboard was very consciously designed with levers and gauges that made it look like you really were inside an airplane.
The thing… was not a hit. People weren’t kind to it back in the day, so the prototype was the only thing that ever ended up being cobbled together. No one wanted to see one of these things racing around a track. Buehrig apparently compared it to the failed Edsel and claimed that it was designed more by the investors than by himself.
Personally, I think it got a bad rap. Yeah, it is very Extra, but when has that ever been a terrible thing in a race car? Sure, it might be a little too heavily inspired by fighter planes. Yes, the completed prototype looked very rough indeed. But I think Buehrig was onto something here. The idea could use some refinement and scaling back, sure—but I’d love to see a modern reinterpretation of this bad boy getting up to some track day shenanigans.