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Le Mans Concept
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  Cadillac Le Mans Concept

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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:1953
Numbers built:4
Introduced at:1953 Motorama
Designed by:Harley Earl
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:April 11, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn the late 1940s General Motors had adopted a very bold sales strategy; the exclusive GM-only Motorama show that hosted the latest production models and also the so called 'dream cars'. At that time there were no major auto shows, used by all manufacturers to display their new goods, so this was the best way for GM to grab the attention of the press and public. There were just eight Motoramas held between 1949 and 1961, and one of the most exciting was no doubt the 1953 edition, which saw the introduction of the Corvette and a several other fiberglass bodied 'dream cars'. It was also the first year that the Motorama was held in multiple cities and it is estimated that nearly 1.5 million people visited the show.

Even though the Corvette was the crowd favourite, the most influential of the 'dream cars' present was probably Cadillac's Le Mans. It was named that to commemorate Briggs Cunningham's successes scored at the famous French track with Cadillacs in 1950. Like many of the other show cars on display, the Cadillac featured a fiberglass body, which was estimated to save over 200 kg compared to a regular steel body. In keeping with its sporty name, the Le Mans featured a 250 bhp V8 engine and a four speed gearbox, making it faster and smoother than any of the contemporary Cadillacs.

It was not so much the material used, but the design of the two-seater convertible body that has paved the route for a small revolution in Cadillac's design philosophy. The finned rear end found its way on the new Eldorado and the twin-headlight nose was carried over to the highly exclusive Brougham Eldorado that was produced in 1957 and 1958. The twin-headlights were an instant hit and quickly became a statement of luxuries used by all other major manufacturers. The fiberglass body also sported the company's very first wrap-around windshield.

Shortly after the 1953 Motorama, there were plans to develop the Le Mans into a production model and a further three examples were constructed. The plans were eventually binned, but three of the four cars constructed have survived to this day. The other one was destroyed in a fire. The pictured example was retained by Cadillac and is currently on display at the General Motors' Heritage Center alongside many more Motorama stars.

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