Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

This is how designers imagined cars in the 2000s: a concept that is almost 70 years old

The car was built in 1955/The Drive

In the mid-1950s, American Motors Corporation hired industrial designer Richard Arbib to develop a futuristic concept car built on the chassis of the 1955 Nash Metropolitan.

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The result was this wild “Time and Space Car” concept car called the Astra-Gnome, which was built at the speed of light in four months, writes The Drive.

The Jetsons-like Astra-Gnome was intended to show what a time-traveling car would look like in the year 2000, and included “a celestial time zone clock that allows for flight-like navigation.” It became a hit when it appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine on September 3, 1956 and was introduced at the New York International Auto Show that same year.

Crafted from aluminum and chrome, the Astra-Gnome's exterior features full fender skirts that give the car the appearance of a boat or hovercraft. The rear fenders and taillights are distinctly 1950s-style, and the bamboo visor is strutless, giving the driver and passenger a 360-degree view. A cartoon gnome/astronaut logo adorns the hood.

< p>This is how designers imagined cars in the 2000s: a concept that is almost 70 years old

This is how designers imagined cars in the 2000s: a concept that is almost 70 years old

This is how designers imagined cars in the 2000s: a concept that is almost 70 years old

This is how designers imagined cars in the 2000s: concept , who is almost 70 years old

This is how designers imagined cars in the 2000s: a concept that is almost 70 years old

This is how designers imagined cars in the 2000s: a concept that is almost 70 years old

Inside the cabin, the seats are covered in satin blue and space gray upholstery. The steering wheel is covered in chrome blue with the same Astra-Gnome logo in the center, while the knobs and gear shifter are transparent blue. His giant sky clock takes center stage at eye level.

Arbib himself was quite the accomplished designer before he created this whimsical little masterpiece. He developed concepts for General Motors, Ford and Packard; he was also the author of the luxurious Packard Pan American, which was based on a modified Packard 250 convertible, which Hemmings describes as “cut, routed and smoothed into a two-seat luxury roadster.” Pan American became the launching pad for the elegant Packard Caribbean, which was the last gasp of a dying brand that was struggling to survive.

This is how designers imagined cars in the 2000s: a concept that is almost 70 years old

This is how designers imagined cars in the 2000s: a concept that is almost 70 years old

This is how designers imagined cars in the 2000s: a concept that is almost 70 years old

But Arbib's talents were not limited to cars. He was also the creator of the Hamilton asymmetrical electric watch, which is now a collector's item for vintage watch enthusiasts. Arbib also designed the sleek Century Coronado hardtop speedboat.

The Petersen Automotive Museum debuts an exhibit Eyes on the Road: The Art of the Automotive Landscape on March 30, including this wonderfully whimsical space car . The Astra-Gnome will be on display in the Vehicle Concepts section alongside other wonderful oddities such as the 1934 Dymaxion, the 1955 Ghia Gilda and the 1969 Chevrolet Astro III.

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