CREATIVE GENIUS BEHIND 1951 BUICK XP-300
After World War II, GM Vice President of Engineering Charles Chayne and GM Vice President of Design Harley Earl decided to build a successor to the groundbreaking 1938 Buick Y-Job. According to Chayne, both men realized that they each had more ideas than could be contained in one vehicle and decided to make two instead.
Earl’s project, dubbed the XP-8, materialized as the striking LeSabre concept car, while Chayne’s car, initially christened the XP-9, morphed into the XP-300. The car gets its name from “experimental” – XP – and the car’s 335-horsepower supercharged V8 engine.
With a ground clearance of only 6-1/2 inches anda length of over 16 feet, XP-300 was the manifestation of the “long and low” style popular with GM designers in the early 1950s. Chayne was inspired by the sleek look of fighter jets like the F-86 Sabre, and incorporated similar features into his design. Notice the cockpit-like dash gauges, wrap-around windshield, and simulated jet exhaust at the rear. Both the body panels and engine are made of heat-treated aluminum, which reduced the weight of the car to just 3,100 pounds.
The XP-300 also features dual box-shaped fuel tanks (one for gasoline, one for airplane fuel) lined with aircraft-inspired rubber bladder systems contained in each tail fin. The XP’s radically advanced hydraulic system operated everything from the hood to the windows, brakes, and even its jack system. If the XP ever experienced a flat tire, the cadr could be jacked up by the push of a button.
Essentially the industry’s second concept car, the XP-300 had a profound effect on Buick designers for the rest of the decade.