Buick’s 1956 concept car really did have futuristic features …
GM’s concept cars of the 1950s were showcased in traveling shows called Motorama and actually looked futuristic and in some cases included features that would show up on future cars, sometimes way into the future.
One was the bright red over white Buick Centurion XP-301 that was displayed in 1956 Motorama shows. NEO now offers a stellar example of the show car in 1:43 scale, and the resin model may surprise you.
The Centurion, a name later used in the 1970s by Buick, was a Harley Earl design reflecting the aircraft and rocket styling touches that were so popular in the 1950s as the U.S. was rushing toward the space race.
Its pincher like nose design with headlights in rocketlike pods would grab everyone’s attention at the time, along with the tapered tail that looks like a jet engine with overhanging flat fins. Oh, and then there’s the bubble top, completely clear except for the metal support structure and window frames.
But ultimately the car’s claim to future automotive design fame is its backup camera. That’s right, there was a camera in the tail that projected its picture on a 4- x 6-inch screen mid-dash. Now nearly every new car has one, roughly 60 years later.
Another Buick styling cue also first appeared here. The Sweepspear, a chrome accent strip that runs from the front fender, curving down just before the rear wheel, and then curving back to the taillight, was featured on many Buicks over the years.
NEO’s version is beautifully executed with all the above styling cues crisply executed, the clear roof being particularly impressive.
The leuvered chrome grille set between the pincher pods that house the round headlights is smartly shaped and the chrome Sweepspear is well executed. Finish is stellar, probably better than on the original concept car.
There are two small air scoops on the fenders just behind the hood. These were to direct air into the cockpit, something that would be needed to cool it since the roof allowed sun in continuously.
That jet tail has chrome around it and a clear lens on top and red lens on the bottom half. The Centurion also includes three chrome accent stripes just in front of the rear wheels and chrome hood and trunk badging.
That clear roof is perfect and looks like something right out of the Jetsons. But even with a wraparound windshield there are the usual side vent windows.
Naturally this gives you a clear view of the bright red interior with its chrome accent streaks on the doors and chrome console. You also can see where that small TV screen is mid-dash and the steering column is supported by a huge arm that juts out from a chrome fixture attached to the console.
Only one small flaw, historically, and that’s the steering wheel hub’s spokes that are red here, but were chrome on the original show car. You’ll likely be the only one to notice!
This is a particularly interesting looking concept car that will get your buddies talking when they see it in your collection.
Vital Stats: 1956 Buick Centurion XP-301 Concept
Stock No.: NEO43843