Firebird III: One Of The Most Intriguing And Influential Concept Cars Of General Motors

GM built the Firebird III in 1958 and debuted it at Motorama in 1959. It is another extravagant concept with a fiberglass body and no fewer than seven short wings and tail fins (which were tested extensively in a wind tunnel).


The car is a two-seater powered by a 225 hp (168 kW) Whirlfire GT-305 gas turbine engine, with a two-cylinder 10 hp (7.5 kW) gasoline engine to run all the accessories. Its exterior design features a double-bubble canopy and technical advancements to make it more practical, such as cruise control, anti-lock brakes, and air conditioning.

The Firebird III also featured “Space-Age” innovations, such as special air drag brakes like those found on aircraft, which emerged from flat panels in the bodywork of the car to slow it from high speeds; an “ultra-sonic” key that signaled the doors to open; an automated guidance system to help avoid accidents; and “no hold” steering.

The driver controlled the steering with a joystick positioned between the two seats. This gave the car a more futuristic feel and simulated the experience of flying a plane.

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