Glencoe 1/72 1951
LeSabre Concept Car
Scott Van Aken
This is an ex- Ideal kit.
1951 Le Sabre concept car's exotic presence has not diminished, nor
will designer Harvey J Earl's spirit be embarrassed by the technical
miracles of the last half century that have surpassed his creation. It is no
less splendid to see in motion. A thing of details, the Le Sabre still
delights amidst a wide selection of heritage vehicles available for display
from the rich GM stable of concept, racing, experimental and production
A 215 cubic-inch V8 ventilated by 90-degree, opposed valves in hemispherical
chambers represented the best of racing technology. However, the valves are
operated by an elaborate arrangement of pushrods from a single camshaft
suspended under the intake manifold; new technology, old technology, and
clever-solution technology meeting on a common ground. Induction is
accomplished by a Detroit Diesel Supercharger of the Roots variety, with a
pair of three-blade impellers augmenting fuel and air compression.
Le Sabre was new, a pair of Bendix Eclipse side-draft Carburetors carefully
metered two different fuels. At low or constant speeds one Carburetor drew
premium gasoline from an aluminium fuel tank lined with a rubber safety
bladder. When the accelerator was pressed over half its stroke a progressive
linkage opened the second carburetor, which drew from another
20-gallon-bladder tank filled with methyl alcohol (methanol). Presently, the
Supercharger has to make do with the gasoline system alone.
A wonderful dichotomy that began with race-tech was Le Sabre's transaxle and
DeDion rear axle. The concept has been developed through the entire
automotive century, but in practice, in budget, and during the Korean war, a
GM differential was simply attached to the rear of a Buick Dynaflow and
torque-converter -meaning Earl wouldn't have to employ a manual box. The
Dynaflow was replaced by a GM four-speed Hydramatic.
After it was featured in car shows all around the world it was extensively
used by Earl as a daily driver and most of the 45,000 miles on it are his.
There is a You-Tube section that shows this car being started and driven.
The jet exhaust in the center of the rear of the body is a very large red
stop light, only adding to the 'high performance jet' look that was so
prevalent in the 1950s when it came to show cars and later the production
around in the local hobby shop, I found this one hidden back behind some
other header card models in an in-frequently visited ares of the shop.
Overcome with stupidity, I bought it. Molded in a lovely turquioise plastic,
the kit itself is little more than a toy from the Ideal Plastic company from
years back. About a dozen parts makes this one up with a solid windscreen
just to make things interesting. The wheels are toy like and test fitting
the front bumper that detached itself from the sprue shows that it is pretty
much like a short run kit. Not for those easily intimidated or expecting a
rapid build. No decals, and the instructions are basically an exploded view
on the back of the header card.
Making this into an acceptable model will require a lot of
dedication on the part of the builder, as well as considerable scratch building
skills. Yet it is a model of a rather unique and still extant show care that if
properly executed, can be a real beauty.
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