1948 TASCO Prototype

One of the Chevrolet Corvette’s most popular features traces its roots to an obscure, airplane-like prototype built in 1948. Although the third-generation ‘Vette is widely credited as being the first production car equipped with a T-top roof, the system was inaugurated by Gordon Buehrig’s one-of-a-kind TASCO prototype and patented in 1951.

1948 TASCO prototype by Gordon Buehrig was the first T-top - Autoblog

Born in 1904, Buehrig was an accomplished stylist and engineer whose resume included the Auburn 851 Speedster, the coffin-nosed Cord 810/812, and several variants of Duesenberg’s Model J. Shortly after World War II, he was commissioned by The American Sports Car Company (TASCO) to create — you’ll get no points for guessing this — an American sports car. He drew a two-seater with a long hood and a short deck, proportions associated with grand tourers, but he injected an unusually large dose of aerospace DNA into the design.

1948 TASCO prototype by Gordon Buehrig was the first T-top - Autoblog

Vents on either side of the vertical grille directed air to the radiator, and the front wheels were almost completely covered by directional fenders made of molded fiberglass. The TASCO’s tapered rear end was also reminiscent of a small plane, but its cleverest feature was a transparent roof that could be removed to let the wind in. This was unheard of in 1948. Buehrig had pegged the TASCO at the intersection of coupes and convertibles.

Weird and wonderful: Odd-looking 1948 TASCO prototype draws a crowd in  Amelia - Hagerty Media

Sitting in the driver’s seat must have felt like stepping into a Cessna because the TASCO featured a tall, shallow, and upright dashboard with about a dozen gauges and a series of levers. The prototype was far less advanced under the sheet metal: The aluminum body built by the Philadelphia-based Derham Body Company was mounted on an extensively modified 1947 Mercury frame, and power came from a regular-production flathead V8.

TASCO Prototype 1948: Uniknya Perpaduan Mobil & Pesawat Terbang -  OTOBLITZ.NET | OTOBLITZ.NET

Although the TASCO is undeniably snazzy in 2020, it was understandably considered far too odd to reach production in 1948. It would have been stunningly expensive to build, too; some estimates pegged its price at $7,500, which represents nearly $80,000 when adjusted for inflation. TASCO quickly abandoned the project, Buehrig’s plane on wheels remained a one-off, and he went on to work as a designer for Ford and Lincoln.

Weird and wonderful: Odd-looking 1948 TASCO prototype draws a crowd in  Amelia - Hagerty Media

The American government granted him patent number US2556062A in 1951, nearly three years after he applied for it. He finally owned the rights to what he had described as a “roof with movable parts” but he chose not to bring it to production while working for Ford. Instead, the third-generation Corvette got the honor of democratizing the T-top roof when it arrived in showrooms as a 1968 model, and Buehrig wasted no time reminding Chevrolet that he was the system’s inventor. His patent was still valid (it expired in June 1968), so he sued General Motors — a company he briefly worked for in the late 1920s — over the design and allegedly received a small settlement. In exchange, Chevrolet was allowed to continue building the Corvette with the T-top that fans quickly fell in love with.

Алюминиевый кузов и 150 лошадей в 1948 году: Крутой спорткар из прошлого с  внешностью самолёта

Sun worshippers and stargazers quickly realized that, as Buehrig had predicted, the T-top roof provided the best of both worlds (when it didn’t leak). Chevrolet later offered it on the Monte Carlo and the Camaro, Datsun fitted it to the 280ZX, Ford made it available in the Mustang, and Toyota’s MR2 showed how well it worked in a mid-engined application. In 2020, a sliver of the TASCO’s legacy lives on in the eighth-generation Corvette. Its top comes off in one piece, not two, so the separation that made the whole structure shaped like a T is no longer needed. It’s not a true T-top like an old Pontiac Firebird’s, but the idea is the same. Buehrig would be proud — and sunburned.

Related Posts

Beholding the Mesmerizing ‘Eye of the Earth’: A Surreal Beauty of Water Lake

The deep emerald water lake emerges amidst a beautifully surreal, untouched landscape. Known as The Eye of the Earth, or the Cetina Lake, it is a magnificent natural wonder gifted…

Read more


Artificial Intelligence is the current fad affecting virtually all walks of life, and how one can employ it to do things smartly, determines how productive one will be. While there are…

Read more

Revving Up: Pontiаc Gгаnd Pгix Retuгns аs а Muscle Cаг Icon foг 2023

Pontiаc’s GTO wаs tҺe fiгst muscle cаг, but tҺe 400-Һp Gгаnd Pгix beаt it by 2 yeагs – Һeгe it гetuгns witҺ new looks аnd new poweг in а fгesҺ…

Read more

1954 Chevy Pick Up – Making the magic happen…

Lee and his partner (soon to be wife) Elenor came to us for some work on their Chevy truck. Lee initially met us at a car show, and followed us…

Read more

FLYBYARTIST’s Stunning AI-Generated Imagery of Bugatti Automobiles

Bugatti automobiles stand out for their exceptional design, captivating proportions, curves, and edgy lines. Yet to date, the brand has only ventured into hypercar territory. How incredible would it be if…

Read more

Supercar Blondie Takes The Fastest Accelerating Production Car Out For A Spin

Alex Hirschi shows us the McMurtry Spéirling and explains how it can go froм 0-60 мph in an insanely fast 1.4 seconds. It’s Ƅeen oʋer 4 decades since Gordon Murray’s BT46…

Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *