This Buick Streamliner featuring custom aluminium body and steel chassis was created by Norman E. Timbs. It has to be said its graceful lines possess a timeless beauty that still holds as true today as it did in 1948 when the Californian unveiled it to the world.
As a former Indy 500 designer, Timbs had previously worked on multi-Indy winning Blue Crown Specials and the body of his Buick masterpiece appears to imitate the design of German GP cars from a decade earlier.
These racers, such as the 1937 Mercedes-Benz W25 Avus Stromlinie and 1937 Auto Union Typ C Stromlinie, took many of their cues from the field of aeronautics and it’s probable Timbs had their curvaceous shape in mind when he came up with the idea for his Buick.
Timbs eschewed design excesses like whopping tail fins and big chrome bumpers that went on to characterise American automobile design of the period. And his sumptuous aerofoil shape is such that no doors are cut out of the body.
A 1947 Buick ‘Super 8’ engine powered the one tonne Streamliner to 200 km/h (120mph). The motor sat at the rear of the chassis, with the cockpit pushed forward rather like the German Auto Union Type D from the late 1930s (and latter Porsches).
The main chassis was built up from 12.5cm steel tubes which kicked up over the rear axle, while a sizeable one-piece panel hydraulically opens to reveal the entire rear end of the chassis.
The car’s body is long and low with a complete underbelly panel and to ensure a smooth ride, it was fitted with a modified 1947 Ford suspension.
Timbs needed two and a half years to create the car at a cost of $10,000, $8,000 of which was taken up by the all aluminium body made by Indy car builder, Emil Diedt. The shape was formed by hand over a traditional wooden buck.
The Streamliner was initially used on the show circuit until it was purchased in 1952 by a private buyer who allowed Motor Life magazine to shoot it for a feature article. It also got on the cover of Motor Trend magazine.
Quite what happened in the interim, we don’t know, but in 2002 the car was apparently discovered by chance in the desert, and by all accounts in fairly decent condition. It was then bought at auction and restored for its new owners by Colorado’s Dave Crouse.
Since its restoration, it has starred at the Amelia Island Concours d' Élégance in the category dedicated to cars which have appeared on the cover of Motor Trend magazine.
What else can we say but that we tip our hat to Timbs' absolutely stunning timeless design.