Monday, June 25, 2012

Ugly or odd vehicle, Brooks Stevens was commisioned to design this car in 1955. The Gaylord Gladiator

Notice the headlights (airplane lights?) are bigger than the model's head by a lot

It looks like a cross between Exner's Mercer Cobra and the late 50's vettes.

and though the above photo is a decent shot, here is the same car in color from the back, with the hardtop convertible optional top in place:
found on

For the source of these color photos the 1955 Paris Motor show

and at the Fred Pittera's Universal Travel and Auto Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, February 1955:

the above image from
'55 Gaylord Gladiator. Jim and Ed Gaylord were car-crazy Chicago brothers whose father had invented (and patented) the bobby pin. With money to burn, they became local legends for their hopped up Cadillacs and LaSalles, not to mention a Packard massaged by Andy Granatelli. They were also friends of GM engineer Ed Cole, who showed them experimental stuff outsiders weren't even supposed to know about. In 1949, Jim sat down with designer Alex Tremulis, a Ford employee following a chaotic time with Preston Tucker. Gaylord had decided to build the world's finest sports car, on his own chromoly tube chassis with a big American V8 up front, and needed a stylist. Tremulis suggested Brooks Stevens, just the man for 'a modern car with classic overtones'. The result met with less than universal acclaim, although power and handling were widely praised. This car, with Lucas P100 headlamps instead of duals, is apparently a Hemi powered prototype built by Spohn, a classic-era German coachbuilder who survived into the fifties by concocting outlandish customs on American chassis for US servicemen stationed overseas. Sources state that the Gladiator made its debut at the Paris Auto Salon in October 1955, but this must refer to the Cadillac powered 'production' car, as this snapshot carries the same film lab batch code as the BMW and Lincoln Futura photos below, from February of that year. More info at

Phoenix Concours 2016 full gallery

As ugly as this is, it's not alone in it's atrocious design... I did a list of my top ten fugly cars:  April 2017 


  1. This may be the most important prototype postwar American car. First with flow through ventilation, first retractable hard top in 39 seconds, six way adjustable electrical seats, outstanding fit and finish. this car won Pebble Beach in its class in the mid 1990's. It's absolutely gorgeous and only one is know to exist with a rolling chassis.

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    2. My name is Chris Stamatakis my father Alex purchased the Gaylord's mansion in Winnetka Illinois during 1978. I met Edward and drove the car he garaged at his home in Arizona I lost track of him in 1986. You can contact me through see my profile Stamatakis Consulting Services

  2. Collectible Automobile did a multi-page Article on the Gaylord cars 🚗 in the latest issue that just came out, April 2017. Numerous photos plus update on the dates of the three bodied vehicles and two chassis.

    1. Thanks! I'll see if they have something online about it