Video: GM Firebird III Experiment for Tomorrow

This rare color film from 1958, in beautiful condition, details the design and construction of the Firebird III turbine-powered dream car.  Lots of fascinating technical insights here—have a look.  


Among gearheads, GM’s Firebird III requires no introduction. Third in a series of turbine-powered dream cars built in the 1950s, Firebird III was more than a styling exercise—it was also an advanced R&D program. Forward-looking features included a single-stick driver control with rudimentary computer management. a backbone-type frame, and a rear-drive Hydramatic transaxle for the 225-hp gas turbine engine. An auxiliary 20 CID piston engine at the front powered the accessories.



At around 6:20 into the film, be sure to check out what must be the most sophisticated drum brake system ever developed at GM, with comprehensive air cooling and integral drums. We are also treated to some great views of the GM Technical Center, then brand new, and we get to visit with some key GM engineering personnel at the time. Video below.