Cadillac 1953 LeMans Concept, Cadillac, USA

2009: Brave + Bold. America’s Next Iconic Vehicle.

Full Size Vehicle on Display at Michelin Challenge Design™


From 1949 through 1960 General Motors’ Motorama showcased dramatic concept “Dream Cars” as interpretations of future automobile design.  Expressive vehicles including the 1953 Cadillac LeMans and Firebird I traveled the United States and served as a statement of General Motors’ design leadership.

Fueled by the space race, designers during this time channeled their passion for aerodynamics into everything from trains to pencil sharpeners.  The 1953 Cadillac LeMans concept was no different.  Taking its name from the grueling and prestigious 24 Hours of LeMans race in France which Cadillac had competed in for the first time in 1950, the car featured expressive fins, a chrome plated grill and the company’s very first wrap-around windshield.  Other distinguishing exterior cues included P-38 aircraft-inspired taillights, Daomar front bumpers and a heavy grille. Built on a 115-inch wheelbase, the LeMans concept featured a 250-horsepower version of Cadillac’s 331 cubic-inch V-8, a power output not attained in production Cadillac’s until 1955.

Though four units were built, the Cadillac LeMans never went into full production. The project, however, gave GM designers an opportunity to explore a variety of bold new styling cues along with the use of fiberglass in a two-seat body configuration which paved the way for a small revolution in Cadillac’s overall design philosophy. The car’s finned rear end found its way to the new production Eldorado and the twin-headlight nose was carried over to the upscale Brougham Eldorado for the 1957 and 1958 model years. The twin-headlights were an instant industry hit and their use quickly spread to other manufacturers as a statement of luxury.