In America, they say that if God had a car it would be a Cadillac. Cadillac was one of the few American manufacturers who kept at its mission of making top-notch luxury cars with outstanding splendour. The Cadillac Concept Cyclone XP-74, designed by the legendary Harley Earl escalates it to another level. Designed in the era of obsession with jet plane designs, and non-related products like cars were launched every now and then in the form of concepts. The Cadillac joined the ‘jet age’ with a 325 horse powered conventional internal combustion engine positioned in it’s nose and an odd-looking but stunning aero-inspired design.
Among its advanced features is a radar sensing device, located inside each one of the twin nose cones, or Dagmars. It is a Radar-based-crash-avoidance system, It was a forerunner to today’s common radar/visual systems for active cruise control and low-speed crash avoidance. It scans the road ahead, and electronically alerts the driver with an audible signal and a warning light if an object is in its path. The dash instruments are clustered like an aircraft dashboard, between the two passengers. An intercommunication system allows the passengers to converse with persons outside the automobile without raising the canopy. All of this on half a century old Cadillac! Rooted in the past and still taking us to school.
The current Cadillac Cyclone looks somewhat different from the original. Earl’s design included the large tailfins at the rear, but after he left and the car was first shown (appearing at the new Daytona International Speedway in Florida), new design chief William Mitchell cut down the fins to be a closer match to the Series 62. Mitchell’s distaste for large fins would change GM’s design future forever, bringing on the end of the tailfin era.
Mitchell had the problematic air ride suspension system removed and replaced with coil springs, and a few other modifications made to the car. It was shown a few more times, then retired to storage at GM in favor of Mitchell’s more conservative design plans.
This was Harley Earl’s last concept vehicle before his retirement in 1958. After Earl’s retirement, with Mitchell as Vice President and head of design, the Cyclone’s fins were cut down, the taillights moved to the bumper ends, the hubcaps changed, the bubble top removed and the pearl white paint changed to silver. The car was then known as the 1964 Cadillac Cyclone XP-74 Concept. Cyclone Concept is still owned by General Motors, and is currently on display at the company’s Heritage Center where it is pictured. From time to time it is taken out for public appearances where it continues to amaze the crowds, just as it did years ago.