Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tasco: Gordon Buehrig's Mistake

Gordon Buehrig (1904-1990) was one of the greatest automobile designers.  His best-known and most highly regarded designs were for the 1935 Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster and, especially, the 1936-37 Cord 810 and 812 models. A brief Wikipedia biography is here.

Being human, not all of his designs were so successful, his worst being the 1948-vintage Tasco.

Buehig described his Tasco experience in his autobiography.  Below are some excerpts from pages 120-123:
* * * * *
Someone once said, "Show me a man who never made a mistake and I'll show you a man who never did anything."  It helps a little.

The Tasco, you might say, was my personal Edsel ... it still exists to haunt me...

They [the other Tasco investors] were probably right [that it should be a large sort of MG] and I was probably wrong, because I kept insisting on a closed car with a new type of top which I had in mind, employing twin removable panels on each side...

Ultimately, as we can see now, I was right [that a closed sports car was the way to go].  But had I gone along with my associates' desires at the time, we might have been successful with an open car.  After getting established we could have developed the more complicated closed variety...

[One investor] showed me a lot of pictures he had collected, including some design sketches by Claire Hodgman published in the English magazine Motor.  One of these was a sports car with front fenders that turned with the wheels.  [He] was intrigued with this feature and suggested it be an integral part of the design...

I made two 1/8th scale models.  the first was fairly well detailed, showing the windshield and window layout, the turning front fenders and the first concept of the top I planned to use.  the second model was just a shape which I never finished in detail.  This one lacked the turning fenders and was the one I personally preferred.

As I went into the turning fender problem, I became more skeptical of the merits of the idea... [Showing the models to the investor] his reaction to the second model was that it resembled the Buick fastback and was not sufficiently different to command a market...

At this point I made a crucial mistake.  I should have refused to retain the turning front fenders because I was aware of the problems they would entail.  But at the time I thought I could work them out...

One of my more serious mistakes, which largely contributed to the broken-up lines of the finished car, was the conflict of the daylight openings or glass areas with the overall design.

* * * * *

The prototype Tasco was built by Derham, the well-known Philadelphia-area coachbuilder.  Here are some images of the unfortunate design.

Gallery

Buehrig with Tasco 1/8th model.




1 comment:

AutoPuzzles Blogger said...

I wonder if Rolls' designers were channeling this car when they penned the Rolls-Royce Vision 100.