The 1950s became a decade full of era-defining design elements – signatures, almost – which are all easily identifiable today some 60 years later. In everything from fashion to cars, design was influenced by the latest technological advances, and not least the idea that these would all soon become an integral part of our daily lives. The Oldsmobile Golden Rocket perfectly exemplifies this mindset with an extremely futuristic design. It was truly astonishing then, as it is today.
The Golden Rocket debuted at GM Motorama in 1956, and looks mostly like a cross between a jet aircraft and the filmic Jetson spaceships. The rear bumper design more than just alludes to rockets, and Oldsmobile continued that theme all the way through the side of the body and into the highly-set bullet-shaped integrated headlights (which in fact weren’t headlights at all, but rather chromed covers – oh, the many freedoms of designing concept cars). While most pictures of the show car are black and white, the sleek fiberglass body was painted a striking bronze metallic – the future was glitzy.
The equally outlandish two-seater interior was covered in blue and gold leather. There was a large speedometer placed centrally within the steering wheel, which itself featured the never-seen-before function of having a button-controlled tilt-operation to offer easier access to and from the cabin. The innovation continued into how the doors opened. In essence each door was a two-piece item with the main part being a largely conventional door. But as you opened the door, a roof panel would also rise automatically not dissimilar to gull-wing doors, again to aid easier access to the cabin. To further ensure that no one would ever have to strain themselves in future, the seat would then also rise three inches and swivel out 45 degrees to greet you as you entered your Golden Rocket.
Power was provided by an upgraded 324 cu. in. V8 engine pushing out an alleged 275hp through a standard GM-sourced automatic gearbox. Conventional rear-wheel drive was maintained.
The Golden Rocket was never intended to be anything but an experimental concept car. As such, it spent a couple of years traveling the world to various exhibitions, as a golden example of what we could expect of future car design and innovation.