So Airbus wants to build a transparent jet, huh? Maybe it got the idea from Pontiac.
In 1939, General Motors built a see-through Pontiac Deluxe Six sedan to be used as the centerpiece of its display at the New York World’s Fair that year. Designed in conjunction with Rohm and Haas, the company that developed Plexiglas, all of the metal bodywork of the car was replaced with the then high-tech clear plastic.
It was the first full-size transparent car ever built, and reportedly a favorite of visitors to the fair. All of the underpinnings of the vehicle were kept intact, including its L-head straight-6 engine, and were visible through the bodywork. Fully operational, today the Pontiac has 86 miles on its odometer, apparently driven on its white rubber wheels – another show car touch.
After making the rounds as a promotional car following the fair, the Pontiac joined the collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where it remained until 1947. Afterwards, it passed through a long succession of private owners before being purchased by a collector in the early 1980’s.
The so-called “Ghost Car” is now set to be offered at the RM Auctions St. John’s event in Plymouth, Michigan on July 30th. It has been appraised at a price between $275,000 and $475,000, which is about the same amount that GM spent to build it in today’s dollars.
Considering that an Airbus jet costs about $275 million, the Pontiac sounds like an FDR-era deal.