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Sunday, March 28, 2021

A remnant of the glory of the Gladiator GTS of the '50s

You might be remember to the Cadillac Die Valkyrie or the Studebaker Scepter Concept. All these 2 classic cars known to be the Brooks Stevens design results and have unique shapes in comparison to the existing cars of the era. And on this occasion, we will again present another unique car which is also the design work of those famous American industrial designer, namely the Gaylord Gladiator Sports-Touring.
The prototype of the Gaylord Gladiator Sports-Touring is designed by Brooks Stevens, bodied by Karosseriebau Hermann Spohn and debuted at the 42nd Paris Auto Salon in the 1955. (Picture from: Chrisinmotion.com)
As quoted from the sites of The Makes That Didn't Make It, the car was deliberately built as the grandest embodiment of James and Edward Gaylord's dream car or it could be said such the dream manifestation, if money is no longer a problem. As it is known, the Gaylord brothers are the heirs to a fortune built on their father’s hairpin invention. They are also known as true automotive enthusiasts who mourned over the collapsing of the great marques at the time, such as Bugatti and Delahaye, Duesenberg and Stutz.
The Gaylord Gladiator Sports-Touring ('production version') is also of historic significance in that it featured the very first automotive retractable hardtop model. (Picture from: Chrisinmotion.com)
And at the same time in the 1950s to 1960s era, it was the heyday of the European manufacturers's modern GT car's in the global market and also raced swiftly dominated various world-renowned racing events, made the American muscled cars with boundless power, seem like powerless and should be pull over from the global competition’s harshness.
The prototype of the Gaylord Gladiator Sports-Touring appears with exposed front wheels and the P-100 gargantuan 'twin' headlights. (Picture from: Chrisinmotion.com)
As we all knew, each had its appeals, each its drawbacks. But the Gaylord brothers wanted it all, namely a car with capable performance to compete on the LeMans or Monaco circuits, while still able to carry its occupants in comfort over the finest streets of Paris or New York. Since then, they began looking for who could build the world's most advanced, spectacular and exclusive luxury grand tourer sports car (as they desire above), later the car is named the Gaylord Gladiator.
The Gaylord Gladiator Sports-Touring 'production' version appears with enclosed front wheels and conventionally-sized "quad" headlights. (Picture from: Chrisinmotion.com)
To make the dream car into a reality, they went to the famous Wisconsin's auto designer Brooks Stevens, and then the designer gave his ideas about grandiose grilles and huge headlamps, recalling the features of prewar grand touring cars. In short, at that time the Gaylord brothers agreed with those Stevens' designs, and the car is also of historic significance in that it featured the very first automotive retractable hardtop model.
The Gaylord Gladiator Phaeton design proposal by Brooks Stevens, as the four doors model but never made it.. (Picture from: Chrisinmotion.com)
And after the completion of the design process, the Gaylord brothers handed over the car construction to Karosseriebau Hermann Spohn, a Ravensburg, Germany based coachbuilder company. It's planned that the Gladiator will be produced in 2 different models, namely 2-door and 4-door models (this model was never made) with a production capacity of 25 units per year. The first Gladiator Sports-Touring debuted at the 42nd Paris Auto Salon in the 1955.
On the wood dash, there are the "Gaylord" branded customized VDO gauges with the Gladiator's sword motif, stared out at the awestruck driver. (Picture from: Chrisinmotion.com)
At that time, the Gladiator would be sold at the price ranging of $17,500 per unit (or the equivalent of 4 Corvettes). Although expensive, there are several buyers on list for the Gladiator, including the deposed Egyptian King Farouk and several Hollywood stars such Dick Powell, Grace Kelly, William Holden, etc. It seems that the high price of the car (which was two times of the most expensive Cadillac at the time, the stunning El Dorado Brougham) was quite comparable to its quality and sophisticated chassis design so that no other car could match it.
The Gaylord Gladiator Sports-Touring's cockpit was trimmed in the finest leather and burled wood, plus the real chrome accents were everywhere. (Picture from: Chrisinmotion.com)
The Gaylord brothers designed a very strong chrome-molybdenum tubular chassis, using coil springs and A-arms for the front suspension and a beam axle with leaf springs for the rear. The suspension made extensive use of rubber and the passenger compartment was virtually impervious to shock from rough road surfaces while maintaining unparealled handling and cornering ability for the time.
The Gaylord brothers designed a very strong chrome-molybdenum tubular chassis, using coil springs and A-arms for the front suspension and a beam axle with leaf springs for the rear. (Picture from: Chrisinmotion.com)
Not to mention, there were so many luxury abounded within the car. The cockpit was trimmed in the finest leather and burled wood, plus the real chrome accents were everywhere. On the wood dash, there are the "Gaylord" branded customized VDO gauges with the Gladiator's sword motif, stared out at the awestruck driver. Even the spare tire was presented on a tray with chrome rails which slid out from a hatch in the lavishly chromed rear end. The steering effort itself could be controlled by a hydraulic servo unit from the driver's seat.
The Gaylord Gladiator Sports-Touring 'production' version used a 305 hp Cadillac V-8 engine connnected to a Hydra-Matic four speed transmission. (Picture from: Chrisinmotion.com)
Reportedly there were only 4 cars ever built, and the prototype appears with exposed front wheels and the P-100 gargantuan 'twin' headlights. While the other 3 of "production" versions have enclosed front wheels and conventionally-sized "quad" headlights. It's said that the original fender/headlights style was dropped for production apparently because of roadway debris while the enclosed wheel wells featured illumination.
The Gaylord Gladiator Sports-Touring 'production' version used a 305 hp Cadillac V-8 engine connnected to a Hydra-Matic four speed transmission. (Picture from: Chrisinmotion.com)
What about the power? The Gaylord Gladiator's prototype powered by the most powerful engine available at the time, ie a 365-cid Chrysler Hemi V-8 engine which also used in the gorgeous 1955 Chrysler C-300 (the first 300 hp production vehicle), but the production versions used a 305 hp Cadillac V-8 engine connnected to a Hydra-Matic four speed transmission. 
 
Even though the car has a quite hefty weight almost 4,000 lbs, but You should never doubt its performance numbers, it can accelerate from rest to 60 mph in just 8 seconds (the numbers is quite spectacular for that day) and can be lauched to top speed up to 120 mph easily.
As qouted of Chrisinmotion.com, the existence of the 4 Gaylord Gladiator cars ever saw the light of day today, in which two units of the Gaylord Gladiator were seen together on display at the Early American Museum in Silver Springs, Florida, although it appears to have shut down.

One is now on display at the Zeppelin Museum in Frederichshaven, Germany, where it was unveiled in May, 2018. And the other unit is in the hands of private owner in Arizona, Ralph Carrungi, and is the subject of the excellent video above, which details just how stunning this car is. In our opinion,  the Gaylord Gladiator deserved included on the short list of the most extraordinary cars ever made. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | MAKESTHATDIDNTMAKEIT | MYCARQUEST | CHRISINMOTION ] 
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