Interceptor ended days as crash test dummy

The 1946 Cadillac Interceptor was one of GM’s most important concept cars, yet few people ever saw it and it ended its existence in 1957 as a crash test dummy.

The Interceptor was styled at the end of the Second World War.

Its shape was based on airplane design motifs, particularly the twin-tailed Lockheed P38 Lightning fighter.

GM’s styling team envisioned that post war cars would look like war time airplanes with tail fins, wraparound windscreens, air intakes on the body, fully enclosed front wheels, and chromed spinners on grilles and “bullets” on bumper bars.

In 1946 GM built two running Interceptor prototypes and secretly tested them at its Milford Proving Grounds.

As a car the Interceptor performed well, but its shape was a problem.

GM’s styling boss, Harley Earl, and Cadillac executives, were not comfortable with its rounded mudguards, high fat beltline, wraparound windscreen and covered headlights.

They thought it was too radical and way too far ahead of public tastes for the times.

Legend has it that Mr Earl got tired of the Interceptor’s fat look, said “to hell with that big blown-up thing” and ordered a change in the direction of GM’s design efforts.

He decided to slowly introduce the Interceptor styling motifs into GM cars, rather than do it all at once — on one car.

The 1948 Cadillac got fins and started a trend that endured for another 15 years.

The wrapped windscreen debuted on the Cadillac Eldorado in 1953 and the car’s roof line was seen on mid-50s Chevrolets and Pontiacs.

The Interceptor was never publicy displayed and was mostly used at GM’s proving grounds in Michigan.

For many years mystery surrounded the fate of the Interceptor and its existence had gained almost mythical status.

However, earlier this year, with the help of GM archivist John Kyros, I uncovered the Interceptor’s fate.

A search of GM’s archives in Detroit unearthed photos of the car being destroyed in crash tests in 1957 at the GM proving grounds.

And that is how one of GM’s most promising concept cars ended its days — as a crash test dummy.

David Burrell is the editor of

CHECKOUT: Stunning Pagoda rewrote the book

CHECKOUT: Thunderbolt had first retractable tin lid

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *