I always marvel when I look back at coachbuilt and concept cars from the 50s. Although I was there in the 50s I was too young to fully appreciate the innovation and imagination of the designers of these cars. Their ability to be original and create functional beauty was a marvel, but at the time, to me, it was just normal. Today, with national safety standards, fuel mileage requirements, and other government regulations I am much more aware of how boring and similar all of our cars have become. I think we need to ask ourselves if the current borning designs of today’s vehicles might be at least partially responsible for the youth of today’s lack of enthusiasm for the automobile?
Presented here is just one example of a 1955 coachbuilt car that was designed way “out of the box” for the time. It is a 1955 Lancia Nardi Blue Ray I. It first appeared at the 1955 Turin Auto Show but then went on to be featured at the Paris and New York Auto Shows. This gorgeous, untypical 1955 sports car was designed by Giovanni Michelotti and built by Vignale.
Compare this 1955 Corvette with the 1855 Nardi Blue Ray I design.
The Nardi is built on a custom tubular steel chassis designed for road racing. It is powered by a highly modified B20 Lancia 2.5 liter engine making 190 bhp at 5,000rpm coupled to a 4 speed Aurella B20 transaxle with inboard drum brakes. This combination powered the Blue Ray I to a top speed of 140 mph! Remember, this was 1955.
The roof and all coachwork are alloy. The roof, side windows, and rear window are made of blue Perspex.
In 1989 the restored Nardi Blue Ray I was honored at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.