Whazzit? Aluminum Abomination Edition- Brooks Steven’s Scimitar
In the late 1950's the Olin Aluminum Corporation was seeking relevant new ways to advertise the strength and other advantageous qualities of aluminum in American industry. One rather exciting, if not forgotten, example was the 1959 Scimitar model lineup of three cars penned by noted industrial designer Brooks Stevens that made heavy use of the alloy in the vehicle’s bumpers, wheels covers, trim, interior accessories and bodywork quarter panels.
In theory, the design was intended to add corrosion-resistant aluminum to the places where car bodies tend to rust from salty winter slush. On all three cars, everything silver is anodized aluminum while everything painted black is pressed steel.
A coupe, sedan, and station wagon of similar design were all built on 1959 Chrysler Newport chassis’ and displayed, first at the Geneva Motor Show in 1959, and again at the International Automobile Show in New York before traveling to other cities including Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and many others throughout the next three years.
The coupe featured a novel automatic retracting hardtop that disappeared behind a large trunk panel in the tradition of the Ford Skyliner.
The sedan featured removable roof panels that, likewise, created a feeling of open-air luxury similar to a traditional landau let format, according to Stevens in his own words during an interview granted to Special Interest Auto Magazine in 1992, “that one had a retractable front roof over the chauffeur’s compartment that slid into the rear roof. Then the deck opened and swallowed the entire combination of roofs into the trunk.” The wagon variant featured a sliding rear roof panel akin to those fitted to the Studebaker Wagonaire of the era, also designed by Stevens.
The oddball design was never adopted by any manufacturer for production, nor were they intended to be, serving purely as a “vehicle” to promote aluminum in manufacturing. Stevens re-purchased the coupe/convertible from a dealer 10-years later and owned it up until his death in 1992, and it is believed this car, as well as the sedan, are held in the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, CA. The wagon is still on display at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV.