General Motors took note, and took it even further; the designers of one of their 1961 concept cars, the Buick Flamingo, said “Hell, let’s make it turn all the way around.” But neither the car nor the seat ever made it into production.
Originally launched in 1949, the General Motors traveling auto show known as Motorama (called Autorama at first) hosted more than 10.5 million visitors in major cities across the country, from New York to Miami, from Boston to San Francisco. By the Motorama’s final year of 1961, America’s tastes in entertainment had evolved. And the show’s focus had shifted as well, from far-out dream cars like the LeSabre and the Firebird turbine cars to production-based vehicles including the one featured here: the Buick Flamingo.
The Flamingo was based on a production Electra 225 convertible, but with several noteworthy modifications, starting with the color: an eye-searing pearlescent pink. Custom paints with trick pigments and toners—pearls, candies, metalflakes—were just coming into use in the custom car world in the early ’60s, but it would be many years before these finishes would be suitable for standard production cars. So when the Buick Flamingo landed at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York for the opening of the ’61 Motorama, we imagine it made quite an impression.
The other key attraction of the Flamingo was the its full-house custom interior, which included two-tone upholstery in pink leather and cranberry brocade. A wide console with bright-metal trim ran between the front bucket seats, although the shift lever for the Turbine Drive automatic transmission remained on the steering column. The clock, mounted in the top of the dash on the production Buick, was relocated to the console riser, where it could possibly be mistaken for a tachometer. But the most novel addition was the pivoting passenger seat, which turned 180 degrees to face the rear passenger seats, ostensibly for outdoor entertaining—tailgate parties and such.
It’s not known what became of the Buick Flamingo when the final stage was struck on the 1961 Motorama tour, but like so many unique and intriguing GM show cars, it is presumed destroyed.
(via Mac’s Motor City Garage)