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From The Archives - Double Bubble

The Bubble Top

Drew Hardin Jul 30, 2012
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Starting in the early '50s, car designers became fascinated with styling cues inspired by what would soon be called the "jet age." Concept cars were the first to reflect this windswept look. Between 1954 and 1958, GM produced not one, but three Firebird concepts that were basically jet fuselages on wheels. Arguably the most famous jet-like show car was the '55 Lincoln Futura, which George Barris later turned into TV's Batmobile. It wasn't long before some of these aeronautic styling cues-wraparound windshields, wing-like tailfins, turbine-shaped taillights and exhaust tips, and gun-sight hood and fender ornaments-found their way onto production cars of all kinds. Chrysler even went so far as to build jet-turbine-powered sedans in the early '60s. One jet-inspired component that was popular on the show circuit but never made it to production was the glass canopy. The Firebird show cars all had them, as did several Corvette concept cars, including the first Mako Shark. Custom-car builders were crazy for bubble tops; Ed "Big Daddy" Roth put one on the Beatnik Bandit, and Dean Jeffries had one on his Mantaray.

Vemp 1210 From The Archives Double Bubble 01 2/2

The unusual take on the bubble top seen here appeared in the June '60 issue of Motor Trend. We know very little about the double bubble, other than what the Trend editors wrote in a brief caption: "Calling all '56-'60 Corvette owners! How would you like to have a duplicate of this removable dual-bubble top built by custom designer Harold D. Thompson of Jackson, Tennessee? If interest merits, he's considering limited custom production." Several Google searches and lots of time thumbing through our research books turned up no mention of Thompson or his double-bubble canopy, so we can only guess that it, like so many other glass roofs of the era, was a one-off. There may have been interest, but as anyone who actually sat in a car under a bubble canopy can tell you, they got unbearably hot!



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