Le Sabre's Exotic Presence Hasn't Diminished With Age
The Le Sabre's exotic presence has not diminished, nor will Earl's spirit be embarrassed by the technical miracles of the last half century that have surpassed his creation. It is no less splendid to see in motion. A thing of details, the Le Sabre still delights amidst a wide selection of heritage vehicles available for display from the rich GM stable of concept, racing, experimental and production vehicles.
The simulated jet air intake rotates 180 degrees to expose a pair of seven-inch headlights. Marker lights at the extreme ends of the bumpers give oncoming traffic an idea of the machine's width. An aluminum radiator, chosen more to avoid electrolysis in the all-aluminum engine block and heads than for its cooling capacity, is positioned behind the lights
LE SABRE'S POWERPLANT: AN ENTIRELY NEW 215 CUBIC-INCH V8 COMBINING CUTTING-EDGE AND TRIED-AND-TRUE TECHNOLOGY
A 215 cubic-inch V8 ventilated by 90-degree, opposed valves in hemispherical chambers represented the best of racing technology. However, the valves are operated by an elaborate arrangement of pushrods from a single camshaft suspended under the intake manifold; new technology, old technology, and clever-solution technology meeting on a common ground. Induction is accomplished by a Detroit Diesel supercharger of the Roots variety, with a pair of three-blade impellers augmenting fuel and air compression.
When Le Sabre was new, a pair of Bendix Eclipse side-draft carburetors carefully metered two different fuels. At low or constant speeds one carburetor drew premium gasoline from an aluminum fuel tank lined with a rubber safety bladder. When the accelerator was pressed over half its stroke a progressive linkage opened the second carburetor, which drew from another 20-gallon-bladder tank filled with methyl alcohol (methanol). Presently, the supercharger has to make do with the gasoline system alone.
A wonderful dichotomy that began with race-tech was Le Sabre's transaxle and DeDion rear axle. The concept has been developed through the entire automotive century, but in practice, in budget, and during the Korean war, a GM differential was simply attached to the rear of a Buick Dynaflow and torque-converter -meaning Earl wouldn't have to employ a manual box. The Dynaflow was replaced by a GM four-speed Hydra-Matic.
1951 LE SABRE: A CONCEPT CAR EDGING NEAR THE SPORTS CAR WORLD WHILE SERVING AS A LIVING LABORATORY IN AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN
Is Le Sabre a sports car? Earl described it as a rolling laboratory for new systems. Was it fun? Ask the thousands who have waited in line in all types of weather just for a ride around the block. Veteran journalist, Michael Lamm drove the Le Sabre a few years ago and said: "Steering feels relatively fast for the period, and cornering through the banked turns of the GM test track prompted lots of tire squeal and surprisingly little lean. Even so, handling lacks crispness, and there's a considerable tendency to plow. The suspension feels tight enough, and the ride is relatively smooth even though the track surface was fairly rough. This says much for Chayne's choice of torsion bar spring rates. Le Sabre's brakes seem uncommonly hard to push, mostly because there's no power assist and never was."
Perhaps the Le Sabre doesn't qualify as a sports car, but the car was the pure result of an automotive sport if ever there was one. Earl was stylish. He dressed, thought, and arrived in the future. His Le Sabre remains a victory among Detroit's design legends, and automotive heritage fans will soon be able to celebrate that history with first-hand views of Earl's innovative mount.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is expected to attract thousands of guests over the course of two days this year. Considered by event organizers as "the greatest gathering of motor racing machinery on the planet," the festival provides both celebrities and automobile lovers a rare opportunity to observe motorsports heritage first hand.
GENERAL MOTORS HERITAGE REFLECTS A TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE CONTINUING IN PRODUCTION MODELS TODAY
General Motors, the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, is taking advantage of new technologies to transform itself into a fast-moving, globally integrated corporation of the 21st century. Its heritage has been and always will be an integral element in shaping future endeavors.
1951 Le Sabre Concept Car Specifications
115 inches (292.1 centimeters)
201.9 inches (512.7 centimeters)
58 inches (147.3 centimeters)
60 inches (152.4 centimeters)
79.3 inches (201.4 centimeters)
Maximum height (top up):
50 inches (127.0 centimeters)
36.3 inches (92.1 centimeters)
approx. 6 inches (15.2 centimeters)
34.4 inches (87.3 centimeters)
52.5 inches (133.3 centimeters)
approx. 3,800 pounds (1,723 kilograms)
Bore x stroke:
3.25 x 3.25 inches (8.3 x 8.3 centimeters)
215 cubic inches (3523 cubic centimeters, 3.5 liters)
Cast aluminum, hemispherical combustion chamber
Two cylinders at 90 degrees, mechanical lifters, pushrods and rockers
Five main bearings
Premium gasoline and methanol in two 20-gallon (75.7 liter ) tanks
Two separate systems; two Bendix Eclipse two-barrel carburetors, progressive linkage (gas then alcohol) through a single Roots-type supercharger, 18.2 per square inch
Horsepower/kilowatts with supercharger:
335/250 @5200 rpm
Torque (pound-feet/Newton meters:
381/517 @3650 rpm
Full pressure, gear pump
12 volt, coil and contact points
Dual, stainless steel
Buick Dynaflow in-unit with Differential (now a GM four-speed Hydramatic)
Spiral-bevel gears 4.10:1
Chrome molybdenum steel box-type
Cast alloy, unequal-length A-arms, rubber torsion cylinder springs (now torsion bars), tubular hydraulic dampers
Single-tapered semi-elliptic leaf spring per side supporting DeDion axle, tubular hydraulic dampers
Tandem-shoe, finned drum, inboard at rear, 9.0 inch/22.8 centimeter diameter x 3.5 inch/8.9 centimeter wide
Pressed steel, 13 x 5.5-inch
8.00/13 four-ply whitewalls
Built-in, hydraulic, all four corners
Fiberglass reinforced plastic
Front fender valance:
Fiberglass reinforced plastic
Door lock pillars:
Door outer panels:
Door inner panels:
Electro-hydraulic, convertible, automatic deployment including electric windows by water-sensitive panel or single button on dash
Information from Buick Media web Site http://188.8.131.52/buick/01news/b010604c.htm