Eleganté From Concept to Reality

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1953 Elegante Detroit Autorama

Who hasn’t dreamt of creating a concept car, now imagine making that dream a reality. During the car crazy 1950’s, artist and contractor duo Harry Birdsall and Joe Mascari did just that. The two friends decided to conceive and build a truly unique American sports car. They were going to throw their hats into the ring with their aeronautically inspired concept ride Eleganté.

With help from the now-legendary automobile designer Albrecht Goertz, the design process was compete. Thanks to a connection Mascari had in Italy, the team was able to find quality Italian craftsmanship that wouldn’t break the bank. That not withstanding, it took 30 months and a rumored $30,000 for Rocco Motto to finish the coach built, all aluminum Eleganté.

The detail is over the top custom from nose to tail, all of the trim is 24 karat gold plated. Starting with a 1953 Cadillac 62 series chassis and drivetrain, the Eleganté  sports a rarely seen at the time intricate retractable hardtop. The quad headlights and fabulous fins complete the cutting edge modern look. Although out of sight, the original 331 Cadillac mill still powers the Eleganté .

The styling in the interior is as extreme as the exterior. The jewel like Ferrari gauges are “elegant”. There is even a St. Christopher medal embedded in the center hub of the lucite steering wheel. The ultra-luxe Italian leather upholstery contrasts perfectly with Mother of Pearl exterior paint. No detail was too small to elevate Eleganté to the stratosphere.

The ultimate goal of Birdsall and Mascari was to put the car into production with a  $20,000 price tag.  Following the untimely death of Harry Birdsall, the dream of the Eleganté evaporated. Then unfortunately, the Eleganté drifted into legend. After nearly 40 years and one hurricane (it weathered Hurricane Andrew under an open carport!) the Eleganté found its way back to Birdsall’s son Dick. The self restoration and proclaimed labor of love took 16 years to complete. It was finished in 2014, hit the show circuit and immediately began collecting awards. We caught up with this Show Stopper at the Detroit Autorama. Enjoy!  

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