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Mario's Tribute to 1956 Pontiac Club De Mer GM XP200

1956 Pontiac Concept Car

1956 Pontiac Club de Mer XP200. The grilleless design was quite unconventional with a thin air intake surrounding the face of the car.

The Club de Mer was a lustrous silver blue. The vertical double headlights were hidden behind chrome strips, and only appeared when in use.

The 1956 GM Motorama labelled the XP200 the “sports car of the future” with plexiglass racing windshields.

The Pontiac XP200 successfully translated the vision of its designers to the world.

The 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer at the 1956 Motorama. Hidden headlights and small dual screens added a motorsport vibe and a vertical tail fin.

Club de Mer (front) at the 1956 GM Motorama. The 1956 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket is immediately beyond.

The Club de Mer has a relatively simple, rounded off shape. It stood only 39 inches high and was 180 inches long.

The Club de Mer in Miami. The perfect setting for its resort club image. Publicity photo showing the Club de Mer by la Mer in Florida.

Another pose by the water. Some relief is found in the air outlets on the door and the character line that wraps to the rear.

Ad for the Pontiac de Mer Concept Car displayed at the 1956 GM Motorama.

The XP200 was a 2 door Sport Roadster with breakthrough styling like a sleek, low-profile body encasing a large power plant.

The car is credited to Paul Gillian chief designer at Pontiac under the watchful eye of Harley Earl. It had a brushed anodized aluminum body.

Note the model struggling to touch the low hood. The symbol above the Pontiac name was a brand identifier that appeared on the 1957 model.

One Club de Mer was constructed along with a scale model. As per GM's kill order the XP200 was unfortunately scrapped in 1958. Another loss for all of us with another piece of automotive history.

Photo of Harley Earl and a Club de Mer clay model. In the background is an airbrushed profile view.

Fortunately for us in the 2000's coach builder Marty Martino created a replica of the Club de Mer with a fiberglass body based on a 1959 Pontiac chassis.

This replica is the only known full-size example of the Club de Mer that exists today. It was sold at Barrett Jackson auction in 2009 for $110,000.

There was a dorsal fin on the sleek trunk. The elongated and recessed tail-lights sat above the slim chrome bumper with fancy quad exhausts.

Instruments were low key, with triangular gauges mounted behind a 3 spoke steering wheel. The speedometer was positioned on top.

Interior styling had a bare bones functionality to it more in keeping with its speed trial “airs” than the flashier cars available at the time.

Under the long hood was the brand new 'Strato Streak' 287ci OHV V8 engine tuned to produce 300hp.

287ci OHV V8 300hp engine impressive for its time.

1956 Pontiac Club de Mer XP200.

1956 Pontiac Club de Mer XP200.

Clam shell trunk. Very Unique.

Clam shell trunk. Very Unique.

This instrument cluster was later used on the 1959 and 1960 Chevy. Also, the Impala steering wheel.

Large gauges were very modern for its time.

Plush red leather bucket seats and twin cockpits.

Plush red leather bucket seats and twin cockpits.

Original scale model car survives today on display.

The Club de Mer replica was showcased all around the Country together with the original detailed scale model car.

The scale model car is the only surviving remnant of GM's Club de Mer design besides the replica. The scale model car was sold at a Barrett Jackson Auction in 2015 for $33,925.

The Revell 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer Car Model Kit Store Display.

Finished and painted Revell model car kit of the 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer.


Video and audio clips

GM Motorama 1956: Classy Cars


1956 Cars GM Dream Cars of Tomorrow Motorama


GM Motorama 1956: At Last, Opening Day!


GM Key To The Future, Motorama Exhibit 1956


60 YEAR OLD Revell model car kit: 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer


Replica Club de Mer



Related

More Cars of the 1950s
More Pontiac Coverage

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Comments

Mario on Aug 16, 2022 said:

The 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer XP200 Concept car was labelled the “sports car of the future” with plexiglass individual racing windshields. It successfully translated the vision of its designers to the world, contributing to the evolution of the Pontiac brand.

With its vertical double headlights hidden behind chrome strips and only appearing when in use, to its plexiglass individual racing windshields. This Concept car only stood 39 inches high and was 180 inches long.

The 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer is credited to Paul Gillian chief designer at Pontiac under the watchful eye of Harley Earl. It had a brushed anodized aluminum body with breakthrough styling as a 2 door Sport Roadster and a new 287ci OHV V8 300hp engine.

The XP200 was unfortunately scrapped in 1958 but fortunately in the 2000's coach builder Marty Martino created a replica of the Club de Mer with a fiberglass body. So, we can still see first-hand what this Concept car looked like. Enjoy! Mario.

[Reply to this comment]

azmusclecar on Aug 16, 2022 said:

Hmmmmmmmmmm, I'm trying to decide if I liek this or not. I do not like the name Club De Mer....sounds like Club of Mercury which is NOT GM.

I see a lot of Corvette C1 dash inspiration.

I'd gladly dish out the $1.49 for tha plastic model.

That dorsal fin is where they got the idea for the mini dorsal on your modern cars now.

I'm just not loving this. I find it interesting, the clam shell trunk and all. I just can't find a flowing symetry on the car.

It just doesn't work for me. But, I'm sure it wasn't designed to suit me. It was designed to inspire. And it failed there for me as well.

Thanks for adding to the mammoth collection of the Mario's Woodys and Concept threads.

And for that, we are truly grateful.

[Reply to this comment]

Mario on Aug 16, 2022 said:

Thanks for your comments and honest critique Rob. There are some nice things about the Pontiac Club de Mer and some not so nice things, but that was the point in building this concept car.

Positive feedback on what the public liked and negative feedback on what the public didn't like is what GM was looking for at the Motoramas.

Like you said there are Corvette and Impala items on this car that were put in production and this was due to the feedback GM received. Negative feedback was not.

Cheers, Mario

[Reply to this comment]

57timemachine on Aug 18, 2022 said:

If any body at the time back then asked me for feed back on this thing back then, it would just be negative. Only a mother could love this poor thing. Cheers.

[Reply to this comment]

Mario on Aug 18, 2022 said:

The reason for designing and producing Concept Cars was for the public to provide Positive feedback on what they liked on the cars and Negative feedback on what they didn't like on the cars.

These are ideas that may or may not be introduced in future cars. That is what GM, Ford and Chrysler were each looking for: to design in their cars what the public wanted and not to design in what they didn't like.

I see the Corvette cowl instrument panel which has been very popular. I see the Impala racing steering wheel, another popular feature. I also see the Instrument Cluster designed into the 1959 Impala. My Dad had a 59 Chevy and I used to love the instrument panel.

The dorsal fin I'm sure was not a big hit but the fact that Pontiac was able to build a sporty car in 1956 only 39 inches high was a big engineering feat back then. I even see the Hood emblem which was adopted in your 1957 Pontiac! Very impressive.

That is the reason for Concept cars. A Marketing strategy to gauge the buying public's individual items likes and dislikes. Cheers!

[Reply to this comment]


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