1955 Flajole Forerunner

Bill Flajole (a French name which he pronounced "Flay-joel") began his automobile design career right out of high school at Chrysler in 1933, later moved to General Motors, Murray Corporation and Ford where he worked with Bob Gregorie on the design of Edsel Ford's original Continental. He designed a small sportster, the Nash NXI, which eventually became the famous little Metropolitan. Like many other designers of the early Fifties he was fascinated by the Jaguar XK120 and began sketching his own ideas as applied to the XK's 102" wheelbase, six cylinder dual overhead camshaft engine and low slung chassis. The Forerunner is the embodiment of those ideas. Created in fiberglass in Flajole's own studio with tall fenders, dropped hood, wide grille integrated with the bumpers and an innovative retractable roof that slid down to hide under a dramatically sloping fastback rear deck its final iteration included an innovative translucent roof panel and had dramatic recessed cove panels behind the wheels, design features which foreshadowed Corvette's adoption of them in 1956. The interior incorporates supportive aircraft-type seats with head restraints years before other designers appreciated the value of supportive seats in minimizing accident injuries. Bill Flajole used it for his personal transportation until the early 1970's. It was restored in its present dramatic livery of metallic purple with white coves and matching white and purple leather upholstery with chrome wire wheels and thereafter was proudly displayed in the Blackhawk Museum for many years. Bill Flajole's daughter has recently added period photos of her dad and his staff designing and building the Forerunner to its documentation, adding to the historical record of one of the truly distinctive, dramatic, unique and trend-setting automobiles of the postwar era.

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