A rare look at GM’s Firebird I turbine car

One great thing about working the auto industry beat in the Motor City: When you walk through a shop door, you never know what you’ll find on the other side. Keeps one on one’s toes.

 

As in this case. One day we were paying a regular visit to Kustom Creations in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Operated by our good friends Harvey Ledesma and his partner Don Roberts, Kustom is one of the top automotive shops in the country you’ve never heard of. These guys specialize in high end restorations and street rods, movie and TV cars, and special projects for the automakers, including concept vehicles and simulators.

Anyway. One day we walked into the shop at Kustom (we always knock first, naturally, for obvious reasons) and there, parked on one of the lifts, was GM’s Firebird I turbine car. One of one; series of three. Engineered in 1953 by GM’s best and brightest. First known as Firebird XP-21. Virtually priceless. The car on the Harley J. Earl Trophy. That one.

And here it is, one of the world’s most special automobiles, sitting in Don and Harvey’s shop. What’s it doing here? Turns out Harvey is one of the few people on earth capable of servicing GM’s Firebird turbine cars or checked out to drive them. On this day Firebird I was getting a new halfshaft and some electrical work. With Harvey’s permission we snapped some photos, and without further ado, here they are. -mcg

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