Geek Trivia

The 1956 Centurion, A Buick Concept Car, Had Which Of These Modern Features In It?

Satellite Radio
A Backup Camera
Anti-Lock Brakes
GPS Navigation
Hollywood Clapper Boards Serve What Primary Purpose?

Answer: A Backup Camera

Long before the Centurion name was applied to an actual lineup of Buick cars, it was the name of their 1956 concept car. The Centurion was the brain child of Harley Earl, a legendary mid-century designer who was already the Vice President of Design at General Motors.

Much of the design was pure 1950s: the two-tone Buick color scheme, the whitewall tires, the shark-like body shape with the sleek and aggressive lines, and, of course, the tail fins on the rear. Perhaps the most 1950s design element of all, however, was the glass cockpit-style canopy that echoed the emergence of early jet fighters and the influence of military design on consumer products.

While all of that collectively made the Centurion a really cool concept car, the bit that made it a remarkably prescient bit of automotive history was the presence of a backup camera. You’ll notice in the image here that the Centurion doesn’t have a rear view mirror. In its place, the Centurion had a small black and white display built into the center of the dashboard console that was linked to a camera in the rear of the vehicle. While a clever design, it was rather expensive and a bit ahead of its time—it would be decades before backup cameras started appearing regularly on production vehicles.

Image courtesy of Buick.