Vintage vehicles, Automotive history and stories from motoring's past. 

1966 Innovari

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Nearly every automaker built their cars bodies in steel, but that didn’t cause U.S. Steel to rest on its success, at least not in 1966, when it promoted creative uses for its product via futuristic concept cars called Innovari. And promote these concepts they did, at least to the industry, going so far as to release a record album of jazz composed for the Innovari’s launch.  

The first Innovari was a sleek, long-nosed, bob-tailed hatchback U.S. Steel called a “sports station wagon.” Since wagons were all the rage for mid-century families, it made sense to demonstrate with a dramatic concept that dads would drool over. And the Innovari was sporty looking, at 52” inches high, it sat a full five inches lower than today’s sleek Tesla Model S. 

“If automobiles are your business, you know automotive design. We know steel. And we know the best way to use steel to help you get the most out of your design. This combined knowledge can’t miss in producing great cars.” 
— US Steel introducing the Innovari concept car

Innovari features:

  • Tailights hidden behind “transparent” stainless steel

  • Canilevered rear seat suspended with torsion bars for fewer parts

  • Pushbutton doors open with single steel hinge

  • Inner door panels made of embossed steel matching interior trim

  • Stainless steel roof, door panels, fender moldings, and exhaust pipes 

  • Special high strength alloys for seat belt fittings

Unusual for its time in boasting safety features, the Innovari bragged that even its sun visors were made of “energy absorbing steel encased in a soft plastic cover for passenger protection.”

Written by Jim Cherry

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Tony Barthel

Tony Barthel has been writing the Curbside blog since 1996 with reviews of new cars, stories about old cars and the people who love them and finding the best car shows around for the Curbside car show calendar.