• Dec 24th 2007 at 2:06PM
  • 32
click above image for gallery of the Aurora Safety Car

"We pass the basket for a second collection this week at Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration so the parish project car can be finished." It didn't go down quite like that in the Branford, CT parish of Father Alfred Juliano back in the 1950s, but the priest did build a car of his own design that was partially funded by parishioners. I remember rifling through a stack of musty Mechanix Illustrated backissues in my misspent youth and coming across a feature on this vehicle, called the Aurora. A lot of people have declaimed the hideousness of Juliano's "safety car" throughout the years. It certainly has a peculiar reverse rake to its stance, while the flowing, organic form of the fiberglass body give the Aurora the appearance of a quickly departing Sea Ray , rather than an automobile headed at you.

Father Juliano had a lifelong automotive avocation and studied art before entering the priesthood. His intent with the Aurora was to create the world's safest automobile atop a salvaged Buick chassis. The body was hand-laid fiberglass and the bubbilicious daylight openings are rendered in plexiglass. Despite his efforts, things did not go well for Fr. Juliano. The car's press unveiling was a disaster, and Juliano ultimately ended up in financial trouble and was forced to leave his order. The Aurora was given to a garage to settle a debt, and that's where England's Andy Saunders tracked the vehicle down. Andy runs an auto import and customization business, and relishes a challenge. Restoring the Aurora was an arduous process, but as you can see, it's risen like Lazarus from the very disintegrated state Andy found it in. Since its restoration, the car has appeared at several events and museums, including Goodwood. Quite the resurrection.

[Source: NY Times, Photo: Andrew Saunders / NYT]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      pleeeease mtv, pimp my ride!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Remember this car was build about 50 years ago by one persons design. Today GM, Ford and Chrysler has 100's of designers and engineers working to design some of the waste products they let the Japanese copy to sell in America. This was a first design that, as with all first designs has flaws.
      One of the safty items was the use of a Buick frame. The Buick frame was approz. 5" high by 3" wide extending from front to the rear of the car. It had X'ed cross members and was rivited or bolted together. The motor was probably a Buick V-8 that weighted somewhere around 7-800 pounds. The weight of the frame and motor was somewhat over 2000# Add the weight of the body and finishings and you you have about 5000 pounds plus rolling down the road. My Ford F-150 PU weighs about 4500#. You have cars on the road today that wiegh under 2000#. If i am going to get in wreck please let me be in this car or my PU so I can come out of the wreck in good condition.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Still lightyears better than the automobile equivalent to pig vomit seen earlier this year...

        • 7 Years Ago
        Hahaha......I just got that thing out of my nightmares. Now it's back. God no!
        • 7 Years Ago
        Dude its close, I could at least remove some of that crap off the Mustang and have a nice lookin car. There is no hope with this thing.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ugliest car - EVER!?? Someone in the auto industry reporting arena has dementia: Yes Virginia, there WAS an Aztek!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Even for the 1950's this "concept car" is right out there next door to Pluto!
      • 7 Years Ago
      This story is a silly fabrication. The mechanism here is a mobile interogation chamber - not a safety car. Suspects are strapped into the seat with hands fastened by straps to the "steering" wheel when they are interogated.

      The chamber was designed by General Motors. The chamber is so ugly that may suspects die of embarrassment withing minutes of being strapped in. Decocratic and ACLU leadership wants the chamber destroyed despite it's record of gaining more confessions and revelations than any other interogation system in history.

      Ford and Chrysler are working on competitive models.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I also remember the Aurora from back in the day (I was just a kid then). It was probably the same Mechanix Illustrated magazine (my dad subscribed to MI, as well as Popular Mechanics and Popular Science) referenced by Dan that also caught my young eye. Although the Aurora’s styling is beyond bizarre to modern eyes, to a kid in the ‘50s this fit right in with the flying/floating/submersible vehicles that frequently filled the pages of MI, PM, and PS back then. Car magazine did a short pictorial on the car a while back when Andy Saunders brought it to England and when I saw that, all of those forgotten memories came flooding back. Thanks for the follow-up to the Car article, and thanks to Andy for preserving this unique example of automotive “design”.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I like it.

      Just kidding. *snickers*
        • 7 Years Ago
        I actually took pictures of this car years and years ago at a bodyshop in Cheshire Ct. one town away from where I live andgrew up. It was in a state of disrepair then. Glad to see someone redid it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Pimp my ride!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've seen this thing in real life. Was at the Beaulieu Motor Museum in the UK, although I can't remember how long ago it was (fairly sure it was a number of years ago)

      Its meant to be the safest car they could build, but I remember it being near impossible to see through the windscreen (sorry, windshield). The way the plastic is moulded distorts the image so much you can't make out what you're looking at. Not much of a surprise it was such a failure.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It doesn't look near as ugly as some of those god awful things they are turning out of Detroit in recent years. At least it has aerodynamics and a buick chassis isn't a bad choice for the car. It has more design than the studibaker bullet nose. Or that cracker box with a grill they were just selling the last couple years that looks like a milk delivery truck that shrank at the car wash...
      • 7 Years Ago
      This looks like the car homer designed.
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