Gordon Buehrig was one of a group of investors that wished to build an American sports car for a European-style race at Watkin’s Glen. He was also the designer – and came up with the 1948 TASCO (“The American Sports Car Company”), the first production car to be equipped with a T-top roof.
Vents on either side of the vertical grille directed air to the radiator, and the front wheels were almost completely covered by directional fenders made of moulded fiberglass. The TASCO’s tapered rear end was also reminiscent of a small plane, but its cleverest feature was a removable transparent roof.
The aluminium body was built by the Philadelphia-based Derham Body Company and was mounted on an extensively modified 1947 Mercury frame, and power came from a production flathead 239 cubic inch Mercury V8.
The car never reached production (some estimates suggest that it would have had to be sold at $7,500, which is nearly $80,000 in today’s money). TASCO abandoned the project, Buehrig’s car remained a one-off, and he went on to work as a designer for Ford and Lincoln. He did however gain patent number US2556062A in 1951 for the roof, which he described as a “roof with movable parts”.
The next appearance of such a roof was not until 1968 on a Corvette. Buehrig’s patent was still valid so he sued General Motors and allegedly received a small settlement. Chevrolet was allowed to continue building the Corvette with the T-top.