British style with an American twist. That's the result of the strange Flajole Forerunner, a unique prototype created by Bill Flajole, a former Chrysler and Ford designer.

The engineer helped create the Edsel Ford Continental, but his best-known product remains the Forerunner, which was sold in 2009, almost 60 years after its birth, for approximately £160,000 at an auction organised by Bonhams.

An all-British six-cylinder

The technical basis for the Flajole was the Jaguar XK120, a car that the American engineer immediately fell in love with. The idea was to create something unique from the British sports car and add an exclusive touch.

Flajole Forerunner Concept (1953)

Flajole Forerunner Concept (1953)

Built with a fibreglass body produced in the Flajole workshops, the Forerunner shares the 3.4-litre six-cylinder engine of the XK120M from which it is derived. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox, the brakes are drum brakes and the front suspension is independent.

Returning to its looks, the Forerunner features high bumpers, a lowered bonnet and a large front grille.

The centrepiece is the innovative quarter-inch-thick retractable tinted Plexiglas roof, which slides down to hide under the steeply raked fastback rear axle.

Interior and history

Inside, the dashboard is virtually identical to that of the Jaguar. Flajole fitted aircraft-style high-back seats with integrated headrests to minimise whiplash. It is thought that these strange seats came from an old aircraft and were reused, as no production car was equipped with them at the time.

Flajole Forerunner Concept (1953)

Flajole Forerunner Concept, inside

Bill Flajole used the Forerunner as a personal transport vehicle until the 1960s, before selling it in 1973. The car was subsequently exhibited at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, before being sold privately in 1998.

In August 2009, the car was auctioned at Bonhams for $188,500 (£160,000 at current exchange rates). In 2012, the Forerunner was presented at the Barret-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, where it failed to find a buyer.

Gallery: Flajole Forerunner Concept (1953)