Built for the Jetsons? 1957 Mixed Galileo Show Car

Even though it’s an era that pre-dated my existence by a significant amount, I imagine the post-WWII years were some of the most fascinating times in American history. The country felt triumphant and ready to shed the dark days of war. The future was upon us, and with the space race heating up, every American could dive in with their vision for building the future. Automobiles were a central part of this, with one-off creations like the Mixed Galileo Show Car here on Hemmings.com an artifact of a time when everyone could build the future, even in their basement. 

That’s the genesis of the Galileo, built by one Joseph Galileo, who returned home from his military duties enthralled by the emergence of next-generation fighter jets used by the Air Force. He took inspiration from their shapes and materials and designed the creation seen here using fiberglass. Keep in mind, fiberglass was exotic in the late 40s and early 50s, particularly for a lone individual building a one-off show car in his basement. The Galileo took additional cues from jets with its turrets at the front and rear corners and fins off the back-side.

Can you see some Ford Thunderbird in the rear haunches? Or possibly some Chrysler Turbine Car cues? The Galileo did feature design elements seen in later production cars, like the gullwing doors used by the Mercedes-Benz 300SL, and obviously, the fins utilized by any number of Cadillac models. The Galileo wasn’t intended to be anything more than a creative exercise by its creator, but it may have had a bigger impact than he ever realized. By the way, thanks to Barn Finds reader Craig for the find.

The Galileo featured an Oldsmobile V8 Rocket motor, and Joe’s creation was well-known in the San Francisco area. He never completed the car, sadly, as it was left without an interior and obviously some empty spaces in the body where small trim pieces would need to be fabricated. In his honor, the Galileo was part of an exclusive class of one-off concept cars built by individuals at the  2016 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. It’s now for sale with the price unlisted – and really, how do you put a value on someone’s creative expression?

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  1. Jack Quantrill

    This designer, had to be on the hashish!

  2. healeydays

    As it is an art piece, do you leave it as found or is it sacrilege to finish it?

    • Dirk

      I think the builder would have liked to see it finished even if not 100% to his own concept, I know I would.

  3. RoKo

    Certainly an interesting piece. I was a bit let down with the photo of the rear as I think it would have looked more in keeping with the futuristic style as a fastback.
    I give it an A for ambition but a C+ for execution.

  4. glen

    If there are drawings, then someone should complete it. I’m surprised he did this much, but didn’t finish it, considering he lived until 2010.

  5. Nick

    I have a book on those concept cars built for the shows in those days. Some seemed ridiculous to me, some looked very interesting. The saddest one was the Chrysler Norseman, which if there’s anything left of it, is decaying away somewhere inside what’s left of the Andrea Doria. If people have these concept cars and they’re good enough to show, then being a nostalgia buff, I say it’s cool.

  6. John C

    One thing is for sure, you would be an instant hit at Cars and Coffee.

    Did see a lot of angles that made me think of other cars. Hats off to the imagination, time and money it took to take the car this far.

  7. Gaspumpchas

    John C nailed it. Amazing talent, and vision to come up with this. Like it or not- American Ingenuity at its finest. can’t imagine the hours it took to get it to this point! Barnfinds knocks it out of the park again. Variety is the spice of life, and BF does it all!!!


  8. Steve A

    Obviously a very talented man. Too bad he didn’t finish it though.

  9. michael h streuly

    Intresting design for a car. I do not see it selling for alot of money. Who wants a car that they cant drive. It should be donated to the peterson museum for all to see.

  10. Beatnik Bedouin

    I’m with Dirk and Glen that if there’s paperwork (drawings, etc) that go with the car that it should be finished to its creator’s concept.

    Having this a running, completed example would be a great tribute to the imagination of the builder.

  11. CanuckCarGuy

    Beautiful! A team of industrial design students, as much artists as they are designers, would surely do this piece justice in any effort to complete it.

  12. Joey Buzz

    A work of art, shows you what the brain can do. BRAVA !!!

  13. MathieuB

    Leave it as it!
    It’s a piece of art, who did finished Da Vinci arts project?

  14. TriPowerVette

    @Jeff Lavery – This writeup was a masterpiece. Every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph is art.

    As we are well aware, cringing or yawning at some of the work-a-day synopses on BF is not unheard of.

    But this… this… this is literature!



  15. Bob Member

    So wish I could buy and complete this piece of art.

  16. Joe Haska

    WOW! What a story, and what a car, I agree with most, it is a piece of Art and the builder was very talented man with an amazing vision. I hope it ends up somewhere it can be appreciated.

  17. MGguy

    Certainly it’s appeal lies in the viewer but it is a bonified piece of automotive history. I wonder if Jay Leno has seen this beauty. He owns and/or has built several oddball cars.

  18. DrewP

    This is all fiberglass?!

    Some mighty expertise there as a lot of that is really, really thin and complex. Way thinner than Mr. Ratfink’s work, but just as creative!

  19. TriPowerVette

    If we are to look at this objectively, it contains many elements of equipment displayed in the old Flash Gordon serials and films (picture attached), which in turn were emblematic of the entire Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. Clearly, Mr. Galileo was swimming in those influences as well.

    As Mr. Lavery has so keenly observed, it also predates and foreshadows the Turbine car and Thunderbird as well as many hallmarks of the later automotive fashions from Cadillac and others.

    On a more humourous note; it is somewhat evocative of the ‘futuristic’ cars seen in Woody Allen’s brilliant film, “Sleeper”.

    For the time, it appears to be an important work.

    • TriPowerVette

      Woody Allen, taking a ‘test drive’, in the movie ‘Sleeper’.

  20. George

    I wouldn’t say that it predicted the fin look on Cadillacs since they started fins in 1948. The 1955 Eldorado fins are further over the top although the next couple of years have a similar look to these. https://justamericanautomobiles.com/cadillac-tail-fins-1948-1959/

    • YooperMike

      @George, wow, what a site you have given out. I just spent the last hour on it looking at cars I have never seen or heard of.

  21. TriPowerVette

    @George – That is why BF is so strong… any statements and ideas made are subject to peer review in the most minute detail. Thank you.

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