Chrysler D'Elegance

When Chrysler built the automotive industry's first wind tunnel to test their models, the goal was to limit drag and increase vehicle efficiency. All the innovations in aerodynamics were inspired by recent developments in aviation.

Concept cars with advanced streamlined bodies became a reality, such as Chrysler Airflow and Chrysler Thunderbolt. Despite some serious technological breakthroughs, the car market simply wasn't prepared to accept the new futuristic cars.

It was all happening during the 1930s when United States was struck by the harsh aftermath of Great Depression. The main automotive industry leaders remained conservative until the World War II. Chrysler aimed to differentiate from the competition and still invested greatly in research and development.

A strategic alliance with Fiat was formed to design remarkable concepts. Furthermore, C.B. Thomas, President of Chrysler's export division hired Pinin Farina and Mario Boano, heads of the most famous Italian automobile design and coachbuilding firms, to build a spectacular custom concept that would redefine Chrysler's image.

Virgil Exner was the lead American designer on the project that entrenched his career and had a staggering influence in the later Chrysler car series. In the midst of various designs, Chrysler D'Elegance was first introduced in Paris in 1952.

It had a narrow and peaked front fenders, stylish arched grille and recessed headlights. Rear fenders gave an impression of expanding out the sides of the rear of the car, creating classy exterior look. Gunsight taillights were positioned on the top of rear fenders. To unload the spare tire, driver simply had to push a dashboard button opening the cover.

A spare tire would slip down behind the car, making it easy for the driver to replace the flat tire. First Chrysler D'Elegance had rather small interior which seated four people.

There are some differences between the 1952 and 1953 Chrysler D'Elegance designs. Complete bodywork was custom designed at Ghia for both, but the famous red metallic paint chassis actually debuted in 1953. This model was on a shorter wheelbase, making a two-seater car. Speedometer was located to the left of the driver along with the gearshift for the Torqueflight transmission.

The following year Chrysler D'Elegance was upgraded with the 354 cu in Hemi V8 engine, capable of generating 280 horsepower. A perfect piece of concept car engineering such as Chrysler D'Elegance is extremely rare to see in person.

With a fantastic profile and fine lines, the model was radiating power and making quite an impression on people. As time passed by, the flair remained. This was evident when a rare collector model Chrysler D'Elegance was sold at auction for $946,000 in August 2011. There is no doubt that Chrysler D'Elegance deserves its place of honor in American automotive history.

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