Chrysler Thunderbolt

Briggs Manufacturing is a company for which many car lovers have never even heard of. A long time ago, back in 1940s this company led by Alex Tremulis made some of legendary Chrysler concept models. Working with Ralph Roberts on the design, the two created the remarkable Chrysler Thunderbolt in 1940.

It was a rare showroom vehicle presented as the car of the future, designed to demonstrate to ordinary people the modern vision of automotive industry development for the years to come.

Original Chrysler Thunderbolt concept car was introduced at New York Auto Show. Seeing a serious amount of positive reactions from the audience, company ordered five more to be built and taken on a tour all over the United States.

In those days, their price was at $6,000 which was an entire fortune for most of people. Each was completely customized with a unique color scheme and exquisite details.

Nevertheless, all were eventually sold and four Thunderbolt models survived to this very day. The most famous Chrysler Thunderbolt today is displayed at the Walter P. Chrysler museum in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Designed for speed, Thunderbolt was named after Captain George Eyston, who achieved a 357.5 mph speed record in 1938 on the Bonneville Salt Flats. A subtle silver bolt of lightning on each smooth door indicated the vehicle possibilities. Company installed L-head straight eight engine capable of generating 143 horsepower. A smooth Fluid Drive transmission system was installed to eliminate the usual shifting and clutch work.

The greatest thing about this fantastic concept was design. A full-envelope body with ribbed panels was made from aluminum with stainless steel molding, in addition to electrically controlled top. With a simple press of a button the top could be retracted below the rear deck. Other buttons controlled the doors, hidden headlights and windows.

As an interesting fact, the curved glass windshield was the largest built at that time. Enclosed front and rear wheel wells were innovative and without a typical front grille it formed highly aerodynamic exterior shape.

Interior design was made from classic luxury leather upholstery and futuristic aluminum dashboard. Chrysler Airflow of 1934 severely damaged the reputation of Chrysler development team on the American market. It was in many aspects too advanced for the era, having unacceptable exterior design which common people found ugly.

The 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt model was a great example of a streamlined futuristic show car that helped to restore Chrysler's reputation. These beautiful models are so rare that collectors can enjoy them only in museums or private collections. After 10,000 hours of quality restoration, one of them was sold at Monterey Auction in 2011 for a staggering amount of $935,000.

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