Friday, August 1, 2014

2014 Concours of America, Part 2 -- Postwar American Cars

In Part 2 of our look at the 2014 Concours of America in Plymouth, Michigan, let's look at a few more American post-war cars:

Rather than try to write something coherent, I'm just going to run through a few of my favorites in increasing year of release.

1951 Studebaker Commander Convertible (owner: Ed Reynolds of Greenfield, Indiana) -- Nothing splits a household like the bullet nose of a 1950-51 Studebaker. I think they're cool as heck. Monique ... eh, not so much.

1957 Dual-Ghia Convertible (owners: David and Doreen Salzman of Jupiter, Florida) -- Dual Motors was a small independent that sourced Dodge chassis, shipped them to Italy for Ghia coachwork, shipped them back to the US to have a 215 hp Dodge V8 installed, and then sold the stylish convertibles for a hefty price ($7,646 in 1957 dollars = $64,853 in 2014 dollars) to try to pay for it all. They were beautiful cars, but Dual only made 115 of them before the owner's failing health and the difficult finances brought an end to it all. Celebrity owners included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Lucy's red hair would've looked great in this green one.

1958 DeSoto Firedome Convertible (owner: Wm. "Tom" Girard of Manalapan, Florida) -- This year's Concours featured an exhibit of cars designed by Virgil Exner, one of the designers who really pushed car design in the 50s and 60s. These DeSotos were among the cars that really pushed the tailfin craze, but you can already see the front of this '58 DeSoto starting to spread out as cars would get wider and lower in the 60s.

1961 Imperial Crown Convertible -- Another Virgil Exner design. The top photo shows a line of 1957-61 Imperial Crown Convertibles, with each year demonstrating the changes and updates in design over the previous years. All five are owned by Roberta Hosken of Largo, Florida. It was a great exhibit for fans of design.

Next up, more from Virgil Exner, a couple of concept cars owned by Linda and Paul Gould of New York, NY:

1956 Chrysler Diablo Roadster prototype -- Based on a 1956 Chrysler 300 chassis and built by Carrozzeria Ghia in Italy, this prototype went through a few design changes before reaching its current configuration in 1957. It's sleek aerodynamic lines were inspired by jets and rockets, and gave it the lowest coefficient of drag ever recorded for a car up until then. I don't know its top speed, but since it held a 375 hp, 392 cu-in Hemi V8 under the hood, there must've been a lot of go to go with this show.

1960 Plymouth XNR Roadster prototype -- This was based on the Plymouth Valiant frame, built by Carrozzeria Ghia in Italy, and somehow managed to crank a top speed of 150 mph out of a slant-six engine. After its time on the 1960 auto show circuit it returned to Italy and eventually ended up in the car collection of the Shah of Iran.

1969 Chrysler 300 Convertible (red, owner: Jezebel of Pinson, Alabama) and 1967 Chevrolet SS 427 (blue, owner: Werner, Meier of Channahon, Illinois) -- For today's final cars we jump ahead a few years to show you a couple of great convertible American boats. You can really see how the lines from the late 50s and early 60s cars got smoother, wider, and lower. I really love the look of these late sixties and early seventies convertibles. They just look like summertime to me.

That's it for today. In the next post we'll look at a few pickups, including the start of an automotive style that Monique objects to even more than bullet-nose Studebakers. What could it be? Stay tuned to find out!

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