Friday, July 13, 2012

1954 DeSoto 
Adventurer II

Truly beautiful Italian styling 
combined with American muscle

After the close of World War Two, American auto companies - after not offering consumers a new car design in five years - weren't quite prepared for the huge interest the public was showing in cars.

Soldiers had money to burn, and wanted to continue their fixation with the automobile. Chrysler decided to turn Ghia for design inspiration, a collaboration that would last for many years,

One must remember that - although Chrysler could engineer the hell out a car - styling had never been their strong point. 

Giovanni Savonuzzi penned a design that was reworked by Virgil Exner to fit the Chrysler Imperial Series frame and engine. The Adventurer II. 

The Adventurer's shell was aluminum, inspired by the Ghia-bodied Fiat 8V. The overall look of the car was dubbed 'Supersonic' by Chrysler and Ghia insiders. This 'look' would go on to influence Jaguar and Aston Martin.

The engine was the grandfather to the famous Hemi - the 276 cubic-inch Firepower, coupled with a two-speed automatic transmission. 

The Hemi motor had been in development since 1935, and Chrysler knew that they had a winner, which was finally introduced to the world in the '51 Imperial.

The Adventurer had quite a few innovative design features, least of which was the 'reverse-convertible roof.

As it turned out, the buzz generated by the Adventurer was for naught. It is unclear what killed the Adventure exactly, but I suspect several factors were involved.

The car was slammed by motoring journalists at the summer Turin Auto Show, and high production costs - combined with the overall design as just a marketing draw - put the brakes on the project.

From there the Adventurer prototype's fate is rather went to auction, and was bought by a king who decided he didn't like the car. It was sold for a pittance to Art Spanijian, and then on to a series of collectors.

It doesn't matter. The Adventurer was a little too ahead of its time. Americans did indeed love the automobile, but they weren't quite ready for Italian style.

So, instead of this.....

American consumers got this.....

1961 DeSoto Adventurer

Looking back, I think we got screwed.

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