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History 1954 Dodge Concept Cars

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by HEMI32, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. I'm a big fan of Virgil Exner's designs ... especially those he created while at Chrysler (Imperials, Chrysler 300s, Dodge Custom Royals, DeSoto Adventurers, etc.)

    Mr. Exner joined the Chrysler Advanced Styling Group in 1949 ... partnering with the likes of Cliff Voss & Maury Baldwin ... as well as the Italian designer, Luigi "Gigi" Segre (of Carrozzeria Ghia).

    Back in 1949, car "design" was still pretty much done by the engineers ... leading to what many thought were old-fashioned, boxy designs on Chrysler cars of the 1940s and early 50s. "Ex" (as he was called by his contemporaries) fought to change this structuring, and got control over the design process, including the clay prototypes and the die models used to create production tooling.

    Virgil and Gigi respected each other's design vision and a strong personal friendship was forged ... leading to close ties between Chrysler & Ghia throughout the 1950s. This alliance produced several Chrysler / Ghia designs, including "idea cars" (i.e, "dream cars" or "concept cars") such as the '52 Chrysler K-310, the '53 Chrysler d'Elegance, and the subject of this thread ... the '54 Dodge Firearrow.

    There were a total of four Dodge Firearrow's built between 1953 and 1954. The bodies of these vehicles were constructed at Carrozzeria Ghia S.p.A (in Turin, Italy) using the chassis of stock 1954 Dodge convertibles.

    Unfortunately, Chrysler decided against putting the Firearrow into production ... however, Automotive Entrepreneur Gene Casaroll purchased the production rights to the design and teamed up with engineer Paul Farago to produce the (Firearrow inspired) 1956-1958 Dual-Ghia.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  2. 1953 Dodge Firearrow I

    The Firearrow I was a 2-seat Roadster without a chassis or engine (i.e., a mock-up show car).

    It made its premiere at the '53 Turin Auto Show painted red & gray ... and featured:

    * body side molding that "wrapped" around the entire car
    * exposed dual exhaust pipes on the flanks of each side of the car
    * dual headlights
    * full wheel covers
    * frameless windshield
    * yellow interior with maroon piping
    * Italian styled wood-rimmed steering wheel

    Here's some pics of the Firearrow I culled from the Internet:

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
  3. 1954 Dodge Firearrow II

    The Firearrow II was also a 2-seat Roadster ... but included a complete chassis and a 241ci Dodge Red Ram HEMI V-8 under the hood.

    It was painted a light yellow and was very similar in appearance to its predecessor ... except the body molding no longer "wrapped" around the entire car, the full wheel covers were replaced with chrome wire wheels, and the dual headlights gave way to single units.

    The split bumper was also changed from the Firearrow I ... replaced with a more aggressive 'mouth' horizontally bisected by an uninterrupted bumper. A 'toothy' look was achieved by five vertical design elements on the bumper.

    Here's some pics of the Firearrow II culled from the Internet:

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
  4. 1954 Dodge Firearrow III

    The Firearrow III (also called the Firebomb) was a 2-seat Sport Coupe painted a light metallic blue and featured:

    * concave grille cut with narrow verticals
    * dual headlights
    * small bumperettes front & rear
    * highly modified 241ci Dodge Red Ram HEMI V-8 producing 245-bhp

    It was very road-worthy ... clocked at 143.44mph on the Chrysler proving grounds with Betty Skelton behind the wheel (setting a women's closed-course record!).

    Here's some pics of the Firearrow III culled from the Internet:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
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  5. 1954 Dodge Firearrow IV

    The Firearrow IV was a Convertible 4-seater ... basically a convertible version of the Firebomb ... painted red with a black and white diamond interior.

    Here's some pics of the Firearrow IV culled from the Internet:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    ... and my photos of the Firearrow IV at the Bering/Blackhawk Automotive Museum in May of 1993:

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
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  6. Deuce76063
    Joined: Jan 12, 2009
    Posts: 43

    Deuce76063
    Member

    I was looking at the frontal picture of the Firearrow II and happened to think of the first car that I owned, a 1960 Plymouth Valiant. If I squint my eyes a little, I can see some of the styling cues carried over from the Firearrow. Maybe it's just me, but there are several of the Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouths that had some of the features. The Dodge Senaca had some for sure.
    Bob
     
  7. Sweet, thanks for the education!
     
  8. oilslinger53
    Joined: Apr 17, 2007
    Posts: 2,409

    oilslinger53
    Member
    from covina CA

    <HR style="COLOR: #e5e5e5; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #e5e5e5" SIZE=1> <!-- / icon and title --><!-- message -->
    beautiful! it's too bad none of these made it to production...
     
  9. oldebob
    Joined: Oct 21, 2008
    Posts: 781

    oldebob
    Member
    from Spokane WA

    Didn't one of these Chrysler Ghia concept cars go down with the Andrea Doria Liner when it sank off the East Coast in the mid 50's? Seems I remember seeing a news photo of a similar design on display in the Ballroom while being shipped over from Italy. These look better than GM designs of the time to me.
     
  10. I believe that was a larger car, with a cantilevered roof design that Chrysler was working on....
     
  11. Fontucky Slim
    Joined: Aug 6, 2008
    Posts: 86

    Fontucky Slim
    Member

    Dig that crazy checker board interior!
     
  12. Nope.

    Yep ... the 1956 Chrysler Norseman:

    56chrysler_norseman_byGhia_3-4rear.jpg

    56ChryslerNorsemanWoodenBuckAtGhia.jpg

    56chrysler_norseman_byGhia_3-4front.jpg
    You could think of the striking Norseman as handsome lad who never made it to his prom. Here's the story. Chrysler chief designer Virgil Exner was working overtime in the early 1950s to help transform his company's dowdy product styling. Among the steps taken, Exner began a relationship with the Italian design house, Ghia. The relationship resulted in several concepts and a handful of low-volume production models.

    During 1955-56, one of Ghia's main projects was to bring the Norseman to life based on sketches and models created by Exner's studio. The body was to be fully functional and placed over a Hemi-powered Chrysler chassis. Working more than a year, the talented Italians handcrafted every element of the exterior and interior, struggling a great deal with the striking cantilevered roof. Nearly all of the roof's mass needed to be supported at the rear so that the leading edge did not to place any stress on the delicate wrap-around windshield. Completing the roof structure was further complicated by the innovative power-retractable sunroof (think Porsche 911 Targa).

    On schedule, the completed Norseman was carefully loaded onto the Andrea Doria, a modern and luxurious ocean liner. The Chrysler design team back in Highland Park, Michigan eagerly awaited the car's arrival. It was July, and the trans-Atlantic trip would deliver the Norseman to the states in plenty of time for the 1957 auto show circuit.

    The Norseman never made it. In an accident chalked up to human error, the Andrea Doria collided with a passenger ship, the MV Stockholm, off the coast of Massachusetts . The liner sank within hours, taking all of its cargo to the sea floor. Few Americans ever saw Exner's clean, nearly chrome-free design at full size. Perhaps, if the Norseman had completed its crossing, the design would have positively impacted Chrysler's styling as the company dealt inelegantly with the transition from the "fin" to "no-fin" era.

    Source: www.thecarconnection.com
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
    Stogy likes this.
  13. That Norseman is way cool.
     
  14. Noreseman roof line looks like it inspired the 66 Charger.
     
  15. Slowhand
    Joined: Jan 11, 2009
    Posts: 8

    Slowhand
    Member

    Very cool find. It's a shame they never made it to production, as the Firearrow cars seemed to have a bit more production viability than did a lot of the concepts from the 50's.
     
  16. stude_trucks
    Joined: Sep 13, 2007
    Posts: 4,755

    stude_trucks
    Member

    I'll take the blue coupe, thanks! When can I expect deliver?

    In the meantime, I'll grab some of the shots for my desktop background files for inspiration to hold me over until the real one arrives.

    Wish I could have gone along for the ride with Betty on that 143 mph run.
     
  17. Shaggy
    Joined: Mar 6, 2003
    Posts: 5,208

    Shaggy
    Member
    from Sultan, WA

    I still prefer the name on one of the desoto concepts of that era, FIREBOMB

    Seriously I love that name
     
  18. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 6,539

    Gotgas
    Member
    from DFW USA

    It's in Fort Worth TX right now. ;)

    <----- (but not mine :D)

    Along with a '57 Dual Ghia and a '64 Ghia 6.3.

    I love Exner's quote after hearing the Norseman he'd been waiting YEARS to get back from Ghia went down with the Andrea Doria:

    "That's neat, one of my cars went down in a big famous shipwreck." :D :D

    -------

    My personal favorite of all the Chrysler/Ghia colaborations was the Chrysler Diablo.. simply stunning IMO.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Mine too! :D

    Be sure to checkout @Ryan & @metalshapes' "American Concept Cars & Ghia" Blog/thread (just click HERE) ... it includes some good info/pics on the Diablo.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
  20. stude_trucks
    Joined: Sep 13, 2007
    Posts: 4,755

    stude_trucks
    Member

    That might be good enough reason by itself for a trip to DFW + the Kimball Art Museum too, love that place. Last time I was there was almost 20 years ago on way across the country to move to CA. Hope the Museum is still holding up and doing well. https://www.kimbellart.org/index.aspx

    Where are the cars specifically? Hopefully they are out and can be seen by the public. Would like to mark that on my map of interesting things to possibly check out if possible.

     
  21. autocol
    Joined: Jul 11, 2002
    Posts: 589

    autocol
    Member

    that first picture of the firearrow I from above is just awesome.

    man i love old concept cars...
     
  22. Like @Gotgas stated, the (light metallic blue) Firearrow III Sports Coupe is in the DFW area.

    The Firearrow I Roadster supposedly no longer exists. I've heard rumors that it was on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum ... but I've also read that it was used to create the Firearrow II Roadster ... so ?????

    The Firearrow II Roadster and Firearrow IV Convertible are currently on display at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville, CA (just over the hill from you). The II & the IV are currently on loan to the Blackhawk ... each sold for over $1.1 million at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in January of 2007.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
  23. stude_trucks
    Joined: Sep 13, 2007
    Posts: 4,755

    stude_trucks
    Member

    Yeah, but that's pretty big area. Might take me a while to pin point that without some more specific info. :)

     
  24. Sorry ... I forgot to elaborate ... in my 1954 Chrysler Concept Car thread, @Gotgas posted this:

     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014
  25. stude_trucks
    Joined: Sep 13, 2007
    Posts: 4,755

    stude_trucks
    Member

    Man, that sure is sweet. Gotgas is one lucky mofo to be able to check that out close up and first hand. That car is about as killer as it gets in my opinion, inside and out. Looking at it on my desktop right now as a matter a fact thanks to the photos you posted - thanks! Wish it was me getting that baby restored.
     
  26. I thought the same thing when I first saw pics of the Norseman ... IMO, the '65 Dodge Charger II Concept (basis for the '66 Charger production model) looks very "Norseman-esque".

    The rear of the Norseman reminds me of a 1949 Cadillac Fastback ... and I remember reading somewhere that the designer of the Charger based his design on a '49 Caddy FB.

    ... and to think that some folks said Dodge copied the '65 AMC Marlin. ;)
     
  27. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 6,539

    Gotgas
    Member
    from DFW USA

    The Kimbell is getting refurbished this year, it will temporarily shutdown while they do it. I'm not sure what they have planned.

    I really can't say where the cars are at, specifically. The owner would probably frown on me telling the whole world where his $1.5M car is sitting. ;) But I do have some pictures of it (and a couple of other Ghia/Mopar collaborations) that were taken recently. FYI, that's my dad that is sanding and polishing the '64 Ghia 6.3 after he painted it. I hope this does not come across as gloating, but I am proud of the work my dad does there and I love these ultrarare oddball cars that I've been fortunate enough to see up close.

    Enjoy ;)

    http://s13.photobucket.com/albums/a274/46Tbird/ghias/
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
  28. 4tford
    Joined: Aug 27, 2005
    Posts: 1,550

    4tford
    Member

    You are lucky to have viewed a piece of history up close. And have a father who is part of it, thanks for sharing with us.
     
  29. Tinman
    Joined: Mar 6, 2001
    Posts: 963

    Tinman
    Member

    ALL of them are stunning! Thanks for the reminder why, exactly, old mother Mopar RULED!
     
  30. Two of the 1954 Dodge Firearrows were shown at the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance ... in Class P (Ghia Styling) ...

    ... the Firearrow II Roadster:

    1954 Dodge FireArrow II Ghia Roadster @ Pebble Beach '10  (placard).jpg
    1954 Dodge FireArrow II Ghia Roadster @ Pebble Beach '10  (side).jpg
    1954 Dodge FireArrow II Ghia Roadster @ Pebble Beach '10  (3-4 front).jpg
    1954 Dodge FireArrow II Ghia Roadster @ Pebble Beach '10 (interior).JPG

    ... and the Firearrow III Sports Coupe:

    1954 Dodge FireArrow III Ghia Coupe @ Pebble Beach '10 (placard).jpg
    1954 Dodge FireArrow III Ghia Coupe @ Pebble Beach '10 (3-4 front).jpg
    1954 Dodge FireArrow III Ghia Coupe @ Pebble Beach '10 (grille).jpg
    1954 Dodge FireArrow III Ghia Coupe @ Pebble Beach '10 (gill & wheel).jpg
    1954 Dodge FireArrow III Ghia Coupe @ Pebble Beach '10 (dash).JPG
    1954 Dodge FireArrow III Ghia Coupe @ Pebble Beach '10 (seats).JPG
    1954 Dodge FireArrow III Ghia Coupe @ Pebble Beach '10 (gill).JPG
    1954 Dodge FireArrow III Ghia Coupe @ Pebble Beach '10 (badge).JPG
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2014

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