Wednesday Adventure(r)

Why wasn’t this car put into production?!


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From a picture of the 1953 DeSoto Adventurer I concept car. DeSoto did produce a car with the model name Adventurer from 1956-1960, but it didn’t look anything like this. Designed by the legendary Virgil Exner this was his “…favorite car always.” More from Exner courtesy of this and this, “If it had been built, it would have been the first four-passenger sports car made in this country. Of course, it had the DeSoto Hemi [a 1953 stock 273 with 170 horsepower]. It was my favorite car always…” From the same article, “Exner tried very hard to get the DeSoto Adventurer approved for limited production. But as Maury Baldwin, one of his staffers, later recalled, ‘Management at that point was very stodgy. A lot of people attributed it to the old Airflow disaster. They were afraid to make any new inroads.'”

No one knows, of course, how this car would have sold if it had been available. However, the 1950s were a time of ostentatiousness, at least to some degree, and this car certainly would have stood out. One can understand the notion of “Once burned, twice shy,” but it’s a shame Chrysler management couldn’t or wouldn’t understand how circumstances had changed since the 1930s when the Airflow was introduced. Like another Mopar product of the same vintage—the Chrysler Ghia ST Special—I simply can’t take my eyes off this car.

“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness…”

– John Keats





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4 thoughts on “Wednesday Adventure(r)

  1. The notoriously cautious K.T. Keller was still running Chrysler when Exner designed the Adventurer and its Chrysler counterpart, the K-310, were introduced. There was a third, Chrysler-badged version as well. So, yes, Exner was pushing hard to get one of these cars into production. The Adventurer would have given stodgy DeSoto a badly-needed image boost. Exner drew part of his inspiration for these cars from the Bugatti Atlantique. In the mid-’90s when Chrysler was in the middle of one of its many “re-births”, they built a show car that paid tribute both to the K-310 trio and to the Bugatti Atlantic. The styling of Volkswagen’s Karmann-Ghia was inspired by this trio of Exner show cars.


  2. … Ghia built this trio of cars for Chrysler, so that is the source of the styling DNA that went into the Karmann-Ghia. The K-310 version got the “gunsight” taillights that appeared on the production ’55-’56 Imperials.


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