Tag Archives: Virgil Exner

Neo’s 1960 Plymouth Valiant Wagon

Plymouth Valiant Wagon sharp in 1/43 scale … 20180620_154322

Wagons are ho-hum these days, and nearly extinct, unless you count crossovers as wagons.

But in the 1960s they were a big deal as families tried to make room for the Baby Boom generation that was rapidly filling up their sedans. At the same time, a sizeable portion of auto buyers was looking for smaller, more economical cars. Hey, all those kids needed food and sneakers too! Continue reading Neo’s 1960 Plymouth Valiant Wagon

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Die-cast: NEO’s1961 Chrysler Newport Wagon

NEO’s Chrysler Newport touts edgy styling …1961 Chrysler Newport wagon

There are some relatively obscure cars from the 1950s and early 1960s that just don’t get their due from die-cast car makers, even though these vehicles are stellar examples of that era’s radical styles.

Now NEO has created a 1961 Chrysler Newport wagon that highlights some of that edgy styling with modified tailfins and an artistic use of chrome side trim. This is another of NEO’s sharp looking 1/43-scale resin models of this exciting era in U.S. car design.

 

The History

Cars were big in the early 1960s as families were growing (remember the Baby Boom?) and station wagons were needed to haul all those kids around, like minivans today. But not all parents wanted to tool around in a boring box. So Virgil Exner and his Chrysler design team came to the rescue!1961 Chrysler Newport wagon

Continue reading Die-cast: NEO’s1961 Chrysler Newport Wagon

Die-cast: BoS-Models 1957 Imperial Crown Southampton

Imperial Crown Southampton: When styling still mattered … 1957 Imperial Crown Southampton

As a kid I, like many folks at the time, liked cars with jet-like fins. Plus I’ve always been a sucker for the cool fake spare tire molded into the trunk lid. So Imperials, Chrysler’s luxury brand, were, and are, a favorite.

Few Imperials were more impressive than the 1957 Crown Southampton, a monster of a car, but dripping with style. Its nose with twin dual headlights favored Cadillac styling, but its slightly outward leaning tail fins and aircraft-like pointed taillights set it apart from the more staid luxury models of the day.

BoS-Models now creates a beautiful 1957 Southampton in a stunning bronze paint scheme with a cream-colored roof and enough chrome to blind an army of car show onlookers on a sunny day. This is in 1/18 scale and the body is cast resin.

The History

Imperial became its own brand, like Cadillac for GM and Lincoln for Ford, in 1955. The second generation Imperials debuted in 1957 and had their own distinct platforms, something that lasted until 1966.1957 Imperial Crown Southampton

These brutes were big and strong, so sturdy in fact that they were banned from most demolition derbies as being too tough to knock out of competition. Much of the reason was the Imperial’s full perimeter frame with box cross sections forming an “X” for strength. Meanwhile most cars were moving to lighter unibody construction.

The Imperials of 1957, which were part of Chrysler designer Virgil Exner’s “forward look” styling, also featured Torsion-Aire suspensions that used an indirect-acting torsion bar system up front. It lowered the car’s center of gravity and moved it rearward to improve handling. Continue reading Die-cast: BoS-Models 1957 Imperial Crown Southampton

Die-cast: BoS-Models’ 1960 Plymouth Valiant

BoS nails it with early Plymouth Valiant …DSCF0189

I’ll admit to a soft spot for early Plymouth Valiants, and I think it’s justified.

First, they were more stylish than other compacts of the day, and second, our family had a 1963 Valiant convertible with a push-button transmission. My mom learned to drive on that car and I spent a lot of years peeling my legs off the red vinyl seats in that car each summer.

BoS-Models now offers the bare bones early 1960 model, the first of its ilk, in 1/18 scale.

The History1960 Plymouth Valiant, Studebaker Lark, Chrysler 300, Ford Falcom

Chrysler Corp. came out with the Valiant in 1960 as its entry into the compact car market that was just taking off. Ford had the Falcon. In fact, Valiant was almost named Falcon, but Henry Ford II got permission from Chrysler to use the name, which it had previously used on a show car.

But Valiant was a much better engineered car than its competitors, plus has the long-nose and slightly finned styling that styling guru Virgil Exner had been delivering in earlier Chrysler models – think Chrysler 300. In fact, some say the Valiant nose is a mix of Chrysler 300 and Studebaker Lark grille. I always saw that resemblance. Continue reading Die-cast: BoS-Models’ 1960 Plymouth Valiant

Die-cast: 1959 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer Convertible

NEO’s ‘Forward Look’ Dodge Lancer is Fin-tasticDSCF0133

I admit to having a soft spot in my car styling heart for the “Forward Look” Chrysler and Dodge models created by Virgil Exner in the late 1950s and early ‘60s.

These big-finned beauties featured dramatic taillights and oodles of chrome trim on their fronts, sides and backs. My Uncle Paul had a white 1959 Chrysler 300 that barely fit in his garage with fins taller than me.

So I’m a big fan of NEO’s 1:43 scale Dodge Custom Royal Lancer Convertible and its beautiful red and white paint scheme.

The History

Dodge offered the Royal and Custom Royal from 1955-59 and the NEO model depicts the top-level Custom Royal in its heyday and final year, featuring dual jet exhaust taillights under each chrome-laden fin. The convertible featured a “Wedge” big-block V8 that used a wedge-shaped combustion chamber along with 383 cubic inches of displacement. The serious performance buyers snagged Dodge’s Super D-500 V8 overhead valve engine, a $415 option, with a massive 345 horsepower.DSCF0135

Royals and Custom Royals were available in hardtop, sedan, convertible and station wagon body styles and a base four-door listed at $2,934 in 1959. The premium Custom Royal convertible sold for $3,422 and 984 were sold that model year. Chrysler touted the use of front torsion bars and its mighty engines, plus push-button automatic transmissions. For 1959 there was an elliptical steering wheel and swivel front bucket seats too. Continue reading Die-cast: 1959 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer Convertible

1957-59 Plymouth Belevedere: Restored to better than new

A car built in the big fin era

59plymIMGP7260I love big fins as mentioned in my previous post on another Chrysler product, the Imperial. For me it’s as much a piece of art as it is an automobile. Think about it, what car stands out for you now? Sure some do like the Corvette for me or the Mustang or Camero but outside of that, not much. Quick, tell me what was the last car you saw drive by? Now if a ’57 Plymouth Belevedere drove by, you’d really notice that, wouldn’t you?

America loved the car

For the third generation of  cars from Chrysler Corporation and completely changed its car lines, dropping the bodies that had been brought out for 1955 and replaciPlymouth_Fury_1959__adng them with the designs heralded as Virgil Exner’s best 1957 would be a banner year for the Chrysler Corporation, and Plymouth as its design was so revolutionary that Chrysler used the slogan “Suddenly, it’s 1960!” to promote the new car. Belevederes were loaded and positioned as a top of the line Plymouth. Unfortunately, the cars were rushed into production (argh!), and while they sold extremely well, they also ticked off customers, and destroyed Chrysler’s reputation for quality and reliability. Rust was everywhere and parts broke off. Gee there is a surprise. The car did have its claim to fame later on as a ’58 appearing as the star in the movie Christine. After 33 years, this car still lives as you can see in this video.

Collectors love the car now but have their work cut out for them

59-plymouthSince the cars were pretty much rust buckets at the end of their lives restoring one will require lots of time and deep pockets. Here’s a video of a ’59 which is rare and boy does it look good. On ClassicCars.com I found this ’59 for sale for $45,000 which is about the going rate for a restored model. Look closely in the first picture. This guy is into Mopar. A Dodge sits right next to it while in the background is I believe a ’59 or ’60 Rambler. Sorry, had to get that in.

And now for the promo model

So think about that promo model of the Plymouth that your dad gave you as a kid. If you haven’t blown it up or burned it (which by the way does look cool) it is probably sitting in a box somewhere. Occasionally you look at it and say to yourself, maybe one day. Well check out this professionally rebuilt model I recently found on eBay and it sold for 898 bucks! Now you ready to start? I have featured this builder before and he does off the charts restorations. If you don’t look to long at the background, this Plymouth looks like the real deal. Everything is better than like new. Check out the chrome where it looks like it just came out of the box. Look at the fins and spare tire on the trunk. Don’t forget to gaze at the finish to and it doesn’t take too much to imagine your reflection on it. And he always goes the extra mile with the underside where the exhaust and bottom of the engine are painted the correct colors. Cherry, cherry, cherry is what I say about this restoration job. Doesn’t it inspire you? Now go find that car you have and get going.

Aviary ebay-com 59 p;ymouth 1Aviary ebay-com plyouth 2

Aviary ebay-com plymouth 3

Chrysler Imperial: When fins were in

Automotive Art

finsI love some of the cars of the late 50’s and early 60’s. Some were huge and of course there were the fins. Fins were in at the time because designers were taking their cues from the jet age. The luxury cars all had them like the Chrysler Imperial. Early on these cars were all designed by one of the legends of auto design, Virgil Exner. When he joined Chrysler, he discovered that the company’s vehicles were being styled by engineers and not by designers making the cars kind of frumpy looking.

1960-Chrysler-Imperial-Front endExner took over and frumpy was gone. General Motors and Ford were caught napping as Exner’s designs featured a lowered roofline making the cars sleeker, smoother, and more aggressive. These were really wild for the time period. The front featured featuring a swooping bumper, gaping mesh grille, giant chrome eagle, and hooded quad headlights, and tall rear fins with bullet style tail lamps with a chrome ring surrounding it. The chrome ring  called a “Sparrow Strainer” an element taken from jets at the time that utilized a functional treatment meant to keep the birds out. This car looked like it had an attitude with all the chrome and extended fenders giving it the look of some big cat on the attack.

63_Chrysler_Imperial_Crown_DV-06_BJ-INT-01He also had some really cool design elements inside the car like a space age dashboard. No incandescent bulbs were used instead electricity running through a five-layer laminate caused the phosphorescent paint to glow in the dark. Chrysler called it “Panelescent”. With its glowing green face and red needles it looked eerie and surprisingly modern. Does this design sound familiar? Most of the new cars use updated lighting technology to achieve this look. Let’s not forget about the squared off at the top and bottom steering wheel designed for better leg room and view through the windshield in the straight ahead position. Exner was always battling the board with his designs and won until sales started to slip. The public hand grown tired of the look.

Exner out, Engel in, fins out

Chrysler ImperialIn 1961, Chrysler scored a coup by hiring Elwood Engel away from Ford, where he had designed the 1961 Lincoln Continental. Engel’s waisted little time making his mark on future Imperials featuring the more familiar three-box design. His first car was the ’64 and some said it looked similar in design to was thought to strongly resemble the 1961 Lincoln Continental. However, Engel used subtle curves and parallelogram angles to give the Imperial a distinct and novel look.

58 ImperialIf you’re looking to collect the real deal, you better have deep pockets. The older ones, like the 1958 are prized possessions of collectors. This is a frame off restoration that began as a rust-free project. For cars of this era, finding a car with out it are hard to come by since they have all rusted away. There are however examples, not as good as this one, that are nice and can be bought in the mid 20’s.

Even though the promotional models don’t have to deal with rust, they too can command a decent amount of cash. I found several going for $150 but these examples, a 10 on the 10 scale 64 convertible (super rare) was going for $800 while the 62 was going for $750.

64-800-10-out-of-1062-750

So which is my favorite designer? I would have to go with Virgil Exner just because I love the fins and that might be because I am an aviation nut.