The arrival of of the 1957 Mopars saw a dramatic shift in styling from a conservative Plane Jane to Virgil Exner’s jet age inspired Forward Design featuring the outrageous tail fins that became synonymous with the late 1950’s and lead Plymouths advertising copy to read “Suddenly – It’s 1960!”
The only car that dared to break the time barrier Plymouth, De Soto, Dodge and Chrysler full size models all featured variations of the same body design that were available to meet a variety of needs at an all important variety of prices.
Two years after Chrysler replaced the ’55 body styles the Plymouth Savoy alone was offered with 2-door coupe, 2-door hardtop, 4-door sedan, 4-door hardtop and station wagon bodies which with 8 engine options and 3 transmission options allowed a diligent salesman to sell up or down according to the purse of just about anybody who walked through the dealers showroom door.
Allegedly “The Forward Look of Motion” caused GM’s styling boss Harley Earl to ask Chevrolet exterior designer C.J. MacKichan “Why don’t you quit?” after seeing the 1957 Plymouth catalogue”.
Despite Torsion-Aire Ride using torsion bars but not airbags as the name might suggest, build quality problems with the Forward Designs meant many did not survive long before they started to rust away, the ’57 Savoy featured in these photographs is seen at last years Summer Classics meeting in Easter Compton.
Thanks for joining me on this “Forward Design” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !
For 1957 the second generation Imperials were launched with wider platforms that were unique to the Imperial brand and wider than any of it’s rivals. Three motor options were available ranging from 6.4 litre / 392 cui Hemi’s to 7.2 litre / 440 cui Wedgeheads. So far as I have been able to determine from the DVLA records today’s featured ’57 Imperial Crown is fitted with a non standard MOPAR 6.2 litre 383 cui engine which did not go into production until 1959.
A highly rated smooth ride was facilitated by Torsion-Aire suspension with torsion bars on the front and multi-leaf springs on the rear axle the benefits of which one critic elucidated thus “cornered at speed flatter than a tournament billiard table”.
Virgil Exner evolved his ‘Forward Look’ and 1955 “The New 100-Million Dollar Look” design themes on the 1957 Imperial which featured the FliteSweep Deck Lid complete with optional faux continental tyre bulge in the boot / trunk lid.
The gunsight tail lights were way ahead of the game and along with several other details would be a much copied feature on General Motors products from Buicks Buick, to Cadillacs over the following years.
While power seats and dual exhausts were standard on all Imperials, Custom, Crown, LaBaron or custom built Crown Imperial trim levels were available according to the customers requirements.
Despite being so far ahead of the curve in handling, styling and size the ’57 Imperials were outsold 1 to 3 by the ’57 Cadillacs.
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I have always thought the 1962 Dodge Dart looked like an amalgamation of two separate designs the middle top half and
lower outer half not quite matching but somehow blending at the broken chrome line on the front and rear wings.
The design philosophy behind the Dart was based on a comedic misinterpretation by Chrysler executives of an over heard conversation between Chevrolet executives who were talking about the compact Chevrolet Nova, but which Chrysler executives thought was about downsized large cars like the Impala. As a result of this misunderstanding the second generation Dart became an intermediate and inadvertently left Dodge with nothing to compete with in the full size market segment at the start of the 1962 model year.
Launched in 1962 with strap lines that included “First of the action economy cars” and “Come in and drive the new lean breed of Dodge” the range included 2 and four door Sedan and Hardtop models along with a two door convertible.
The B platform unibody rode on “Torsion-Aire” torsion bar front suspension and could be ordered with motors ranging from a 3.7 litre / 225 cui inclined straight six to a 6.8 litre / 213 cui V8, the car featured here appears to be registered as having a 7.2 litre / 439 cui motor, a big block 440 Magnum dating from somewhere between 1966 and 1978.
With it’s light weight and good handling the ’62 Dart fitted with the 415hp 6.8 litre / 413 cui “Ramcharger” V8 proved a popular record braking drag racer.
The B platform remained in production with slight modifications until 1981 while the ’62 Dart body was wholly replaced with no carry over at all by the third generation Dart in 1963.
Thanks for joining me on this “Action Economy Lean Breed” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Ferrari Friday. Don’t forget to come back now !