The launch of Sputnik and the space race led to an era of optimism which influenced pop-culture in America and overseas. We imagined where we might live, the clothes we might wear and the cars we might drive. Words and phrases such as astro and space age entered our vocabulary as a way to describe our sense of the future. … (more)
Don Kaplan writes: The 1960 Plymouth XNR Ghia Roadster, the only one of its kind in existence, was inspired by the dawn of the Space Age. It hit the auction block Saturday in Monterey, Calif. — changing hands for $935,000 to an unnamed buyer.
The futuristic-looking concept car, once owned by the shah of Iran, was created for the Detroit Auto Show in 1959 by influential car designer Virgil Exner — hence the vehicle’s name — and was intended to preview the direction of Chrysler’s designs in the 1960”²s.
The three-speed-shift car boasts enough muscle to back up its dramatic, asymmetrical look, producing about 260 horsepower from a Valiant 225 slant-six engine.
The ‘Idea Car’ appears about 4 minutes into the newsreel footage.
After the XNR’s tour as a show car was finished, Carrozzeria Ghia, the Italian car builder that assembled the auto, claimed ownership.
Ghia sold the XNR to someone who, in turn, sold it to the shah, an avid car collector.
In 1980, the XNR was acquired by Lebanese car collector Karim Edde, who stored it in an underground warehouse in Beirut to protect it during the country’s bloody civil war.
Four years ago, Edde had the car restored to its original condition in Canada… (read more)
via New York Post
In the late 1940s, Detroit’s wild automotive fantasies reflected America’s unbridled postwar exuberance. Inspired by jet aircraft and rockets, “dream cars” sprouted tailfins and even vestigial wings. But Chrysler Corporation emphasized engineering prowess over styling. Practical, staid, and slow, its Plymouth division competed head-to-head with Ford and Chevrolet.
“Every goddamn farmer in America’s heard of Plymouth binder twine,” chairman Walter P. Chrysler reminded company president K.T. Keller when Plymouth was born. Conservative, corpulent, eminently sensible, “Mister Keller” preferred tall, square-ish shapes. “We build cars to sit in, not to piss over,” he lectured his designers. In marked contrast, GM’s lavish traveling Motorama shows and futuristic concept cars teased a postwar buying public that was impatient for something more stylish. … (read more)