The 15th annual 100 Motorcars of Radnor Hunt featured the automotive marques of Stutz and Jaguar along with Ducati motorcycles. The featured designer this year was Virgil Exner, known for his work at Studebaker and his “Forward Look” design on the 1955 to 1963 Chryslers. Exner was enamored with the “fin” styling detail on the 1948 Cadillacs of Harley Earl and he both enlarged and dramatized the fins into a more prominent styling element on his later models.
Chrysler had lagged behind Ford and GM in the styling department in the early 1950s and Exner’s influence began to appear on the 1955 models. The 1957 model year saw Chrysler burst through with the longer, lower and sleeker design of the Chrysler 300C. With its long hood and short deck, the 300C broke new ground in Detroit and Exner and his team were awarded that year’s Gold Medal from the Industrial Designer’s Institute.
As you watch the video, I’d like to point out several award winning and personal favorite designs from the assembled Chryslers. First up is a yellow 1959 Dodge Custom Royal Super D 500 convertible with its chrome embellished fins and rocket engine inspired taillights. You can really see the “Space Age” phenomenon at work here.
Next up are the subtle tailfins of the 1961 Chrysler New Yorker Town and Country hardtop wagon. This rare example is one of only 760 produced. The gleaming chrome and gold tone trim on this model bear witness to it’s remarkable elegance.
My personal favorite is the lipstick red 1961 Chrysler 300G. This was the last of Chrysler’s letter cars to wear Exner’s fins. The fins originate just aft of the front vent window pillar with a stylish swoosh and they are canted to mirror the stacked vertical headlights as they extend rearward and embrace the ribbed trunklid.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the jet inspired dashboard layouts on these late 50s and early 60s models. Pause the video for a moment to fully appreciate the push button gadgetry and chrome embellishments. They are as unique and spectacular as any you will ever see, highlighting the individuality of these beauties. Several interiors show a steering wheel mounted clock and two of the Chryslers were equipped with the optional record players, one of which was operating perfectly as I walked by!
The Radnor Hunt Club always puts on an extravagant affair and these Exner designed Chryslers were the hit of the show, in my opinion. I hope that you enjoy the video and that it will allow you to stroll down memory lane, if only for a few moments.
Thanks for stopping by and, as always, I’ll see ya down the road…