1957 Chrysler Diablo Concept news, pictures, and information
|Chassis Num: 9999 796|
|High bid of $1,200,000 at 2008 RM Auctions. (did not sell)|
Chrysler's belief in showcasing these concept cars was to impress and to 'test the waters' to determine what features might appeal to the widest audience. The list of Chrysler concepts (also known as idea cars or teasers), up to this point in history, included the Thunderbolt, Adventurer, Falcon, and Fire Arrow.
The history of the Chrysler Diablo dates back to the mid-1950s. In 1956 it was unveiled as the Dart from Chrysler. It was fitted with a retractable hardtop coupe and showcased many of the design team's visions of a future means of transportation. After its 1956 tour was complete, it returned to Ghia where a convertible soft top replaced the original hardtop. The engine was tweaked and the suspension was improved. It returned with a new name, the Dart II, and it was shown during the 1957 season, though with limited exposure. It was painted in Italiano Red and shown at a number of European venues.
Near the close of summer in 1957, the car returned to Ghia, where it was again given updates. This time, the modifications were more significant with several significant body features re-worked. When it emerged from Ghia shops and destined for the US show circuit, the car wore the name 'Diablo.'
In the rear were well proportioned fins that were in sync with the rest of the car. It gave the sensation of an airplane meant for the ground. It was a realistic concept that was clean, smooth, and well designed that could easily have been transformed into regular production. The front featured a multi-curved windshield and an alluring grille designs. The chassis has a wheelbase size of 129-inches with a mammoth 218-inches in length. Under hood is a Hemi V8 engine with a pair of four-barrel carburetors capable of generating 375 horsepower. Mated to the engine is a Chrysler push-button operated Torque-Flite transmission.
The design was pure Virgin Exner craftsmanship with the coachwork performed by the legendary craftsman at Carrozzeria Ghia. It is an aerodynamic masterpiece that is extremely innovation and equally attractive. It was fully operation that was subjected to a number of performance and design tests under strict laboratory conditions. It was put through extensive wind tunnel testing by one of the world's leading proponents in the field of aerodynamics. Giovanni Savonuzzi, of 'supersonic' design fame, was the key individual in the aero testing of the Diablo. The tests were performed at Chrysler's Chelsea Proving Ground in Michigan and the results were profound. It had the lowest coefficient of drag ever seen on any automobile. This magnificent vehicle achieved a rating of .17%, which was less than the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. cars produced by rival Italian coachbuilder Bertone at about the same time period. This accomplishment led to Chrysler promotion of the Diablo as being a 'Hydroplane on Wheels.'
When the show touring days were over, the car returned to Turin, Italy and back to Ghia's shops. Ownership transferred to Ghia who displayed the car at a number of European events and exhibitions before eventually selling it to a private owner. It returned to the United States in the mid-1960s and was carefully preserved. The next (and current) owner took possession of the car in 1988. It has been meticulously maintained and remains in fully functional condition. It still retains is power steering unit, Chrysler power brakes, power operated windows in the doors, signal seeking radio, and air conditioning. It rides on Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, wearing period correct wide whitewall tires.
In recent years, the car has been the centerpiece at the Louis Vuitton Bagatelle Concours in New York City, shown at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana, the Gilmore Museum in Michigan and many others.
In 2008, the car was offered for sale at the 'Sports & Classics of Monterey' presented by RM Auctions. It was one of the highlights of the event and bidding reached $1,200,000 (not the highest bid or price of the auction, but very respectable none-the-less), but this was not enough to satisfy its reserve. The lot was left unsold.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2009
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|1957 Chrysler models|
|Chrysler New Yorker||1957 Chrysler Concepts|
|Chrysler Dart Concept|
|1953 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 5|
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