Sold for $880,000 at 2009 RM Auctions
Sold for $852,500 at 2011 RM Auctions
The first Dodge Firearrow Concept was introduced in 1953. It was a futuristic vehicle that gave the public a glimpse into the styling direction of the designers and what the automobile may look like in the years to come. It was just a rolling concept display model and had no running gear. The public response was positive, prompting approval to design and built an actual running prototype.
The second concept in the series was the Firearrow II. It was a drivable example that took many of its styling cues from its predecessor. Again, the public response was positive and management considered a future limited production model.
A third prototype was created; the Firearrow III focused on aerodynamics and refinement of the previous cars. It was a closed coupe car that was fitted with all the modern day amenities. The design was courtesy of the Turin, Italy-based firm of Ghia. In charge of the design styling was Luigi Segre. Segre had worked with Ghia on several earlier Chrysler projects, including the C200 roadster and the later K310 coupes. The Ghia company had formed a working relationship with Chrysler's Chief of Advanced Design, Virgil Exner, and were able to agree on how the designs and styling of these concepts.
The Firearrow III was given a chrome grille, fitted into a rectangular opening with concave vertical slats acting as air intakes. There were four headlights with two standard hi-lo sealed beam bulbs paired with smaller high-intensity driving lamps mounted to the outside. Under the main lights were a pair of chrome bumperettes with two nearly concealed parking-turn signal lights mounted to the outer edges.
The artistic and hand-crafted styling reached nearly every aspect of the car, including the hand-crafted functioning chrome exhaust pipes that are routed through each rear quarter panel. The rearward sloping lid for the trunk is operated by a concealed push-button. The tail lights are mounted into the trailing edges of the rear fins. In the chrome-plated rear license plate holder are flush-mounted backup lights. Similar to the front, there are chrome bumperettes in the rear of the car. The raked windshield provides excellent visibility thanks to the excesses amount of glass. In-fact, there is a generous amount of glass throughout the vehicle, including the wrap-around backlight, one of the largest pieces of glass used in any car up to that time.
The Dodge Firarrow III coupe had the same platform as the Dodge Royal production car. The running gear was stock, including the 'Red-Ram' 'Hemi' V8 engine, suspension, and the fully automatic Torque-Flite transmission.
The overall package stood just under five feet high. Inside there was plenty of roof for the occupants, with plus leather seats featuring Opal Blue bolsters and white leather inserts. Each of the seats are adjustable. The interior has a decor that is both modern and futuristic. There is a fully functional heater-defroster system and a push-button radio. Also, there is a large ashtray mounted between the two front seats.
The Firearrow III was used by the Chrysler Corporation at the opening of the company's new Chelsea Proving grounds in June of 1954. Betty Skelton drove the car on the brand new banked oval, setting a new world record a woman on a closed course of 143.44 miles per hour. She did this in a dress and wearing high heels.
After the proving grounds, the car was put on the show circuit and eventually became the basis for the Firearrow IV. The result of these design studies later culminated into the famous Dual-Ghia convertibles offered in 1957 through Dodge dealers.
To avoid paying hefty import duties due to the Italian coachwork by Ghia on this car, a deal was made with the U.S. Customs Department that the car would return to the country of its origin. In early 1955, the Firearrow III was sent back to the Turin shops of Ghia. It was later sold to a private individual in France, where it remained for over three decades in the same ownership.
It was well maintained during that time and used on a regular basis. As the years passed, many believed the car to have been lost or destroyed. In the 1980s, after negotiating a deal, the car returned to the United States and into a growing collection of one-of-a-kind dream machines and historic concepts.
Since then, the car has been given a restoration and returned to its original appearance. It is painted in its original Opal-Blue metallic paint with color coordinated interior of matching leathers.
In 2009, this Firearrow III Concept was offered for sale at the Automobiles of Arizona presented by RM Auctions. The lot was estimated to sell for $1,000,000 - $1,500,000. It was sold for the sum of $880,000, including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2009
Created by the exquisite American car designer Virgil Exner, the Dodge Firearrow was introduced in 1954 as part of a four part series and built by Ghia of Turin, Italy. The Firearrow II and Firearrow IV; ‘Dreams' are the only two convertible Firearrows in the world. There were a total of four vehicles built between 1953 and 1954. The bodies of these vehicles were constructed at Ghia using the chassis of stock 1954 Dodge convertibles.
A true roadster, the Firearrow I was painted red and gray with a yellow interior with maroon piping. The first model had dual headlights and the wheels were full wheel covers with body side molding that wrapped all the way around the car. The Firearrow I featured exposed exhaust pipes, two on each side that rode low on the car's flanks. An additional touch of Italian styling was featured on a wood-rimmed steering wheel.
Today the vehicle is on display at Petersen's Museum.
The 1954 Firearrow II was also a true roadster that was painted a subdued yellow color. Very similar in appearance to the Firearrow I, the main difference was that the body side molding didn't wrap around the car, but ended at the headlamps and taillights. The modified version of the original vehicle, the Firearrow II retained the mockup's two-place seating and striking frameless windshield. The full hub caps were also replaced by chrome-plated wire wheels and new single headlights replaced the dual. The split bumper was also changed from the Firearrow I and replaced with a more aggressive ‘mouth' horizontally bisected by an uninterrupted bumper. The toothy look was achieved by five vertical design elements on the bumper.
A 2-seater Sport Coupe was introduced in 1954, the Firearrow III, also called the Firebomb. Much more civilized than the original Firearrow, the III was painted a light metallic blue. With racer/flyer Betty Skelton behind the wheel at the Chrysler proving grounds, the Firebomb clocked at 143.44mph, set a women's closed-course record. The dual headlights were brought back on this third edition along a concave grille cut with narrow verticals. The Sport Coupe featured a hardcore element with its wraparound backlight. Crash protection both front and rear was supplied by modest bumperettes.
Also dubbed the Firebomb, the Firearrow IV was a stunning red convertible 4-seater, that featured black and white diamond interior. Basically a convertible version of the Firebomb, the newest edition is now in the Blackhawk collection as a black vehicle with black and white ‘tuck'n Roll' interior. Both the yellow Firearrow II and the red Firearrow IV, the last of the collection have received honors at Meadowbrook and Amelia island Concours d'Elegance. These vehicles sold for $1.1 million each.
Chrysler unfortunately made the decision not to proceed into production. These vehicles are but a great moment in automotive history and the only survivors of the early series of Chrysler concept cars.
The Firearrow series sparked the interest of wealthy car enthusiast Eugene Casaroll who purchased the production rights to the design. Teaming up with engineer Paul Farago, the two of them created a practical road car, the 1956-1958 Dual-Ghia.By Jessica Donaldson
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