In the post-World War II era, the public were very enthusiastic about the so-called Concept Cars of 'Dream Cars.' Virgil M. Exner had been placed as head of Chrysler's Styling department and was responsible for improving Chrysler's rather stodgy late 1940's image. He turned to Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, Italy, to produce a unique series of one-of-a-kind 'idea cars' on production Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth chassis. Exner had sourced the work out to these Italian craftsman because they could build these one-of-a-kind cars more creatively and less expensively than any American company.
Exner designed the Chrysler K-310 Series, which was followed by three more Ghia-built Chrysler design studies: the C-200, the SS, and the D'Elegance, as well as the DeSoto Adventurer 1 coupe. Luigi Segre of Ghia was asked to produce a memorable quartet of cars for Dodge called the Firearrows. The Dodge Firearrow III was a precursor of the subsequent De Soto Adventurer II and Plymouth Explorer concept vehicles that followed.
The sleek, wide-mouthed Explorer was mounted on a 114-inch wheelbase Plymouth chassis and was just 54-inches tall. Powering the vehicle was a 230-cubic-inch Plymouth l-head six that offered a humble 110 horsepower. There was a semi-automatic transmission, twin exhausts that exited through the rear fenders, and wire wheels. The car was distinguished by elegant ivory-hued side reveals, vestigial fins, a metal green finish, a white leather interior with bucket seats and fitted luggage.
Along with giving the public a glimpse into future designs for the company, the Dodge Firearrows, DeSoto Adventurer and Plymouth Explorer significantly helped to rejuvenate the company's image. Chrysler's 'Forward Look' styling of 1955 - 1961 inspired other automakers to return to their drawing boards to revise their models which lacked Chrysler's fresh, Italian-inspired flair.
The car debuted in the May 1954 Motor Trend. Despite its racy good looks, the Explorer was powered by the 110-horsepower, 230 cubic-inch, 6-cylinder engine coupled to a Hy-Drive transmission. The dream cars were the inspiration of Virgil Exner who was hired by Chrysler boss K.T. Keller to reinvigorate the Plymouth brand. Chrysler had discovered that there was considerable interest in 'dream car' design proposals, so much so that GM took its cars on tour, staging the elaborate Motoramas around the country. Throughout the 1950s, Chrysler displayed a string of dozens of cars penned by some of the leading styling houses in Europe.
This particular car was discovered by Joe Bortz of Bortz Auto Collection in the late '80s. It was located in Sweden and was purchased. When the car was shipped from Sweden it had a Jaguar engine, Taylor transmission and rear end. Bortz Auto Collection did not attempt a restoration but passed it on to others. At the time of purchase the car was painted in a metallic gold and was not in running condition.