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1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept Wagon / 9999760 Vehicle Information

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept photograph

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept
High bid of $160,000 at 2010 RM Auctions - Automobiles of Arizona. (did not sell)
High bid of $90,000 at 2010 Mecum Auctions - Monterey. (did not sell)
Sold for $176,000 at 2014 Auctions America : California.
Sold for $742,500 at 2020 Worldwide Auctioneers : Scottsdale Arizona Auction.
The Plainsman debuted at the 1956 Chicago Auto Show as a Chrysler Corporation 'Idea Car'. Like popular Chrysler minivans which followed decades later, the Plainsman greatly anticipated user needs. It had many pioneering firsts including a full power tail gate with retractable rear window, power third row rear-facing seat, hidden spare tire, power retracting hidden gas filler, rear entry steps, flow-through ventilation and luxury interior with flat folding seats. Designed by David E. Scott and approved by Virgil Exner, Plainsman was built by Ghia in Italy. After its show career the car was sold directly to Chrysler's Latin American Sales V.P. Elwood Parrish, stationed in Cuba. Upon Castro's takeover, Parrish made a desperate escape with the car to Puerto Rico. It was later taken to Australia, Japan and driven cross country in the United States. Plainsman spent most of its life in California and has just undergone a painstaking full restoration.
High bid of $160,000 at 2010 RM Auctions - Automobiles of Arizona. (did not sell)
High bid of $90,000 at 2010 Mecum Auctions - Monterey. (did not sell)
Sold for $176,000 at 2014 Auctions America : California.
Sold for $742,500 at 2020 Worldwide Auctioneers : Scottsdale Arizona Auction.
Virgil Exner, the Vice President of Styling for the Chrysler Corporation, created 'His Forward Look', as it was termed, and would guide the Chrysler design of all their passenger cars. His talent and the postwar sales boom gave Exner the necessary financial freedom to bring his visions into reality. These Detroit Dream Cars were then shown around the country, allowing the American buying public a view into the future, and to behold the latest styling trends, technologies, advancements in engineering, and innovations.

For buyers seeking a modern station wagon, Exner created the Plainsman dream car. The Italian coachbuilding firm, Ghia, was tasked with transforming his ideas and sketches into reality. Ghia was supplied with a fully functional Chrysler chassis with a complete drivetrain. The body that Ghia built was finished in a bronze metallic paint with an ivory white padded top. It was given an extensive amount of stainless steel and chrome including the headlights, and bumper. The headlights were housed in exaggerated reverse canted housings. The large bumper was flanked by simulated air intakes on the outer edges. In the back was a set of cathedral-style taillights, mounted into the peaked quarter panels. The concealed gas filler tube could be found under one of the taillights.

The Plainsman was a two-door model with a wide B-pillar that was decorated with a handcrafted steers head badge. The Southwestern motif continued into the interior, with the seats crafted from a combination of leather bolsters, with genuine unborn baby calfskin inserts. There was seating for up to eight individuals. Up to six adults could sit comfortably on the center and front bench seats. In the back was a rear facing power seat which could be accessed from the fold-down power tailgate. This type of seating arrangement would later become known as the Spectator Seats. Another innovative feature was the unique storage of the spare tire, which was concealed under a flip-panel comprised found on the right rear quarter panel.

Many of the design details found on the Plainsman would later be used on the station wagons offered by DeSoto, Dodge, Chrysler, and Plymouth.

The Plainsman was built as a functional and utilitarian vehicle with over 106 cubic feet of cargo space with the tailgate lowered and the rear and center seats folded down. When the tailgate was lowered, the Plainsman had over seven feet of depth for storage and a width of five feet.

The western-style Plainsman Concept was displayed at a number of show and events before it was retired. Many idea and concept cars from this era were destroyed after their show life came to an end. Fortunately, the Plainsman was spared due to its Ghia body which had been crated in Italy. U.S. Customs told Chrysler that the car would have to either leave the country or pay the duty in 18 months. Thus, in 1957, the car was sent to Cuba where it was loaned to the president of the Cuban bank who used it as a family wagon. The car was later purchased by Elwood Parrish, the Chrysler Export Manager, who was living in Cuba. Mr. Parrish was later forced to escape Cuba and Castros government in order to avoid being arrested. When he left, he took the Plainsman with him and went to Puerto Rico.

In the 1960s, he was assigned to Australia. During this time, several modifications were made to the vehicle, with some being mandatory in order to comply with local laws, including its conversion to right-hand drive. The Plainsman had originally been powered by what was described as a Chrysler Special V8. However, this engine was replaced by a modern 440 cubic-inch V8.

When Mr. Parrish retired, he and the Plainsman returned to the United States. The car was driven as a family car for nearly two decades. It was then acquired by a private collector who returned it to left-hand drive.

More recently, the car has been treated to a restoration.


By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2018



2020 Worldwide Auctioneers : Scottsdale Arizona Auction

Sale Price :
USD $742,500

2014 Auctions America : California

Sale Price :
USD $176,000

2010 Mecum Auctions - Monterey

High Bid (Lot was not sold)
USD $90,000

2010 RM Auctions - Automobiles of Arizona

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $250,000-USD $300,000 
High Bid (Lot was not sold)
USD $160,000

Recent Sales

(Data based on Model Year 1956 sales)
1956 Chrysler Ghia Plainsman Concept Car
Chassis#: 9999760
Sold for USD$742,500
  2020 Worldwide Auctioneers : Scottsdale Arizona Auction
1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept image  1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept image  
1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept Car by Ghia
Sold for USD$176,000
  2014 Auctions America : California
1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept image  1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept image  

Vehicles That Failed To Sell

1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High
1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept Car 2010 Mecum Auctions Monterey$90,000  
1956 Chrysler Plainsman Concept Car99997602010 RM Auctions Automobiles of Arizona$160,000$250,000$300,000

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