Similar only in name to the first DeSoto Adventurer designed by Virgil Exner in 1954 as Chrysler's answer to the Chevrolet Corvette, the 1955 DeSoto Adventurer II Concept Car was more Ghia of Italy than Exner of Detroit. The Adventurer II was commissioned by Chrysler and designed by Ghia by Luigi Segre and Giovanni Savonuzzi for the European car show circuit. With Chrysler Hemi V-8 power and Italian coachwork, the DeSoto Adventurer II was larger than the first Adventurer; it was much more of a two-seat grand tourer rather than a sports car. It was built upon a DeSoto Firedome Sportsman 125.5-inch wheelbase chassis and powered by a 276 cubic-inch FireDome Hemi V-8 mated to a PowerFlite 2-speed automatic transmission.
It debuted at the Turin Auto Show, and in late-1956 it was the centerpiece of the Brussels Auto Show in Belgium. After its launch the car was shown at all the major car shows, finishing up at the Moroccan Auto Salon where it caught the eye of King Mohammed V of Morocco in 1955. Legend has it that after a two-week test, he declined to buy the car as he and his two body guards couldn't fit in it. It was later bought by American Diplomat Armand Archer, who kept it until 1985.
The car features a retractable rear window and fitted luggage. A cosmetic restoration was completed in 1989. It has been driven 200 miles since then and currently only shows 15,000 total miles since new.
The Adventurer II is generally acknowledged as one of the finest concept vehicle ever built.
Chevrolet introduced their Corvette in 1953, prompting DeSoto to create their own eye-catching sports car. DeSoto began with their 111-inch wheelbase and using Virgil Exner styling, created a two-door, four-seater close-coupled coupe with no rear side windows. On the sides, below the doors, were functional side exhausts. On the back trunk was the quick-fill fuel cap. The car rode on chrome wire wheels and white-wall tires. The trunk had a very small hatch, allowing access to the spare tire. Luggage space was nearly non-existent. Inside, the seats were covered in black leather with white piping. The dashboard was satin-finish with a complete bank of circular gauges.
The DeSoto Adventurer was a concept that Exner tried to make into a limited production vehicle.
A few years later, DeSoto created a second concept called the Adventurer II. The styling was done by Ghia of Italy and the result of work was nothing like the first car.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2010