Monday, January 19, 2015

Ghia's 1950 Plymouth XX-500 Concept Car

Once the post- World War 2 sellers market was fading, American automobile manufacturers began looking for ways to attract the interest of potential buyers.  One tactic was the "dream car," a flashy custom-built machine to be displayed at car shows, designed with perhaps several purposes in mind.  One purpose was to enhance the image of a car brand as being forward-looking.  Another might be to accustom potential buyers to styling features planned for future production.  Also, features under consideration for production might be shown so that buyer response could be evaluated.  Finally, some dream cars were built simply to let young stylists blow off some creative steam.  Nowadays, all such are termed "concept cars."

Chrysler Corporation's first postwar concept was a Plymouth, at the time the corporation's low-priced division. The story goes that 1950 Plymouths were shipped off to Italy so that coachbuilding firms could build show cars from Chrysler styling staff designs. Pininfarina built its car as ordered, but it was never shown.  Ghia, on the other hand, requested that it ignore the Chrysler design and build a Plymouth to its own design.  Chrysler agreed, and the resulting Plymouth XX-500 was designed, constructed, shipped to the USA and displayed at automobile shows starting in 1951.

(Idle thought: the "XX" can be interpreted to mean "double-cross," referring to treason or making false promises.  Why did Chrysler people approve it as part of the car's name?)


1950 Plymouth - sales photo
This is what Ghia had to start with.

Plymouth XX-500 - front 3/4 view

Plymouth XX-500 - rear 3/4 view

Plymouth XX-500 - side
Sorry, but this was the largest image of this photo that I could locate.

Thanks to its tall, boxy Plymouth heritage, Ghia did its best to make the XX-500 look sleek and Italian, but the result was nevertheless ponderous.  About the best that could be said is that it was an improvement over the design of production Plymouths.  Ghia was successful in that the high quality it delivered for around $10,000 1950 American dollars opened the door to building a number of Chrysler Corporation concept cars during the 1950s.

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