The career of an auto designer follows a familiar arc, many will say. As the years go by, their work tends to become more refined and restrained. Not Virgil Exner, vice president of design at the Chrysler Corporation through the ’50s and the architect of the company’s Forward Look. As his career advanced, his designs only became more daring and audacious. His 1957 Chrysler family of cars rocked the Detroit auto industry to its core with their low, sleek lines and bold tail fins, throwing GM and Ford back on their heels. And while it never saw production, back within the walls of the Chrysler styling studios, Exner had an even bolder stroke held in reserve: the Chrysler 300C Ghia, also known as Project 613.
The eventual fate of Exner’s fabulously finned Mopar is unknown (to us, anyway) but fortunately, the story doesn’t end here. Chrysler enthusiast Édouard Rodrigue of Québec constructed a faithful replica of the Ghia prototype using a ’57 Plymouth platform and ’57 Chrysler sheet metal components. The recreation took six years, is powered by a 392 CID Chrysler hemi V8 in 300C tune, and, according to Mr. Rodrigue, is “95 percent identical to the original prototype.”
Photo below courtesy of Lemire Media.