Thursday, February 28, 2013
1954 DeSoto Adventurer I (Ghia)
Though visually related to earlier Exner specials, it mounted a 1953 DeSoto chassis cut to a suitably sporty 111-inch wheelbase. Despite the close-coupled coupe styling with no rear side windows, the Adventurer could hold four in comfort.
Highlights included a new iteration of the inverted-trapezoid grille, functional side exhausts, another quick-fill fuel cap, the usual chrome wires wearing "wide whites," off-white paint, and minimal bright accents.
The interior was swathed in black leather with white piping, and satin-finish aluminum set off a dashboard with a complete bank of circular gauges.
Exner tried very hard to get the DeSoto Adventurer approved for limited production. But as Maury Baldwin, one of his staffers, later recalled, "Management at that point was very stodgy. A lot of people attributed it to the old Airflow disaster. They were afraid to make any new inroads."
Exner lobbied hard for a production version of the racy 1954 DeSoto Adventurer, and though it came closer to approval than any of his other specials, Chrysler management just didn’t have the courage.
"If it had been built, it would have been the first four-passenger sports car made in this country..." Ex said. "Of course, it had the DeSoto Hemi [a 1953 stock 273 with 170 horsepower]. It was my favorite car always..."