Plymouth’s sleek Belmont concept car rode on a Dodge chassis and was
powered by a Dodge V-8. It was the 1st Plymouth experimental car with a
light plastic body, had an overall length of nearly 192-inches and was
only 32 inch high at the top of the door. The 150 horsepower engine came
mated to Plymouth’s Hy-Drive 3-speed semi-automatic transmission.
Finished in a light green metallic paint, the Belmont’s exterior went
well with the white leather 2-seater interior and had a full set of
racing instruments, and radio controls built-into the center armrest.
The Plymouth Belmont was the first plastic-bodied (reinforced
fiberglass) Chrysler “idea car,” an experiment in new materials and
design brought out in the same year as the DeSoto Adventurer.
The Belmont was a convertible, made for the 1954 Chicago Auto Show by
Briggs Manufacturing (rather than the usual Ghia, because Chrylser had
just bought Briggs); it was designed in the Advanced Styling Studio,
under the supervision of head stylist Virgil Exner. Underneath the fancy
curves was a chassis shared by Plymouth and Dodge, with a 114 inch
wheelbase. The V8 engine was, according to the numbers, the 14th
allocated to Plymouth, which had no V8 powered cars at the time; it was
used in Dodges as the Red Ram, and squeezed 150 horsepower out of its
241 cubic inches, good at the time. The transmission was the corporate
semi-automatic, sold by Plymouth as the Hy-Drive.
The Plymouth Belmont was long (191.5 inches), low (49 inches), and
sleek, painted light metallic blue (it would later be repainted in red),
with what passed for an aerodynamic theme; it also had turbine styling
cues, not surprising given that Chrysler was seriously intending to
release a turbine engine at the time (“[Chrysler’s] gas turbine has
solved high fuel consumption, exhaust heat problems usually associated
with turbine engines.”) The roof itself was a soft top hidden behind the
seats, with a hard cover.
According to Second Chance Garage, Belmont used a stock engine, except
for chrome valve covers and a low-profile air cleaner (to allow the hood
to close) on the standard Stromberg WW-3-108 carburetor. The wheels
were stock Chrylser options, and tail lights were from the prior year’s
Chryslers; various pieces were taken from standard cars across the
Chrysler Corporation lines. The windshield itself was made of
Plexiglass. Virgil Exner had gotten permission to keep the Belmont after
it was shown; it was sold in 1968, and changed hands a couple of times
before being left on its own a garage. It was later rescued and is now
in Don Williams’ collection in New Jersey.