Monday, October 17, 2016

1955 Chrysler Windsor Deluxe 4-door Sedan

"Motorists with a feeling for style and an instinct for value are satisfying both sides of their nature with the stunning new Chrysler Windsor Deluxe. Here's why, in the simplest terms: It's a BIG car . . . with big-car comfort, prestige and resale value. It's a brilliant full scale example of Chrysler's new '100-Million-Dollar Look,' a shining sweep of tailored steel, longer and lower than other big cars. Yet it can be yours for lots less than you'd expect!"

The 1955 Chrysler was a genuinely elegant automobile: alluring curves and stunning proportions, highlighted by the extreme ratio of glass to body, made the Chrysler stand out among its peers. Seemingly out of nowhere, Chrysler offered desirable cars again, and only few noticed that this was due to a paramount change in the company’s internal organization.

American car makers had good times in the latter 1940s, when their customers snatched up literally everything that had wheels. With the postwar car market becoming saturated, however, car styling again became an important sales factor. Which put particularly Chrysler in a dilemma: Mopar cars were powerful and well engineered, yet they didn't raise many pulses, as they simply didn't look the part. Adding insult to injury, the company was slow to adapt to the obvious change of customer expectations and stuck to practical and stolid cars — the dull "Keller boxes". In this light, the stunning Chryslers for 1955 became all the more surprising.

Chrysler's chairman K.T. Keller had at least realized the harmful effect of his conservative approach to car design on the sales numbers. In 1952, he offered Virgil Exner — by then head of Chrysler's advanced design studio — the opportunity to design the entire range of 1955 Chrysler cars. Timing was critical, and to achieve the task, Exner demanded a significant change in Chrysler's design organization. Until then, the clay modelers were subordinate to the engineering department. The designer's role was merely to provide the drawings that the engineers and clay modelers then would translate into styling models. Hence, critical design decisions ended mostly in favor of engineering. Exner now requested the clay model studio to be under control of the stylists, and K.T. Keller, hesitantly, approved. It was the right decision, visible in the immense improvement of the 1955 Mopars over their predecessors, and crucial for the tremendous rise to styling leadership with the next generation of Exner-styled Chryslers.

Completely redesigned, and dubbed "Forward Look Chryslers" by the copywriters, the new models were handsome and elegant. The customers did resonate well with the new styling direction, and Chrysler could boost its sales to more than 152,000 cars, 45% more than in the previous year.

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