Nov 03 2014

Mystery Foto #92 Solved: Three Chrysler Ghia Concept Cars

Bill Pimak challenged you to identify these three concept cars.

Answers to Mystery foto questions:

-Identify the manufacturer, year and model of each car.

Concept Car #1:1954 DeSoto Adventurer II

Concept Car #2: 1954 Dodge Firearrow II or III

Concept Car #3: 1953 Chrysler D'Elegance. Served as the styling model for the 1956 Karmann-Ghia.

-What is the likely location for the photo?

Still not confirmed, but likely Chrysler's Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, 60 miles west of Detroit. Dedicated on June 16, 1954, the 3,800-acre property is one of the largest automotive test sxites in the world. According to,  the Dodge Firearrow III was used by the Chrysler Corporation at the opening of the company's new Chelsea Proving grounds in June of 1954. Betty Skelton drove the car on the brand new banked oval, setting a new world record a woman on a closed course of 143.44 miles per hour. She did this in a dress and wearing high heels.

Congrats to Greg O., Steve Lucas, Steve McKelvie, Tony Sundstrom, Frank Femenias and Simon Favre for correctly identifying the three Chrysler Ghia concept cars and models. Kudos to Frank Femenias for the photo submissions.


Howard Kroplick

Concept Car #1 (Front): 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II "SIA Flashback – 1954 De Soto Adventurer II Coupe driveReport

Dream Cars: 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II - Granturismo Show Car

Submitted by Frank Femenias

Submitted by Frank Femenias

Submitted by Frank Femenias

Concept Car #2 (Middle): 1954 Dodge Firearrow II or III

Dodge Firearrow concept cars (1953-1954)

Submitted by Frank Femenias

Submitted by Frank Femenias

Submitted by Frank Femenias

Concept Car #3 (Rear): 1953 Chrysler D'Elegance "SIA Flashback – 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance: Deja Vu All Over Again"

Submitted by Frank Femenias

Submitted by Frank Femenias

Compare this 1958 Karmann-Ghia with the above 1953 Chrysler D'Elegance

Chrysler's Chelsea Proving Grounds


Oct 31 2014 Greg O. 9:23 PM

Holy cow! Finally!! Now here’s one where I can put my first love and deep knowledge of Volkswagen’s great history to good use! I immediately recognized the specific Italian design language of all the cars, but that last car in the line, being the 1953 Chrysler-Ghia D’Elegance concept car, was said to be the inspiration for the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.

There’s a great list of Italian, Chrysler partnerships culminatating with one of my favorite flops of all time, Lee Iaccoca’s ‘Chryserati’ in the late 80’s.

The other Ghia concept cars were;

In front, a DeSoto Ghia Adventurer II Concept Car (1954) and behind that, a Dodge Firearrow II Roadster Concept Car (1954)

What is the likely location for the photo?

Can’t wait to find out! Probably Italy, or may be Detroit? Going to look this one up…




Nov 01 2014 Ted 1:15 PM

Best I can do on this is. I zoomed in at 400% to try to see the car emblems, couldn’t make it out, but concept #3 resembles a larger version of the 2007 Volkswagen Karmann GHia, That’s my best shot

Nov 01 2014 Steve Lucas 3:58 PM

Car number 1 is a 1954 (some reports say 1955) DeSoto Adventurer II.
Number 2 is a 1954 Dodge Firearrow II. Number 3 is a 1954 Chrysler D’Elegance.
Since all 3 cars were from Chrysler Corporation, the logical site for the photograph would be Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds.

Nov 02 2014 Steve McKelvie 7:39 AM

Hi Howard,
Concept Car #1: I think that this is a 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II.
Concept Car #2: I think that this is a 1954 Dodge Firearrow II.
Concept Car #3:  This is a little difficult because it is partially hidden.  However using the rear lights on the fender as a clue, I have concluded that it is a 1953 Chrysler Ghia d’Elegance.
Location: I really don’t know, but as it is unlikely that all three of these cars would get too far from home at the same time, I’m guessing that it is at some sort of Chrysler test facility in Michigan.

Steve McKelvie
Franklin, MA

Nov 02 2014 Tony Sundstrom AKA Antiqueynot 10:34 AM

A Mopar Fest !
I believe,
Front - 1954 Desoto Adventurer II
Center - 1954 Dodge Firearrow II
Rear - 1952 Chrysler D’Elegance
I do not know where, but have a suspicion that it is Sebring. I have no reason for this thought,
            Thanks As Always,

Nov 02 2014 Phil 10:37 AM

The best I can do is call them all Chrysler’s.

Nov 02 2014 frank femenias 2:00 PM

Had to research but it was fun. Searching for concept cars turned out interesting and amazing. Thank you Bill for posting the photo and for the fun time that followed.

Foreground:  1954 Chrysler Desoto Adventurer II

Center:  1954 Dodge Firearrow II

Background:  1953 Chrysler D’Elegance

Location of photo may possibly be the Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge car testing facility where the vehicles appear prepared for transport to….?    1954?

Nov 02 2014 Simon Favre 10:33 PM

All of the cars appear to be Ghia concept cars. Car #1 is a 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II Ghia Concept Car. Car #2 is a 1954 Dodge Firearrow II by Ghia. Car #3 is a 1953 Chrysler Ghia-D’Elegance. The venue is most likely the Autodromo Nazionale Monza race track.

Nov 03 2014 Howard Kroplick 7:52 PM

From Frank Femenias

Concept Car #1 (Foreground): 1954 Chrysler Desoto Adventurer II

This design, largely the effort of Ghia, featured the long hood, short deck style that was similar to the Corvette. It had no front bumper and was never seriously considered for production. However, the Adventurer name did live on in 1956 to 1960 Desoto models. Similar to the big Chrysler 300 letter series cars, the Adventurer is highly underappreciated in the auction market today despite its excellent drivetrain and design.

Concept Car #2 (Middle): 1954 Dodge Firearrow II

Concept Car #3 (Rear): 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance

Styled by Ghia of Italy, this prototype just oozes sex appeal. It was the signature effort from Virgil Exner, Chrysler’s styling guru. In the early 1950’s, Chrysler was experiencing lagging sales and Exner was commissioned to build a series of concepts to pique the customer’s interests. With its distinctive full wheel openings to the gun sight taillights on the rear fenders, this was a true beauty.  This design was later purchased by Volkswagen and it was modified to become the Karmann Ghia.

Nov 04 2014 Ted 8:53 PM

I wasn’t too far wrong. I knew that #3 gave Volkswagon the idea for the Karmann Ghia

Nov 08 2014 S. Berliner, III 11:20 PM

Knew they were Chrysler-Ghias but certainly not which.  Look again at that 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II; the tail lights remind me of the inboard doo-dads on the 1962-64 Ghia-bodied Chrysler turbine cars.  Sam, III

Aug 13 2015 Karl Pippart III 8:07 AM

Neat photo that I have not seen before. I can tell you that the mini grand stand is under construction for the dedication ceremonies of the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan (June 1954). During the ceremonies, there was a parade of 1951-1954 Idea Cars designed by Virgil Exner and built by Carrozzeria Ghia. Recently, I asked Virgil Exner, Jr., what happened to the 1951 K-310 Idea Car. He told me that he personally witnessed the destruction of the Chrysler K-310, 1952 Chrysler C-200 and 1953 DeSoto Adventurer I Idea Cars in the mid 1950s.

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