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I have been inspired, did a little brainstorming, and came up with a design.  It’s a figment of my imagination that is now on paper.  And just imagine if I hadn’t taken it this far I wouldn’t have anything to show my Dad and he wouldn’t have had a reason to mention Giz and the old Chrysler.  But instead I now own a ’59 Imperial.  I never expected all of this to happen over the course of a few short weeks.  This was intended to be a someday project, not a get it done as soon as possible sort of operation. 

But that’s not the only problem.  As much as it sounds silly to say, this car is too nice.  Well, not too nice to cut up, but there are too many nice parts and they are all there.  The car is complete, quite a time capsule.  As I mentioned before, all I was expecting to find was a rusting junkyard hulk.  As in no floors, no rockers, no trim, no interior, and so on.  The floors are solid with nice thick rust proofing. The interior is dried out, but not torn – I love the swivel seats and cylinder-like speedometer.  The chrome is old, but not flaking.  It has four matching hub caps.  The glass isn’t broken, plus it’s the first use of curved side glass in a car.  The original spare, jack, and instructions tacked to the trunk lid are all there.  The paint even looks like it could come back to a shine with a little TLC.

Is this car too nice?

So what do I do now?  I can’t build the car I designed because if I did, I would be discarding 80% of this car.  It’s back to the drawing board – so to speak.  Technically I haven’t used a drawing board in a few years.  For those who are familiar with my work you know that I design most everything digitally.  Get ready – here comes the plug for Pfaff Designs. 

For the past few years I have been using some of the same technology the automakers use to design new cars.  I have a pressure sensitive monitor that I draw directly on.  This allows me to create very real looking designs, but also allows them to be proportionately accurate while exploring that proportion too.  It also affords me the ability to generate multiply ideations rather quickly.  My thoughts are transferred to the computer fluidly, just like sketching on paper, but also with all of the benefits of the latest imaging software.  There isn’t any real magic to it, but it is much like having the world’s largest tool box, which also means you need to know how to use them.  Check out www.pfaffdesigns.com for more.

At work in the studio.

It’s no secret the Imperial is a big car at over nineteen feet long.  My inspiration for this fantasy is at least six feet shorter.  I think this new design needs to take full advantage of all of the sheet metal and be a full fendered car.  Two seats are a must and topless too.  I have seen people shorten cars before – like those stubby ’57 Chevy’s.  But they are just that – stubby and too goofy looking.  I can’t let that happen here.

My first step is to remove the roof.  Then I take the front doors out of the equation. It’s interesting, but not enough.  There is too much rear over hang, so I remove that and move the rear bumper and quarter panel forward.  Better.  Now the front wheel opening is too long for the car – a few inches out of that helps things.  It’s short, but also stocky.  It will need to be sectioned, probably two to three inches.  Now we have something I might be able to work with.

With more than 4 feet subtracted from the length and section job, I can already see that the car will have to be narrowed to look right.  Proportions are extremely important to any project.  They make what is good, wonderful and make what is bad, awful.  For some they are difficult to see, but if they aren’t right, people may not see it, but they know something isn’t right.   As I look at the design I begin to compare it to some other cars including the Chrysler Crossfire and AC Cobra.  All have a wheel base in the 90” range.  That could make for a fun little car!

As I move beyond the reformatting of the body panels I start to look at the details on the car.  It has a lot of neat features that include the headlight pods, grille, door handles, taillight trim rings, and rear chrome trim panels to name a few.  They are all like jewelry and I am not interested in smoothing them all off of the car.  In many ways it is easy to remove these things versus restoring them, however, I feel they help make this car an Imperial.  I am coming to realize that I still want this project to be recognized as an Imperial, but not one that anyone has ever seen before.

A very ornamental front end.

This leads me to an epiphany.  Ghia had been designing and building most of the showcars for Chrysler in the 50’s for Virgil Exner.  Forward looking cars like the Adventurer, Dart, Diablo, Flight Sweep, Firearrows and XNR had come out of Turin.  What if this car was made to look like it had been built by Ghia.  Furthermore, Chrysler never made a counterpart to the Corvette and Fords two seat luxury sports car – Thunderbird.  Why not?

1953 Dodge Firearrow

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