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Thursday, September 29, 2022

A story of the Chrysler Norseman Concept was sank tragically along with SS Andrea Doria

TRAGIC Story Not only human beings who have a tragic story, even the car as well. For example, the famos one was the Chrysler Norseman by Ghia. The story began in the mid 20th century, precisely in the early 50s. At that time the Italian economy amid improve itself by war. Conditions that make the cost of labor in Italy are lower than in the US. 
The 1956 Chrysler Norseman Concept was once described as 'the handsome lad who never made it to his prom'. (Picture from: VanDerBiltCupRaces)
By considering this reasons and the tradition of the exquisite craftsmanship of Italian coachbuilders, it is not surprising that when one of the American big three automaker, Chrysler turned its attention to Italy
to create some research prototypes. Then in 1950, C.B. Thomas, head of styling at Chrysler contacted the Italian manufacturer Fiat and asked them to suggest which companies could take on this contract.
According to a Chrysler press release, the color of 1956 Chrysler Norseman Concept was "two-tone metallic green with a touch of red inside the flared wheel openings. (Picture from: The Esoteric Curiosa)
At the time, the Italian automaker gave two names: Ghia and Pininfarina. In short then the choice fell on Ghia thanks to the level of craftsmanship and smaller costs, regardless of which is better design proposals, as both companies had to build a car based on the same set of drawings sent from Detroit.
3D rendered image of the 1956 Chrysler Norseman Concept made by Dan Palatnik. (Picture from: GaragemDigital)
It was a turning point in the history of Ghia, an Italian coachbuilder company based in Turin given a valuable opportunity to show their designs to the world under the auspices and the costs borne by the Chrysler. After developing several prototypes, in 1955 Chrysler finally commissioned Ghia to build a show car. It was to be 'the most automated car in the world'. For design matters usually entrusted to the American auto design maestro, Virgil Exner, even though most of the work done by one of his trusted men, Billie Brownlie.
The 1956 Chrysler Norseman Concept has impressive lines and concealed headlights while seen of the front. (Picture from: The Esoteric Curiosa)
As a result of truly innovative design, its most striking feature is the cantilevered roof, which was supported only at the rear pillars. There are no side pillars and window ventilation is usually there at that time. In addition to the rear pillar, the roof is just resting on the frameless curved windshield. On the roof, there is an electrically operated sunroof, a feature that is very advanced at the time and extremely difficult to integrate into the slender roof structure. The interior had four leather upholstery and a set of futuristic gauge pods, complete with luminous paint at the back of front seats as an experimental method of lighting systems.
The rest of the interior was credited to Deo Lewton featuring green and gray metallic leather-covered buckets seats and lap belts that retracted. (Picture from: The Esoteric Curiosa)
Meanwhile its power came out by using a Hemi V8 engine with a capacity of 331 ci (5,424cc) is capable of generating power up to 235 hp with 2-speed Powerflite transmission, shifted by push-buttons, while the chassis is the possibility of taken from the Chrysler 300.
The interior of 1956 Chrysler Norseman Concept was featuring the Bill Brownlie-designed instrument panel with two wide-set gauges. (Picture from: VanDerBiltCupRaces)
There was no consensus over the subject of the car's color. Chrysler ordered the car's exterior painted in dark green color, with green and gray interior, while according to Exner it was to be painted silver. But according to the journalists who saw this car in Italy before shipping then wrote that the car appeared in two-tone blue, while its interior got the touche of red leather and black accents.

Here are several colored 3D rendered images of the 1956 Chrysler Norseman Concept that made by a Brazilian artist, Dan Palatnik. (all of the pictures taken from: GaragemDigital)

The intricate elegant design makes these vehicles take a long time in development. It took almost 15 months on the works by the team, led by Sergio Coggiola  and made the American automaker should willing spend their money more than the US $150 thousand to finish the Norseman. The project was finished right on schedule and the Chrysler Norseman completed on July 17, 1956, then packed in wooden crates, and loaded in the number two cargo area of a luxury liner of the private Italian Trans Atlantic Lines named SS Andrea Doria, operating between Genoa and New York.
All four seats were electronically adjustable, the fronts seats pivoted to allow access to the rear. (Picture from: VanDerBiltCupRaces)
While in Highland Park, Michigan, the Chrysler design team could not wait for their new car which is scheduled to be a star of the 1957 auto show circuits. Unfortunately, it was never seen again by most of the Chrysler stylists that designed it, when the forwarding agent delivered the news that the Norseman had been lost forever.
The 1956 Chrysler Norseman Concept had no posts or pillars to support the unique cantilever roof. (Picture from: The Esoteric Curiosa)
On the evening of Wednesday, July 25, 1956, SS Andrea Doria was heading west through the New York Bay. No one will know if it was its last voyage. Ships are expected to dock in NY the next morning. At 23:10, 40 miles off the coast of Nantucket, SS Andrea Doria collided with MS Stockholm, a Swedish passenger ship on its way from New York to Gothenburg in a heavy fog.
Nearly all of the roof’s mass needed to be supported at the rear so that the leading edge did not to place any stress on the delicate wrap-around windshield. (Picture from: VanDerBiltCupRaces)
Thanks to the professional rescue operation, from about 2,500 passengers, only 53 people were killed in the disaster. Eleven hours later, SS Andrea Doria sank carry the entire payload including the Chrysler Norseman to rest in peace at a depth of 72 meters in the dark ocean floor.
1956 Chrysler Norseman Concept sank along with the SS Andrea Doria on July 25, 1956. (Picture from: Grimaldi707)
Since then, only one person who had seen the car. In 1994 a famous diver with a diving expedition, David Bright found what he describes as 'rusted hulk' of the Chrysler Norseman. According to what he described, the position of the car in the accident that makes it almost certain that nobody will be able to see again. David Bright passed away in 2006 from decompression sickness after another of his divings to the SS Andrea Doria wrecks.
If the Norseman arrived in America at that time, it would have certainly influenced the design of Chrysler in the late 50s to early 60s. The rest, only a few photos were left for us to see and remember the car that was once described as 'the handsome lad who never made it to his prom'. *** [EKA [10052015] | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | COACHBUILD.COM | THE ESOTERIC CURIOSA | VANDERBILCUPRACES ]
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