There is something magical about a vintage concept car. Maybe it is because it is one of a kind. Maybe it is because it is often a mirror of the progressive design of the time, and a harbinger of the future. Maybe it is because it is a showcase of sheer design whimsy and creativity not broken by practicality.
In the 1956/57 Chrysler Diablo convertible concept car, there’s all of that. Chrysler design director Virgil Exner is responsible for this amazing beauty of post-war freedom—freedom from the austerity of wartime living, and freedom of manufacturing capabilities brought on by wartime invention.
Exner’s designs celebrated tailfins on automobiles that rose higher than many a 1950s bouffant hairdo. Teamed with Italian Carrozzeria Ghia, Exner created several concepts cars during the mid-1950s, including the Chrysler D’Elegance, Dodge Firearrow, DeSoto Adventurer II and Chrysler Falcon.
As for the 1957 Chrysler Diablo, the car was an evolution of the 1956 Dart concept, which made the auto show circuit in 1956. Attempting to better the Dart, Exner heavily modified the 1956 show car into a new concept car for the 1957 season, the Chrysler Diablo.
Aside from its classic tailfins, the design of the Diablo is awe-inspiring. At 22 feet long, the Diablo may be one of the largest convertibles ever built. If you ever wondered where the term "land yacht" came from, you need to look no further than the Diablo.
It has four individual bucket seats, and a Space Age dashboard. The Diablo is equipped with all sorts of newfangled electronic functionality—power steering, power brakes, power windows, power top, power antenna and air conditioning. The car is street-legal (unlike many concepts) and was fitted with a Hemi V8, two four-barrel carburetors, automatic push-button transmission and lots of chrome in the engine compartment.
I’ll let you pause to catch your breath.
Many say that the Diablo is of the most important concept cars ever designed. And proof of this position, the Diablo concept car was sold at auction last month at an amazing price of $1.375 million.
And worth every penny.