The arrival of Chevy's two-seat Corvette in 1953 prompted the dashing one-off 1954 and 1955 DeSoto Adventurer concept cars.
Though visually related to earlier Exner specials, it mounted a 1953 DeSoto chassis cut to a suitably sporty 111-inch wheelbase. Despite the close-coupled coupe styling with no rear side windows, the Adventurer could hold four in comfort.
Highlights included a new iteration of the inverted-trapezoid grille, functional side exhausts, another quick-fill fuel cap, the usual chrome wires wearing "wide whites," off-white paint, and minimal bright accents.
Aggressive side exhausts foreshadowed a feature of the far-distant Dodge Viper. A small rear hatch allowed access to the spare tire, but luggage space was evidently next to nil.
The interior was swathed in black leather with white piping, and satin-finish aluminum set off a dashboard with a complete bank of circular gauges.
Exner tried very hard to get the DeSoto Adventurer approved for limited production. But as Maury Baldwin, one of his staffers, later recalled, "Management at that point was very stodgy. A lot of people attributed it to the old Airflow disaster. They were afraid to make any new inroads."
Exner lobbied hard for a production version of the racy 1954 DeSoto Adventurer, and though it came closer to approval than any of his other specials, Chrysler management just didn't have the courage.
"If it had been built, it would have been the first four-passenger sports car made in this country. . . ." Ex said. "Of course, it had the DeSoto Hemi [a 1953 stock 273 with 170 horsepower]. It was my favorite car always . . . "
A second DeSoto-based exercise, the 1955 Adventurer II, was mainly Ghia's work and never a serious production prospect. Though larger than the original Adventurer, it had seats for only two. The front bumper was dispensed with; up back, the plastic backlight was retractable into the rear deck.
Check out the next section for details on the 1955 Chrysler Falcon.