Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The work of the Diablo

LatdiabloLA Times - Before the well-known Lamborghini Diablo, there was the Chrysler Diablo. And whereas Lamborghini produced about 2,900 Diablo models, the car pictured here is one of a kind. It’s a 1957 concept car, with a hand-made body fashioned by the Italian coachbuilders, Ghia, and based on the chassis of a 1955 Chrysler 300.

This Diablo was conceived by Chrysler’s head designer of the time, the highly influential Virgil Exner (who used wind tunnel testing and compound curved glass) and was created for the 1957 American car show circuit, becoming the marque’s star concept of that year. At 22 feet in length, it’s also one of the largest concept cars ever built. And it almost never made the trip from Europe. It was scheduled to ship on board the ill-fated Andrea Doria, but last-minute work delayed its departure.

Back in the day, the Diablo cost Chrysler more than $250,000. With its interesting provenance, it should fetch considerably more when it goes under the hammer -- for the first time ever -- at the Pebble Beach wash-and-waxfest August 15 and 16 (concept cars are a featured highlight of the auction this year). If you’re planning to hit Monterey at that time, pack a few extra million, just in case.

-- Colin Ryan

Photo: RM Auctions

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