1954 Dodge FireArrow: American Design Meets Italian Flair
The years following the end of World War II brought with them both newfound prosperity and rapid technological advancements. By the 1950s, these twin influences were being felt in the world of auto design, where the Big Three were building concept cars that caught the spirit of the new age. A prime example of this time is the 1954 Dodge FireArrow, a series of three roadsters, and a coupe, that together represent everything that was great about the 1950s. The FireArrow series was designed by Virgil Exner and built in Turin, Italy by Ghia. The first, the FireArrow I (below), had a red and gray exterior and sumptuous leather interior. Each side featured exposed dual exhaust pipes, dual headlights, and moulding that wrapped around the entire vehicle. The wood-rimmed steering wheel gave the car a nice touch of Italian flare. PHOTOS: See More of the Original Dodge Firearrow I
The FireArrow II replaced the first car’s full hubcaps with wire wheel spokes. Meanwhile, up front, single headlamps replaced the earlier dual assemblies. Rather than the original’s gray and red paint job, it offered a more subtle yellow shade. The front grille had a bold look, with five chrome “teeth” in the center. The effect was like a hungry predator on the lookout for other vehicles to gobble up, giving the FireArrow II a distinctively aggressive styling.
PHOTOS: See More of the Proceeding Dodge Firearrow II
The FireArrow III, was a two-seater coupe also known as the “firebomb,” though for much different reasons than the Ford Pinto of the 1970s. Painted light metallic blue, the most striking difference of this version was again the grille, which was concave and featured a series of vertical chrome lines. Pro driver Betty Skelton took the FireArrow III to a record speed of 143.44 mph on a specially built closed course, reportedly while wearing a dress and high heels.
PHOTOS: See More of the Iconic Dodge Firearrow III
The FireArrow IV set itself apart from its predecessor with it red hue and white wall wheels. More than any of the other versions, it suggests what most people today think of when they picture a sport/touring car. It had a distinct interior with alternating black and white diamond shapes. It is now at the Blackhawk Auto Museum in Danville, CA.
PHOTOS: See More of the Final Dodge Firearrow IV
Both the FireArrow II and the FireArrow IV received honors at Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and at Meadowbrook. Despite the enormously popular reception the series received, however, Chrysler passed on the opportunity to develop them into a production series. Today, we remember these four concepts as some of the prettiest penned by Dodge, thanks to a bit of help from Ghia.
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