Under the guidance of their visionary chief designer Virgil Exner, Chrysler Corporation finally broke free of their staid and conservative design language of the late 1940s and early 1950s with the influential new “Forward Look” of 1955. Chrysler began hinting at its reborn sense of style through a series of dream cars that were the product of a collaboration between Exner and Ghia’s Luigi “Gigi” Segre. For the planned mid-decade revamp, Exner changed tack and drew inspiration from the world of aviation, space travel, and jet propulsion. His new styling theme transformed Chrysler’s entire image and altered the path of car design as a whole for the remainder of the decade. GM’s Chuck Jordan saw leaked secret previews of Exner’s work and raced back to share what he saw with his bosses, forcing a frantic last-minute redesign of GM’s whole range. The Forward Look thrust Chrysler back into the spotlight and ushered in the era of chrome, fins, and flamboyant style.
In the post-war era, the DeSoto brand took on the identity of a slightly sportier sister brand to Chrysler. Their famous Adventurer nameplate first appeared as a concept car in 1953, and again as the Adventurer II in 1954. Finally, in 1955, the DeSoto Adventurer reached production as a flagship specialty car, designed to draw foot traffic into showrooms and highlight the brand’s value and performance image. Comparable to Chrysler’s 300, the Adventurer had high style, high performance, and a plethora of luxurious options. Central to the revised Forward Look was the use of dramatic fins, which Exner believed aided in aerodynamic stability. The first significant refresh came in 1957, with a completely new body featuring even larger fins, a quad-headlamp front end, and a multitude of detail changes. The two-tone paint scheme had a dramatic color-contrasting sweep on the lower body, along with distinct gold-anodized wheel covers and unique trim. To match the glamorous looks, DeSoto fitted the 345 cubic-inch Hemi V8 with a special dual-quad intake manifold. Paired with a bullet-proof Torqueflite automatic transmission, the Fire-Flite V8 made 345 horsepower. With its flashy gold trim and finned jet-age bodywork, the DeSoto Adventurer is an icon of American 1950s design.
This DeSoto Adventurer is one of only 1650 coupes built for the 1957 model year. This lovely example wears an older restoration that has seen many years of regular care and maintenance in the hands of a seasoned collector. According to the trim tag, this car is a genuine Adventurer Sportsman Coupe, correctly finished in original Surf White with Adventurer Gold roof and lower body sweep. It was discovered in Wisconsin in the 1980s and comprehensively restored a few years after being found. It presents in very good condition, with straight panels and factory-appropriate gaps. Chrome trim and brightwork are also in good condition, with very good bumpers and moldings showing some light polish marks from regular care. This car retains the original gold-anodized wheel covers, unique to the Adventurer. Because of their delicate nature, most get painted during restoration, so it is rare to find a set with the anodized plating intact.
The interior presentation is sharp and attractive. It features factory-correct upholstery, which is specific to the Adventurer and corresponds with the trim tag. The fawn-gold seats have white accents and distinct tweed-style fabric inserts. Door panels match the chairs and feature patterned-alloy inserts that repeat on the instrument fascia. The carpets, dash top, and other interior panels are all in fine condition. Period correct “Flookerang” logo floor mats (the official symbol of The New Look) protect the carpets. The top-line Adventurer came equipped with a radio, pushbutton transmission control, and deluxe heater, and this car adds the optional power-adjustable front seat.
Dual four-barrel carburetors feed the big 345 cubic-inch Hemi V8 and push output to an even one horsepower per cubic inch. The engine is pleasingly detailed, with good quality paintwork on the block, air cleaners, accessories, and the signature gold valve covers. It runs well, and thanks to the massive torque, propels the big DeSoto down the road with ease. Power steering and power brakes are standard fitments for the top-line Adventurer, allowing for effortless cruising ability.
For sheer presence and drama, few cars compare to Virgil Exner’s brilliant, Jet-Age inspired DeSoto Adventurer. Nicely restored and well sorted, this beautiful example is prime for cruising the boulevard in style.