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08/07/2010 866

Plymouth [2] - Plainsman

Plymouth's next show car took a different twist — it was a station wagon. Unlike many of the more impractical show cars, most of the unique items on this one found their way into production.

Designed by Dave Scott, the "Plainsman" started life as a "coupe de ville"-type town car. At Exner's suggestion, Scott modified the design to create a station wagon (wagons were becoming big business at Chrysler). First sketched in February 1954, the order to begin construction was given to Ghia in October 1954.

1954 Plymouth Plainsman wagon concept car

When the car was unloaded from its shipping crate in Detroit on December 5, 1955, and placed on wheels for the first time, the lead-laden body sank under its own weight. A heavier Chrysler New Yorker suspension was called upon to cure the problem. Powered by a 260ci V-8 the 4,900lb car was thoroughly underpowered.

Displayed first at the Chrysler Building in New York City and later at the seventy-fifth anniversary celebration of the J.L. Hudson Department Store in Detroit, many of the Plainsman's innovations found their way into production including the rear-facing third seat, spare tire mounted in the right rear quarter panel, and power-operated tailgate window.

After its show career, the Plainsman was shipped to a dealer in Havana, Cuba. Following a harrowing escape from the Castro regime, the Plainsman saw use in Mexico, Australia (where it was converted by law to right-hand drive), and Japan before wandering back to the U.S. Today the car is part of the Bortz Dream Car Collection.


Chrysler Corporation unveiled the experimental Plainsman "idea station wagon" during the January, 1956 Chicago Auto Show. Mounted on a 115-inch wheelbase Plymouth chassis, the 2-door wagon accented a Western theme with its "Palomino beige" finish, gold-colored Texas Longhorn medallion and hand-worked bronze trim which was chrome plated. A unique cantilever, stepped roof contained a centered louvered ventilator that provided draft-free ventilation of the 8-passenger cabin, and the padded white fabric top covering the rear two-thirds of the all-steel roof was weather-resistant. Clever idea on the Plainsman that made its way into the 1957 station wagon models by Chrysler Corp. was the spare tire and wheel hidden behind the right wheel and accessed via a lift-up panel.



1956  Chicago

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