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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Chrysler Norseman


Chrysler Corporation
July 26, 1956

DETROIT, July 26, 1956--A revolutionary new Chrysler Corporation "idea" car being shipped from Italy to the United States for its public debut was lost today in the sinking of the Italian Liner Andrea Doria.  Chrysler was advised by its New York shipping agent that since the ship went down in some 200 feet of water the car must be considered a complete loss.  The car was covered by insurance.

Designed by the Chrysler Corporation Engineering Division and built by Ghia of Turin, Italy, the experimental car was named the NORSEMAN.  It incorporated more structural, chassis, electrical, and styling innovations than any other "idea" car every designed by Chrysler.

Although the car was intended to have as great structural strength as today's automobiles, it had no posts or pillars to support the roof.  This was accomplished by means of structural cantilever archs which curved upward from the rear of the frame and over the passenger compartment of the car.  Glass surrounding the passenger compartment was uninterrupted with the exception of the two archs of steel curving upward in the rear.  In addition there was a 12 square foot panel of glass in the roof that was power operated and slid forward leaving the roof over the rear seat area open.

All major body panels on the car were made of aluminum as a result of research in advanced structural techniques to reduce weight.  It had a sharply sloping hood, upswept tail fins and a covered, smooth underbody for aerodynamic efficiency.

Over-all length of the Norseman was 227-1/2 inches; wheelbase, 129 inches; height, 57 inches; and width, 80 inches.  It was powered by a special advanced Chrysler engine and had a pushbutton Powerflite transmission.

Color of the car was two-tone metallic green with a touch of red inside the flared wheel openings.  Over-all the smoothness of the car was enhanced by concealed automatic headlights, door handles, and concealed trunk lid opening device.

The Norseman was on the drawing boards of Chrylser for a full year, and required 15 more months to build it.


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