1954 Dodge Firearrow III Concept

Chysler’s financial crises of the early 1950s couldn’t stop the string of Virgil Exner’s Ghia concept cars

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In 1953, Dodge unveiled its first concept car, the Firearrow, a sleek out-of-this-world roadster that provided a glimpse of what everyone’s new automobile would look like in just a few years. While this stylish open-top car looked like it was ready to ply the highways of tomorrow, it was just a rolling concept display model and had no running gear. But the public response was strong enough that the approval was given to design and build an actual running prototype; thus was born the Firearrow II.

As with earlier versions of the Firearrow, the Series III coupe was mounted on a regular production chassis from the Dodge Royal, and the running gear was left in stock form, with the “Red Ram Hemi” V8 engine providing plenty of power. Suspension was also taken straight from production models, as was the recently introduced fully automatic Torque-Flite transmission.

Upon delivery to the Chrysler Corporation, the sleek blue coupe was earmarked to be the center attraction at the opening of the company’s new Chelsea Proving Grounds in June 1954. Betty Skelton, one of the best aerobatic pilots in the world, took the Firearrow III out on the new banked oval and opened it up all the way. In the process she set a new world record for a woman on a closed course of 143.44 miles per hour, and this while wearing a dress and high heels!

Since that time, the Dodge Firearrow III has been treated to a ground up restoration by the gifted shop of Fran Roxas. The Firearrow III presents a most significant chapter as the only concept/dream car ever to hold a land-speed record, demonstrating that this beautiful blue Firearrow III Concept was not just built for show.

Carl Bomstead

Carl Bomstead - SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Carl has been writing for SCM for 19 years. His first article appeared in the February 1997 issue, and at least one of his articles has appeared in every issue since. When he’s not writing, he serves as a National Director for the Classic Car Club of America and tends to his extensive collection of automobilia. He has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for the past 20 years, and he also judges at Amelia Island and other major concours. An extensive number of collector cars have passed through his garage, and a 1947 Cadillac 62 Series convertible and a 1968 Intermeccanica Italia are current residents.

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