Chrysler Norseman

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1956 Chrysler Norseman concept car lost during the sinking of the SS Andrea Doria.

The Chrysler Norseman was a concept car built in 1956. It was a four-seat coupe. Although designed by Chrysler Corporation's stylists, actual construction was contracted out to the Italian coach-building firm of Ghia. Ghia had experience in the construction of low-volume vehicles and one-off prototypes, having built the successful Lincoln Futura concept the previous year. It took Ghia's craftsmen over a year to build the complex Norseman.

Chrysler wanted a fully drivable vehicle, not just a rolling mockup, so all normal systems for the powertrain, braking, suspension, were installed. More difficult to fabricate was its unusual cantilevered roof, which was secured to the body only at the rear C pillars. There were no side pillars, and at the front the roof rested only lightly on a fully frameless windshield. There was a power sunroof as well, an advanced feature, that was difficult to integrate into a slender roof structure with no structural support at the front. The door glass was ventless (having no small vent window at the front), a styling theme that would become popular some ten years later.

The car was to be a featured attraction of Chrysler's auto show exhibit for 1957 and was shipped by Ghia to New York City in July 1956. The car was shipped on the ocean liner SS Andrea Doria, which was involved in a collision off the coast of Massachusetts and sank, with the loss of forty-six lives and all cargo.

As a result the car was never shown to the public and was never seen by most of the stylists who worked on it. It is known to automotive historians, however, via photographs and specifications. Chrysler never used the cantilevered roof design in any subsequent vehicle.

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