Rushed into production for the 1940 New York Auto Show, the Chrysler Thunderbolt was proclaimed ”The Car of the Future” by the automaker. The Thunderbolt was built with the intention to educate the general public about aerodynamics and streamlining.
The Thunderbolt was built to minimize wind resistance, so it was a smooth aerodynamic machine in every aspect. The only exterior ornamentation was a single chrome lightning bolt on each door. The aerodynamics were enhanced by eliminating door handles, using concealed headlights, doing away with A pillars, and enclosing the wheel wells. The Thunderbolt featured an all aluminum body and an electrically controlled retractable hardtop. The doors were opened with the touch of a button and the windows were raised and lowered by hydraulics. The Thuderbolt’s interior featured a bevy of leather and push buttons. It was powered by a 323.5 cu-in straight-eight that produced 143 hp. Each Thunderbolt was given its own unique color scheme.
There were only six cars made, with four surviving today. This innovative car was designed by Ralph Roberts and Alex Tremulis and was built by the Briggs Body Works Company.
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