With arrival of the jet plane came many jet inspired automobile designs. Chrysler exec Virgil Exner, Sr was bitten by the jet fever, as were many execs across the industry. After Exner created a small sculpture of a concept, Chrysler partnered with Italian automobile style house Carrozzeria Ghia to create the Streamline ”X”. The Streamline ”X” was dubbed ”Gilda” after the equally fascinating shape of Rita Hayworth’s character in the movie Gilda.
The heavy influence of aircraft and rocketry on the post-WWII automotive industry eventually led to the incorporation of nose cones and tail fins on many production models. The Gilda took the entire concept to another level. Literally, this car is meant to be a jet plane on wheels. Italian designer Giovanni Savonuzzi took Exner’s sculpture and produced a streamlined car with small, functional fins at the rear. During wind tunnel testing, the fins proved to help hold the car on the road during high-speed cross winds. The large, centrally located exhaust hinted at a jet turbine engine, that was not there. The only reason that the car did not have a jet engine was that the turbine engines of the day were too large.
The two-tone red and silver Streamline ”X” made its debut at the 1955 Turin Salone dell’Automobile, sans an engine. After the show it was immediately shipped to the Henry Ford Museum, where it was rarely taken out of storage. The car did change hands a few times, eventually landing in the ownership of Scott Grundfor, who fitted it with a 70 bhp jet engine in 2005. It only took fifty years, but the jet-inspired Gilda was finally jet powered.
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