- Credit: Old Concept Cars

    Meet the amazing one-off Plymouth

    An asymmetrical machine that even survived the Lebanese Civil War

    6w ago

    15.5K

    Do you remember the famous Plymouth Superbird and Roadrunner? Oh, they were great cars, weren’t they? Especially the Superbird, with its huge wing and nose cone. Sadly, the name Plymouth is no longer with us in automotive world. If it were still alive, this company would probably be making some cool muscle cars. But, the star of this article is not a muscle car. It is a concept car that was supposed to be Corvette’s and Ford Falcon’s worst nightmare.

    Credit: Old Concept Cars

    Credit: Old Concept Cars

    Designed by Virgil Exner, this interesting machine was called XNR, referring to designer’s last name. Virgil Exner hoped that Plymouth would put his masterpiece into production, but only one was ever made.

    Credit: Old Concept Cars

    Credit: Old Concept Cars

    In the late 1940s and through 1950s, America’s car industry was seeking innovations in designing cars. That’s when we were introduced to tailfins, streamlined bodies and other jet-influenced details. But unlike its rivals, Plymouth mostly cared about good engineering rather than good designing. Eventually, Chrysler sales slowed down, which made them rethink about their “good design policy” (Plymouth was Chrysler's low-priced brand). In 1950s, Virgil Exner was “playing” with Chrysler’s designs, giving them a more streamlined look.

    Plymouth Valiant on which the XNR was based. Credit: Hemmings

    Plymouth Valiant on which the XNR was based. Credit: Hemmings

    But there was something missing. What Chrysler really needed was a 2-seater roadster that could take on the ‘Vette and the Falcon. To make a small roadster, they needed a car with a small chassis...something like the Plymouth Valiant. Exner drastically changed the looks of the Valiant, converting it to something that looked like it came from outer space. It was supposed to be called the Plymouth Asymmetrica, but it later adopted the XNR badge.

    Its 2.7-litre straight-6 could produce 250hp and make the car reach the top speed of 241 km/h (150 mph). Exner had some help from the famous Italian coachbuilders, Ghia, and they worked closely on many other cars as well.

    Unfortunately, since the car was only used for promotional purposes, it didn’t have any future. If it stayed in the States, it would’ve been destroyed. However, Exner saved it by giving it back to Ghia, where it stayed for a couple of years.

    It was purchased by an unknown Swiss man, who later sold it to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran. The next owner was a car dealer from Kuwait who kept it until 1972. Then, he sold it to a man in Lebanon.

    Look at that jet-inspired front. Credit: RM Sotheby's

    Look at that jet-inspired front. Credit: RM Sotheby's

    However, the Lebanese Civil war started in 1975. That year, a local man called Karim Edde, found the car and recognized it. He was keeping the car hidden in various locations until the war ended in 1991. After that, the car finally saw the light of day again. But it wasn’t until 2008 when Edde sent the car to RM Restorations in Canada to have it fully repaired. The restoration was finished in 2011, and a year later, the XNR was sold at an auction for $935.000.

    Credit: RM Sotheby's

    Credit: RM Sotheby's

    It is unknown where the car is now, but one thing’s for sure-the XNR had quite a life. Designed by Italians, made in America, spent some time in Italy, Switzerland, Iran and was later hiding in Lebanon during the Civil War. Now, having been given its old glory back, I hope the current owner uses it as a car should be used.

    So what do you think? Better than the '59 Stingray?

    Credit: RM Sotheby's

    Credit: RM Sotheby's

    Join In

    Comments (5)

    • Thanks for this story, I love how outrageous it is..

      I have no idea if it is better than the Corvette, the old Stingrays drive moar like boats than like cars. I know from experience old Corvettes (and this car) are better suited as room ornaments (if you have a really big living room of course)

      It's probably not a great drive except when you want to cruise that boulevard in summer.

        1 month ago
    • Visually, it is better looking car than Corvette. Mechanically, it could be different story.

        1 month ago
    • I saw a netflix show where they made one of these from a mold or something. I think it's ugly, but that's just me.

        1 month ago
    • More to the point, where can I get a Plymouth valiant? What a lovely car!

        1 month ago

    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Post sponsored by

    What's less distracting?
    Bentley will sponsor the IAP photography awards... and it's easy to see why
    5