1960 Plymouth XNR Concept

The 1960 Plymouth XNR is a unique and notable concept car designed by Virgil Exner, an influential automotive designer known for his work at Chrysler during the 1950s and 1960s. The XNR was unveiled at the 1960 International Automobile Show in New York and was intended to showcase Plymouth's design and engineering capabilities.

Automobile designer Virgil Exner left Studebaker to join Chrysler in 1949. Chrysler's previous designers favored conservative, upright body styles, but sales were declining. At Chrysler, one of his first challenges was to wrest final say over design away from the engineering department.
Exner commissioned a range of concept cars that were built in Italy by Carrozzeria Ghia.[4] Among these were several sporty, open-top, two-seat cars, including three out of four of the cars in the Dodge Firearrow series, and the Chrysler Falcon. These studies were Chrysler's answer to the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Corvette.

The XNR went through several name changes during development. Some early drawings label it the "Falcon". This was also the development name of the car that became the production Valiant, until Ford registered it for their own new compact. Later the car was called the Asymmetrica, and later still renamed "XNR", a disemvoweled, pseudo-acronym of the designer's own last name.

The shape of the XNR was influenced by a Studebaker Indianapolis race car that Exner owned, as well as by the later asymmetrical Watson Indy Roadster, and the Jaguar D-Type.

As originally built, the car reached a speed of 146 mph (235 km/h) on Chrysler's test track. Exner is said to have personally driven the car on the track at speeds up to 142 mph (229 km/h). Later, after being fitted with a fiberglass nosecone fabricated by Dick Burke and receiving additional engine modifications, the car reached a top speed of 153 mph (246 km/h).

In May 1960, the XNR appeared on the covers of both Road & Track and Motor Trend magazines, then in May 1961 on the cover of Today's Motor Sports magazine.

The car made its first public appearance at the 1960 New York Auto Show.

Chrysler did not put the Plymouth XNR into production. Exner wanted to buy the car from Chrysler, but was unsuccessful and the XNR was shipped back to Ghia in Italy to prevent it from being destroyed.

Key features and characteristics of the 1960 Plymouth XNR Concept include:

Design: The XNR featured a distinctive and futuristic design for its time, with a low-slung, aerodynamic body. It had a prominent front grille, quad headlights, and a sleek, elongated profile. The car had a single "targa" roof panel that could be removed for open-air driving.

Color: The XNR was painted in a vibrant shade of red, known as "Plymouth Fire-Red," which further accentuated its unique design.

Engine: Under the hood, the XNR was equipped with a high-performance 2.8-liter slant-six engine that produced around 250 horsepower. This engine choice highlighted Plymouth's commitment to performance and innovation.

Interior: The XNR's interior featured a driver-focused cockpit with a futuristic dashboard layout. It had a two-seat configuration with a center console that housed various controls and instruments.
Innovations: The XNR incorporated several innovative design elements for its time, such as the wraparound windshield, adjustable steering column, and the removal of the B-pillars for a cleaner side profile.

Public Reception: The Plymouth XNR Concept garnered significant attention and praise for its avant-garde design and engineering. It was admired for its uniqueness and forward-looking styling cues.

Single Prototype: Unlike some other concept cars, only one Plymouth XNR was ever built. It was intended to be a design statement and a showcase of Plymouth's capabilities rather than a vehicle intended for mass production.

Ownership: After its debut at the 1960 International Automobile Show, the XNR concept car was sold to a private collector. Over the years, it changed hands several times and became a sought-after collector's item.

The 1960 Plymouth XNR remains an iconic piece of automotive history, representing a period of design experimentation and innovation within the American automotive industry. Its striking design and unique features continue to captivate enthusiasts and historians alike, making it a memorable symbol of automotive creativity from the early 1960s.

Taken at its 1st Concours showing after restoration at the 2011 Amelia Island Concours.

You may purchase a print in our dElegance 2011 online gallery.

Amelia Island Concours DElegance
August 17, 2023


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