The Chrysler D’Elegance, a 1952 sporty coupe, was a collaboration between Chrysler designer Virgil Exner and Italian coachbuilder Ghia. This concept car, inspired by European styles, blended smooth curves with American touches like a mesh grille. Exner’s design language, later called “Forward Look”, would influence Chrysler’s future models.

The D’Elegance rode on a shortened New Yorker chassis and packed a powerful Hemi V8 engine. Interestingly, its design found a second life, albeit downsized, in the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia. Though Exner didn’t receive credit, Ghia adapted the D’Elegance’s lines for the VW Beetle platform, creating a successful sports car.

The D’Elegance itself was a head-turner, featuring whitewall tires, a vibrant red paint job, and unique taillights. Inside, luxurious black and cream leather seats awaited, along with custom luggage. This concept car served as a bridge between European elegance and American power, leaving a lasting design legacy.

Photos by Erik Fuller courtesy of RM Sotheby’s