When Virgil Exner and the Highland Park Studios had to finish off the 1950’s, the final Forward Look interpretations for the decade got a heavy dose of new make up. In one of the the most heavy-handed automotive “Max Factor” make-overs, which perpetual fraternal twins wore the revamp better?
The second set of Forward Look cars came to the market more often than not with friendly faces despite their finny plumage out back. They proved to be the Fresh New Faces of ’57 compared to the curious contortions of contemporary Deaborn products and the general jowly nature of General Motors products. More closely related in the family were the faces of Chrysler and DeSoto.
DeSoto, in particular moved away from the toothy “brace face” facade it wore through the early 50’s. In 1957 they emerged as twins again; fraternal twins obviously but twins that looked so similar at first glance they appeared nearly identical.
They applied make-up to set them more distinctively apart as they started to mature into their second season on sale. The smooth smirk of an elliptical on the Desoto grew a more pronounced sneer. The sly thinly waxed mustache smile of the 1957 Chrysler grew thicker handlebars, verging on comical proportions similar to those found in hip enclaves throughout the United States today. The discerning eye had to have some concerns about where all of this might go in the next year.
It’s curious to think how far the 1959 Chrysler Corporation line-up got away from the lithe details of the 1957 cars. Underneath all of that heavy chrome and bulbous detail was the most refined version of what had been one of the greatest stories of dashed hopes in American automotive history. There is irony in the fury that the sight of the ’57 models set off at General Motors, whose cars traded their soggy suits for a cleaner and bolder look for the 1959 model year. The irony grows tragic considering the final versions of the second Forward Look would embrace a visage that was dowdy as the ’57 GM lineup was.
The question becomes which twin wore the new face better? Surprisingly, for the Chrysler and DeSoto being completely badge engineered, 1959 has to be the year more than any other during the Post-War years that they differed the most in the face. In the attempt to seem far more substantial, with girth and visual weight trying to imply improved quality, who came up with the “better” face? I’ll keep my opinion to myself, and let you, my fellow curbsiders, decide who pulled off the make-over the best.