Did This 1962 Exner Model Inspire The 1966 Toronado?

Exner fiat ghia 1500 clay_small

I just stumbled into this by accident, but as soon as I saw it all I could see was the 1966 Toronado. I found it at osi20mts.com, about the origins of the Italian firm OSI. Virgil Exner Jr. left a comment there, as well as this picture of a 1/4 scale clay his dad made for a Fiat Ghia 1500 proposal. An exact date wasn’t given, but it’s not hard to figure out that it had to be early 1963, or most likely 1962.

After Exner left Chrysler in late 1961, he opened his own design consultancy. In early 1962 Luigi Segre visited Exner and asked him to open a Ghia US subsidiary, and part of that deal was that Exner would create a certain number of design concepts and scale models. But Segre died in February 1963, and all dreams of opening the Ghia US operation died along with him. So this concept must have been made during 1962 or very early 1963.

Olds Toronado flame red carimage: hemmings.com

The Toronado creation story credits this rendering by David North, called the “Flame Red Car”, dated to the early part of 1962. But when one really looks at it, it went through considerable evolution to the final Toronado design. It’s much flatter, and the tail is horizontal, and doesn’t swoop down like the final Toronado. And it appears that there is a break where the C-Pillar meets the rear fender. That lack of that became a defining feature of the Toronado design.

Chrysler D'Elegance rq

Exner was the father of the “fuselage” style, antecedents of which date back to the early 1950s. If we imagine that rear fender kickup of his 1952 Chrysler D’Elegance being totally smooth and integrated, this already has more than a bit of Toronado in it.

Exner fiat ghia 1500 clay_small

Exner’s fuselage design language was pioneering in creating a continuous plane from the doors through the windows, eliminating the step or shoulder that almost everyone else had in their designs at the time. Only his fins got in the way of the clean and continuous rear-quarter on his Chrysler designs, although all of his 1962 and 1963 designs for Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge all have an unbroken c-Pillar, except for a character line/break a bit further down on the body.

Olds Toronado 1966

Most likely North’s original “Flame Red Car” was conceived before Exner’s Fiat Ghia clay proposal, but in the development of the Toronado to its final design, it certainly seem like some Exner influence worked itself into the rear section. Or was it just coincidence?