Fuselage Styling History?

Fuselage Years

  1. 71newport

    71newport Member

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    I took my Newport out today and every time I look at that car I marvel at it's beauty. Dare I say the styling is perfect? A lot has been written on the history of the styling of the E-bodies, Coke bottle Chargers, and '71 b-bodies. Can anyone recommend a good source on the history of the styling of the fuselage cars? Any studio shots of clay modeling? Alternatives that were considered and not adopted?
    Hat's off to the visionary stylists who imagined these beauties.

    IMG_6205.JPG
     
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  2. rapidtrans

    rapidtrans Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    The Chrysler Fuselage look
    Here’s one link that looks interesting. ^.
    Also “Collectable Automobile” mag has done features on each fuselage line separately in past issues. Previous issues are available from publisher.
    I always liked the smooth body lines of these cars, the Chrysler in particular with no vinyl top. Dad noted the flush C pillars saying the stylists loved that feature when seen on the first Toronados. He had three new Newport Customs in 69 and another one in 72.
     
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  3. CBODY67

    CBODY67 Old Man with a Hat

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    The Collectible Automobile article on that generation Chryslers is very good. Mentions how the stylists wanted everything to be proprtional. As with most of those similar articles, some of the preliminary "clays" and such are in the article, as I recall. "Recommended reading".

    I know there are many who like the 2-drs, but what I like are the '69-'72 4drs and convertibles. With '73 being the transition into the coming "Formal Years". To each their own. But they all look good.

    Interesting how GM copied some aspects of the Fuselage design pretty quickly! Might have been similar to how GM sylists had to react to the '57 Chrysler Corp cars, as the late Dave Hols mentioned in an interview on "My Classic Car"?

    A beautiful blue Newport!

    Enjoy!
    CBODY67
     
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  4. mrfury68

    mrfury68 Senior Member

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    What a great looking Newport. Ellwood Engle was quite the designer back in the day. The mid to late sixties and into the early '70s Mopars had his fingerprints all over them. He officially retired in'73 but stayed another year as a consultant. So one could say he had a hand in the design of the Formals too.
     
  5. 300L

    300L Member

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  6. ceebuddy

    ceebuddy Well-Known Member

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    The article in Collectible Autombile on Imperials can be found online here. The article on the fuselage Chryslers is in the October 2012 issue.
     
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  7. flared_fender

    flared_fender New Member

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    Here is an excerpt of the article on fuselage Chryslers mentioned above:

    Your next car: The Great New Chrysler. That was the claim on the cover of the impressively sized catalog for the marque’s all-new 1969 models. For more than 1 million Americans over the next five years, a Chrysler was their next car, one of the “fuselage” cars, so-called because of their aircraft-inspired body shells.

    Today, out of packaging necessity, nearly all cars employ a fuselage design with flush side glass; minimal offset of glass to body; windshield, backlight, and quarter windows attached with adhesives; and thin door sections. In 1969, though, this was all-new territory for American cars.

    By the mid Fifties, Chrysler, too, began to apply aircraft elements to its automobiles. In an analysis of a typical cross section through a car body, he observed that the side glass was flat and mostly upright, with a space-wasting bulge at the belt where glass met body, leading to a flat, thick lower door panel with little tuckunder at the sill. A typical section through an aircraft fuselage, however, was considerably different. The sidewalls curved up into the roof and down under the floor, with the window glass set flush with the sides. This design increased interior space efficiency while the smooth exterior surface allowed the plane to slip through the air with minimum wind resistance. Exner considered: Could this approach be applied to automotive design?

    He first tried the concept with the 1960 Valiant, where he managed to eliminate the bulge at the belt and obtain thinner doors. However, Exner was hampered by the Valiant’s lack of curved glass. He tried again with the original plan for the corporation's 1962 large cars, all of which would have had curved side glass. Ultimately, these designs were stillborn and the hastily downsized Plymouth and Dodge that were released instead (with flat side glass) failed in the marketplace, costing Exner his job.

    That was the apparent end of fuselage design at Chrysler. Elwood Engel, the new design vice president recruited from Ford, initiated an entirely different styling philosophy that emphasized the width and length of the package. Though curved side glass did at last arrive, the offset to the body at the belt was as distinct as anywhere in the industry. But a flicker of interest in fuselage design remained in Highland Park in the person of Cliff Voss.

    As Exner’s alter ego, Voss was disturbed by his departure in fall 1961 and eventually jumped ship to Ford Design in the mid Sixties. But Voss was a Chrysler man at heart and after a year or so away, he finagled a return. Back at Chrysler he was put in charge of an advanced studio with Alan Kornmiller as studio manager and a small staff of designers including Chet Limbaugh.

    “It was a small studio,” recalls Limbaugh, “with room for a single full-size clay, which we used to develop a package model for the 1969, or E-series, Chrysler. It was a four-door sedan, covered in pale blue Di-Noc, and code-named ‘La Scala’ As I remember, it was a really nice car well received by management.” So much so that there was serious talk of releasing La Scala as the production model. But there were problems.

    “The packaging model wasn't feasible,” says retired design chief Dave Cummins, who worked in the Chrysler/Imperial Exterior Studio at the time. “We had to redo it to make it work.”

    This reveals a nearly universal problem in the automotive industry. Designers in the production studio complain that the people in the packaging studio pay no attention to the vital “hard points” in developing their model, while the designers in the packaging studio complain that the production guys “lose” their design when making it feasible. In fact, all designers “cheat,” although this is less of a problem today with the discipline that computers have imposed. Back then, as the clay model was developed, wooden dowels the diameter of a dime would be driven into the clay at critical points to caution the stylists and clay modelers not to let the surface drop below that point. At the same time, the studio engineers would cover a 22-footlong movable board with myriad full sized “master sections” at critical points on the body. These sections would be examined, challenged, and revised continually as the designers and engineers haggled over what was truly feasible. The end result was a car that all agreed could be released for production.

    One the most important things both the packaging and production studios had to consider was what was “wrong” with the current car. The Engel Chryslers of 1965-68 were astonishingly successful, with production reaching a yearly average of more than 250,000 cars. However, one of the things that began to date these cars stylistically was the ratio of side glass to body height. Compared to the slinky Pontiac Bonnevilles, they suffered from tall side glass and high roofs that perched atop the body rather than being integrated into it. The designers would use the opportunity presented by the all-new 1969 C-bodies to change the glass-to-body ratio by raising the beltline to diminish the height of the side glass. There was another problem the stylists wanted to avoid. The 1967-68 Chryslers had concave body sides, which resulted in stamping difficulties and surface irregularities around the rear-wheel opening. As the wags said, “You didn’t want to buy a black one.” The stamping people were adamant that this problem be corrected on the 69 model.

    Meanwhile, Dick Macadam came on board as chief of the Chrysler/Imperial Exterior Studio. Formerly head of the Plymouth Studio, Macadam had to be brought up to speed on a product that was considerably more expensive in piece cost than the plebeian Plymouth. In hindsight, Cummins came to believe that the package got away from the design team as the 69 Chrysler evolved in the styling studio. It was a huge car: Wheelbase was advertised at 124 inches (123.5 inches in actuality); overall length was a whopping 224.7 inches, five inches longer than in ‘68; and overall width was 79.1 inches.

    “Chrysler product planning chief Bob Kushler insisted that the four-door sedan roof be higher than the four-door hardtop. The studio retorted that, if so, the rear overhang had to be increased to keep the car in proportion,” Cummins recalls of the unusual way the overall length was determined. “So, using thin Foam-Core cardboard, body-color Di-Noc film, and Mylar chrome tape, [Designer Don Wright and I] fabricated a full-size two-dimensional end-of-quarter-panel mock-up that we could stand against a full-size clay, moving it rearward incrementally to determine where the quarter panel should end to balance the design. And that set the length of the car.” One result of this was a 22.4-cubic-foot trunk that held eight suitcases, one more than in the 68's.

    While bigger on the outside, the car was, to its credit, significantly roomier on the inside. The side glass, with its tighter 43-inch radius, flowed into body side sheetmetal that was more curved, while the body-sill turn-under was greater than before. The increased curvature of the body side permitted the side window frames to move outward at their bases, resulting in shoulder room increases of 3.5 inches in the front seat and three inches in the rear seat. Hip room was increased six inches. The rear of four door sedans gained three inches of leg room and more knee room. Convertible tops were redesigned so that the top rails folded down behind the rear seat instead of beside the seat. This change increased shoulder room an impressive 10.6 inches and hip room 7.6 inches. The rear seat in the soft tops was now as wide as in two-door hardtops—58.8 inches—a significant improvement.

    The curved A-pillar plus the rounded corners of the windshield resulted in a smoother appearance and made the glass and roof structure appear more unified. Windshields and backlights were adhesively retained so that the glass was nearly flush with the sheetmetal. A polysulfide adhesive developed and supplied by Chrysler Corporation's own Chemical Division did the trick.

    The rainwater drip trough above the side glass was set flush with the roof surface. Concealed windshield wipers sported an articulated left-hand wiper with a wipe pattern 4.5 inches wider than in the ’68 cars. To further add to the sleek appearance, two-door hardtops with air conditioning featured side-window glass sans the customary vent window.

    “I hated that two-door hardtop roof,” recalls Cummins. “It was developed in the Dodge Exterior Studio for use on the new 1969 C-bodies and we in the Chrysler Studio were told to use it. The problem was the way the surface of the C-pillars intersected the ‘Dutchman panel’ below the backlight, necessitating the use of left and right trailing widow peaks in the vinyl-roof touchdown molding. The problem was corrected when we got a new two-door hardtop roof [designed by Jack Crain] with the ’72-’73 facelift and we could finally create a smoothly sweeping touchdown molding that looked good in all views.”

    Corporate management had allotted $131.2 million to tool the 1969 Plymouth / Dodge/Chrysler/Imperial lineup, $35.4 million of which was for tooling parts unique to the Chrysler brand. Cummins remembers the day they were about to have a studio review of styling sketches done for the body side competition. Before the review got under way, Engel unexpectedly popped into the studio, spied a sketch that he liked, and told Cummins, “That's your 69 Chrysler!” The instant winner was a simple line drawing penned by Bill Wayland. As realized in the clay model, the sheer, chaste side surface was relieved by a broad chamfer directly off the belt that ran from the tip of the front fender to the C-pillar. Running the full length of the lower body was a small undercut that provided set point for various molding treatments. The wheel openings had no accent flares. “We couldn't,” says Cummins. “The super-wide body and the narrow track already made the wheels look buried without adding flares.” For 1970, the rear track was widened 1.3 inches to help alleviate the problem.

    Up front, a bold chrome loop bumper encompassed the grille and headlights. This was a big deal. In early 1967, Pontiac introduced its Firebird “ponycar” with an innovative loop bumper that essentially was the front end of the car. When the ‘68 GTO bowed with its body-color “Endura” nose, the bumper was literally hidden in plain sight. It was a styling innovation that promised designers new freedom in shaping front ends. Though loop bumpers generally cost more (you throw away the metal in the middle), Cummins and the cost estimators found that the loop design wouldn't cost much more than the conventional front bumper on the ’68 Chrysler. However, when mocking up the ’69 front end, it was discovered that vinyl fillers— at a cost of $5.50 a car—would be required to hide an unsightly gap between the bumper and the hood and fenders. “Product Planning swallowed hard at the extra cost,” recalls Cummins, “but in the end they came aboard.” On the broad, planar hood, the customary center windsplit was replaced with a shallow trough about a foot wide, the sides of which ran to the back of the hood. A portion of the bumper was “spanked down” the same width of the hood trough, a nice touch.
     
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  8. Trace 300 Hurst

    Trace 300 Hurst Professional Tinkerer FCBO Gold Member

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    Great thread, fellas!
     
  9. 70_NPORT

    70_NPORT Well-Known Member

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    Fuselage cars. Chrysler's atonement for the fin and gun site era.
     
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  10. 71newport

    71newport Member

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    I want to thank all who have contributed. It's been quite educational.
     
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  11. PeugFra

    PeugFra Well-Known Member

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    Undoubtedly true, but I would like to know whether at the time the restyled GM B-bodies appeared (Fall 1970) it was noted in reviews or openly said by GM people that they had taken a close look at the 1969 Fusies.
     
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  12. saforwardlook

    saforwardlook Old Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    Atonement???

    Both themes were excellent!! If you don't like Forward Look cars there is something wrong with you.

    But fuselage cars are just extrodinarily designed too.
     
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  13. CBODY67

    CBODY67 Old Man with a Hat

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    In some respects, GM had already started to curve the side-car body contours of some of their B, A, and F platforms, but it was Chrysler that completed the deal with the side glass orientations and such, a full model year ahead of the 1970 Camaro/Firebird cars. Which GM had adopted by the 1972 models.

    To me, some OTHER issues with the Fuselage design for Chrysler included that under hood accessibility took a big hit, with the higher fender lines and such. Which made them more GM-like in such things, when compared to the '65-'68 C-body cars.

    We'd bought the '66 CL42 when the new '67s came out. Before the 1969 Chryslers were introduced, we got a packet of the "Your Next Car" art-quality prints of the 1969 Chryslers. I was impressed! I could picture them in their frames, with a small horizontal light illuminating them on a museum wall. Still have them in the original shipping envelope. Great memories!

    CBODY67
     
  14. 70_NPORT

    70_NPORT Well-Known Member

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    Nah, nothing wrong with me. Believe what you want, I see cars from that era as incredible ugly. Case in point: ridiculous fins, gunsight brake lamps, eyebrows, leering radiator grills and a boat load of other "style simply for the sake of style" garbage tacked on JUST to sell the object. Ya, ol' Virgil went full tilt. Yes, I like to think of fuselage cars as ChryCo's atonement for a drunken era of repugnant full throttle indulgence. Hey, its all good.....the best way to learn comes from making mistakes.
     
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  15. rapidtrans

    rapidtrans Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    They built what people wanted. Good business practice usually. In the 50s people wanted bigger cars and the more chrome the better. They would have laughed at a Camry or Juke.
     
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  16. 70_NPORT

    70_NPORT Well-Known Member

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    Do not underestimate the power of sophisticated marketing practices. Yes, the methods of that time may seem rudimentary to 21st century sensibilities, but waaaay back in those days it didn't take much for the automobile marketing dept's to generate the desire.

    PS. I not an advocate for/of toyota camrys or jukes or whatever that is.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  17. PeugFra

    PeugFra Well-Known Member

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    Jukes are yikes!

    On a more serious note, when I saw a street scene in a provincial town in an early 1960s movie, there were some strange monsters slowly moving around in the background. Taking a closer look, they turned out to be finned cars.
     
  18. saforwardlook

    saforwardlook Old Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    All I know for sure is that GM and Ford couldn't catch up fast enough and those finned monsters sold well. And doing something different for a change is welcome for those of us who don't rebel at change if it is fresh and new in terms of car styling.
     
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  19. rapidtrans

    rapidtrans Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    GM stylists shit their pants when they spied that Lynch Rd. lot full of the new 57 mopars. Took them two years to get new full size models out.
     
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  20. saforwardlook

    saforwardlook Old Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    and none of the wannabes came close to the talent of Virgil Exner.....................................

    300C #1 (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1).jpg
     
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