Influential Designs by Virgil Exner and Virgil Exner, Jr.

From Virgil Exner, Jr., 89

Attached are just a very few of “Wedge” influencing designs from before 1960 that my father and I were responsible for. Of course, he was known as “The Father of The Fin.”

  1. Many thanks for your time and presentation of your father’s legendary work at Chrysler. Surely the basis for a book, I hope.

    Would like to know more about the man: other designs, work at other companies, how he navigated company political intrigues to achieve such singular designs.

    Tell me more.

  2. Norman Gaines

    What great classic tail-fin work. The Simca needs someone standing next so you can see its perspective though: it’s small. The FireSweeps, though, wow. And the Diablo is up there near the top of the Driveable Idea Cars list, without a doubt.

  3. Virgil Exner, Jr.

    See book: “Virgil Exner Visioneer” by Peter Grist, Veloce Publishing, (2007) 175 pages, hundreds of pics. Covers works for G.M, Studebaker, Chrysler, Ghia Show Cars, Production Cars, Duesenberg, Stutz, Race Cars, Etc. Automotive Hall of Fame.

    V. Exner Jr.: Studebaker (Lark), Simca Show car. Ghia: Fiats, Volvo, Karmann Ghias, Renaults, etc. Ford 1967 to 1988, Retired Design Executive. ’70 Ford T/Bird, first Ford Maverick, first Ford Pinto. First Ford Fiesta (Ford of Europe ’69/’75), Short Stint in Advanced Interiors. ’79 Crown Vic and ’80 T/Bird exteriors. Aerodynamic testing.
    Head of Aero Heavy Truck Program. Ran Ford Design’s first Computer Design Studio.

  4. Jon Albert

    Brilliant Exner designs? Absolutely. All ‘wedges’? Most of them yes, but technically, the profiles of the Studebaker sports car concept and the Chrysler Special, while gorgeous examples of Mr. Exner’s talent, can’t be considered ‘wedge’ design by any stretch of the imagination. A wedge profile has a distinct upward progression from front to rear, which many of the examples shown possess by virtue of the inclination of the fins. The Flite Sweeps arguably aren’t either, by virtue of the fact that they appear to have a higher front fender than rear fin in the views shown. Great retrospective of his work though.

  5. John Houlihan

    Virgil, great work especially considering the time these designs were completed. Speaking for myself, I recall when Chrysler introduced the “Forward Look” models, especially the ‘57 DeSoto with the breathtaking fin that swept and leaned to the rear starting at the base of the recurved “A” pillar, I was stunned at the futuristic look and feel of the design. I felt the future had arrived for real, Even at 13 years old! Thanks for posting.

  6. David McIntosh

    I was never able to see in person these wonderful cars until the Diablo was shown in Detroit in recent years. I also saw a Special on the road in France 1961 on a college trip-what a sighting!!! and at the Eyes on Design Concours. I was stunned as a teenager when the 1957 Chrysler line came out. I agree with Houlihan that the Desoto was the best, with a gorgeous grille. I also liked the earlier Ghia show cars, like the one that inspired the Karman-Ghia VW. Such great work. Thanks

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