My Car Quest

July 22, 2019

Forgotten Design Trends: The Dual Cowl Phaeton

by Wallace Wyss –

I think it’s a neglected configuration. Which should, I say, be brought back, if only to have more cards in our deck so to speak.

I mean it’s so American to have parades with beautiful girls sitting on the convertible top boot or maybe a four star General standing and taking a bow for, say, winning WWII, or an astronaut for dancing on the moon.

I am not sure how the convertible tops worked though. I could see either one big one covering both seating areas or two little ones but maybe the parade cars didn’t have tops. You just prayed for good weather. (I did find one of a ’50s dual cowl Chrysler with a top for the important people in the rear cockpit)

Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton

Yes, there was a rudimentary top for the important folks on this ’52 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton

In the 1950s, Chrysler built three of these baddies, each 20 feet long and supposedly designed by Chrysler but methinks Ghia was involved.

Among the celebrities that rode in them were President Eisenhower, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, the King and Queen of Greece and assorted politicians.

Dual Cowl Chrysler

Especially bad PR would be to have your driver dressed as a chauffeur.

Now would this body style go over with civilians? I say “yes” for creating a sense of grandeur for the rear seat passengers.

I saw that Cadillac made a show dual cowl on one the Cimarron chassis (remember the Cimarron—most people tried to forget it like the Aztek…)

But that was way too small a car. It’s gotta be big like 20 feet long. Sort of the automotive equivalent of the USS Missouri.

Chrysler Dual Cowl

I can’t see a Ghia badge but this dual cowl looks like the ’52 updated

Now Larry Shinoda, the famous one time Ford designer who did the Boss 302 (and before that, at GM, the Stingray) did a dual cowl for Ford on the Continental Mk. III chassis and I like it, it emphasizes the size of the car. He even made it four inches longer at the nose. (Secretary send memo: Is this car still in Ford’s basement?)

Ford Lincoln Dual Cowl

Shinoda, a former hot rodder, did it right, except it was topless, alas.

One of the most recent by an American company is one that Chrysler did a few years ago. What a great place to show it–on the dream car lawn at Pebble Beach. Because that stretch of turf is where a lot of designs are first shown, and there’s people in the crowd noting crowd reaction. Apparently there were no “huzzahs” so the car disappeared.

Chrysler Dual Cowl

Yes on the dream car lawn at Pebble Beach. Except for the toothy grille I like it with its ’50s Ferrari-ish headlamps

Chrysler Dual Cowl

Chrysler can’t shake its past. They did do a dual cowl concept in recent times.

I like the design except for the excessively “toothy” grille. And it looks like they didn’t attempt to solve the top problem. But I fear that this style will never come back to American cars as a production model for two reasons:

1. Politically incorrect because it walls off the chauffeur and signifies he will never, under any circumstances, mix with the chauffeured passengers and we in America like to perpetuate the myth that there are no social classes.

2. Politicians are a little wary of riding in open cars. Even the Pope has a plastic roof. You might invite brickbats.

And so it is. A great body style, one synonymous with American heroes, is forever denied a return to our showrooms…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is co-host of KUCR-FM‘s Autotalk radio show, broadcast weekly out of Riverside, CA. Say hello to him at his Art & Books booth at Concorso Italiano in Monterey.

 
 
 

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Chrysler dual cowl by LeBaron

The ’41 Chrysler dual cowl by LeBaron. Started before WWII…

Summary
Forgotten Design Trends: The Dual Cowl Phaeton
Article Name
Forgotten Design Trends: The Dual Cowl Phaeton
Description
I mean it’s so American to have parades with beautiful girls sitting on the convertible top boot or maybe a four star General standing and taking a bow for, say, winning WWII, or an astronaut for dancing on the moon.
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Comments

  1. Richard Bartholomew says

    I didn’t even know you were writing this story Wally but at the same time I was creating this from a Buick. I figured it would have to be amphibious like a large dual cowl Amphicar.

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