I’ve seen thousands of cars at various car shows over the years but I still have a list of classics I’d like to see in person.
The first one is a 1941 Chrysler Royal. If you’re a hardcore Mopar guy you’ll know about cars like a 1970 AAR Cuda and you’ll probably see them as rare, but a ’41 Chrysler Royal is far less likely to be a guest at your local car show.
They made just over 57,000 Chrysler Royals (Sedans and Club Coupes) in ’41 but very few survive in 2020. You won’t see a row of them at any Mopar show like you would a ’68 Charger but that’s what makes them so appealing. They’re like the Yeti of post-war cars.
The second car is the Tucker ‘48. Movie buffs know about this car thanks to the movie, but I knew about it long before Hollywood discovered it.
If you didn’t see the movie, you won’t know that the 1948 Tucker was a very low-production, high-tech car built by an independent maverick named Preston Tucker. They only made 51 Tuckers and each one is currently worth more than the GDP of Puerto Rico so I probably won’t see one at the local weekly drop-in show.
The third car is the Muntz Jet. They built 198 of them from 1949 to 1954 – they were built by Earl “Madman” Muntz and the Jets were an accountant’s nightmare.
Madman lost money on every Jet he produced but they were ultra-cool, Cadillac or Lincoln-powered sports cars. I like the cutting-edge style and technology behind the Jets, but I really like Muntz’s riverboat gambler, free enterprise attitude – that’s what makes them so appealing to me.
The fourth car is the ’61 DeSoto. You could successfully argue a case for ‘least attractive car of 1961’ status but the 1961 DeSoto represented an ending on many levels.
DeSoto had a run from 1928 to 1961 so it was much more than a flash in the pan name – it was a major piece of 20th Century automotive folklore. The DeSoto was also part of the last run for Exner fin cars. I call that a double-header for me and a big reason why I need to see a ’61 DeSoto in person.
The fifth car is the Chrysler Turbine Car. They first plunked the turbine into a 1954 Plymouth but the Chrysler Turbine Car really defined the look for this futuristic power plant.
The Ghia-designed, Chrysler Turbine Car really defined the 60s look even though they never hit the showroom floors. The car looked like it was rocket-powered and the powerplant under the hood wasn’t too far off the mark in the space age known as the 1960s.
Chrysler only built 55 Turbine Cars so I likely won’t see one at the local Mopar show but a road trip to a museum (or Leno’s garage) isn’t out of the question. It might be one-stop shopping for all five of the cars in this list.
Leno probably owns them all.
By: Jerry Sutherland
Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.
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