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 Post subject: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:06 pm 
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Virgil Max "Ex" Exner, Sr. was an automobile designer for numerous American companies, notably Chrysler and Studebaker. He is known for his "Forward Look" design on the 1955 through 1961 Chrysler products and his fondness of fins on cars for both aesthetic and aerodynamic reasons.

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Virgil Exner was adopted by George W. and Iva Exner as a baby. Virgil showed a strong interest in art and automobiles. He studied art at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana but, in 1928, dropped out after two years due to lack of funds. He then took a job as a helper at an art studio specializing in advertising. In 1931 he married Mildred Marie Eshleman, who also worked for the studio and, on April 17, 1933, they had their first child, Virgil Exner Jr. By that time Exner Sr. had been promoted to drawing advertisements for Studebaker trucks. They had a second son in 1940, Brian, who tragically died of injuries after falling from a window.

His first work in design was for General Motors, where he was hired by GM styling czar Harley Earl. Before age 30, he was in charge of Pontiac styling.

In 1938 he joined Raymond Loewy's industrial design firm Loewy and Associates, where he worked on World War II military vehicles and cars, notably Studebaker's 1939-40 models, and advance plans for their revolutionary post-war cars. "But working on Studebaker designs. . . Exner struggled to get the attention of his boss, who had to sign off on every facet of the designs. Exner was encouraged by Roy Cole, Studebaker’s engineering vice president, to work on his own at home on backup designs in case the company’s touchy relationship with Loewy blew up".

In 1944, he was fired by Loewy and was hired directly by Studebaker in South Bend, Indiana. There he was involved in the design of some of the first cars to be produced after World War II (Studebaker's slogan during this period was "First by far with a post war car"). As acknowledged by Robert Bourke , Virgil was the final designer of the acclaimed 1947 Studebaker Starlight coupe, though Raymond Loewy received the public acknowledgment because his legendary name was a major advertising attraction. Exner is actually listed as sole inventor on the design patent. Rivalry and bad feeling between the two resulted in Exner having to leave Studebaker, whose engineering chief Roy Cole provided personal introductions for him to Ford and Chrysler.

In 1949, Exner started working in Chrysler's Advanced Styling Group, where he partnered with Cliff Voss and Maury Baldwin. There he also worked with Luigi "Gigi" Segre, of Italian car company Carrozzeria Ghia S.p.A. The men created a strong personal bond, which helped link the companies closely throughout the 1950s. The alliance produced the Chrysler Ghia designs, such as the 1952 Chrysler K-310, as well as the Chrysler d'Elegance and DeSoto Adventurer.

When Exner joined Chrysler, the car's body was fashioned by engineers instead of designers — leading to what many thought were old-fashioned, boxy designs on Chryslers of the 1940s and early 50s. Exner fought to change this structuring, and got control over the design process, including the clay prototypes and the die models used to create production tooling. Here he created the Dodge Firearrow concept, constructed by Ghia.

Inspired by the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, GM's Harley Earl incorporated small "fins" on the rear fenders of the 1948 Cadillac models. Exner saw the design detail (also being experimented with by some Italian manufacturers) and made it his own by enlarging the fins and making them a more prominent feature. Exner believed in the aerodynamic benefits of the fins and even used wind tunnel testing at the University of Michigan – but he also liked their visual effects on the car. They were showcased on the first cars designed under his full supervision for sale: the 1955 Chrysler 300 series, and the Imperial. The 1957 Imperial also featured compound curved glass, the first to be used in a production car.
Exner's 1957 Chrysler 300C had a lasting impact on car styling in Detroit

These fin designs also premiered his "Forward Look." In the late 1940s, Chrysler had been behind the times in terms of styling with what were considered tall, boxy cars. Exner lowered the roofline and made the cars sleeker, smoother and more aggressive. With a long hood and short deck, the wedgelike designs of the 300 series and revised 1957 models suddenly brought Chrysler to the forefront of design, with Ford and General Motors quickly working to catch up. Advertising campaigns for the 1957 model year sang that "Suddenly, it's 1960!" In June of that year Exner and his team were awarded the Industrial Designers' Institute's Gold Medal Award.

In 1956, during the design of the 1961 models, Exner had a heart attack. He resumed work in 1957, working on the designs for the 1962 cars. On July 25, 1957 Exner was elected the first Vice President of Styling at Chrysler. Unfortunately, a rumor that GM was reducing the size of their cars caused the President of Chrysler to order Exner to do the same to his 1962 design — a change Exner disagreed with, thinking it would make his cars "ugly." This change, coupled with build quality problems, reduced the cars' appeal and caused a significant drop in sales. It turned out that the rumor was false and consumers disliked the smaller Plymouth and Dodge cars introduced for 1962, the styling of which was bizarre compared to more sedate Ford and GM products. Needing a scapegoat, Chrysler brass fired Exner. He was allowed to retain a position as a consultant so he could retire with pension at age 55. He was replaced by Elwood Engel, who had been lured from Ford. Engel was highly regarded for his design of the classic 1961 Lincoln Continental.

Fins soon lost popularity. By the late 1950s, Cadillac and Chrysler had escalated the size of fins till some thought they were stylistically questionable and they became a symbol of American excess in the early '60s. The 1961 models are considered the last of the "Forward Look" designs; Exner later referred to the finless 1962 full-size Chrysler and Imperial models as "plucked chickens".

Exner continued consulting for many car companies from his office in Birmingham, Michigan. He also teamed up with his son, Virgil Exner Jr., designing watercraft for Buehler Corporation. In 1963, he designed a series of "Revival Cars" with production plans. His revival of Duesenberg failed, but he was instrumental in the revival of Stutz in the 1970s.

Exner Sr. died on December 22, 1973 at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.

COACHBUILD.COM ENCYCLOPEDIA: http://www.coachbuild.com/2/index.php/encyclopedia/designers/item/exner-virgil

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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:26 pm 
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Article about the Exner Mercer Cobra: http://www.coachbuild.com/index.php?opt ... 8&Itemid=1


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Exner_Mercer_Cobra_Drawing.jpg
Exner_Mercer_Cobra_Drawing.jpg [ 80.98 KiB | Viewed 4199 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:30 pm 
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Exner Ghia Bugatti T101C gallery: http://www.coachbuild.com/index.php?opt ... emId=15650

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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 1:23 pm 
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Exner Juniors awesome Simca 8-)


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1959 Exner Special simcabased.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:40 pm 
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and jr. did the floride or caravelle?
http://www.imperialclub.com/Articles/Ex ... n%26sa%3DG
my favourite x-car:


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virgil exner de soto  copy.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:44 am 
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1961 Asymmetrica Plymouth or Chrysler?


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1961 Chrysler Asymmetrica Concept Car, built by Ghia, designed by Virgil Exner Frt Qtr BW.jpg
1961 Chrysler Asymmetrica Concept Car, built by Ghia, designed by Virgil Exner Frt Qtr BW.jpg [ 98.18 KiB | Viewed 4014 times ]
1961Plymouth-Ghia-Asimmetrica-Concept.jpg
1961Plymouth-Ghia-Asimmetrica-Concept.jpg [ 67.6 KiB | Viewed 4123 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:33 pm 
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AYMAMI wrote:
1961 Asymmetrica Plymouth or Chrysler?


According to one of my sources, this asymmetrica is the 1962 'Chrysler XNR' and was based on a Chrysler Falcon.
It was bought by the Belgian author Georges Simenon, famous for his 'Inspector Maigret' books and for cleaming that he slept with 10.000 different women.

This is the Plymouth XNR:

Image
Image
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 12:31 pm 
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I've just find these pics. Fine car.


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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 7:02 pm 
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XNR and Asymetrica are two different cars ; the XNR was sold to a swiss customer who -perhaps - sold it to the Shah of Iran ; then it was seen in Kuwait.


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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2009 6:15 am 
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The XNR from a magazine cover


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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:41 pm 
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zTpJtn0RWY

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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:09 am 
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Every once in a while Virgil Exner Jr. still picks up his pencil, or in this case grabs his mouse, to design something new.
Some time ago he sent me this concept for an electrically driven Studebaker.


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Exner_Studebaker_Dartabout_01.jpg [ 513.08 KiB | Viewed 3603 times ]
Exner_Studebaker_Dartabout_02.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:12 pm 
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Very nice document :good: Thanks for share ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:21 pm 
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AYMAMI wrote:
Very nice document :good: Thanks for share ;)

You're welcome. The design was made for the new Studebaker Design Contest: http://www.coachbuild.com/index.php?opt ... 6&Itemid=1
Virgil Exner Jr. is one of the judges.

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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:27 pm 
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Interview with Exner Jr. http://www.imperialclub.com/Articles/Exner/Jr/

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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:37 pm 
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Another great article: http://vwlarry.blogspot.com/2009/05/gre ... rry-l.html

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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:55 pm 
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This car is at RM, it was one of the next assigned cars for us coachbuilders, all in primer and hand built. . .

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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:34 pm 
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Yes, I know, it's only an ordinary serial car
but 1. I love the car and the design
and 2. it was Virgil Exner's last job for Chrysler.
In 1961 the time was gone for tail fins. Virgil Exner said good bye to Chrysler and Chrysler said good bye to the tail fins.
In 1962 the fins were cut off.
The pics are showing my '61 Chrysler Newport before restored. When I saw the car the first time, my first thought was: I must have it ! Two weeks later I've had it !

Greets
Tommy


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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:59 pm 
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Mårten wrote:
Exner Juniors awesome Simca 8-)


front view


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 Post subject: Re: Virgil Exner Sr. & Jr.
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:22 am 
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Virgil Exner Jr. in undated photo.


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