Built as an experiment and a study of forward styling, the K-310 car was entirely designed and styled in Detroit by the Engineering Division of Chrysler Corporation.
Styling, design and development of this car occupied well over 2-1/2 years. The art renderings displayed with the car represented a few of many styling ideas considered in the early designing stages. Each of these design sketches was carefully analyzed for its good points and finally the master final design sketches were made.
Following normal styling procedure, this car was then made up as a three dimensional clay model in the 3/8 size usually chosen for automotive styles because it is large enough to show the perspective of the lines, yet small enough that it can be easily reworked. Again, the clay model was thoroughly analyzed and changes were made to provide the desired styling effects. After the model styling was approved, a 3/8 size plaster model was made.
The plaster model of the final design was shipped along with chassis parts, engine, etc. to Turin, Italy, where the Ghia Company, one of the foremost custom body builders in the European continent, translated the lines of the plaster model into the finished car. The body of the car was completely hand-built. This was done by taking templates from the plaster mode, blowing them up in scale to full size, and then shaping the sheet metal by hand over wood hammer forms built from the full size templates. When the body was finished and trimmed it was mounted on the chassis and the car was shipped to this country, arriving here November 2, 1951. The metal work was done in Italy because defense work was occupying local shops, and because secrecy could be best preserved in this way.
The car was built on a 125-1/2 inch wheelbase frame, which was specially designed to accommodate the boy mountings and such chassis components as the Crown Imperial disc brakes, Fluid-Torque Drive transmission, etc.
The wire spoke design wheels of large diameter were selected for both safety and styling reasons. Because of improved air flow through the open construction of this wheel, much better brake cooling was provided and, therefore, braking effectiveness was improved. With large diameter wheels, a lower over-all appearance of the car was achieved, further emphasizing the long, low lines.
The over-all styling of the K-310 was characterized by its small grille, closely centered about the car centerline, graceful hood line matched by the elegant sweep of the deck lid, and the two-tone effect which integrated the upper and lower structure giving the illusion of still greater length and even less height. As a matter of interest, the over-all length of this car was 220-1/2 inches and its over-all height was only 59 inches. In spite of its low appearance, it should be noted that the road clearance was approximately 7-3/4 inches, which was comparable to that of production models of the day. The car weight was approximately that of a Chrysler Imperial Newport.
A companion engine for the car was the K-310, a forward development from the standard 180-horsepower FirePower V-8 engine in production Chrysler models.
The experimental K-310 engine had the same cylinder block, same bore, the same stroke, and the same cylinder head as the production 180-horsepower FirePower engine. Valve timing was altered, four carburetors mounted in place of the one dual carburetor normally used on the production engine, and an extra coil added to the ignition system. Larger valves with accompanying larger streamlined valve ports and new freer-breathing intake and exhaust manifolds were installed. Because of the larger diameter valves and a slight increase in piston height, the compression ratio of the K-310 engine was 8.1:1, as compared to the 7.5:1 compression ration of the production FirePower engine. All of this power increase was accomplished without supercharging.
There were a number of interesting styling features in the K-310 car. One instance is the use of flush door handles. When the thumb was pushed against the knob at the rear of the latch, the handle pivoted out so that fingers could grip it and pull open the door. A further example is the type of seat arrangement for the front seat occupants, which was unique in that the seat back of the K-310 was divided off center, with the result that the driver and center passenger need not be disturbed when someone wanted to enter or leave the rear seat. In addition, the front seat was built so that as either section of the seat back tilted forward, the corresponding section of the seat back also slid forward to provide more convenient access to the rear seat.
(Information from contemporary Chrysler Corporation accounts.)
Concept cars are often made so a car’s feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials — either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what’s being tested. Some are created to help designers think “out of the box.” The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.
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