1967 Dodge Deora Concept Car
The 1967 Dodge Deora concept was closely based on the Dodge A-100 pickup truck, a popular and quirky-looking light pickup that would end production when the B-vans were launched in 1971. The Deora kept the A-100’s slant six engine, boosting power by using an Offenhauser intake manifold that supported dual carburetors, though the setup is tame in comparison to Chrysler’s older Hyper-Pak setup (it is believed to have roughly the same power as the 225 slant six). The van had a three-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel drum brakes, and solid front and rear axles supported by semi-elliptic leaf springs. It rode on a 90 inch wheelbase.
While the exterior was completely reworked, it is still somewhat recognizable as a Dodge A-100, but it had a more modern and racier look, pointed like an arrow to the road ahead. The Deora was conceived and built by Detroit’s Alexander brothers (Mike and Larry), with a high level of workmanship throughout (which is evident in the photos.) Design work was done on commission by GM’s Harry Bentley Bradley.
The car won the Ridler Award at the 1967 Autorama, and was the prototype for a Hot Wheels car and a model kit. The car was sold to its current owners in 2009.
To build the Deora, the Alexander brothers moved the powertrain 15 inches towards the rear, putting it into the bed where it was concealed by the hard tonneau cover. There were no doors; the driver and passenger lifted up the windshield (taken from the rear hatch of a 1960 station wagon) and swivelled the front metal to provide clearance. Cleaning the interior was likely much easier than in conventional pickups.
The name Deora came from a naming contest for the plastic model kit. It was leased by Chrysler for two years and shown in the corporate displays, across the country, at various car shows. Al Davis bought it from Chrysler and put it into storage until 1998, when he asked Bradley, the original designer, to help restore it. The car’s post-restoration debut was at the 2002 Detroit Autorama.
The interior is unusual for a truck in the 1960s, when such niceties as a heater and passenger seat were still sometimes optional. However, Chrysler started an early push to make pickups into personal vehicles, from the 1957 “car-like” styling of the Sweptsides to the “adult toys” of the mid-1970s. The Deora fit right in, with its tasteful Stewart Warner gauges in woodgrain pods on the left side of the driver and in the center console (which held the tachometer and speedometer).
Putting the gauges to the left and right of the driver, which while classy looking was hardly a practical approach, was done mainly because entry and exit was done by pivoting the front metal, which would have made wiring and cabling rather difficult. For the same reason, the steering wheel was on a swing arm, so it could be moved out of the way. That said, the car did have a power opening windshield.
The were, according to Nick Taylor, mounted vertically, pointing down, and reflect in a solid metal panel. The panel that holds the lights has tiny holes for them to shine through, but you can’t see that without looking from underneath.
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.