The 1967 Dodge Deora concept was closely based on the Dodge A-100 pickup truck, a popular and quirky-looking light pickup. The Deora boosted the slant six’s power by using an Offenhauser intake manifold with dual carburetors. It kept the three-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel drum brakes, solid front and rear axles, and 90 inch wheelbase.
The exterior was completely reworked, though it is still somewhat recognizable as a Dodge A-100, with a 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.
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.
The name Deora came from a naming contest for the plastic model kit. It was leased by Chrysler for two years and shown in corporate displays at 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; it was sold to its current owners in 2009.
On the 1960s, such niceties as a heater and passenger seat were still sometimes optional in trucks, but Dodge had 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, while classy looking, was hardly a practical approach. It had to be done mainly because entry and exit involved pivoting the front metal; for the same reason, the steering wheel was on a swing arm, so it could be moved out of the way.
The tail lights, according to Nick Taylor, pointed down; the driver saw them reflected 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.
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