Many great American automobile brands have been buried in the past decade or so. Pontiac, Mercury, and Oldsmobile are but a few great nameplates that have gone out to pasture. But it was Plymouth, which was shuttered in 2001, that really heralded the beginning of the end for large, sprawling car companies with too many nameplates.
It’s a real shame too, because Plymouth was once seen as a cutting edge innovator with products like the Slingshot concept and Prowler, which heralded in a new age of retro design. Speaking of concepts and retro design, Hemmings Auto Blog reports that the 1960 Plymouth XNR concept, penned by Virgil Exner Sr., will be heading to auction next month.
Exner’s Plymouth XNR looks a lot like Speed Racer’s Mach 5 race car, and for good reason. It was designed and built as a driver-centric vehicle, and though it could carry two people, it was primarly designed as a one-person sports car straight out of the jet age. A slant-six engine built to NASCAR specifications and an aerodynamic nose allowed for a top speed of 152 mph. And that isn’t even the amazing part of this concept’s story.
After completing the show circuit, Chrysler shipped the XNR back to Ghia, who actually built the vehicle, who later sold it to a Swiss businessman. The XNR changed hands several times and for a time was owned by the Shah of Iran. Karim Edde, a resident of Lebanon, became the owner of the XNR just in time for Lebanon’s awful 15-year civil war. The XNR was moved several times to avoid destruction, and amazingly it survived, though it needed some restoration. Now it is as clean as ever, and ready to hit the auction circuit.
The Plymouth XNR Concept will go for sale at RM’s Monterey Auction next month, and nobody is sure how much it will sell for. Since it’s such a cool concept with a rich and amazing history though, the sky’s the limit on this one-off ride.