The 1958 Plymouth Tornado Concept Car Has Been Found And Restored
The dawn of the jet age in the 1950s had a dramatic effect on the American people and designers of the time. Jets were symbolic of the new modern age of speed, aerodynamics, miracle materials and advanced engineering. Our clothes, homes, workplace and cities all reflected these new modern concepts and approaches, but perhaps nowhere was this influence more apparent than in the auto industry.
The Plymouth Tornado concept was originally painted gray and designed on the frame of a 1958 Plymouth Fury. It was displayed in 1958 auto shows across the country, along with the Army’s Redstone missile produced by Chrysler Corporation.
The Plymouth Tornado concept incorporated some of those missile styling cues such as the large tail wing, twin rocket-like exhaust, dual head fairings and an aircraft nose. As a symbol of future American design, innovation and style, the Tornado was a sneak peek of what the ultimate jet-powered or turbine-engine cars of the next decade would look like.
In 1964, the Plymouth Tornado took second place for Radical Custom Design at the Sabers’ Auto Show in Denver and was featured in Car Craft Magazine. Over the next decade, little is known of its history until 1974 when a Utah-based sports figure purchased the Plymouth Tornado, plated it and drove it for the next two years. Following his death and the passing of his wife, the vehicle was forgotten and left outside in a field for the next 28 years at the late owner’s home. Eventually, a nearby neighbor became aware of this unique automobile and, suspecting its historical importance, began contacting collectors and potential buyers. In 2004, the Tornado was sold to a veteran Hollywood director and collector car enthusiast.
After sitting outside for nearly three decades, the Plymouth Tornado had hornet nests in the seats and mice living in the manifolds and hoses. Further investigation proved a long and very extensive restoration was necessary and the Hollywood director decided to put the Tornado back up for sale. A new owner and car aficionado was found who was willing to tackle the restoration.
The arduous task of returning the Plymouth Tornado to its former show glory was assigned to Moses Lunden. Lunden, a Chrysler-Plymouth authority who has authored more than 20 books on the company and its many collectible models, set out to complete a ground up, frame-off restoration with no aftermarket parts being used.
Since every nut and bolt used in the restoration was original equipment, there would naturally be no compromises when it came to the drivetrain. The original Chrysler 290hp, 318 cubic inch V8 was completely rebuilt along with the period perfect push-button automatic transmission.
Other beautifully refinished features on the Plymouth Tornado include an aircraft-style steering wheel, tuck-and-roll upholstery on the dashboard, Plymouth Red burgundy upholstery, custom-made windows, an additional louvered hood and a removable hardtop for open air or closed comfort touring.
Painstakingly restored to original specifications, other than changing the exterior color to a dazzling red and adding a set of aftermarket chrome wheels, this unique piece of Chrysler history is ready to roll at the turn of the key. With its great panache, the Plymouth Tornado would be a crowning jewel in any Chrysler enthusiast’s collection of historically important cars.