It is a tremendously amazing car which was born during the era of inter-planetary travel, rocket ships, and outer space fixation in the US. It was a time when automakers desperately tried to envision of the future of the automobile and what design direction and technology would be used. As such, the cars were very futuristic and in many cases unrealistic.
Chrysler's belief in showcasing such concept cars was to impress and to 'test the waters' to determine what features might appeal to the widest audience. The list of Chrysler concepts (also known as idea cars or teasers), up to this point in history, included the Thunderbolt, Adventurer, Falcon, and Fire Arrow.
The history of the Chrysler Diablo dates back to the mid-1950s. In 1956 it was unveiled as the Dart from Chrysler. After it's 1956 tour was complete, it was returned to Ghia where a convertible soft top replaced the original hardtop. The engine was tweaked and the suspension was improved. It returned with a new name, the Dart II, and it was shown during the 1957 season, though with limited exposure. It was painted in Italiano Red and shown at a number of European venues.
Near the end of the summer in 1957, the car returned to Ghia, where it was again given updates. This time, the modifications were more significant with several significant body features re-worked. It emerged from the Ghia bodyshops and was sent to the US were it would spend a round on the show circuit. It the 1957 incarnation, the car wore the name 'Diablo.'
In the rear was well proportioned with fins that were in sync with the rest of the car. It gave the sensation of an aeroplane meant for the ground. It was a realistic concept that was clean, smooth, and well designed that could easily have been transformed into regular production. The front featured a multi-curved windshield and an alluring grille design. The chassis was a wheelbase of 129-inches with a total mammoth length of 218-inches. Under the hood is a Hemi V8 engine with a pair of four-barrel carburretors that are capable of generating 375 horsepower. Mated to the engine is a Chrysler push-button operated Torque-Flite transmission.
The design was pure Virgin Exner craftsmanship with the coachwork performed by the legendary craftsman at Carrozzeria Ghia. It is an aerodynamic masterpiece that is extremely innovation and equally attractive. It was fully operation that was subjected to a number of performance and design tests under strict laboratory conditions. It was put through extensive wind tunnel testing by one of the world's leading proponents in the field of aerodynamics. Giovanni Savonuzzi, of 'supersonic' design fame, was the key individual in the aero testing of the Diablo. The tests were performed at Chrysler's Chelsea Proving Ground in Michigan and the results were profound. It had the lowest coefficient of drag ever seen on any automobile. This magnificent vehicle achieved a rating of .17%, which was less than the Alfa Romeo B.A.T. cars produced by rival Italian coachbuilder Bertone at about the same time period. This accomplishment led to Chrysler promotion of the Diablo as being a 'Hydroplane on Wheels.'
When the show touring days were over, the car returned to Turin, Italy and back to Ghia's shops. Ownership transferred to Ghia who displayed the car at a number of European events and exhibitions before eventually selling it to a private owner. It returned to the United States in the mid-1960s and was carefully preserved.
In recent years, the car has been the centerpiece at the Louis Vuitton Bagatelle Concours in New York City, shown at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana, the Gilmore Museum in Michigan and many others.