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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Plymouth could have taken on the Corvette with the Belmont

Most people think that the first V-8-powered American sports car with a fiberglass body was the Chevrolet Corvette. The 1955 Corvette was indeed the first production sports car with a composite body from a major American automaker to offer a V-8 engine.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/plymouth-could-have-taken-on-the-corvette-with-the-...
40 REPLIES 40
bobdog
Pit Crew

Looks like a Kaiser Darrin
Studenorton
Instructor

There was a Darrin at the Eyes on Design show. When it came to the "podium," there was a chant of "Open The Door!" And when the lovely passenger SLID the door open, applause broke out throughout the gallery.
Robin
Pit Crew

It was all good, until I got a look at the front end treatment....oh my!
merlebalke
Detailer

Headlight treatment is a massive fail.
TG
Instructor

The front looks like the back
gfviperman
Detailer

Neat car ... wish they had built it ... with a lowered front clip.

But my all-time favorite was the XNR ... yes, Virgil Exner ... again ...
Hodag
Pit Crew

Old meets new The Plymouth Belmont meets the Hellcat power.....
Searcherone
New Driver

Interesting car, but I think the Chrysler Falcon would've made a better competitor to the Corvette This would have been more appropriate to compete with the Thunderbird.
Jay
Pit Crew

I had the same thought as Searcherone: when I saw the photo of the Belmont, I thought "Thunderbird" not "Corvette". This isn't a performance car (I know, the first series Corvettes weren't exactly sports cars either, but the 'Vette did evolve into one).

While the headlights and grille are kinda awful, keep in mind that if the car had gone into production, many details would have been changed. Certainly conventional, sealed-beam headlights would have been substituted for those squinty-eye things.
Maestro1
Instructor

Ronnie, the front end of the car needs to be redesigned in any of its models, and the profile is appealing but needs some minor alterations. The car would have found acceptance. I've always been a nut for two passenger louche cars; and this is another one. With regard to drivelines, I think this car was born during Chrysler's Outlaw Period, when they were building monster drivelines, stay flat in the corners suspension (even Imperials!) so this could of been a lot of fun.
Thanks for this and stay well.
TeutonicScot
Intermediate Driver

Interesting design, but having moved the headlights outboard from the original design, just remove the grill and the front end looks like the rear end of a '52-'54 Ford. Picture #8 above especially bears this out, looks like its going away from you.
I agree with Bob, lots of Kaiser Darrin there as well.
Tim
Instructor

"I coulda been a contender!", I can hear this car pleading. It seems like the Belmont would have slotted as something of a hybrid of a Corvette and Thunderbird. Bigger than a 'vette, so perhaps with less sporty intentions and more of a personal luxury coupe like the T'bird. But the fiberglass body might have made it lighter than a Thunderbird, so maybe it would have been more sporty. On looks alone, it seems to call itself out as a personal luxury coupe rather than a sports car. One thing is for certain, though: the marketplace could have benefitted from competition like this.
ed
Detailer

Front end looks like the rear end of a 54 Ford.
BillHanlon
Intermediate Driver

Plymouth may have been "going head to head with the Corvette", but not with a name like Belmont.
Studenorton
Instructor

Belmont Sr founded the Belmont Stakes.  Belmont Jr built the NYC subway, and Belmont Park.  It was a class name to have, back in the day.  Plus, Olds "Delmont," Chev "Belair"?  I'd bet we could have gotten used to it.

 

OldFordMan
Detailer

Keep in mind that this example survivor is only a "concept car". If gone on to production would have probably seen a number of changes.
JohnnyD
Intermediate Driver

I am child of the fifties and sixties and saw photos of the car in used magazines and thought it was ugly and still do. Parents bought me a plastic model of it (about 1:18 scale) it was in light medium blue. Why did they ever outsource a potentially important design! PT Cruiser was their last attempt at a sports car. I own and show a pristine 55 Plymouth semi-hemi V8 and i am sympathetic to the Plymouth lost cause. This car looks best in hot red, any way.
Studenorton
Instructor

What do you call the Prowler, then?
Swamibob
Instructor

I called the Prowler "The Hurler". 🙂
TS
Pit Crew

Love it !!
Davidb
Pit Crew

Until I saw this I truly believed no car was ugly. The front end strongly resembles the rear end of a 59' Ford. Even Edsels had something to like in appearance. Could possibly be the first face a mother could detest. To the bone.........
SLAVENDER
Intermediate Driver

I like it from top to bottom and front to back.
I can imagine this having been built in a parallel time line and think it would turn some heads at cars and coffee. What else did they make in that other timeline?
Zephyr
Advanced Driver

The first thing I thought of when I saw it was "Kaiser Darrin."
tigercat
Intermediate Driver

Do not know about car, unique but ugly. Have owned or currently own C2 Vettes, Cobra Roadsters, Sprites and TR3's. Dabbled a little bit with 50's small manufacturer glass cars but most were primitive with obsolete running gear and suspensions cobbled together. I will stick with 427 Cobra's and C2 427 Roadsters but I love that custom 59' Imperial Speedster Custom. Big car class and looks in a two seat convertible very well done. If you are old like me you will remember you always saw Imperials win destruction derby's, no one ever thought of making one a sports car.
CitationMan
Instructor

I like this car, it’s has clean lines and it’s got some swagger to it. I could see one of the guys from the Rat Pack driving around in this. It looks better with the inboard headlights, but the worst show cars from that era look like the Mona Lisa compared to what we have today.

Dmoore
New Driver

1953 was the first year Corvette. Only two colors red or white.
Dmoore
New Driver

Correction they were all polo white over sportsman red interior. 503 total
gggdds
Pit Crew

So there's just one of these right? Some comments....yes, the front end is, well, lacking something....it just doesn't blend with the rest of the rather simple and beautiful line of the rest of the car. I love the interior, sides and rear...it's just that nose that's odd. The name "Belmont" doesn't seem to inspire anything and sounds like some sort of suburb on the East coast. Must have been named by a committee. Post ware styling was so interesting, and , in this case, somewhat timeless...and this one, sans the front end, could have been one of those timeless designs....
Quincydubois
Intermediate Driver

Belmont? Who names a sports car ‘Belmont’? Ugh. Almost as bad as ‘Fairlady’.
JBaguley
Intermediate Driver

It is, to put it gently, less than attractive.
janedon
Intermediate Driver

I really think this "Could" have beat out the Corvette-mabe ever Thunderbird --As far as people saying they don't like the front end--That is in Todays world--Folks had Different tastes back then--This car with Chryslers Hemi would have been a real hit-
Swamibob
Instructor

I like it a lot, other than the headlight treatment. That doesn't work at all. Since it had a poly motor, it could easily fit a baby Hemi. Now that would be a lot of fun!
audiobycarmine
Instructor

I’m certainly in the minority here, but I LOVE this car. I think it’s far nicer-looking than the ’53 Corvette: longer, lower and sleeker.
It reminds me a bit of the 1953 Buick Skylark, a convertible-only, single-year design; like a British sports-car on steroids.
OK, so the front-on view is a bit strange, but that interior is out-and-out gorgeous!

(Yes, I use hyphens a lot, but at least I use them correctly...)
e-type
New Driver

I have seen Murray Pfaff and his 1959 Imperial Speedster custom at C&C at Pastiners and it is remarkable what his vision has produced! Glad you included a picture of it!!
1961monacoman
New Driver

The Belmont was also driven by Elaine Stewart in a 1957 film The Tattered Dress. It is a hard to find black & white movie also starring Jeff Chandler, Jean Crain, Jack Carson, Gail Russell, and George Tobias. The storyline is about a sensational murder trial (a la O.J. Simpson) with Chandler as the hot shot "Johnny Cochran-like" defense attorney, and takes place in "Desert Valley" (Palm Springs). Stewart's home has an electric lift for the diving board, and the pool goes into the living room. It is a mid-century modern architecture & car lover's dream. The Belmont is featured at the beginning of the film as she drives up into the hills above Las Palmas (perhaps Vista Chino Rd?).
hyperv6
Gearhead

Well there are a lot of ifs here. 

The T bird was there to take in the Vette but Ford left the segment as it was not a strong segment. Odds are good Chrysler would have followed as the Vette only survived due to strong people in the company willing to hold out in the segment. 

Most sports cars live less than ten years even the greats. The Corvette has had strong support in good snd lean years both few sports cars get that. 

SpringGT
Pit Crew

Typical Chrysler/Plymouth design of the day. Ugly from all four sides!
dreamingeagle
Detailer

more a competitor for the T-Bird;

too long, too much unsprung weight over the wheels;
Inline8OD
Intermediate Driver

Chevy designers were told to use the Jag XK-120 as their theme, hence the Corvette's identical wheelbase, 102 inches. The Belmont's V-8 had better breathing, and its 116" wb greater directional stability. An English motoring writer in the day summed Corvette as "a V-8 surrounded by four pieces of drywall." Some folks used to call them redneck Ferraris. Others never cottoned to Corvettes because they were a mite too styly; could only be a Detroit product, the pointless cove like something Auburns would have had they survived into the '50s, the later quad headlights--quad headlights on a sports car, only in America. Some of the recent Corvettes are good rides, but there plenty of other interesting cars of the past century beyond FoMoCo and GMobiles.
Gary_Bechtold
Technician

It's definitely a mixed bag in terms of styling. The front end is bleh, but the back end looks good. Side profile is a little off because of the two ends a bit. It could have been an interesting idea.