The Million Dollar Chrysler Lost at Sea
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When the freighter Felicity Ace sank off the Azores in March, it took 4,000 cars with it, including several Lamborghinis worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
But there’s an even more valuable car at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean a few thousand miles to the northwest.
During its ill-fated journey from Italy to New York, the Andrea Doria was carrying a unique show car that was built for Chrysler by renowned Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Ghia.
The Chrysler Norseman was designed under the direction of the automaker’s chief designer, Virgil Exner, and featured several innovative ideas that the company planned to display on the 1957 auto show circuit.
Along with its hidden headlights and door handles, the sleek V8-powered coupe featured a unique cantilevered roof without any front pillars, which was replaced with extra-strong shatterproof glass developed by PPG.
Although far from the tragedy of the 51 souls lost following the collision of the Andrea Doria with the Stockholm off Nantucket on July 25, 1956, the designers of the car never got to see her in person and, according to Hemmings, no one is even sure exactly what colors the final product was finished in. A man saw it years later, however.
In 1994, famed Andrea Doria diver David Bright was searching for another diver who had gone missing in the wreck, when he went to cargo area number two and saw the remains of the car and the crate in which it was shipped.
“The body had disintegrated and the car was in very, very poor condition,” Bright wrote on his blog. “The salt water from the ocean has washed into the metal of the Norseman and most of the car is rust, corrosion and an indistinguishable pile of junk. The tires are still there and helped in its identification. “
Bright wrote on his blog in February 2006 that he had visited the car several times but had not been in years because the deterioration of the ship had made the area too dangerous to enter. No photo of the car in the hold is known and no other divers have claimed to have seen it.
“It’s unlikely that I (or anyone else) will ever have the chance to see the Norseman’s remains again,” Bright said.
Sadly, his personal prediction proved correct when he collapsed and died after returning from a dive in July 2006 aged 49 after more than 100 visits to the ship.
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If the car had completed its journey and been preserved until today, its value has been estimated at over $1 million as a collector’s item. Instead, it continues to fade into history along with the ship where it rests, 240 feet from the surface.