At the 2007 Buick Owner's of Maryland (B.O.O.M.) Show in Baltimore


    Ele Chesney's One of a Kind

    One of a kind...A unique car and parts for its day and time... 1954 Plymouth Belmont Concept Sports Roadster on display at the Hagley Museum Car Show in Wilmington Delaware September 16, 2007
    Two Plymouth "dream cars" were designed and produced for the 1954 show season in an attempt to rekindle interest in the marque. The first was a flashy two-seat roadster called the Belmont and the second was a coup called the Explorer. In all probability, Chevrolet's new Corvette and Ford's impending Thunderbird two-seater had a heavy influence on the design and building of these two concept cars. I could go on at considerable length about the other show cars in Chrysler's 1954 and 1955 lineups, but that is beyond the focus of this article which is, indeed, the Belmont.
    The Belmont made its public debut, painted a medium metallic Azure Blue, sitting atop a rotating platform at the Chicago Auto Show, surrounded by Plymouth's other 1954 offerings. The flashy new convertible undoubtedly turned quite a few heads while quickening pulses with a glimmer of hope that this was a vision of things to come for both Plymouth dealers and customers.
    The concept car had been fabricated of reinforced fiberglass by Briggs Body -- not Plymouth or the Chrysler Corporation (although Chrysler would eventually purchase Briggs). As remarkable as the exterior of the car was, even more remarkable was the fact that a Dodge Red Ram hemi V8 engine resided under the hood. This sparked speculation almost immediately that the Belmont was more Dodge than Plymouth, and corporate literature claiming the car was built on a Dodge frame just added fuel to the fire.
    The Dodge engine in the Belmont is serial number P27-1014, which designates it as the 14th V8 engine produced for the 1955 models (the motors were built prior to the actual production of the 1955 cars).
    The bore and stroke is 3-7/16"x31/4" and the displacement is 241.3 cubic inches, producing 150hp at 4,400rpm. The engine is totally stock except for chrome valve covers and a low-profile air cleaner fitted to the standard Stromberg WW-3-108 single-barrel carburetor. The valve covers were just eye-candy, whereas the custom air cleaner was necessary in order for the hood to close properly.
    Although the Belmont was unique, a number of components were "borrowed" from other Chrysler production parts bins. The sparkling chrome Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels were available as optional equipment on all Mopar products of that period, and the taillight assemblies are from the 1953 Chrysler line. The steering wheel and horn ring are stock Plymouth, while the control knobs were from the 1954 Chrysler.
    The wrap-around windshield was fabricated from thick Plexiglas and, when seated behind the wheel, you can see some slight rippling in the plastic material. There are no exterior door handles, so entry and exit is accomplished by pulling on the chrome levers on the inside of the door panels. The Belmont's convertible top is stored in a separate compartment directly behind the seats, covered with a solid panel.
    Ele Chesney, standing behind her car and signing autographs at the Hagley Museum show. Miss Chesney is considered to be the most prolific "female" car collector and hobbyist in the United States and owner of over 20 rare collector automobiles. 
    A total restoration was performed on the car to bring it back to its original show car condition, with the only major change being a switch from the original Azure Blue color to red.
    Along the way, the car was featured in the 1954 motion picture, Bundle of Joy, in which it was driven by Eddie Fisher with Debbie Reynolds as the passenger. Later in its life it also appeared in the 1957 movie, Mister Corey, which starred Tony Curtis, Martha Hyer and Charles Bickford.
    Ele Chesney, the Belmont's current owner, acquired the car in 2001 at Amelia Island. The Belmont is alive and well, residing in New Jersey, and Chesney enjoys campaigning the car frequently at high profile shows around the country, but she also takes the car to local shows at the New Jersey shore. "It's a lot of fun to drive," she commented. And anyone who has seen her behind the wheel knows she's having a good time with her full-sized "toy". But there's some good news for the rest of us - she also mentioned that we'll all soon be able to own a Belmont "toy" in 1/24th scale when the die-cast model becomes available soon.

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At the 2007 Buick Owner's of Maryland (B.O.O.M.) Show in Baltimore

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