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OldsDoug

Chrysler Norseman - Collectible Automobile Magazine?

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Does anyone know if Collectible Automobile has ever done an article on the Chrysler Norseman? (I {reluctantly!} did a magazine-ectomy several years ago and so am not sure if they have.) For those who may not be familiar with it, the Norseman was a Chrysler show car that was built by Ghia. Unfortunately, it never made it to the show circuit - it was shipped from Italy to the United States on the liner Andrea Doria, which collided with the Swedish liner Stockholm off Nantucket Island late on the evening of July 25, 1956 - 50 years ago this month. The Andrea Doria subsequently sank, and of course, the Norseman went down with it.

I am in contact with one of the Andrea Doria survivors, and she is in contact with someone who was at Chrysler at the time and worked on the design of the Norseman. I'm thinking that _CA_ might be interested in talking with this gentleman and doing an article, if they haven't already. If they _have_ done one, I want to get the back issue! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Thanks, all!

Doug in MD

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According to my information from an article I read somewhere, the car is in a sealed container and with the current technology it is somewhat feasable for the A.D. to be salvaged. Boy what that car would be worth if they can bring it up.

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Boy what that car would be worth if they can bring it up.

Leave it where it belongs. The Norseman was butt ugly. Not one of MoPars best

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Just Googled an Image of it. The fastback is one of the nicest automobile designs ever in my opinion, leave it to Chrysler to mess it up. Proof that the last good looking Chrysler was built in 1933.

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There is a "Specialist Profile" on Joe Bortz, the noted dream car collector, in 'Hemmings Classic Car' in the July 2006 issue.

"Sooner or later, every conversation about lost dream cars turns to the Chrysler Norseman, the car that was in the hold of the liner Andrea Doria when it collided with the liner Stockholm and sank off Nantucket Island on July 25, 1956. Had anyone, Joe was asked, ever tried to salvage the Norseman?

"Yes--I did," he replied. About 15 years ago, he agreed to pay a diver $20,000 to locate the car, knowing that the actual recovery would cost many times that amount. It was only when a chemist he met at a party at the University of Chicago convinced him that nothing but the engine block and a few other large chunks of metal would have survived such a long immersion on[sic] salt water that he abandoned his quest."

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I thought it was kindof neat looking, actually - would like to see more than the one view of it that seems to come up on the internet. Although, I must say, I saw what I thought was some resemblance to the production Mercurys (Mercuries?) of that era, and some Futura as well. That may or not be correct, and may or may not be a sign of the times. And regardless of whether one likes the appearance or not, I have to think that it would surely have some historical value!

DK

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I am by no means an expert on the subject, but i would normally agree that the car would have rusted away because of the salt water, except for the fact that the information I read indicated that the car was shipped in an airtight container, so I am not so sure that the water would have been able to get in. Unless of course "airtight" does not mean exactly what it says, again I am no expert.

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Doug:

I just got off the phone with John Biel Editor of collectible automobile magazine.

Here is the info I got.

#1 They have not done an article on the "Norseman"

#2 They may be interested in the future.

I would have given him your contact info but you did not supply any in your profile.

I would suggest getting in touch with your contact -- the survivor of the sinking --

find out from her the name of the man who was at chrysler at the time

find out if he has any detailed info/photos/sketches etc.

The editor would like to find out this before going to far.

The lady in question must be well on in years, as should be the man at chrysler, so

speed would be of the utmost importance at this point in order to gather as much info as possible

before its to late.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I am by no means an expert on the subject, but i would normally agree that the car would have rusted away because of the salt water, except for the fact that the information I read indicated that the car was shipped in an airtight container, so I am not so sure that the water would have been able to get in. Unless of course "airtight" does not mean exactly what it says, again I am no expert. </div></div>

Even if the container were "airtight", the pressure of 200+ feet of water overhead would likely have either crushed the container completely, or at least damaged it enough to have forced seawater into it.

More likely, however, is that the Norseman was palletized, for hoisting aboard the Andrea Doria, the pallet providing anchoring points for the cables of dockside cranes, leaving the Norseman exposed to sea water upon the ship's sinking.

Also, the Doria sank after rolling over on her beam ends, which would have allowed cargo such as the Norseman (regardless of whether the car was "packaged" or not) to fall to the low side of the hold, and so likely, Norseman was buried in a pile of crates, boxes, perhaps other cars as well. And of course, the Andrea Doria has been at the bottom of Long Island Sound for 50 years, and given that steel rusts away in sea water fairly quickly, probably there is little left of Norseman but an engine, transmission, rear axle, and the remains of a chassis. Of course, non-metallic stuff such as glass and rubber parts, probably still exist.

As for raising the Doria, it was considered technically feasible in 1956, but financially not a good deal--the ship could be replaced at far less cost than the effort of raising, refloating and the massive repairs that would have been needed to restore her to service. So, the Andrea Doria was simply replaced by a new ship a couple of years later. In the intervening years, the ship has settled further into the mud at the bottom, rust and corrosion have taken a great toll on her hull and superstructure, equipment such as her turbine engines and steam boilers, if they didn't break loose from their mounting beds deep within the hull (the bolts that hold this equipment in place are seldom meant to restrain these extremely heavy components upon the capsizing of a vessel). In addition, major holes have been cut into the hull, making the restoration of watertight conditions very problematical. Probably, she will never be raised.

Art

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As I said I am no expert. Art I bow to your expertise. But it does conjure up a lot of fanciful thoughts none-the-less.

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Al, thanks, I'm on a rush project at work but plan to contact CA as soon as that dies down. (Also hope to update my profile shortly!) 'Preciate your calling him and letting me know tho. The AD survivor was 9 at the time of the collision, which makes her 59 now... not sure whether or not that's well on, depends on your viewpoint! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> (I was 6 when it sank*, remember seeing the TV news pictures of the Stockholm coming in to NY harbor with the bow all stove in). But yeah, I figure the Chrysler guy must be up there!

The fire should be out at work after this week and then I can get back on more important stuff, like my hobbies. The AD survivor has written a book about it and will be here in DC on the 19th for a book signing, we have made plans to meet up then.

*I'm farther along than I'd like to be, but OTOH, 1970s cars don't seem that old to me! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Regards,

Doug

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Art, I haven't read your entire post, but briefly, the Andrea Doria did have an automobile garage, and the Norseman was in it (rather than a cargo hold, for example), so it's possible that it was merely driven in there - assuming that it was complete and operable when shipped. I did read somewhere that it was to be a fully operational car and not a "push-mobile"... brings up the question of whether the entire car, including drivetrain, was assembled by Ghia, which leads to questions like, did Chrysler ship a chassis with engine & running gear over there, who did what, was it running and drivable when it left Italy, or was the running gear to be installed later over here, etc!

I gotta contact Collectible Automobile!

I wonder what kind of info is still available on the car from Chrysler...

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Art, I haven't read your entire post, but briefly, the Andrea Doria did have an automobile garage, and the Norseman was in it (rather than a cargo hold, for example), so it's possible that it was merely driven in there - assuming that it was complete and operable when shipped. I did read somewhere that it was to be a fully operational car and not a "push-mobile"... brings up the question of whether the entire car, including drivetrain, was assembled by Ghia, which leads to questions like, did Chrysler ship a chassis with engine & running gear over there, who did what, was it running and drivable when it left Italy, or was the running gear to be installed later over here, etc!

I gotta contact Collectible Automobile!

I wonder what kind of info is still available on the car from Chrysler... </div></div>

Special Interest Auto's Magazine actually ran a picture or two of the Norseman, taken before the car left Ghia in Italy, it sure appeared to be a complete car at that time. And yes, Andrea Doria did have a garage in her hold, but likely also had a more conventional cargo hold--so both notions of transporting a car via this ship could well be true.

Art

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Chrysler was doing a certain volume of custom business with Ghia by 1956, the Ghia-built (and partially designed) "Chrysler specials" (1953) collection2jss.php?ModelID=32 sometimes refered to as "Thomas specials" after the run of cars built for Chrysler export manager C.B.Thomas specified certain changes, namely a longer chassis/body. These cars were built on a modified New Yorker chassis that were shipped to Italy. Other show/concept cars like the Falcon and Firearrow were built on modified production chassis'. The chassis and drivetrain for the Norseman were shipped to Italy,and a finished automobile was shipped back. Chrysler concept/show cars of that era (and today) are "real cars", the doors opened and closed, trunk lid too, engine,trans,brakes, steering--all worked. The new Challenger is built that way, and is going to be produced! I have a picture of the rear 3/4 view of the Norseman. I'll try to post it. In the meantime, here is a picture of a Ghia-bodied 1953 "Chrysler special"

post-42387-143137900912_thumb.jpg

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OK--here's what I have on the Norseman--It was a 2-door fastback coupe, a true pillarless,cantilever roof design in which the roof supports were intergrated with the lower body structure and platform frame. No windshield or door pillars. the 12 ft. sq. ft. rear window was power operated to slide foreward into the roof and leave an opening over the rear seat passengers. A full underpan reduced air drag underneath the car. Special air intakes for the passenger compartment located in the leading edge of the roof, and concealed headlights were automatically exposed. exterior color was metallic green. The four green and gray metallic leather bucket seats were individually power-adjustable. Unique reel-type safety belt units were mounted in the doors.

The Norseman was 227 in. Long, 82 in. wide,56 in. high, on a 129 in wheelbase.

It had a 331 cu. in. Chrysler Hemi engine, coupled to a Powerflite two-speed automatic transmission.

post-42387-143137900913_thumb.jpg

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Very nice and sad that it never saw the light of day on our shore.

Wayne

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Just an update for you guys...

I read an article (Feb 2006) by a professional wreck diver named David Bright. He had been down into the Doria several times and had visited the Norseman. He reported the following:

"One of the "casualties" of the Andrea Doria sinking has received quite a bit of attention in the past decade; however, this casualty was not a person but a beautiful automobile called the Norseman. The Norseman was a special prototype car that was a joint project of Chrysler and Ghia. It is thought that the complete development of this automobile cost more than $100,000 1956-dollars. Normally, all passenger cars were placed in the garage section of the Andrea Doria that is slightly aft of the collision point where the Stockholm impaled the Doria underneath the bow wing bridge. These cars would have been placed on to the Doria by use of a crane and meticulously parked in the garage and arranged strategically for stability. However, the Norseman was no passenger vehicle and was specially packed and treated with extra care. The Norseman was put into a wooden crate and placed in the number 2 cargo area. While looking for a lost diver, I had an opportunity to see the Norseman for myself in the cargo hold. The crate had disintegrated and the car was in very, very poor condition. The ocean's salt water invaded the Norseman's metal and most of the car is rust, corrosion and a heap of indistinguishable junk. The tires are still there and have assisted to its identification.

I have been back to the cargo area several times (it is pretty scary in the cargo hold because the ship is lying on its starboard side) and visited the Norseman on a couple other occasions. I contributed to an article authored by a New York Times reporter that appeared in the Hemmings Motor News in the early 1990's. In 1996, a website in Germany translated part of this Hemmings article and added additional information. The link to this article is: http://riekmann.prohosting.com/magazin/chrysler_norseman/chrysler_norseman.htm

I have been interviewed about my dives to the Norseman several times since the original Hemmings article appeared. I have not been back to this cargo site since 1994 and with all the decay that the wreck has had over the past 10 years, it is doubtful if I will ( or anyone else) ever get a chance to see the remains of the Norseman again."

On July 8 of 2006, Bright made yet another dive into the wreck, and apparently suffered some kind of mishap - he signaled that he needed help, was pulled aboard the boat where he subsequently died. Several theories - including explosive decompression sickness, helium bends - have been mentioned, but I haven't found the official cause listed anywhere.

July 25 2006 is the 50th anniversary of the sinking.

Creepy, huh?

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I think it is time for a comprehensive beginning to end article on the Norseman by a definitive magazine such as Collectible Automobile. Your comments here are very interesting and it is a complimnet to the body of contributors here that I just now read this post and am much more informed then just 15 minutes ago.

I guess I had heard of the Norseman but paid no attention. Wasn't there also suppossed to be millions in gold and jewels on the AD? It would be cool to have someone shoot photos of what is left of the Norseman.

I don't find that it is an ugly car. Remember, it is 50 years old and trying to adapt a fastback style to a mid fifties mentality. Also, some of the proportions were necessary for the technology they were also displaying - the rear glass retraction, etc.

Again, none of my knowledge would be present without the contributions of everyone here up to this point. This in effect is the true beauty of a forum like this, in extending our knowledge of automotive history which we all enjoy.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I think it is time for a comprehensive beginning to end article on the Norseman by a definitive magazine such as Collectible Automobile. Your comments here are very interesting and it is a complimnet to the body of contributors here that I just now read this post and am much more informed then just 15 minutes ago.</div></div>

(snip)

Thanks, glad to see this thread revived. I did speak with John Biel at CA, the main problem is that there isn't much more info on the car than we've posted here! So not a lot for an article... still working on it tho. I need to get back on that project, this has inspired me to do so.

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