1951 Chrysler K-310
Like most of Exner's Ghia-built specials, the dashing five-passenger K-310 coupe was designed in Detroit under Ex's eye. In this case, Ghia received a %-scale clay plaster to guide construction of a full-size running prototype.
The "K" stood for then company president K. T. Keller, the "310" for the alleged horsepower of the 331-cubic-inch hemi-head V-8 beneath the hood, though the then-new stock version produced only 180 bhp.
No matter. The K-310 was stunning. Bulging integral rear fenders avoided period slab-sidedness, while prominently crowned front fenders emphasized a classic front with prow-style hood and headlamps recessed in scalloped nacelles astride a low, rounded, roughly triangular eggcrate grille. Full cutouts emphasized the wheels, which Ex seldom covered on any of his designs.
Subtle two-toning delineated upper from lower body. The roof and deck were proportioned to accent the hood, which wasn't easy given the contemporary Chrysler Saratoga chassis with 125.5-inch wheelbase.
The K-310's warm reception prompted construction of a soft-top companion called C-200, unveiled in 1952. Both were strongly considered for showroom sale. As Exner later recalled, K.T. Keller liked the K-310: "He thought it was something they should promote.... Of course, it was also something into which they could put their Hemi engine. It was a perfect combination."
But the K-310 would be a never-was for the most basic of reasons: lack of money. Chrysler sales began to free-fall after 1949, and within three years the firm was outproduced by Ford for the first time since the Depression. But though plans for a limited run
of "street" K-310s were shelved, Exner continued campaigning for a Chrysler-based sportster the public could buy.