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1967 Dodge Deora Concept Vehicle

Deora and surfboardsEver since I was about 10, I have seen this odd pickup truck in Hot Wheels packages, AMT model kits, magazines, and images here and there. But I haven't seen one lately except in KMart's toy section, so I thought I'd look one up.

1967 was one of some really great custom car years. The Batmobile, The Monkeemobile, and The Munster Koach and Drag-u-la were all in fashion, and that's when the Deora premiered.

Designed by Harry Bentley Bradley and based on a Dodge A100 pickup truck/van, the rear glass of a 1960 Ford station wagon served as the windshield. The name "Deora" was coined by a 13-year-old, and (incorrectly) means "Golden" in Spanish. Its highback seats were years ahead of their time, and its rolled and tucked interior was posh by any standard.

Deora doorThe Deora's sharp angular lines, streamlined body, and forward look are appealing, but it's not hard to see why this vehicle never caught on... this may be the most useless, impractical, and unsafe pickup truck ever proposed.

And maybe that's why I like it. With the engine placed about where the empty cargo bed should be, the only practical cargo it might carry above its enclosed bed would be surfboards.

Also, there's no real front end/crumple zone space, so I would not want to be in a collision in one. Its windshield is tempered glass instead of being laminated, so it's unsafe as well. So the Deora exists mainly as scale models of the original, only to be a fantasy vehicle for the masses.

Getting in and out of the Deora may have been its final downfall. As these images suggest, it should not be tried by the fainthearted. The one advantage I see of this is that you'd never ding the car parked beside you. And looking at these pictures raises a resounding question... "How does your passenger get in and out?"

Deora entry

Deora rearBut as a fantasy vehicle, it's a winner. You'd almost certainly never see another one, and as long as you're not hauling much, it definitely has truck cred. It wouldn't make a lot of sense painting a Deora any color other than gold (to me, anyway), but like a metallic blue DeLorean DMC-12, there are always exceptions to these rules.

And breaking the rules is what custom vehicles are all about.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credits: The Deora image with surfboards is from Toycollector.com. Our Deora front door image is from GizzardStone.com. The 8-part image of entering a Deora is from CarsInPedia.com. The rear image is from TodayAndTomorrow.net.

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I always liked that the side exhausts were mustang taillight bezels.

I had the Hot Wheels, too. It has that "Pickup Truck of the Future" vibe going on, and if you could re-engineer the cab with side doors and safety glass, and power it with a Subaru boxer engine and transaxle under the seats, you might be able to get it to work as a production car.

Harry Bradley may have drawn it, but the Deora was built by the Alexander brothers, legendary Detroit area designers and customizers. They're still at it. Their "Vision 33" 1933 Ford, based on a Chip Foose design, was one of the Great Eight finalists for the Ridler Award at this year's Detroit Autorama.

http://www.carsindepth.com/?p=8067

I built the AMT model ages ago (and have a reissue unbuilt up on the shelf) and they had the door dropping down like a tailgate. Not as insanely cool as the real thing but more practical, as practical as this thing gets.
I've always been a fan of the Dodge A-100 series - if I ever buy one I'd have to pay homage to the Deora, if only with a gold paint job.

I found about the Deora retrospectively, thanks to the success caused by the Deora II, which deserves its own post. A die-hard collector friend of the family showed me his KB Toys replica of the Deora. I later found a 2002 release of the Deora to accompany my Deora II. I still have both. To find out that there was indeed a car made from this far-out design just blew my mind as a kid!

The article is a bit short IMO. Then again, I'm sure That Car Guy didn't want to copy word-for-word from Motor Trend Classic's Nov 2006 write-up on this legend:
http://www.motortrend.com/classic/roadtests/c12_0509_dodge_deora/viewall.html

Anyone interested in seeing "under-construction" photos of the original?
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dodgedeora/sets/72157624297310340/with/4709533665/

In fact, browse the guy's entire account. He's the one building a replica!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dodgedeora/sets/?&page=2

Oh, and about the color, how's this on for size?
http://www.914world.com/bbs2/uploads/post-1623-1331146413.jpg

The Hot Wheels Deora has its own story too. From "Hot Wheels: 35 Years of Speed, Power, Performance, and Attitude" by Randy Leffingwell:

Harry Bradley wanted to incorporate show cars into the Hot Wheels line. [...] Bradley wanted to introduce in Hot Wheels form was the Dodge Deora, which he had designed for Chrysler while working at General Motors.[...]

"But the Deora suddenly became a no-no", Bradley recalled, "because there was no power-dome on the hood, and it couldn't open. And we wouldn't open the back because we were going to do that on the Custom Fleetside, which was a copy of my own El Camino."

Someone suggested putting surfboards on the Deora, an idea that horrified Bradley. "In those days, car guys hated surfers and surfers hated car guys. The two cultures were sort of galactically separated. they thought we were stupid people who messed up otherwise-good cars when we could be out surfing, and we just thought they were dumb. The idea of putting surfboards on my Deora was absolutely unacceptable to me, and I damned near got myself fired over it.

"'We just can't do this' I said. 'We can't put surfboard- Look it's a guy's car, it's full of horsepower and style. Surfboards make it look silly.'"

[Mattel founder] Elliot replied, "We're putting surfboards on it, and that's it." In retrospect, Bradley sees it was simply a great idea. "That proved to be a very inspired piece of problem-solving and marketing. It also was a good lesson for me, because I learned to get out of my groove, my little car thing, and begin to think cross-culturally. This was the thing about Mattel. They could really see a bigger picture, Elliot especially. He had his fingers on the pulse of what made a good toy, and even more importantly, what was a good idea."

Hot Wheels Deora releases:
http://hotwheels.wikia.com/wiki/Deora

A favorite, another one of those great cars as a kid you wished car makers would build...but as an adult and seeing how you got into the thing, you can see why they didn't.

The photos above shows the brilliant use of a station wagon upper tailgate panel as a moveable windshield.

The Deora II uses a second generation Taurus wagon tailgate window for its windshield. Again, brilliant...and very cost effective since having a custom windshild made would be huge.

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