Monday, April 18, 2011
Pretty In Pink
The chromey taillights pictured belong to a Dodge La Femme, an interesting footnote in automotive history. In the early fifties, Chrysler Corporation's marketing department noticed that women were becoming more and more interested in automobiles, and more involved in the car buying process. Seeking to gain a foothold in this burgeoning women's automobile market, ChryCo. developed a pair of show cars for the '54 season. Dubbed "Le Comte" and "Le Comtesse", they were based on Newport hardtops with plastic canopies over the passenger compartment. While the Count was painted in masculine colors, Le Comtesse was light grey and dusty rose, with similarly hued interior. Favorable responses encouraged Chrysler to move forward with a car targeted towards women. The result, bowing for the 1955 season, was the La Femme.
Based on the Lancer coupe, the La Femme was painted in two tone pink and white, got new gold plated badges, and custom interior cloth with a flower pattern and pale pink vinyl trim. Included was a pink calfskin purse, and a storage space in the back held a raincoat, rain bonnet, and umbrella made from vinyl with the same flower pattern as the seats.
The La Femme returned for '56, with new colors ("Misty Orchid" and "Regal Orchid", which were a bit more subtle than the pink and white '55), and new, La Femme-specific interior fabrics in a similarly purple theme and with similar accessories to the earlier car. And that, as they say, was that, the La Femme not returning to the lineup for that halcyon year of 1957.
Since the La Femme was basically an option package on the Lancer, no firm production totals exist, but it's thought that about 2500 were made in both 1955 and '56. About 40 '55s and 20 '56s are known to exist. With it's outward similarity to the Lancer, one wonders how many were repainted and retrimmed to normal production colors.
The pictured car is a verified '55. I shot it a couple of years ago at an auction. It is still the only one I've ever seen.