The 1954 Zeder, The HEMI-Powered Corvette Killer

In 1953, Chevrolet introduced the world to the Corvette, a lightweight sports car with European influences and (eventually) American V8 muscle. Ford responded in 1955 with the Thunderbird while Chrysler…well, Chrysler almost debuted a similar competitor. Alas, the Chrysler Corvette fighter never came to market, a missed opportunity that haunts the Pentastar to this day. 

Hemmings Auto Blog posted this old article about the Frank Zeder Jr.-designed Storm Z-250, a car that could have easily challenged both the Corvette and the Thunderbird thanks to its 260 horsepower HEMI V8 engine.

The Storm Z-250 was designed to be a competition sports car with road racing in mind. To keep weight down the body was built out of aluminum at a cost of over $6,500 (back in the 1950s!) in about 90 days. The 260 horsepower HEMI engine was borrowed from a ‘54 Dodge pickup and produced about 330 ft-lbs of torque. In the Z-250, this engine helped propel the car from 0-60 mph in about 7.5 seconds, and the quarter mile took just 14.7 seconds.

Sounds incredibly promising, right? So why didn’t Chrysler build the Storm Z-250? Internal politics and sibling rivalry, as it turns out. Frank Zeder Jr. turned the Z-250 over to his brother, Jim Zeder for evaluation. Alas, the promised road test never happened, and the Z-250 sat untouched for years, becoming a mere concept, and nothing more.

It was thankfully restored, and now rests in quiet retirement at the Petersen Auto Museum. Ahhh to wonder what might have been…

About the author

Chris Demorro

Christopher DeMorro is a freelance writer and journalist from Connecticut with two passions in life; writing and anything with an engine.
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