Pebble Beach Concours not Just Old Cars: Chrysler Shows What the Future Holds
21 August 1998
The first display to captivate your auto-senses on the Lawn at the The Lodge for the 48th annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance was the Chrysler concept three-car show. For the past several years Chrysler has beefed up its special concept car section and auto show involvement in order to find out if the car buying public wants styles such as those found in the Viper and the Plymouth Prowler.
The three vehicles on display at the entrance to the $zillion classic car assemblage were the Chrysler Chronos, the Plymouth Pronto Spyder, and the Dodge Intrepid Hybrid.
The swoopy two-door Chronos sports a retro Chrysler 300 grill and the configuration of a coupe version of last years Chrysler Atlantic. Its overall length is 205 inches and it's 76 inches wide. It is powered by a 6.0 liter V-10 engine that puts out 350 hp and has a four speed electronic automatic trans and rear wheel drive. On the inside its Connelley leather throughout, watch-like instrument dials and gauges, and wood dash panels.
We hope the corporation decides to build this sports car.
Plymouth Pronto Spyder
Here's a real show stopper. Porsche sports cars were the honored marque at the nearby Laguna Seca historic races, and this concept car fit into the weekend's auto-overload: it resembles the Porsche RSK of the future. The RSK and RS61 were built in the 1950s and they still look great and climb in value. VP of Design John Herlitz says the Pronto is the dream car that just may see production. It would be a natural follow up to the Plymouth Prowler. The two seater roadster has a European flare and is made of the same plastic used to make drinking bottles, which costs less than making it out of steel. The body does not have to be painted, and that is how the Pronto was presented at Pebble...no shine. You can get whatever color you want, though, as Chrysler impregnates the plastic with pigment before it is molded. The 2,700 pound sportster is powered by a 2.4 liter DOHC supercharged motor mated to a five-speed gear box. It has leather racing-type seats and a wraparound windshield. It's all extremely reminiscent of the Jimmy Dean era Porsche Spyders.
This rocket ship is the most futuristic of the three show cars. It is a four door with no exterior door latches and is Chryslers newest entry in the electric car arena--a hybrid electric. The propulsion system is a combination diesel-electric and achieves 80 miles per gallon. In keeping with the futuristic styling cues that identify all Chrysler products, it has cab forward countenance. The car, code-named ESX2, can carry six people and has 19.9 cubic feet of cargo space. Even Chrysler admits that this car is not close to production, as the cost of the right batteries is still prohibitive. If the prototype shows what Chrysler's hybrids of the future look like, however, then we say bring 'em on !
Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel