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Beverage Bottle Sports Car = Exotic, Yet Affordable

5 January 1998

Beverage Bottle Sports Car = Exotic, Yet Affordable

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Jan. 4 -- Imagine an exotic European
sports car for half the price of what's on the market today.  When Chrysler
designers did, they dreamed up Plymouth Pronto Spyder.
    The affordable, mid-engine sports racer borrows a materials application
from its cousin, the Plymouth Pronto, first shown at the 1997 North American
International Auto Show in Detroit and Chrysler's Composite Concept Vehicle
(CCV) showcased at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show.
    "It could be made from the same material used to make plastic drinking
bottles, polyethylene terephthalate (PET)," explained Tom Tremont, chief
designer for Pacifica, Chrysler's West Coast design studio in Carlsbad, Calif.
"PET technology has the potential to reduce manufacturing costs by 80 percent
over conventional methods using steel."
    Because the affordablility of the thermoplastic body technology is
improving so rapidly, more money can be spent on those things a customer
really wants, such as:

    -- A 2.4-liter, dual-overhead cam, supercharged rear-wheel-drive engine
       that produces 225 horsepower.  The transverse mid-engine is configured
       for exotic sports car handling characteristics and is mated to a
       5-speed manual transmission borrowed from the Neon ACR racing package;
    -- 18-inch cast aluminum wheels and 225/40R18 Goodyear tires front and
    -- Gauges that evoke the timeless quality of a Swiss watch;
    -- Special taillamps with neon tubes that provide a softer, more even
    -- Leather, racing shell seats;
    -- Tortoise shell steering wheel rim and "banjo spoke design" in which
       groupings of metal rods form a spoke;
    -- Tortoise shell and chrome treatments on the shifter knob; and
    -- A wrap-around windshield, such as those found in aircraft.

    "This car has a kinetic energy, as if it's about to lunge," Tremont said.
"The body central is slung down low between the wheels, suggesting a very low
center of gravity.  In fact, we toyed around with naming it 'Gator' because it
looks like an alligator ready to strike its prey."
    The satin in-mold color exterior finish is Platinum Silver, with a
combination Sienna and beige leather interior.
    "The injection mold process allows us to do razor sharp edges, precise
intersections and incised names and details," Tremont said.  "These forms are
pure, precise, simple and honest.  In contrast to the body's 'machine-like'
design, we blend romantic detailing in the interior that hints at an earlier
classic sports racer era."
    All for half the price of an exotic sports car?  Here's how.  PET
technology demonstrated last fall in Chrysler's Composite Concept Vehicle,
unlike many plastics used in automotive applications, can be recycled and
doesn't have to be painted.  The color is added before the mold is even made.
    It's also less expensive.  Most automotive composites cost $5410 a pound
and require a steel skeleton for structural strength.  The steel substructure
adds weight and cost.  PET costs $1.50 a pound and doesn't require any
substructure other than a high-strength steel frame.

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SOURCE  Chrysler Corporation