The Chrysler Phaeton 1997 concept car
John E. Herlitz, Chrysler Corporation's Vice President of Product Design, said, "Phaeton embraces and contemporizes elegant, classic design cues from historic touring automobiles of the 1930s, 40s and 50s."
The imposing dual cowl four-door hard-top convertible was inspired by Chrysler's dual cowl 1940 Newport parade car, a vehicle used primarily for transporting dignitaries and members of elite families during that time period. "With Phaeton, we expanded the use of today's convertible by giving it four doors and two windshields," said K. Neil Walling, Chrysler Corporation's Design Director. "We took an elegant design execution that was originally intended for the wealthy and created a practical, contemporary convertible."
The dual cowl has expressive flowing lines, finely drawn details in the egg-crate grille, and a retractable rear compartment windshield. "Chrysler Phaeton effectively captures classic images from the Chrysler LHX and Chrysler Atlantic and translates them into a convertible format," said Walling.
Richness, comfort and attention-to-detail are communicated throughout the vehicle's interior which features cream and brown-colored leather trim, woven cream leather inserts, satin metal details, and Zebrano wood accents. Both front and rear passenger compartments are separate and have their own radio, climate controls, luxurious seats, arm rests and center consoles. Speedometer and tachometer gauges are also featured in both compartments which allow rear passengers to monitor vehicle performance at a glance.
The power retractable convertible hardtop was developed and built by ASC, which made convertible tops for Chrysler (until the 2007 Sebring) and was also responsible for much of the design of the Chevy SSR.
Phaeton's imposing size is supported by impressive performance. Its 132-inch (3353 mm) wheelbase and 22-inch wheels are powered by a 48-valve 5.4 liter aluminum V12 engine [perhaps two 2.7 liter V6 engines?]. Ride and handling are enhanced by an advanced suspension, similar to that of the Dodge Viper. The body-on-frame, rear wheel drive car used a four-speed automatic with a Dana 40 axle, making one suspicious that the truck division contributed its basic chassis.
"We wanted Phaeton's performance characteristics to be comparable to that of its inspirational father, the Newport," said Walling. "After all, the Newport was the pace car of the Indianapolis 500 in 1941."
Chrysler Phaeton Dimensions
Chrysler Phaeton concept car photos by Marc Rozman were taken in front of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum; the Phaeton may sometimes be seen on display there.
|Inches/millimeters unless specified|
|Front||8 x 22|
|Rear||8 x 22|
|Engine:||5.4 Liter V-12
425 hp (313 kW) (ACT)
|Front||Modified Double Wishbone|
|Rear||Independent Double "A" Arm|
|Brakes||ABS, four-wheel disc|
|Drivetrain:||Rear wheel drive
Dana 40 rear axle
Concept cars are often made so a car’s feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials — either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what’s being tested. Some are created to help designers think “out of the box.” The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.