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The 1995 Chrysler Atlantic Concept Car

Legend has it that, in 1994, one-time Chrysler design chief Tom Gale and then Chrysler president Bob Lutz served together as judges for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

1995 Chrysler Atlantic concept car

The classic cars to be judged were located on the 18th fairway, but there were a number of concept cars, old and new, not included in the judging, on the lawn. Gale and Lutz decided that next year, Chrysler was going to have a concept car that would put all the other concepts “back on their trailers.”

The legend says that Lutz sketched his ideas on a napkin, which he gave to Gale. Gale gave his design staff the assignment but without the sketches, explaining that he didn’t want to give his designers any preconceptions which would stifle their creativity. They were told to use ideas and features of the curvaceous French coupes of the thirties (Bugatti, Talbot-Lago, Delahaye, and Delage) to come up with a knock-out retro design that would mix the best of the old with the newest of the new. The result, designed by Bob Hubbach, is the 1995 Chrysler Atlantic.

chrysler atlantic concept car from 1995

The car is around two hundred inches long, 76 inches wide, and nearly 52 inches tall; riding on a 126 inch wheelbase ,it uses 21” wheels in front and 22” in the back. Power is provided by a 4.0 liter straight eight, built from two Neon engine blocks, arranged nose-to-tail.

Its styling is an obvious blend of old and new, but its features were cutting edge: four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, automatic transmission with Auto-Stick, and neon for brake lights and the interior.

The Atlantic is a part of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum collection. The car was in great demand on the show and museum circuit.

Ettore Bugatti and the Type 57

Ettore Bugatti was a builder of things mechanical. In his French factory, he built boats and aircraft engines and at least one airplane, and but his first love was automobiles. He is generally considered an artist, more so than an engineer, which may explain why some of his designs were “a bit wacky” while others were inspired. He produced two outstanding Grand Prix cars, his Types 35 and 59. His engines were works of art, as were a number of his cars. One of his last designs is considered by many to be his best, the Type 57 sports and sports racing car.

It was in body design where he produced his most bizarre creations. The Type 57 sported a 3.3 liter straight eight engine with double overhead camshafts and hemispherical combustion chambers, with a 90° angle between intake and exhaust valves. The block and head were cast integrally, and bolted to a cast aluminum crankcase/transmission housing; the Type 57S was equipped with a Rootes-type positive displacement supercharger, a potent performer. With a streamlined body christened “the Tank” by the motoring press, it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1937 and again in 1939.

The Type 57 was the most popular Bugatti, with an estimated 750 made; there were a variety of body styles, and the chassis was available to independent coach builders. One of the weirdest was an open sports body with fully skirted, steering front fenders. The one most commonly associated with the Type 57 is the Atlantique coupe. Its most noticeable feature is the large spot welding seam which runs from the windshield header to the tailend of the body.

chrylser atlantic and bugatti atlantique type 57 model cars

The photos of the blue Atlantique posed with the Chrysler Atlantic are models, the Bugatti a rather poor one in 1/24 scale from Burago of Italy. Though lacking in fit and finish (the right hand door won’t stay closed), it is more or less accurate in its basic shape.

The Chrysler is a 1/18 scale by Guiloy of Spain, considerably better in quality. I tweaked the smaller model so a comparison could be made. If you’re interested in obtaining the Guiloy model, the* site had one left in stock for $69.95 [as of 2016 there were four models, none available]. As for the Bugatti model, I've never seen it in stores. I bought mine by mail order sometime in the late 1980s.

*Scale18 is the website of Kevin’s Hobbies of Anmore, British Columbia, Canada. Kevin claims that his “Huge List” contains every 1/18 scale diecast model car ever offered for sale. He includes not only all that are 1/18 scale, but all those that claim to be 1/18 scale. I've tried to find one that’s not on the list but so far no way. Kevin also has a huge inventory along with very competitive prices.

Chrysler Atlantic and Bugatti Atlantique Bibliography

Model Reviews by Pete Hagenbuch:

Pete Hagenbuch, not content with designing the engines and fuel systems used in the actual cars, or in being a well-known slot car performance pioneer, has written reviews of numerous models:

Mattel’s Dodge Charger - $30 replica of the classic car

mattel charger

1957 Chrysler 300C

1956 Chrysler 300B 300B


venomConcept 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.

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Chrysler Atlantic Concept cars