1952 Chrysler C-200 concept car
The Chrysler C-200 concept car (which followed the K-310) used a FirePower V8 engine similar to the 300-horsepower Hemi used in the K-310 concept. They were among the first cars to be styled under Virgil Exner; and they were actually considered for production, where they may have stolen the Corvette’s thunder with their 300-horsepower engines; but dropping sales of the stodgily-styled Chrysler Corporation cars meant lack of funds for such chancey vehicles. The car had Chrysler’s own self-energizing disc brakes and spanned ten feet, five inches.
The C-200 convertible is another experiment by Chrysler Corporation to explore the blending of sports car styling with practical automobile design and engineering features. It was designed to measure up to the American driver’s concept of how a car should handle and respond to American driving and traffic experience.
Entirely designed and styled in Detroit by the Chrysler Corporation Engineering Division, the C-200 convertible represents a striking departure from current American production car styling. But Chrysler designers have not thrown practical considerations to the winds merely to achieve fantastic styling for styling’s sake.
In body, chassis and engine the C-200 is a careful integration of components reflecting a high degree of over-all unity.
Conceived by Chrysler engineers, the C-200 came into being through a series of artist’s sketches and three-dimensional scale models executed in the styling studios of the Chrysler Engineering Division in Detroit.
From the artists’ sketches the styling lines of the experimental car were selected and these were transferred to three dimensions by means of a 3/8 scale model in clay. Such 3/8 scale clay models are extensively used in automotive styling because they are large enough in size to show proper perspective in car lines, and yet small enough so that changes can be easily and quickly made.
On completion of the clay model, a further 3/8 scale model was rendered in plaster, and it was from this plaster model that the boy lines of the completed car were copied.
Continued heavy pressure on Chrysler’s engineering facilities, occasioned by the Corporation’s extensive role in both defense and civilian research and production, led to a decision to have the experimental C-20 car built in Europe.
Drawings and scale modes, completed in Detroit, were shipped, along with a Chrysler chassis and engine, to Ghia, custom body builder in Turin, Italy, whose shops were particularly suited for executing the individual boy of the Chrysler C-200.
The body of this experimental convertible was completely custom built, with the sheet metal hand-pounded to shape over specially prepared wooden hammer-forms made as full-scale enlargements of the 3/8 scale plaster model.
When the body was finished and trimmed it was mounted on its American-built Chrysler chassis and the completed C-200 car was ready for public display.
The exceptional styling of the C-200 convertible was developed along themes of simplicity and function, with emphasis throughout ton long, low lines. This emphasis was accomplished in a number of ways. The front grille opening is closely centered and relatively small in area, though adequate for engine cooling. A long, broad hood line emphasizes the car’s length, while the two-tone light green and black color combination serves to accentuate its lowness.
The C-200 actually stands less than five feet high—only 55-3/8 inches from the pavement to the tope of the windshield when the top is folded, and 58 inches in height when the top is up. The over-all length is 220-1/2 inches and road clearance is 7-3/4 inches.
The sports car theme is carried out in the large, full-exposed wire wheels, 17 inches in diameter, which also have the important function of providing improved tire and brake cooling.
Front fenders of the C-200, sharply outlined forward, fade smoothly into the body behind the front wheels. A vestige of the rear fender appears in outline ahead of the rear wheels, blending again into the body structure of the rear deck. An elegant sweep of the rear deck lid line is designed to complement the low hood line, and the taillights are mounted prominently atop the rear fenders to accent, by contrast, the smoothness of those lines.
The C-200 car has many interesting styling features. One is its flush door handles. When the thumb is pushed against the button at the rear of the latch, the handle pivots outward to provide an easy grip for opening the door.
The front seat arrangement is unique in that the seat back is divided off-center so that two persons might sit comfortably without being disturbed when a passenger enters or leaves the rear seat. In addition, the front seat is son constructed that when either section of the seat back is tilted forward the seat itself also slides forward to provide roomier, more convenient access to the rear.
Smartly styled circular instruments are so placed on the instrument panel as to be easily and quickly read. Two large instruments centered above the steering column are the tachometer at the left, registering the engine’s revolutions per minute, and speedometer at the right. Incorporated into the tachometer dial face is the oil pressure gauge and located in combination with the speedometer is the ammeter indicator. Fuel and temperature gauges are located individually at the center of the panel. Radio and glove compartment are located at the right. Across the cowl, above the instruments, is a leather-covered foam rubber safety cushion.
The deck or trunk lid has no exterior handle to interrupt the smooth lines of the car. The trunk lid is opened by tripping either of two levers located at opposite sides of the rear seat, and the spring-loaded trunk lid can be opened to any desired height where spring counterbalances hold it in position.
While the lid of the rear trunk compartment bears the embossed imprint of a wheel, this is purely a feature of the car’s styling. The spare tire actually is housed in a well in the floor of the luggage compartment beneath a light plywood cover which forms a part of the trunk floor. This arrangement, with additional storage capacity in fender wells at each side of the car, provides an exceptionally large luggage space for the low-profile C-200.
To assist in removing the spare tire and wheel, a counterbalanced spring-loaded mechanism lifts the tire upward and out to a nearly vertical position above the bumper, where it can be removed easily and conveniently for changing.
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.