by David Zatz
The Dodge Sling Shot was based on a smart car, but got better gas mileage and had faster acceleration — up to 45 miles per gallon with 0-60 times of about 10 seconds. Oh, and we drove it.
Designed for open-air driving, it had a main roof panel and side rails over the passenger area that could be stored in the trunk (Sling Shot had two storage areas), while a canvas roof panel could slide back and out of the way like a roll top desk.
The engine was a rear-mounted three-cylinder gasoline unit tuned to deliver 100 bhp; it was hooked up to a five-speed gearbox. The car had rack-and-pinion steering, a four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes.
The concept is surprisingly fast (especially given that it is a concept car!), with great sound from the exhaust. The 1.3 liter engine responds quickly and then the supercharger comes in smoothly, but making its presence very clear.
The Sling Shot has a sequential gearshift — you start from the middle, the engine starts itself automatically, you move to the drive region, and push - to get to first, then + to move forward. There’s no room behind the seats.
It is hard to get into the cramped interior; but it’s worth the effort. The ride is better than one would expect, but still quite firm; it handles well, especially for a concept. The basic idea of rebodying a smart for Dodge use was dropped after the concept was made.
This car might have been a winner, but moving to American safety standards would likely have added far too much weight; and pricing would have been too high for comfort. It was still an interesting design study, including the use of new colors in the interior: yellow gauges with bright red areas, and greenish-blue dash covers.
See our main concept cars page.
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.
Concept cars • popular: Firepower • Tomahawk • ME412 • Mighty FC • Gladiator
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