2001 Chryslers, Dodges, Plymouths, and Jeeps
2001 was a bad year for the former Chrysler Corporation. Executive gaffes in 2000 and a continued stream of contempt for Chrysler from Daimer and Mercedes leaders led to a series of sales declines, and in response, costs were cut... and cut again... and cut again. One fifth of the company’s employees were dropped, 19,000 union employees and 6,800 white-collar workers; and the product development budget was cut by 10%. Chrysler's highly-praised, rapid, flexible development system (inherited from AMC) was replaced by an expensive, slow one from Mercedes. The profits of the 1990s were quickly forgotten — or ignored.
Small car development was shifted to Mitsubishi: it was announced that the Stratus and Sebring replacements would be based on Mitsubishi designs. Mitsubishi itself was also slashing its size and costs, but with somewhat more justification.
Juergen Schrempp, DaimlerChrysler CEO, had (according to Forbes) ordered Chrysler to save the second quarter's profits “at all costs,” building more vehicles than the dealers could sell; a smaller profit of $2.5 billion was turned into a loss. Meanwhile, Chrysler’s cash reserves had been spent on stakes in Mitsubishi and Hyundai.
Attention was diverted from the carnage by some bright spots. The new Chrysler PT Cruiser was hot — people paid far over list, waited in line, and flocked to quickly-multiplying PT web sites, tracking cars bought sight-unseen through factory and rail phone lines. The launch of the new Hemi, then used only in trucks, was also a high point of the year. The Hemi engine was a true attention getter; quiet, smooth, and powerful, it cost less to make than the 4.7 liter V8 mainstay, not to mention the phased-out 318 and 360.
The long-running Jeep Cherokee, which was supposed to have been replaced first by (what became) the Grand Cherokee and then by (what became) the Jeep Liberty, was finally dropped in June 2001, after a last burst of sales. It had lasted nearly a year longer than intended, running down the assembly line at the same time as its two replacements.
The Dodge Powerbox concept truck debuted; it got a claimed 25 mpg, while being capable of 0-60 in seven seconds. It was larger inside than the Durango, and was seen as being the basis for the next-generation Durango.
The team that would create the SRT cars was formed in 2001, a decision that would have overwhelmingly positive results.
Chrysler has announced that production of the Jeep Cherokee will end later this year, and that the Cherokee will be replaced by the Liberty.
All models got new keys with logos moulded into the key head.
Plymouth was down to two cars, the Neon and Prowler. The Prowler became the Chrysler Prowler, and the Plymouth Neon had already vanished, along with the 70 year old Plymouth brand. The Prowler gained an optional "black tie edition" with black over silver paint, a stripe, silver instrument panel bezel, and silver floor mats. All Prowlers gained Dynamic Suspensions adjustable shock absorbers and keys with the Prowler logo. Orange joined the other colors. After Plymouth was dropped in June, Prowlers became Chryslers, but sales plummeted with the name change and the car was dropped entirely at the end of the year.
The loss of Plymouth led to the creation of a base model Town & Country and the Chrysler Town & Country EX, with the 3.8 liter engine, power rear liftgate, and other features, at a price of about $27,000.
The last Plymouth, a Neon — true to the brand’s roots — rolled off the Belvedere assembly line on June 28, 2001. The brand was created on June 14, 1928.
Dodge renamed its models to have a more predictable hierarchy. Base models of the Intrepid and Neon were SE. Luxury models were ES. Sport models were R/T. The Apple-ripoff “Dodge. Different.” slogan was replaced in the summer by “Grab life by the horns.”
2001 Dodge Neon
For 2001, the Neon R/T (ACR hadn’t been made in 2000) came with a new SOHC Magnum engine — with 150 hp and 135 lb-ft of torque, roughly matching the old DOHC engine. EPA fuel economy ratings were 28 city, 35 highway (manual transmission), the same as the standard engine; the differences were a different camshaft, electronically controlled dual-plenum intake, and dual exhaust/mufflers which include a 2.25 inch diameter exhaust pipe and stainless steel header. The R/T had fog lights and black headlamp bezels, as well as a color-keyed instrument panel, and low-back bucket seats.
The Neon ACR also returned, after being absent in 2000. It, too, came with the 150 hp Magnum engine. Like the R/T, it had a trunk lid mounted spoiler.
The ES model gained a Sport version, with a rear spoiler, 16-inch aluminum wheels, and performance suspension. Leather and side airbags were optional on the Neon ES and Neon R/T.
Neon models were SE, ES, R/T, and ACR. The SE had Goodyear Eagle GA tires (P185/65R14), with optional (standard on ES) P185/60R15 Eagle LS tires. The R/T came with P195/50R16H Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires, a fine combination; sixteen-inch wheels were large for the era. The ACR came with P185/60R15 Goodyear NCT3 tires. All models except the SE came with ABS brakes.
Running changes from July 2000 included a modified manual transaxle with new second-and fourth-gear ratios, and child seat anchors. For 2001 rear center passengers got a shoulder harness, and people locked in the trunk got an emergency trunk lid release.
According to J.D. Power, the Dodge Neon actually beat the Honda Civic in initial quality. While the Civic led the Neon in "mechanical quality," the Neon beat the Civic in both feature and accessory quality, and in interior and body quality, and equalled the Civic in performance, creature comforts, and style. The Neon also beat the Ford Focus, in feature and accessory quality, while equalling the Focus in every other measure.
However, in late 2000, Chrysler announced that the Neon would be phased out and replaced by something based on Mitsubishi’s cars. This process took four years, and the result was the generally unloved Dodge Caliber.
Dodge Ram van
Though the Ram van was officially near the end of its life, Chrysler had made a few improvements. There was a new trailer towing package with a hitch (class IV receiver), seven circuit wiring harness, and 7-to-4 circuit wiring adapter.
Interior changes included new colors, new tilt and fixed steering columns, a passenger assist handle, and a moulded front headliner. The transmission range was shown in a ditial display, and a chime replaced the buzzer. Front seat belt pretensioners increased safety during a frontal collision.
The B-vans’ long career was essentially ended by the news that the Mercedes Sprinter would be built in the South Carolina Freightliner plant, and sold as a Freightliner in the US; it would eventually be re-labelled as a Dodge (the decision was announced in November after lackluster sales of the Freightliner).
2001 Dodge Ram pickups
The 2500 and 3500 models got standard four wheel antilock disc brakes. The rear calipers had dual pistons, and the ABS systems included electronic variable proportioning for the best front-rear balance.
The Cummins turbo diesel engine got a power boost, up to 235 hp / 460 lb-ft of torque - with a new high output option of a whopping 245 hp / 505 lb-ft of torque (manual transmission only). The manual / Cummins option's cruise control was now fully electronic.
New color schemes were added, along with bright tailgate graphics and child seat anchors. Otherwise, changes waited for the 2002 models, which boasted a higher-power, higher-mileage 4.7 liter V8.
2001 Dodge Caravan
We have a special page for the 2001 minivans, but here are the highlights:
- Industry-first power up and power down liftgate
- Industry-first removable, powered center console
- Power dual sliding doors, allowing manual override, powered by an industry-first inside-the-door motor
- Industry-first power sliding door obstacle detection system
- More powerful engines, including a 3.5 with 230 horsepower, the most powerful minivan engine. The 3.3 went from 140 hp to 180, the 3.8 from 180 to 215 hp. The Mitsubishi 3.0 is gone, simplifying the lineup and making the base Caravan...faster.
- Minivan-first pop-up rear cargo organizer
- Minivan-first three-zone automatic temperature control system
- Split 50/50 Easy-Out Roller Seats¨
- Adjustable pedals
- Side air bags
- Front seat belt pretensioners
- Universal child seat anchors
A 3.5 liter V6-powered minivan had been planned, but was dropped in March; reportedly, some in the company felt customers would be hopelessly confused by having an optional engine that was smaller than the standard 3.8 V6.
Chrysler had finally woken up and realized that it needed to do something other than offer rebates to fight the Odyssey. The result was two new minivan options packages (billed as four new models, though they really are not) - the Voyager/Caravan eC, and the Town & Country/Grand Caravan eL. Despite the InterCap names, the models had a formula similar to the EX - namely, instead of having a high price that is discounted through rebates, they will have a lower price to start, and no rebates.
The eL came with air conditioning, captain's chairs, split rollout seats, storage trays under both first and second row seats, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, trip computer, three-zone automatic climate control, antilock brakes, and heated/dimming exterior mirrors - at a stunning $24,175. That's an amazing amount of equipment even on a car. Chrysler's base minivans could be purchased for under $15,000 with a four-cylinder (150 hp), making them considerably cheaper than the new Kia Sedona, as well as optioned-out economy cars like the Toyota Corolla LE and Honda Civic EX.
Chrysler unveiled a fuel cell-powered minivan that ran on sodium boro-hydride, a compound related to borax, the naturally-occuring substance used in laundry soap. The van was not intended for production.
The concept Chrysler Town & Country Natrium, named for the Latin word for sodium, had a range of 300 miles. Thomas Moore, a Chrysler vice-president who directed fuel cell research and development, wrote, “there are no hydrocarbons to contribute to greenhouse gas buildup, no smog-producing emissions and the fuel can be recycled.”
Sodium boro-hydride is nontoxic, nonflammable, recyclable and readily available in the United States. It comes in powder form and can be mixed with water to create a fuel mix. In the Natrium, the fuel mix passes through a catalyst that extracts the hydrogen, which is combined with oxygen in the fuel cell stacks to create electricity that drives the minivan's electric motor. The byproducts are water and borax, which can be reprocessed into sodium boro-hydride and reused.
2001 Dodge Intrepid
The base model was renamed Dodge Intrepid SE. 16 inch aluminum wheels were offered as an option on the SE.
New windshield pillar moldings and thicker window glass were introduced for better noise insulation and to manage water better. Keys had a Dodge ram logo. Split folding rear seats with a center armrest (featuring cup holders) was optional on the SE and R/T, and the ES gained new Venice cloth seats. R/T had optional seats and door appliques. Steering wheel audio controls were added for Infinity-equipped models. Another power outlet was in the center console (with bucket seats).
Side airbags were optional. The center rear seat had a shoulder harness, and an emergency trunk release was added (to prevent people from being trapped in the trunk). All engines met low emission vehicle standards in every state.
Available on the Dodge Intrepid ES was the a 3.2-liter V-6 engine that delivered 225 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 225 lb.-ft. of torque at 3800 rpm with the AutoStick transmission. The 3.2-liter engine also benefited from an upgraded cooling module, which was first used in the Intrepid R/T, for additional cooling during extended idle and towing.
Dodge Intrepid R/T had an optional premium radio with cassette and four-disc in-dash CD changer with nine speakers. The Intrepid R/T featured a high-output 3.5-liter SOHC V-6 engine that delivered 242 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 250 lb.-ft. of torque at 3950 rpm, and was complemented by a selectable dual-mode AutoStick transaxle and performance-tuned exhaust.
In handling, the Intrepid managed the obstacle course in almost the exact same time as the Ford Police Interceptor. The Impala had a similar time, taking only two seconds longer in a one minute, 40 second run. The only real standouts in this test were the overachieving Camaro and the terribly underachieving Hummer, which, incidentally, also had the worst acceleration by an amazing margin, the lowest top speed, and the worst brakes.
The Intrepid achieved credible acceleration, trailing the Crown Victoria but only by fractions of a second in every speed group up to 100 mph. The Intrepid, however, had a top speed of 135, higher than any vehicle tested other than the Camaro (the next best was the Ford Police Interceptor). The Intrepid stopped in five fewer feet than the extended-wheelbase 2003 Ford Interceptor, but took ten more feet than the 2002 model.
The one area where the Intrepid really outshined the Ford Police Interceptor was gas mileage. Despite almost identical performance in every measured area, the Intrepid managed to get three more miles out of each gallon - 18 city vs 15, 26 highway vs 22, 21 combined vs 18. This can be an important difference over the course of 100,000 miles. The Impala, however, beat the Intrepid, with 20 city vs 18, 29 highway vs 26, 23 combined vs 21.
A police version based on the Intrepid R/T was created.
2001 Dodge Viper
Viper was hot off a historic win at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2000. The Viper GTS-R won a class victory at LeMans, four FIA championships, and the American LeMans championship by 2000, when Team ORECA won the 24 Hours of Daytona — overall. They won a third straight LeMans class finish that year (seventh place overall) and ten races in American LeMans.
An optional comfort group, with air conditioning and improved stereo, was available. Four wheel disc antilock brakes were standard. New colors were yellow and blue pearl coat, with optional black center stripes on yellow. Keys had Viper-logo heads. The R/T 10 had an emergency internal trunk release.
2001 Dodge Stratus and Dodge Avenger
The Dodge Avenger nameplate died just as the car got an engine worthy of the name, an (optional) 200 hp Mitsubishi V6, available with a five-speed manual transmission. The Avenger, now called the Sebring Coupe, was built by Mitsubishi from the Eclipse platform. It was pretty quick, but from the inside, it was clearly designed by Mitsubishi, and was in the Dodge lineup solely because Chrysler did not have enough production capability or tolerance for risk to build a coupe that was actually based on the Stratus.
The Stratus Sedan, still an actual Dodge, gained the 2.7 V6 engine, producing 200 hp, used in the LH series, as an option. It was much more refined than in the past.
We have a more extensive page on the Stratus Sedan here.
2001 Dodge Dakota
Four wheel drive vehicles got new electronically shifted transfer cases with a rotary instrument panel control. Sport and SLT models got new 15" aluminum wheels, while special new Tire and Handling options with new wheels and tires were added. The Sport gained a body colored front fascia. All models got new 6x9 side mirrors.
The instrument panel had been redesigned. A new tilt steering column had more positions, and the transmission indicator had a digital display (44RE and 46RE automatics). The optional premium overhead console had a universal garage door opener. Stereo options were improved.
The interior had basically been redone, with more cupholders, compartments, and power outlets, more comfortable / better-padded seats, and leather available on the Quad Cab.
The vent system had been improved with more heating and cooling capacity, two additional outlets, and recirculated air available in bi-level mode.
A battery saver was standard, and a rear window defroster was available on the Club Cab. Front seat belt pretensioners were on the Quad Cab. The optional security alarm had a Sentry Key. The 3.9, 4.7, and (soon-to-be-replaced) 5.9 engines all met low emission vehicle standards in every state.
2001 Dodge Durango
The Durango, essentially a Dakota with an enclosed rear, gained all the changes of the Dakota. A Special Appearance Group, including a running board, was added. The Next Generation 4.7-liter Magnum® V-8 engine and multi-speed 45RFE automatic transmission were standard on 2WD models.
- Variable-delay intermittent rear window wiper system
- Automatic-dimming, heated, power 5x7-inch mirrors - (option on SLT)
- New aerodynamic power foldaway mirrors - (Trailer Tow Group)
- New instrument panel with color-keyed components and surface-mounted controls for radio and HVAC system
- New instrument cluster with engine oil level indicator
- New floor console with three cup holders, armrest, coin holder, tissue holder, pen holder, removable cassette and CD storage bin, cellular telephone compartment, 12-volt power outlet and interior lamp (only with bucket seats)
- Woodgrain trim added to floor console - SLT Plus Group only
- Manually adjustable lumbar support on passenger seat - SLT
- Power passenger seat - SLT Plus Group only
- Power lumbar support on driver and passenger power seats
- Leather front seats include heaters with 2-level temperature control
- Rear HVAC system with separate second and third seat air conditioning outlets and a separate heater.
2001 Jeep Cherokee
The Cherokee lost the underpowered 2.5 liter engine. A new steel blue color came late in the year. Child seat rear tether anchors were added. The sole engine met Low Emission Vehicle requirements. Sales had dropped like a stone, and some believed that Chrysler would not produce the Cherokee through the entire year, but would cancel the line as originally planned.
2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Grand Cherokee got a hefty facelift to deal with increased competition:
- New options and equipment groups were added, including stereo upgrades.
- The 4.7 liter engine came with a 545RFE five-speed automatic transmission, essentially a four-speed automatic with a second overdrive ratio for better highway gas mileage and noise reduction.
- Larger 17 inch wheels were used.
- The 4.7 got a hydraulically driven engine cooling fan which reportedly raised gas mileage.
- Color changes were inevitable. A quarter-turn gas cap was added.
- New seats with gathered leather debuted on the Limited, along with additional color-keyed trim and aluminum-finish cluster dials.
- The Laredo got brushed aluminum instrument panel and clusterstack trim.
- A cargo net was standard for the left quarter trim panel.
- A connector for aftermarket electric trailer brakes was added in the tow group.
- Child seat tether anchors were added.
2001 Jeep Wrangler
The classic remained, for the moment. It was the sole user of the 2.5 liter AMC engine. A redesign loomed, however, and many were apprehensive after seeing the new Cherokee.
- Heavier fuel tank skid plate and quarter-turn gas cap.
- New antilock brakes.
- Long-life antifreeze.
- Quick-removal side steps.
- Thicker, quieter, more durable soft top.
- New tilt wheel mechanism with increased range and finer adjustments.
- Optional "add a trunk" and amplified subwoofer
- Redesigned mini and full console with, respectively, dual and rear seat cup holders.
- Changes to seat materials
- Wider inside rearview mirror
- Changes to controls and instrument panel; intermittent wipers were standard.
- Child seat anchors.
Chrysler launched its “Drive = Love” campaign, a notable flop, in August.
It seems that international versions of Chrysler vehicles with diesel engines were slowly being switched to Mercedes engines, though Detroit Diesel was a subsidiary of DCX. Presumably, Mercedes management was being pressured to show results, and this was a way of transferring cash from profitable Chrysler to meandering Mercedes.
Chrysler PT Cruiser
The “Plymouth Truck” — named in accordance with the long-forgotten PT line of Plymouths — debuted at its first auto show already rebadged. Despite having a clear Prowler inheritance, this car, once to be the second of a full line of retro-styled Plymouths, was badged a Chrysler, and the public was so happy with the car
The PT Cruiser was named Car of the Year at the Detroit Auto Show and the Leipzig Auto Show; its designer, Bryan Nesbitt, moved to General Motors (eventually heading up design there) after Chrysler showed no interest in his career. Production was boosted almost immediately after launch, and was added at Graz, Austria, in July. The car’s factory was rated by J.D. Power as being the second best plant, worldwide, for DaimlerChrysler, beating most Mercedes plants. The PT Cruiser was one of the five highest quality "premium compact" cars.
Chrysler Cirrus and 2001 Chrysler Sebring
Just as the Dodge Avenger had been folded into the Dodge Stratus, the Chrysler Cirrus was the sedan version of the Sebring. (The names were a trifle inconsistent, since here the actual Chrysler car was being named after the Mitsubishi, which in turn was named after a 1970s Plymouth). See the Dodge Stratus section for details. For the Sebring Sedan, click here.
2001 Chrysler 300M
The Chrysler 300M gained an optional luxury package, with automatically adjusting outside mirrors (which tilt down when driving in reverse), walnut trim, and overhead trip computer ("electronic vehicle information center"). Chrome dual exhaust outlets and 17 inch, 12 spoke aluminum wheels had become standard across the line. Chrome wheels were optional.
New tail lamps had clear lenses, the latest style. Window opening mouldings were bright anodized aluminum, and the folding outside mirrors had a high gloss. New mouldings around the windshield dealt with water better and reduced wind noise.
On the inside, the steering wheel featured radio controls, and the shift knob had a chrome insert. The clock face had "jewel-like wings," and a winged Chrysler medallion was on the horn pad. Finally, an extra power outlet had been added to the center console.
Safety features included optional side airbags, a center rear seat harness, and internal emergency trunk release. The standard (USA) 3.5 engine was certified for LEV standards.
Chrysler built a limited run of its new 2002 300M Special starting November 5. A total of 8,500 Chrysler 300M Specials was built, with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $32,595, which included $655 for destination.
Similar to European "tuners," Chrysler 300M Special featured ground effects that surrounded the vehicle's lower body while ride height was lowered one-half inch. The car had a more assertive stance and even lower aerodynamic drag than the stock Chrysler 300M.
2001 Chrysler Concorde
The 22D package had been changed, and the steering wheel had audio controls (with Infinity stereos only). The horn had a winged Chrysler medallion. See the Dodge Intrepid for other changes.
2001 Chrysler LHS
Many of us thought the LHS would not survive, but here it was again, for another year. It included the same changes as the 300M, which was not surprising.
2001 Chrysler Voyager, Town & Country
See the listing for Dodge Caravan.
The Stratus R/T and Cirrus four-door sedans were introduced in Mexico, complete with a turbocharged 2.4 liter engine rated at 215 horsepower (more than the V6 sold in the US). The Cirrus was similar to the Chrysler Sebring sedan.
Factories and dealershps
- Lago Alberto eliminated, production moved to Saltillo
- Campo Largo (brand new Brazil plant) dropped
- Cordoba plant eliminated
- Mound Road plant eliminated
- Pillette Road (B-van) plant expansion stopped
- Toluca engine and transmission plants to be closed
Chrysler also cut dealer incentives, removed a $50 advertising fee and fuel tank filling fee, cut profit margins on accessories, and cut diagnostic time paid to mechanics.
Chrysler had reversed a long policy and was not only allowing Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep to be sold in a single store, but was encouraging dealers to consolidate. "Project Alpha" was designed to boost sales by adding locations with all three Chrysler brands. The company believed that, when the new models arrived, they would be differentiated enough that buyers would not be able to immediately say, "Hey, that Dodge and Chrysler are the same!" Or maybe they had decided that buyers already knew that a Chrysler was a Dodge with optional leather. In any case, the company was moving fast, with the first of the newly combined Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealerships to be opened by the end of the year.
In December, Chrysler announced that it was selling a Dayton, Ohio parts plant.
Mark Osborne's Hemi-powered Neon R/T became the first NHRA Pro Stock car to break 204 mph barrier. Osborne flew down the Maple Grove Raceway quarter-mile, reaching 204.35 mph - the new national speed record - and doing it in 6.754 seconds, the second quickest time in NHRA history. Osborne had just run the second-fast quarter mile in NHRA Pro Stock history, reaching 203.7 mph. Osborne credited the Hemi engine and the Mopar team's work with the new Neon.
Dodge Parts teammate Darrell Alderman, a three-time Winston Pro Stock World Champion, ran the quarter in 6.788 seconds, their first sub-6.8 second pass. Osborne actually broke Alderman's record, set recently in the Hemi Neon R/T - 202.64 mph. (Thanks for the heads up, Doug Hedrick!)
October 12, 2001: Competition Viper can now be ordered
Dodge opened the ordering process for its limited-production (about 25 per year), racing-only 2003 Dodge Viper Competition Coupe. Applications were being accepted from experienced racers only, who were required to show evidence of intent to actually race the car, have racing licenses, and provide a certified deposit of $20,000.
The Competition Coupe was not street legal, despite its relatively affordable price of under $100,000. Based on the 2003 Viper convertible, it was not intended to replace the three-time Le Mans GTS Class-winning Viper GTS-R, to be a "grassroots-level race car."
The coupe had a single-seat cockpit with Recaro Pro Racer competition seat, Motec instrumentation and data acquisition system, and driver-adjustable front anti-roll bar. Power came from a 520 horsepower (est.), 540 lb.-ft. of torque (est.), 505 cu. in. aluminum V-10 engine with six-speed transmission. Performance estimates put 0-60 mph acceleration times at 3.8 seconds, 0-100 mph at 9.2 seconds, quarter mile at 11.8 seconds (123 mph), top speed at 192 mph, 60-0 braking at 90 feet, and lateral acceleration at 1.25 g.
Dodge Viper Competition Coupes were being sold to participants in the SCCA Speedvision World Challenge, Grand American Grand-Am Cup Class and the Skip Thomas Viper Racing League. Production began in the fourth quarter of 2002.
October 13, 2001: Dodge racing news
From Dodge: "With this past Sunday's victory at the UAW-GM Quality 500, Dodge is making waves in the Winston Cup Series. While this is only the 3rd victory out of 29 races, the cause to celebrate is the return of Dodge as a serious contender in the racing world- a step closer to a return to the glory days of Dodge Winston Cup racing. Sunday's victory came at the hands of Sterling Marlin, who also earned Dodge's first win of the season at the Pepsi 400. Ward Burton earned the 2nd Dodge victory at the Mountain Dew Southern 500.
"What is more notable about the recent victories is that they come after a 16 year hiatus from the Winston Cup Series. Dodge's return and success in the racing world has once again brought them into the radar screens of their competitors. Dodge's success in addition to race victories include many spots sitting on the pole and a driver (Marlin) in the top 5 on the leaderboard of points for the Series. These facts go to show that Dodge has a formula for success in the works."
In keeping with Daimler-Benz's decree that Chrysler must focus only on its "home market" of North America, Chrysler abandoned its highly - even incredibly - successful LeMans efforts, including the backing of Viper-racing Team ORECA.
To quote Chrysler, "The program originally produced two Chrysler brand-sponsored, Mopar V-8-powered Le Mans Prototype-class sports cars for participation in the 2000 French road-racing classic. In the 2001 event, the program expanded to three entries. Team ORECA -- Chrysler's Signes, France-based development partner -- fielded the racing prototypes....The Mopar engine, developed by John Caldwell, will be offered by Caldwell's California-based company, CDI. The 6.0-liter aluminum V-8 engine block is sold through DaimlerChrysler's Mopar Performance Parts division. An alcohol-burning version of it will continue to race in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws, where it powers the 1999 series champion Mark Kinser. The Mopar engine, developed by John Caldwell, will be offered by Caldwell's California-based company, CDI. The 6.0-liter aluminum V-8 engine block is sold through DaimlerChrysler's Mopar Performance Parts division. An alcohol-burning version of it will continue to race in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws, where it powers the 1999 series champion Mark Kinser."
Chrysler said it was redirecting its efforts to creating the next-generation Viper, including the Competition Coupe.
Dodge Motorsports and Bobby Hamilton Racing announced that Bill Lester joined the 2001 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Manufacturers title-winning Dodge factory racing program for the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). Lester drove the No. 8 Dodge Dealers Ram 1500 for Bobby Hamilton Racing.