Concept cars are made for many reasons, largely to get a visible, tangible look at a design before production so its feel can be evaluated, possible problems can be foreseen, and so reactions of non-gearheads can be judged. Sometimes, concepts test particular ideas - for example, colors and materials, controls and dashboard layouts, and the like. Those ideas can be rather subtle and hidden.
Other concepts are designed to help designers think out of the box. One example of that is the Jeep Treo, a study to consider what cars might be like when fuel cells are common (if they become common), and how that would affect styling. Without a large engine in front, for example, the Treo allows drivers to actually look through the grille.
Concept cars can be divided more precisely. Pre-production cars like the Challenger, Prowler, and Viper were all production-based concepts dressed up in doodads and geegaws to hide the production intent. A “true” concept is a styling, engineering, or manufacturing excercise that tests out consumer reaction to various ideas and is not a specific model production intent vehicle. For example, the Renegade pickup was actually a 2008 minivan concept.
Driving concept cars is a fascinating experience because you begin to realize why they did things - the old question of "what the #*$#@*&!^! were they thinking?" is answered. Designs that seem over the top become reasonable. However, before the expensive concepts are driven by outsiders, they usually get some form of mechanical limiter so the engine can roar but the car won't move. The exceptions in our experience were the Sling Shot, a rebodied smart car, and the 2.4-turbo equipped, five-speed Pronto Spyder, which would have been an amazing Plymouth had it been produced.
Hans Riemenschneider wrote: The '41 Thunderbolt was designed by
Alex Tremulis (a.k.a. Tucker Torpedo). It had a one-piece retractable
hardtop. Five were built, four survive.
David Ryan wrote: We at the shop have the official 1941 Chrysler
Newport Dual-cowl Pheaton Pace Car (non-hiding headlights). I had to
fab the bumperettes for it. The car is currently green; Walter P.
Junior didn't appreciate the silver colour, so he had it painted to his
liking. The doors and half the body are made of aluminum, wood
structure, the rest is steel, totally ahead of its time.
Wagner wrote: The 1941 Chrysler Newport with LeBaron design similar to
the BMW 328 may actually be the missing link to this list of concept
cars and dare I suggest, an inspiration to the final design of another
classic, the 1948 Jaguar XK-120. Photo courtesy Martin Link.
Ric DiDonato wrote: I'm a 1986 Chrysler LeBaron owner and frequent visitor to your site (a photo of my car's engine is on the 2.2 engine page). I've attached a photo of the Chrysler Two-Place concept of 1983. The Two-Place name is derived from the fact that this is a two-seater. The rear area is covered with a hard shell which contours to the headrests similar to the early 1960s Ford Thunderbird sport convertibles. I think it's interesting to note the style and elements that were later used on LeBarons and Reliants, particularly the rounded edges used on the 1986 K bodies, and the grill treatment. It's also interesting to note the Mercedes SL convertible styling.
The Grand Cherokee-based Commander 2 has a hybrid-electric fuel cell
powertrain and dual electric motors which increase its equivalent of
gas mileage by 12 mpg. As with the Intrepid ESX,
it runs on electricity generated by the fuel cell, which is fueled by
hydrogen from an on-board methanol reformer. Methanol eliminates the
need for large hydrogen storage tanks. The battery captures energy
normally lost during braking. Despite a light-weight plastic body,
which cuts body weight nearly in half while saving manufacturing costs
(with near total recyclability), the Commander 2 is 5,700 lb, due to
the heavy powertrain. It is seven inches wider than the standard Grand
Up and coming cars, trucks, and minivans • Modern Chrysler Concept Cars - The Cars That Saved The Company
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.
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