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The Plymouth/Dodge/Chrysler Neon were so hot in 1994 that many dealers had waiting lists and charged above list price, as they would years later with the loosely-Neon-based PT Cruiser. It was natural for the company to show off a concept based on the Neon, then rumored to have a supercharged version running around Detroit, and poised to dominate its class in SCCA racing.
The concept, first shown at the Detroit Auto Show in January 1994, boasted scissor-style doors. Billed as a sport coupem the Aviat included unconventional bodywork, a front that would have been at home in the movie Cars (and looked somewhat similar to the later Ford Contour), a wide gap between the rear wheels and the body proper, and rear fender skirts.
The car reputedly had a low drag coefficient, and used the DOHC Neon engine that produced 150 hp in Neons, but apparently only 145 hp in the concept. The cooling system was in the rear fenders, though the engine stayed up front. The company claimed extremely light weight as well.
The Neon itself had entered production almost as soon as 1994 started, as a 1995 model. Its early success faltered when buyers started having problems with the frameless windows, noisy exhaust donuts, and, later, head gaskets. The latter two problems were fixed in 1998, but the frameless windows would be a problem until they were eliminated in 2000, not due to manufacturing flaws, but because many dealers were not up to the task of adjusting them properly, and owners shut the doors by the windows, throwing off their alignment.
Other Neon-spawned concepts were the PT Cruiser, Venom, and Expresso (pictured below).
Other concept cars at allpar
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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