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Book review: Modern Chrysler Concept Cars

Modern Chrysler Concept Cars: glossy photos and glossy text, 1980s-2000

Matt DeLorenzo's Modern Chrysler Concept Cars concentrates on the company's concept-car history from the 1980s through to around 2000. These are the designs he believes saved Chrysler from its downward spiral of the early 1990s, caused by Lee Iaccoca's lavish spending on other companies and cheapness in research and design within Chrysler.

DeLorenzo discusses the concepts, but also goes into the internal history of Chrysler Corporation, including the results of the acquisition of AMC, and the experience and perspectives of Tom Gale, who was interviewed (along with others) for the book. Modern Chrysler Concept Cars goes in chronological order through the company's recent history, describing the place of the concept cars in exploring new designs, brand images, and technologies. He also explains why the Patriot hybrid, Jeep Dakar, and Neon two-stroke engine never made it. We also learn about the sudden switch of the PT Cruiser from Plymouth to Chrysler, the never-fulfilled search for a Chrysler flagship, and the abandoned relaunch of the Imperial brand (dropped due to talks with Mercedes).

One of the interesting angles of this book is the exploration of how concept cars slowly evolved into production cars. The most famous example is the PT Cruiser, but DeLorenzo also explores the Intrepid, Neon, 300M, and others.

In addition to interviewing notables such as Bob Lutz and Tom Gale, DeLorenzo had the opportunity to actually test drive a number of the concepts, including the Dodge Charger R/T and Dodge Power Wagon. These reviews, with many details and close-ups, are in the middle of the book, and provide readers with much more than a visit to an auto show.

Throughout this 143-page book are excellent color photographs of the concept cars and preliminary drawings, placed at appropriate points in the text. Unlike many enthusiast books, there are not just a few color pictures surrounded by black and white pages; the color is also rendered very well, doing justice to the concepts' drawings, interiors, and engines.

Our only objection to the book is mild, and that is the chapter on the development of the PT Cruiser - a chapter which seems to have evolved into another recent book, titled simply Chrysler PT Cruiser.

This book is an invaluable tool for anyone interested in Chrysler's concept cars, recent production models, or corporate history - including the brief life of Eagle.

Buy this book!


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