5 Chrysler Corporation concepts that should have been built
The Chrysler Corporation has had dozens of memorable models, from the early-Hemi-powered Chrysler letter cars through the 426-Hemi-powered Chargers, Challengers, ’Cudas, and Coronets, along with generations of SUVs and trucks with the Ram and Jeep brands. Many of those designs first came to the public eye by way of a concept. What hurts though are the great concepts that didn’t find their way into the marketplace. Here are five Mopar favorites that never saw production—at least not yet.
1954 Plymouth Belmont
Less sporty looking than a Corvette thanks to its 114-inch wheelbase, the Plymouth Belmont concept still had quite a bit in common with Chevrolet’s sports car. Both were true roadsters that lacked exterior door handles, and both used bodies made from lightweight fiberglass. The Belmont, however, brought V-8 power from its inception. With long, flowing lines, the car just beg to be driven. While the large chrome headlight bezels are perhaps a little too overbearing, the styling is otherwise simple and clean. Had it gone into production in 1955, the Belmont might have proven a worthy adversary for the Corvette and Thunderbird.
2002 Dodge Razor
American manufacturers haven’t had much in the way of a compact sports car outside of the short-lived platform mates the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. Before those entered the market, Dodge tested the waters with this spunky coupe powered by an intercooled 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with six-speed manual transmission. Its style is evocative of late ’50s Chrysler letter cars, especially the gracefully sloping roofline and nearly upright windshield pillars. We also see some resemblance to the first-generation Audi TT.
2004 Chrysler ME412
The ME412 was a product of the ill-fated union of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler, and it got its name from its mid-engine configuration and quad-turbocharged V-12 engine. The Mercedes tie-in allowed the elegant concept to use a Mercedes AMG V-12, an engine configuration that Chrysler hadn’t toyed with since WWII. Had it been produced in its concept tune, the 850-horsepower V-12 and seven-speed Ricardo transaxle that pushed it from 0–100 mph in 6.2 seconds would have made it the quickest and most powerful production car in the world. It made extensive use of carbon fiber in both the chassis and bodywork and offered the rare combination of supercar performance, luxury, and understated looks. It was an American Audi R8 before the Audi R8. Yes, that was the second Audi reference in this article; we’re done now.
2010 Jeep NuKizer
We could have picked a number of Jeep’s retro-styled JK-wrangler-based concepts that have debuted at the Easter Jeep Safari and make use of a Wagoneer/Gladiator front sheetmetal. The truth is that we love all of them. We selected the NuKizer because it was the first to reuse the “Rhino” front styling of the 1962–65 Wagoneer designed by the legendary Brooks Stevens. Its off-road specs include beefy bumpers, a front-mounted winch, 38-inch BFG Mud Terrains, and ARB air lockers in the Dana 60 rear axle and Dana 44 front axle.
We think the full-size Jeep look scales down nicely to the Wrangler’s proportions, especially with the slight windshield chop. The drab color was allegedly matched to a shop trash can. Whatever the inspiration was, it works. And it was a precursor to the non-metallic paints that are making their way into the new car market today.
Jeep is notorious for teasing the public with multiple, well-received concepts of the same theme, like a four-door Wrangler and most recently a Wrangler-based pickup. If Jeep execs aren’t going to green-light the Nukizer, the Scout, or the Crew Chief, would it kill them to offer the old-school front clips in the Mopar catalog so we could at least build them ourselves? Pretty please with a Hemi on top?
2016 Ram Rebel TRX
The full-size pickup market is fiercely competitive, with Ford, GM, Ram, Toyota, and Nissan all vying for sales in one of the largest and most lucrative segments in the industry. For the past two generations, Ford has offered the SVT Raptor as the halo model in its top-selling F-150 lineup with tremendous high-speed off-road capability thanks to well-sorted suspension that offers impressive amount of travel and composure over rough terrain. Ram’s answer came first in the form of the Ram Runner, an aftermarket body and suspension package that made it more capable at speed. The TRX concept, no relation to the 1997 T-Rex 6×6 concept, brings all the suspension and bodywork to the assembly line, plus a major shot in the arm by way of a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 with 575 hp. Like the Raptor, the TRX features flared fenders and bedsides, but the TRX boasts a coil-link rear suspension as all Ram 1500s have since 2009. The best part, Ram plans to build the TRX on the all-new platform that underpins the 2019 Ram. For real. It says it right there on the TRX page on Ram’s site: “The Ram 1500 Rebel® TRX will be the most powerful factory-engineered half-ton pickup ever to be made.” We’re ready for it!