Posts from ‘Chrysler’
Through their logos, many automakers have created a dazzling world of wonder. In logo land, you’ll discover roman gods, prancing horses, and mystical beasts—as well as religious themes such as the Holy Trinity and the Christian Crusades. It’s a universe of stars and planets, ships and rockets, diamonds and domination. One emblem, which is simply a crooked letter, symbolizes a trustworthy handshake.
Disappointingly, such companies as Volkswagen (whose symbol is VW) and Ford (Ford) have refused to join in the fun. But many of the other logos have fascinating meanings. Let’s explore. . . .
The Acura logo plays with our minds a little. Most observers think the logo is a stylized letter A, for Acura, just like Honda’s logo is a stylized H for Honda. But according to Honda (Acura’s parent company), the image is a caliper, a design instrument used for measuring thickness.
The Alfa Romeo badge pays tribute to its home city, Milan, Italy. It features the city’s coat of arms, which symbolizes Milan’s two ruling families during medieval times. On the left is a red cross, a Christian symbol of heraldry that represents the right of a person to bear arms. On the right, a serpent devours a human being, interpreted by some as a Muslim—that is, the enemy of the Christians during the Crusades.
When Saad Chehab, president and CEO of the Chrysler Brand, spoke at a press event recently, he described the Chrysler 300 as “kind of like a chameleon.” The automaker has taken what once was considered an “old man’s car” and tried to transform it into a ride for a wide spectrum of individuals.
For model-year 2011, Chrysler installed the Beats By Dr. Dre sound system into the 300S, hoping to appeal to the hip-hop crowd. For 2012 came the 300 SRT8, whose 470-horsepower 6.4-liter V8 held loads of appeal for car enthusiasts. For 2013, Chrysler has tried to expand the 300′s reach even further with three new editions: the Glacier Edition (all-wheel drive; unique interior), the Motown Edition (lots of brightwork; black and white interior, like a piano), and the 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition. With these three editions, the “chameleon” 300 targets, respectively, snowbelt drivers, old-school music lovers, and the fashionably conscious.
Note: Frank Peiler is the publisher emeritus of Consumer Guide Automotive. For more of Frank’s “What If?” artwork, check out his blogs on the 1957 Mercury, 1957 Packard, Cord 810, and Lincoln Continental.
The 1955 Chevrolet had it all. It was all-new from bumper to bumper with a new frame, new V8 engine, and new body.
The body design was a complete departure from previous Chevys. The hood was low, and the fender line was window-sill high. With a wide panoramic windshield and Ferrari-like grille, it looked like it was designed as a show car for one of the General Motors Motoramas. Here it is in hardtop form . . .
So what if American Motors, Chrysler, Ford, and Studebaker had applied Chevrolet design elements onto their 1955 bodies? Here is what I think they might have looked like . . .
1955 Chevrolet by AMC
I used AMC’s Rambler as a basis for the RamAir. Hooded headlight bezels, parking lights, and a new grille finish off the front end. Reworked quarter panels with a new taillight/back-up light assembly complete the rear (see drawing above). Bel Air-like side trim accommodates the ’50s two-tone paint scheme (above). The wraparound windshield is the biggest and probably the most expensive change to the old Nash body.
In the last five years, many cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans have come and gone in the U.S. retail landscape. Many made indelible impressions. Others slipped softly from our consciousness. It’s the latter that I wish to celebrate. Here are five vehicles from the last five years that you either forgot were sold in the U.S. or never knew existed.
2009-2011 BMW 335d
This entry from BMW kept its talents hidden very well. On the outside, it looked like any other 3-Series sedan. Under the hood, though, was a rocket ship waiting to be unleashed. The 335d employed a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine producing 265 horsepower and a massive 425 pound-feet of torque. For comparison, the V8 engine found in the BMW M3 manages “just” 295 pound-feet at a much higher engine speed, 3900 rpm versus the 335d’s comparatively paltry 1750. We put that power to good use during our test drives, yet the cars returned nearly 33 mpg. Though no hard data is available, it’s been said that BMW sold fewer than 2,000 of the 335d during its brief run. A diesel 3-Series will return to the U.S. for the 2014 model year: a 4-cylinder with a less-impressive, but still meaty, 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
My colleagues probably didn’t expect me to jump in on this thread, but I couldn’t resist. You see, I was lucky enough to be a car-crazy high-school senior in 1965, a year so packed with cool cars that it’s still tough picking just five personal favorites.
Some of you will be pleased to note that my choices are American. Two reasons: Back then, import brands weren’t much of a factor in the U.S. market, and Detroit was unquestionably the center of the automotive universe. American automakers sold some 9.3 million cars in calendar 1965, the highest 12-month tally since record-setting 1955. That performance was impressive but not surprising in retrospect. The economy was booming, and Detroit styling, performance, innovation, and workmanship were never better. No wonder so many ’65 American cars have become prized collectibles—not least those listed below.
It was only a third-year restyle of the matchless 1963 original, but Buick’s elegant personal-luxury hardtop acquired hidden headlamps, way cool for ’65. Outboard vertical parking lamps and side-by-side quad headlamps gave way to horizontally split “clamshell” doors fronting stacked quad lamps in the fenders. Simple, eh? The doors winked open and closed when the lights switched on and off. But they were vacuum-operated, as I recall, so they inevitably gave trouble, sometimes leaving the car with one eye open or partly open, like a flirtatious drunk. I also liked the taillamps moved down into the bumper. They were more vulnerable there, but I thought they looked neat.
Chrysler’s Ralph Gilles is a busy guy these days. He is both the president and CEO of the SRT brand and Motorsports and the senior vice president of Product Design. Consumer Guide recently sat down with Ralph for a conversation about the relaunch of the Viper and the SRT brand in general.
Consumer Guide: It seems like the new Viper has moved upscale with this new generation. Is that where that market is going? Is there still a place for a raw, bare-bones sports car?
Those of us who were already car nuts by the 1970s lived through a dismal era in which our faith was badly shaken. Prior to that time, the combined effects of annual styling changes and the unbridled running of the horsepower race ensured that every fall brought another wave of automotive excitement. And then came 1971.
At first, it was sort of justified: Okay, we can’t continue to poison our young with the lead in gasoline, and if taking it out necessitates slightly lower compression ratios—with a commensurate drop in horsepower (sob)—then so be it. But then came 1972.
This time, it was exhaust emission standards that were to blame; well, that and the decision to go from “gross” to “net” horsepower ratings. (Some manufacturers tried to soften the blow by including both, but in most cases, those of us who’d memorized them all knew that even the bigger number was down.) Furthermore, many cars were unaccustomed “reruns” that looked nearly identical to those of the year before. The downward spiral had begun.
On a trip back to the airport at the conclusion of a recent Jeep press event, I overheard one of my cohorts describing his lap around the Circuit of the Americas racetrack with Ralph Gilles, head of Chrysler’s SRT brand, at the wheel. The fellow journalist was giving a play-by-play account while showing a video he had taken from the back seat. Much of it sounded familiar.
For those who don’t know, Ralph Gilles came up through Chrysler’s design department to become head of the new SRT performance brand in 2011. As a charismatic, confirmed car nut, Gilles was just the right person for the job.
Despite his lofty position and GQ appearance, Gilles comes across as a real grass-roots guy when he’s off the clock. As he was holding court at dinner one night, I began counting the number of words used in his colorful stories that I couldn’t repeat in this blog. I ran out of fingers before the entree arrived.
Conceived by Edsel Ford and designed by E. T. “Bob” Gregorie, the first Lincoln Continental appeared in 1939. It was shown for the first time in West Palm Beach, Florida, where Edsel was vacationing. Though just a design curiosity in 1939, it must have shocked the auto industry when the production version appeared in 1940 as a convertible and a fixed-roof club coupe. It’s puzzling that other auto companies didn’t introduce a “Continental” of their own in 1941. However, if they had, they might have looked like the renderings pictured here.
Like the Lincoln Continental, all of these cars received extensive body alterations in my drawings, including:
- sectional body strips (2″-3″) of sheetmetal removed from the center of the body and cowl
- mildly chopped tops
- lengthened hoods
- lengthened frames ahead of the cowls
- reworked front and rear fenders
- reworked or restyled grilles
- new trunks to accommodate the exterior-mounted “continental” spare tires
Most automakers have aftermarket parts divisions, but few put theirs as front-and-center as Chrysler does. At the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Chrysler’s Mopar brand was out in force, with a separate section set aside and plenty of wares on display. For Dodge, SRT Viper, Fiat 500, and Jeep fans, it’s kid-in-a-candy-store time. Check out the pics below. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .