Patent Drawings Show Chrysler 200C Taking Shape
By Chris Haak
Ten years ago – heck, even five years ago – few companies made a bigger splash at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit with its concept and production car reveals than Chrysler did. Some of the more notable ones were Jeeps crashing through glass walls, or even the 2008 Ram 1500 making its debut on the street in front of the Cobo Arena with the help of a few dozen amorous cattle.
Chrysler also managed to display some fantastic concept cars over the years – many of which became full-fledged production cars (Viper, Prowler, Intrepid) and many others that may not have reached production in their own right, but that inspired other Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles in one way or another. For example, the Dodge M80 pickup concept from 2002 shares many of its design features with the production Dodge Nitro SUV introduced five years later.
But somewhere along the way, Chrysler apparently lost its mojo for rolling out great-looking, interesting, desirable concept cars. Most of what we’ve seen from Detroit’s smallest automaker on the auto show circuit in recent years has been either a gaudy, ugly concept (check out the unloved Chrysler Imperial concept for an example of unloved concepts) or simply a variation of an existing production car – like the Avenger Stormtrooper concept shown at the 2007 SEMA show.
However, Chrysler did knock the ball out of the park with one particular concept car in recent years: the Chrysler 200C sedan from the 2009 Detroit show. This car had graceful curves, athletic proportions, and a luxurious interior. In other words, everything Chrysler’s current midsize offering, the Sebring, does not offer. Too, the 200C was rear wheel drive (which helps the cars proportions and its stature among enthusiasts) and was a range-extended electric vehicle in the mold of the Chevy Volt, only cooler and better-looking.
Of course, in January 2009, Chrysler was about to enter Chapter 11, and had just launched the current Sebring, so production of anything like the 200C in the short-term seemed pretty unlikely, so many folks (myself included) almost forgot about the 200C and considered it more of an exercise of what could have been, had Daimler not “helped” Chrysler so much with the Sebring.
Now, here we are today with news from Noticas Automotive (via Autoblog) that Chrysler has filed a patent application for what appears to be the production 200C’s design. (We have no confirmation that the production car, if it even takes this form, will carry the 200C name). What we do know, however, is that the patent drawings appear to be almost – if not completely – identical to the design of the concept shown 18 months ago in Detroit. Should this pan out to a production car, maybe Chrysler – or its design department – isn’t dead in the water after all.
One of us said in January 2009 that the 200C was “the best looking design [he’s] seen out of Chrysler, ever,” and I agree with that. Should this car replace the Sebring at some point, the transformation would be even more remarkable than the Ford Taurus’ change from the “Homer Simpson” Taurus to the “Superman Taurus.”
The profile shot displayed at Noticas Automotive shows a car that is retaining the dash-to-axle ratio of a rear wheel drive car, which could mean one of two things: either the patents are just on the design of the concept car, or the production car is going to be rear wheel drive based, perhaps on a shrunken version of the big brother 300C’s platform. The latter would obviously be the better news, but could also limit the car’s potential mass-market appeal, since rear wheel drive cars aren’t foul-weather friendly and can’t be as space efficient as a front-driver. In particular, a rear wheel drive car requires a driveline tunnel on the floor to accommodate a driveshaft to the rear differential.
Congrats to Noticas Automotive for finding these drawings, and let’s keep our fingers crossed that a future Chrysler midsize sedan – though almost certainly not the slightly-refreshed 2011 Sebring – will carry most of the good looks of the 2009 Chrysler 200C concept. Having the 200C concept’s plug-in hybrid drivetrain would be even nicer to have in the production car, at least as an option.