Ten Concepts Detroit Should Have Built Page 2

July 17, 2007

The AeroVette is currently part of The GM Historical Collection.


See an iconology of the Corvette


Chrysler Phaeton, 1997

1997 Chrysler Phaeton

1997 Chrysler Phaeton

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A company can use its heritage to catapult itself to a higher level. Chrysler's Hemi is a current example. Their 1997 Phaeton is another. With a charge led by product guys Bob Lutz and designer Tom Gale, Chrysler showed a series of stunning concepts in the 1990s, beginning with the original Viper.


Just as that Viper personified power, the Phaeton simply oozed classic elegance. Inspiration came from the 1940-41 Newport Phaeton, a limited-production classic of which Chrysler built only five. The two-cabin body rides on a whopping 132-inch wheelbase, about what you'd find under a crew cab, long-bed pickup. Wheels measure 22-inches in diameter. A proper V-12 resides under the long tapered hood, a product of melding two then-current Chrysler 2.7-liter V-6 engines.


With what Chrysler learned from its limited production Viper and Prowler product runs, could the Phaeton been a possibility? Might it have helped boost Chrysler's status in the luxury field, just as the Viper did for Dodge? Especially given Chrysler's current predicament, we will most certainly never know.


The Phaeton is on display at the WalterP.ChryslerMuseum.


See the original Viper


Aztek, 1999

1999 Pontiac Aztek concept

1999 Pontiac Aztek concept

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We know Pontiac (unfortunately) built the Aztek, so conserve your keystrokes reminding us of this lamentable fact. But they didn't build the Aztek they showed as a concept in 1999. The uglier than Rosie O'Donnell, slab-sided horror that debuted in 2001 shares little with the concept pictured here.


Putting the two side by side reveals that their proportions are completely different. Most visible, the angular roof design of the concept got totally screwed up on the path to production.


While there are ample arguments that Pontiac should have never, ever considered selling an SUV, the fact that they launched such a turd truly sullied the brand's reputation. Had Pontiac built what they showed in 1999, the situation would have been far less bad. Perhaps they would have had a shot at their annual sales goal of 60,000 units. As the facts prove, first and second years sales never exceeded 10,000, and those sales were heavily incentivized.


The 1999 Aztek is currently in storage. Cold storage. Very cold.


Hark back to TheCarConnection.com’s 1999 Aztek coverage

Jaguar F-Type, 2000

2000 Jaguar F-type

2000 Jaguar F-type

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For those of you unaware of such things, Ford owns Jaguar. They've imbued the historic brand with money and talent with the expectation that one day this specialty manufacturer will make them loads of money by selling lots of cars. (Anybody else see the confusion in that logic?) Regardless, cat and sports car lovers around the world rejoiced and felt hope when the F-Type debuted in 2000 at the Detroit show and stole everyone's heart. Meant to occupy a niche below the larger XK Coupe and Convertible, the truly sensuous design generated a flood of positive press and choruses of "build it" from sports car enthusiasts the world over.


With great fanfare, Jaguar announced plans for production early in 2001. Cruelly, in May of 2002, those production plans were jettisoned like an unwanted fur ball. Had Jaguar made a different decision, they could likely have had a long running hit on their hands, and managed to create a sports car worthy to follow their legendary E-Type.


The F-Type is currently at the Jaguar-Daimler Heritage Trust, an official company museum located on the

Browns Lane
grounds in Coventry, England.


TheCarConnection.com’s wayback machine hits the 2000 Jaguar F-Type


Chevrolet Nomad 1999 and 2003

1999 Chevrolet Nomad

1999 Chevrolet Nomad

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The Nomad is a true two-fer in terms of concepts. The original Nomad that Chevrolet produced between 1955-57 was such a powerful design that it has spawned numerous concepts, two recently.


The 1999 version is built on fourth-generation Camaro/Firebird mechanicals. Reminiscent of previous Camaro and Firebird "wagons," the Nomad features a practical tailgate, generous cargo room, and performance an SUV can only dream of. Looked at from the front, more than a hint of first-generation Corvette puts a pure Chevrolet face on the car.


Timing for this Nomad couldn't have been worse, as rumors of the Gen IV F-Bodies (Camaro/Firebird) death were all but confirmed. At the 1999 Detroit Auto Show where the car debuted, the car was virtually ignored by GM's PR staff who didn't want to give the concept too much play as its chance for production was zero.


2004 Chevrolet Nomad concept

2004 Chevrolet Nomad concept

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The second recent Nomad debuted in 2003 alongside the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. All three were said to be concepts, with the Pontiac hitting the market just ahead of the Saturn. The Nomad carried the day for Chevrolet, and shared many of the same features of the 1999 Nomad and the original.


With the success of the Solstice and Sky (and their Opel sister vehicle), production of these Kappa-platform vehicles is maxed out. However, if demand wanes, the Nomad would slot right in to Chevrolet's current line up.

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