automaker brought an assortment of show cars — a handful from each category —
out on a warm spring afternoon, some just to sit and look pretty, but most for
us to actually slip inside and drive down the tony waterfront in
“We try to strike a balance,” explains Joe Dehner, the new design vice president at Chrysler, between the pure fantasy cars, with their wild and fanciful shapes, and “the stuff that’s more disciplined, with show car flair (tempered by) the potential to make it onto the showroom floor.”
Demon on the loose
2001 Mazda MilleniaEnlarge Photo
Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show, last February,
it’s Chrysler’s take on the classic, entry-level roadster. Think Mazda Miata or
Under the skin, the Demon shares roughly the same chassis as found in the current production model, the Chrysler Crossfire, but the roadster show car features a smaller, 2.4-liter in-line four engine.
Firing it up, the Demon let out a nice little burble
through an exhaust system unfettered by a catalytic converter. We struggled to
get the manual transmission into gear — a sin forgivable in a prototype which
had to make its borrowed drivetrain fit whichever way possible. In production
form, we’d expect to see a reworked version of the four, which would boast more
than enough power for such a lightweight vehicle. (We’d also hope that Chrysler
would consider at least one up-market drivetrain option, much as
As with the drivetrain, the borrowed steering package was a little notchy and not quite ready for prime time, but the overall feel of this Demon on the loose was perfect for a cool, sunny spring day. While this may officially be described as a concept car, it has the feel of something getting ready for production. And perhaps for good reason, according to Dehner.
While there’s been no formal decision, designers had a clear mandate. “The idea behind it was to do an entry-level sports car that, if it were to get approval, could get into production very quickly,” Dehner explained, pointing to the Crossfire, which went from concept to production in barely 18 months.
If the Demon gets the go, insiders hint that it would
likely share its platform and key components with another entry-level Chrysler
minicar. The most probable? The production version of the Hornet show car. The
Caliber: Small is beautiful
2001 Mazda Miata rearEnlarge Photo