Top 10 Chrysler Concepts You May Have Forgotten

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

Chrysler‘s recent concept cars may not be terribly exciting, but in the past, it has created some stunning machines.

And if we’re being honest, Chrysler’s lineup these days isn’t doing the brand much justice with just the 300 sedan and the Pacifica minivan being offered.

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But there was a time when Chrysler generated a lot of interest with its concepts, some of which featured design and styling elements that eventually made their way to production cars. Other concepts never resulted in anything, despite a positive reception from the general public.

So we decided to take a look at some of Chrysler’s past concept cars, and here’s 10 you may have forgotten even existed.

10. Chrysler Chronos Concept

Introduced in 1998, the Chrysler Chronos Concept was heavily inspired by the 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance Concept, as well as the design of the Chrysler 300C. Under the hood of the concept was a 6.0-liter V10 engine generating around 350 horsepower, while it borrowed components from the Viper’s suspension. It rode on a high-strength steel chassis with rear-wheel drive, aluminum wheels, and a large wheelbase. Chrysler also put an emphasis on the concept’s interior, making it incredibly luxurious with wood dash panels, an in-place humidor with storage, humidistat, and lighter, as well as a hand-wrapped leather steering wheel. Some Future 300C design cues can be found here.

9. Chrysler Java Concept

The Chrysler Java Concept made its official debut at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show and was considered a design study for the brand. “Conveying American optimism, the Chrysler Java show car represents a fresh design approach to an important European market segment,” Chrysler said in a press release at its unveiling. “With its clean, yet refined and elegant ‘one box’ profile, Java’s ‘Passenger Priority Design’ makes maximum use of its exterior dimensions.”

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The concept boasted what Chrysler called unique Panoramic Seating that featured high H-points that enhanced visibility, comfort, space, and ease of entry and exit for both driver and passengers. The company said its design was almost architectural rather than automotive, with classic architectural proportions complemented by dynamic contemporary character lines. Under the hood was a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine generating around 80 horsepower and 95 pound-feet of torque.

8. Chrysler Phaeton Concept

There was a time when Chrysler wanted a flagship for its lineup, with Plymouth offering the Prowler and Dodge having the infamous Viper sports car. The Phaeton Concept debuted in 1997, and perhaps in a way, it was Chrysler’s vision of a flagship but in the form of an outlandish four-door convertible. Head designer John E. Herlitz said the concept “embraces and contemporizes elegant, classic design cues from historic touring automobiles of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s.” Heavily inspired by the 1941 Newport, the Phaeton Concept rode on 22-inch wheels, while the interior featured cream leather with brown details, satin metal highlights, and Zebrano wood accents.

Powering the Phaeton Concept was a 5.4-liter aluminum V12 engine with around 425 hp, while suspension similar to that of the Dodge Viper was used.

7. Chrysler Citadel Concept

Before hybrids were as popular as they are today, Chrysler rolled out the Citadel Concept in 1999 with a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine powering the rear wheels, and an electric motor powering the front. At the time, Chrysler said the V6 generated 253 hp and the electric motor added another 70 hp, helping generate similar performance of a V8 vehicle. There was also a spacious interior with dual-power sliding rear doors and a power rear gate, all of which has become commonplace since the concept’s original debut.

6. Chrysler LHX Concept

The Chrysler LHX Concept may look a bit familiar, especially its headlights. The concept was introduced in 1996 and previewed styling elements that eventually made their way onto the Concorde sedan. At the time of the LHX Concept’s debut, Chrysler executive vice president of product design and international operations, Tom Gale, referred to the LHX as a “heritage design,” defined as “taking the best aesthetic elements from the past and providing a modern interpretation.” Like the LHS that came before the Concorde, the LHX Concept had a front-engine, front-wheel-drive design, featuring a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine.

5. Chrysler Atlantic Concept

First shown in 1995, the Chrysler Atlantic was dubbed a retro concept car, designed by Bob Hubbach and inspired by the Bugatti Atlantic coupes of the 1930s. Powering the concept was a 4.0-liter straight-eight engine, with massive 21-inch wheels up front and 22-inch rollers in the rear. Output from the inline-eight engine, which was essentially a pair of 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine blocks from the Dodge Neon put together, was around 360 hp.

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There’s a story behind the Chrysler Atlantic’s design, with some saying “what if” sketches were done by then Chrysler president Robert Lutz during a lunch with design chief Thomas Gale. Gale passed those ideas to the design staff, and the Atlantic Concept was the result.

4. Chrysler Thunderbolt Concept

Sporting a 4.0-liter V8 engine with 270 hp, the Chrysler Thunderbolt Concept borrowed styling cues from the 1941 concept car of the same name. Chrysler even created a flyer for the Thunderbolt Concept, calling it “The Dream Car.” The two-door hardtop coupe featured four-wheel disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension, anti-lock brakes, and traction control. “Remember dreaming of that special car? A car so unique and so elegant it would be a rolling sculpture, a fine work of art? It would be sleek, moving effortlessly and gracefully through the streets, with shapely body panels, a low stance to pounce on any challenge, and plenty of glass for great visibility – to see and be seen,” the flyer read. “That’s what the Thunderbolt is all about.”

3. Chrysler Cirrus Concept

One of Chrysler’s more interesting concepts was the Cirrus from 1992. Under the hood was a 3.0-liter turbocharged, two-stroke engine that ran on fuel-grade alcohol, producing 400 hp. The concept featured a cab-forward design and the lack of a B-pillar was due to the fact the rear-passenger doors were rear-hinged. The Cirrus nameplate went on as a production car, more commonly known as the Stratus or Plymouth Breeze. We wish it had been this car though.

2. Chrysler 300 Concept

The Chrysler 300 as we know it is really a far cry from the 300 Concept from 1991. Inspired by the Dodge Viper, the Chrysler 300 Concept was longer, wider, and taller but was still powered by an 8.0-liter V10. Although the concept was created as a production-intent vehicle, with standard steel and lighting to meet legal requirements, it would never head to production. Certain elements of its design, however, did end up on later production cars for the brand, such as the grille and scalloped headlights. The concept even featured an interesting version of keyless start, with a coded key card that had to be inserted into the center console in order to access the ignition button.

1. Chrysler ME Four-Twelve Concept

Believe it or not, the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve Concept was first unveiled at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show. Sporting a chassis tub constructed from carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb, the lightweight supercar was powered by a 6.0-liter V12 engine with four turbochargers to generate 850 hp. At the time, had the Four-Twelve gone into production, it would have been the most powerful and fastest road-going vehicle. But sadly it never went into production. What’s interesting is that the styling is modern even by today’s standards, and Chrysler could roll this thing off the assembly line in 2022 and people would probably line up to buy it.

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Recent Updates:

December 6th, 2021 – Updated the introduction for accuracy. Reformatted the article for readability. Added to the text in Chrysler Chronos Concept. Added to text in Chrysler Cirrus Concept. Correct text in Chrysler ME Four-Twelve Concept.

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

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  • CREG HILL CREG HILL on Feb 26, 2022


  • Mr. Zareer A. Lawyer Mr. Zareer A. Lawyer on Apr 14, 2022

    Breathtaking classic designed concept cars that really make your heart skip a beat.