Dodge and Chrysler’s Four Craziest Concept Cars
There are plenty of reasons why the ’90s were the best decade of all time, from the “Fresh Prince of Bellaire” to Bill Clinton to the Gen Xers’ fashion staple — plaid. The ’90s was a stellar decade for automotive makers too, filled with optimism and spurred by rapidly growing technology. Between 1987 and 1998, Chrysler introduced over 50 mesmerizing concepts to the world, some that actually ended up on the assembly line. Let’s take a peek at four of Chrysler’s and Dodge’s craziest concept cars.
Dodge Viper VM01, 1989
Of course, we all know that Dodge’s most bodacious ’90s concept car is still in production today. Introduced at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show, the first Viper’s concept debut resulted in a flood of orders before the show even ended. Dodge’s interpretation of the ’60s-era Cobra, the concept Viper was low, wide, and menacing. It started out with Chrysler’s biggest surviving V-8 engine — the 5.9-liter 360.
Its looks alone drove American hotrod enthusiasts to put a Viper in their garage. With the green light for production, the first Viper car began rolling onto dealer lots in 1992.
Plymouth Voyager III, 1989
The Voyager III was a minivan concept debuted by Chrysler in 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show. Its long, two-part body was reminiscent of a tractor-trailer. The revolutionary cab could be separated from the rear passenger and cargo area and could be driven by itself. Each part of the Voyager was powered by a four-cylinder engine, which could be electronically coordinated or operated independently. A striking, aerodynamic glass roof was a major component of the minivan’s design, but the Voyager III never took off with the public, perhaps because of its enormous production costs.
Dodge T-Rex, 1997
The T-Rex was Dodge’s answer to the ’90s testosterone-fueled culture of big truck enthusiasts. A Ram-based concept vehicle, 1996 saw the introduction of this monstrosity at the SEMA show, with yes — six-wheel drive. Featuring three working axles, the chassis design offered a fully adjustable Delphi-engineered air-spring setup. Powered by a borrowed 8-liter Magnum V-10 big block, the heavy-duty Ram 2500/3500 engine produced 300 horsepower. Dodge’s mission with the T-Rex concept was to develop a truck that could out-tow, out-off-road, outmaneuver, and outhaul everything in its class. Imagine cruising through the neighborhood in this Jurassic beast.
Chrysler Chronos, 1998
The Chronos is a contemporary spin on a classic concept car and was revealed to the masses in 1998. Quite possibly the grandfather of Chrysler’s top-of-the-line 300C launched in 2004, the 1998 Chronos’s dramatic design is similar to the 1952 Chrysler D’Elegance. Stocked with a spunky, normally aspirated 6-liter V-10 engine, the rear-wheel drive Chronos achieved 350 horsepower. Chrysler added eye-catching aluminum wheels, a luxurious cabin that featured wooden panels in the dashboard, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
With the dynamic trio of Chrysler’s President Bob Lutz, Designer Tom Gale, and Product Development Executive Francois Castaing, the ’90s proved to be a resurrection of innovative thinking that embodied a shift in automakers’ concepts. Chrysler and Dodge were no exceptions.