Thursday, November 9, 2017

Chrysler's 2003 Airflite Concept

The 2003 Airflite concept car from Chrysler was not a thinly disguised version of a future production model.  But a number of its styling details did appear on Chrysler products.

Wikipedia's take on the Airflite is here, and here is a link whose text strikes me as being taken directly from a Chrysler press release.

The Airflite was a four-door sedan without a full-height B-pillar.  In America 1955-1976, we called them "four-door hardtops," "pillarless sedans," "hardtop sedans" and perhaps a few other titles.  But they did poorly in roll-over tests and disappeared from production lines nearly 30 years before the Airflite.  So to that degree, the Airflite was car-show jazz.


General view of the Airflite.  I think the wheels are a little too large -- yet another show car feature.

The front end "smile" theme, including the inverse ribbing effect on the hood was picked up by the Chrysler Crossfire and Chrysler Sebring pictured in some images below.

This side view shows the low, long greenhouse.  It's long because it transitions into a fastback.  It also makes the front end seem stubbier than it is.  The Airflite is actually a five-door or hatchback car: note the roof cut line at the C-pillar.

The hatchback cuts are clearly seen in this rear view.  The opening is wide at fender-top level, but narrow at the rear.  Potential buyers of a production Airflite might consider this a demerit.

The side sculpting also carried over to some degree on the Crossfire and Sebring.  The pointed rear of the window profile can be considered logical design, but it bothers me for a reason that I can't yet explain.  In any case, it isn't functional in terms of the rear door cutline and the roll-down window's aft edge.

The fastback aspect.  The roof treatment works best from this point of view.  Note the crease in the backlight glass, part of a crease extending over the roof down to the rear strike panel.  It's one feature I like.

The Chrysler Crossfire appeared about the same time as the Airflite, so it's a slight stretch to claim that the Airflite "predicted" the Crossfire.  Both cars have essentially the same windshield.  The hood and "face" have similar detailing.

The Crossfire also has fastback styling, but all its details differ from the Airflite's.

The 2007-2010 Chrysler Sebring used several Airflite features.  Like the Crossfire, the it has the Airflite facial theme.  Side sculpting is from the Airflite, as is the general treatment of the greenhouse.  However, the Sebring has a slight notchback, and this does not integrate well with the C-pillar area design.  The sense it provides me is that the car seems more industrial than automotive, something that applies to the Airflite as well.

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