Thursday, December 7, 2017

Styling Crime: 1997 Chrysler Phaeton Concept

I'm calling the 1997 Chrysler Phaeton concept car a "Styling Crime."  Not a major crime, because most of the car's design is unobjectionable.  But its front end styling is a serious problem: explicable, but not, in my opinion, justifiable.

Supposedly, it harkens back to the 1952 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton (three built) and the 1940-41 Chrysler Newport (six built), both being dual-cowl phaetons with secondary windshields protecting back seat passengers.


1997 Chrysler Phaeton, Chicago Auto Show photo.

The Phaeton appears to have a removable metal top.  The B-pillar area windshield is rolled down here.  From the after end of the front wheel opening to the rear the design is simple, the rising side character line adding interest.  The wheels seem a bit too large.

High rear view showing a basically clean design with a hint of a boat tail.  The secondary windshield is down.  Like some classic-era phaetons, rear seat passengers are provided a speedometer and another instrument.

Side view found on the ConceptCarz web site.  The secondary windshield is raised.  Note the very short front overhang and relatively long (for its time) hood.  The fold along the bottom of the side might be a touch too static.

The 1952 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton whose fender line was adapted for 1955 Chryslers and DeSotos.  Its long, fairly clean sides represent most of its contribution to the 1997 car.

The Chrysler Newport phaeton that was the pace car for the 1941 Indianapolis 500 race.  Its front end served as inspiration for the 1997 concept car's front.

Publicity photo of the Chrysler Phaeton featuring the frontal design.  Like the 1940 vintage car, it features a tapered hood blending into a fairly small V'd grille.  The front fender tops converge to a pointed ridge that carries through on the fender fronts where the headlight assemblies are located.  The result is three similar plan-view profiles: the grille and the fender fronts.  In theory, nothing intrinsically wrong with this.  Where the design gets unglued is the carry-through of the character ridge along the lower sides, resuming in front of the wheel openings and running across the lower edge of the front end.  Again, carry-through lines can be an important tactic for integrating a design.  But here, an observer will most likely read the frontal ridge as being a misplaced (much too low) bumper.  What the frontal design really needs is a proper bumper, and having that would have required major adjustments to the rest of the frontal ensemble.  One solution would have been a design closer to that used for the Newport.  A final note: The large grille grid pattern anticipates Chrysler grilles of 2005 and later, but would not work well on the Phaeton if the 1940 design had been more closely followed.

1 comment:

jrm said...

The grille grid texture also salutes the 1955-1956 Imperial and Chrysler 300s.