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Chrysler concepts grab headlines

Four of the best: (Clockwise from top left) The Chrysler 300 Hemi C, Dodge Viper GTS/R, the Jeep Varsity and the Dodge MAXXcab.

Detroit saw a batch of eye-catching concepts from the house of Chrysler

12 Jan 2000

CHRYSLER underlined its reputation for having the most impressive designs in America by wheeling out four stunning new concept cars in Detroit.

Perhaps the most eye-catching was one which may well make it into production - the Dodge Viper GTS/R.

Design chief Mr Tom Gale described the muscle-bound GTS/R as "essentially a street-legal race car" but he conceded it may point the way to the next generation Viper, the oldest production model in the DaimlerChrysler line-up.

The Viper GTS/R features a one-piece carbon fibre body with wild aerodynamics, a chassis which sits five centimetres lower than the production model, massive wheels and brakes and enough power for the car to thunder from 0-100km/h in less than four seconds.

Another concept car which could reach production within the next few years is the head-turning Chrysler Hemi 300, a sleek four- seat convertible that could become the brand's image leader.

With a 353 horsepower V8 engine driving the rear wheels, the 300 Hemi accelerates to 100km/h in about six seconds and features a pop-up rollbar.

Mr Gale believes the car could slip into the DC line-up between the $US40,000 Mercedes-Benz SLK Roadster and the $US20,000 Chrysler Sebring, the top-selling convertible in the US.

The most experimental of the four vehicles displayed was the Jeep Varsity which features a more sedan-like interior than a conventional Jeep but could be built using many Grand Cherokee parts.

DaimlerChrysler president Mr James Holden played down speculation the Varsity could slip into an expanded Jeep line-up.

The fourth model on display was the Dodge MAXXcab which follows the trend towards pickup vehicles with more car-like interiors and handling.

Mr Gale said the arched roof and "family oriented interior" resulted in a "passenger-priority truck".

The rear section of the cabin features three integrated child safety seats which cater for children of all ages, who can be monitored from the front by a small overhead "kid-view" camera.

The children are kept entertained in the rear by an entertainment system with DVD player, Internet access and a handheld computer sketch pad.

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