My Car Quest

May 20, 2019

The 1995 Chrysler Atlantic Concept Car- Or “Atlantique” (As I Prefer To Call It)

by Wallace Wyss –

Now some stories in the automotive world are true, and others started out true, but in the retelling, attained some legendary qualities, i.e. embroidering.

I believe that Bob Lutz, former Chrysler president and a car collector himself, did concevie of the idea of building a show car with prewar Euro styling, but not sure about that part where he drew it on a napkin and handed it to Chrysler head designer Tom Gale, and said “build it.”

It is known, (and I saw them there) that Gale and Lutz were judges at Pebble Beach in 1994.

Chrysler Atlantic Concept Car

That’s when the press releases say they got the idea—hell, people like classic cars, let’s give them a modern classic. Good story, but they were judges in 1994 and the car was started in 1993. But no matter, it’s a helluva dream car. It can’t really “date” like most of them do because it’s one big retromobile—99% from the past.

Another story that sounds like the stuff of legends was that Gale didn’t give his crew the napkins, no, he gave them names of French cars to look up, the art deco streamlined cars of the last half of the 1930s cars like Bugatti, Talbot-Lago, Delahaye and Delage, which were swoopy as all get out.

Chrysler Atlantic Concept Car

The lead designer was Bob Hubbach, and the car was called the 1995 Chrysler Atlantic (though some reports have the French spelling).

The car is 199.5” long, 75.8” wide, and stands 51.6” tall. Its wheelbase is 126” which is five inches longer than a silver could. A concession to modern styling is huge wheels; it rides on 21” wheels in front and 22” in the back.

The interior is pedestrian, not full-on retro. Ironically a Chrysler show car done near the same time, the Chronos, has the interior the Atlantique should have had—lots of wood and leather.

I say the styling is more Bugatti than anything else but others feel there’s a lot of Talbot-Lago T150 SS Coupe circa 1938 in the car.

Now where I think they took a road that should not have been taken was wasting time and money to make a straight 8 engine. Maybe Lutz wanted to show Chrysler could do anything so he ordered Engineering to take two 2.0 liter Neon 4-cylinder blocks and put them together.

Chrysler Atlantic Concept Car

Output was something like 360 hp. I would have preferred a Chrysler V8, something with, say 475-600 hp and then this car would have been more a prototype for something that could be built. No other American automaker has a full on retro car; Chrysler could have had something really special for a few years until the competitors fielded something similar. And if they had it would have been a renaissance in car design all of us Euro fans could enjoy.

Brakes were four-wheel discs with ABS. The transmission was automatic with Auto-Stick.

Unlike a lot of “dream cars” which are rolling sculpture but not actually drivable, I have seen videos of this moving on and off the trailer and it moves. How fast I don’t know.

The art deco touches are really interesting on this car such as the little ridge that runs across the roof, like on a certain Bugatti, and the “bent” windscreen. I would have preferred skirts in the back but they eschewed that ‘30s design trend. And the taillights are too modern, spoiling the vintage mood.

Yet Chrysler did not produce any production model of this and even the PT Cruiser is the closest they go to “retro influenced.”

Still the Atlantique is an interesting design exercise, and one wishes there were more gearheads in command in American automaking ranks that could create more dream cars that reach into the past for the elegance that has been lost…

The Atlantic is a part of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum collection. When the Museum opened in October 1999 it had a spot reserved for it. Lutz is retired from Chrysler now but he can look back on it and consider it one of his finest moments…

Below is a short video of the Chrysler Atlantic .

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR Wallace Wyss, a fine artist, will be showing his paintings in the art tent at Concours Italiano in Seaside, California in August.

 

 

Chrysler Atlantic Concept Car

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Summary
The 1995 Chrysler Atlantic Concept Car- Or
Article Name
The 1995 Chrysler Atlantic Concept Car- Or
Description
Chrysler should have produced the beautiful Chrysler Atlantic Concept Car.
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Comments

  1. Thomas Ollinger says

    Fantastique! They could build it today and it still would be an improvement.

  2. Rollie Langston says

    Nice article on a very beautiful retro design. I saw the car in Chicago where it was on display at a National Association meeting, along with other current Chrysler production cars. The Atlantic had a very magnetic quality, drawing everyone to it, even those who were not car guys. One of those surprisingly good and truly unforgettable designs.

  3. John in Fargo says

    silver could = Silver Cloud? I’ve always loved this car, as a retro-influenced modern classic. No, the Neon-sourced straight 8 doesn’t make much sense, the full-width peeping taillight kinda does; but you can’t take this one apart, just enjoy the whole.

  4. David Kalus says

    What do you think? This is isn’t the era of the Dusenberg/Auburn Speedster . We’ll have no such World Class cars made here not even for the pickaninny Billionaires. The Cadillac 16 and a later 4 door convertible are illegitimate as well. People will have to purchase from OVERseas. Thank You Very Much.

    • Wallace Wyss says

      I agree with David though I don’t know what Pickaninny Billionaire means. It is a cryin’ shame that American automakers, being in an aentrepreneurial first world nation, can’t stick work up their nerve and stick their neck out and make some ultimate luxury cars. Something in the $150,000 class. Something like that four door Cadillac convertible. Or that 16-cyl. Cadillac (they could have cylinder deactivation so it wouldn’t really be 16 cyl. all the time). What are we chopped liver? Anyway I think the flaw is no auto executive wants to stick his neck out and champion an ultimate luxury vehicle made in America for fear it will be a flop and his career will sink with it. Guys like Lutz, who could land a fighter plane wheels up (well, come to think of it, I think that was unplanned) are what we need, guys with G-U-T-S.

    • Roderick O'Brien says

      Mr. Klaus, the word “pickaninny” means a small black child. Based on this, I too wonder what you mean by Pickaniny Billionaire.

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