My Car Quest

August 5, 2020

Marketing: Cars Detroit Should Have Built – 2004 Chrysler 412ME

by Wallace Wyss –

One of the hopes that American fans of European cars had when Daimler owned Chrysler is that Daimler would bring a European influence to Chrysler’s performance cars. Which they did, albeit briefly.

2004 Chrysler 412ME

One very European concept car that was begat by the marriage was called the ME412, introduced in 2004. This well built Chrysler was a prototype performance concept car, but usually concept cars are not running, driving ,machines that could be taken on a race course. I saw this one doing hot laps at Monterey’s Laguna Seca track (it even spun out) so I know it was advanced over cars like GM’s Four Rotor Corvette which could barely pull itself upon a show stand.

I thought there was only one but some say two–an auto show version with no engine, and the operational one. I think the engine was a Mercedes 6.0 L V12 that produced an impressive 850 hp. That was mated to an automatic but before you say you want a manual, consider the fact it could shift in 200 milliseconds with the sequential dual-clutch semi-automatic.

2004 Chrysler 412ME

Speed claims consisted of 2.9 seconds 0 to 60 mph, a 1/4 mile time of 10.6 seconds with a trap speed of 136 mph (219 km/h). I am a little skeptical of the top speed claim of 248 mph (399 km/h) since that surpasses most V8-powered Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

2004 Chrysler 412ME

This flat planed body was Carbon Fiber. Inside it was luxury oriented, with leather Seats, and dual-zone climate control, a chrome covered center console with a leather tilt steering wheel, and gunmetal similar gauges. Other features include a premium audio system, keyless access, and a push button start system. The roof is made of glass.

Its moniker was ME-412, “M” for “Mid.” and “E” for Engine. The 4 does not refer to 4-cam but to Quad-Turbos and the 12 for 12 cylinders. One reason the car was not green lighted is that it would have cost about $135,000 (only Corvette could hope to build a mid-engined car to retail for half that) and thus would have been too high priced for most Chrysler customers.

Another reason was Chrysler still made the Viper. Why build a competitor to it? Also behind the scenes Daimler was already sorry it spent billions on Chrysler. Only three years after showing this show car, Daimler had to shell out about $650 million to close the exit deal and its earnings for 2007 took a $4 billion to $5.4 billion profit hit because of the divorce.

2004 Chrysler 412ME

The Chrysler 412ME Styling

It is not that well styled–a lot of supercar cliches and flat planes. Still it had a purposeful presence. It was sort of like a bull terrier saying “I am here to kick your ass.” But if it would’ve behooved Chrysler to have a styling theme consistent throughout the line. I still think it was a good morale builder within the corporation, showing that they could do it, but now it’s GM getting a lot of “Atta Boys” for their mid-engined car Corvette premiering 16 years later. If Chrysler could have produced it they could have beat the GM mittelmotor to market by ten years! It’s too bad Chrysler didn’t develop it because now GM looks like the technological leader among US automakers. The breakup of Daimler and Chrysler was like a divorce and the mid-engined supercar was one of the children lost in the process.

2004 Chrysler 412ME

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of 18 car histories. He is co-host of Autotalk, broadcast on 88.3 out of KUCR FM Riverside, Ca.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Summary
Marketing: Cars Detroit Should Have Built - 2004 Chrysler 412ME
Article Name
Marketing: Cars Detroit Should Have Built - 2004 Chrysler 412ME
Description
Speed claims for the 2004 Chrysler 412ME consisted of 2.9 seconds 0 to 60 mph, a 1/4 mile time of 10.6 seconds with a trap speed of 136 mph (219 km/h).
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Comments

  1. I think this is a beauty and should have been built.

  2. Robb Northrup says

    Wallace: I agree that the Chrysler should have been built. Yes, the styling needed to evolve for refinement, but it was only a prototype.

    But I have to disagree with you on the C8 Corvette. Yes, its mid-engine technical specifications are incredible. But the styling has a bunch of those supercar cliches that make me think of high schoolers sitting around the lunch table saying “yes, I like those scoops,” and “yes the back end should be high,” etc., etc. The last really “tour de force” Corvette style was the original Stingray. Later Vettes were nice (it would have been stunning if the C3 had been more like the Mako Shark II). But since then, it’s been downhill.

    And, the fact that it’s a Chevrolet means compromises (read that as cheapness) have crept in on the execution of the car (interior quality, etc.).The best thing GM could do is make Corvette a separate division; this would give them more flexibility in creating a product line of sports/GTs (entry level, bread and butter car, and limited production models, such as Ford has done with the GT). And maybe give the car the quality fit and finish it deserves. The “performance per dollar” excuse is getting very old.

  3. If you would have said that this is Chrysler’s new all electric 2021 vehicle I would have been impressed.

  4. Wallace Wyss says

    I agree with you Robb: as good as the Corvette is in many areas, like performance for the price, it’s the details that show it is not a world class trendsetter in design cues. For instance in the taillights, you know someone said “It’s got to look like the Camaro so there’s a family resemblance.” And then on the hood if two creases are good four is better, and the back window on the coupe, well, the phrases “art deco” comes to mind. You compare it to a Mangusta or Ghibli those are simple clean designs that still look new more than 60 years later,

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