Chrysler achieved a whole new level in ‘contemporizing a classic form’ in the design of the Chrysler Chronos concept vehicle. Debuted in 1998, the Chrysler Chronos concept is an incredibly dramatic sight to behold with deep resemblance to the 1950’s Virgil Exner-era vehicles. The ultimate Chrysler icon as described by Tom Gale, Executive Vice President of Product Development for Chrysler, the Chrysler Chronos is the flagship for the Chrysler brand. The interior proportions were also similar to the Virgil Exner-era with the cabin shifted rearward. Created by DaimlerChrysler, the Chronos was modeled closely to the 1953 Chrysler D’Elegance concept vehicle as well as the design of the Chrysler 300C.
The design behind the Chronos came from Osamu Shikado as he flipped through old car photos. His inspiration came from a classic car, the 1953 Chrysler/Ghia D’Elegance, and he decided to interpret it modernly. Shikado consulted Chrysler’s photo archives for ideas and inspiration which is where he stumbled on photos of the graceful coupe built by Italy’s Ghia coachworks under the influence of Chrysler’s Virgil Exner. The big chrome surrounding the wheels and the sculpted form around the front of the vehicle was what drew Shikado to create a masterpiece from these photos.
The Chronos was initially drawn as a coupe by Shikado, modeled after Chrysler’s eye-catching Bugatti-flavored ’95 Atlantic show car. Jack Grain, the design studio chief gave the suggestion that he attempt a sedan and it worked.
The Chronos was powered by a powerful 6.0 liter V10 engine with normal aspiration and around 350 horsepower. The engine was mated with a single-long-arm modified Viper front and rear suspension, a high-strength steel chassis and a unibody structure. This combination created a highly balance, though spunky driving experience for the rear-wheel drive concept. It also featured aluminum wheels, RWD and a large wheelbase. The Chronos featured an overall length of 205 inches, a width of 76 inches, the car featured a large 20-inch front along with a 21-inch rear aluminum wheels. The body of the Chronos is incredibly stealthy while also exuding eloquence with its long, low and sweeping wheels being pushed forward and aft. The windshield was raked steeply and meshed handsomely with the chrome grille and ‘jewel-like’ headlamps.
The interior of the Chronos was incredibly luxurious and featured wood dash panels, a hand-sewn center console that held an in-place humidor with storage, humistat and lighter. The leather steering wheel was hand-wrapped. The wood-panel interior of the Chronos concept was reminiscent of the D’Elegance.
The Chronos concept was $2-million and not only was it seriously visually stunning, but it was an actual running vehicle that combined simple lines with surprising luxury. Though Shikado has never actually seen the real D’Elegance, surprisingly, he really captured the essence in his concept vehicle. Unfortunately the concept Chronos was never actually put into production.