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1998 Plymouth Pronto Spyder

On January 4, 1998, when the engineers at Chrysler designed the Plymouth Pronto Spyder, a concept car unveiled at the 1998 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, they tailored it for a cost-savvy consumer who "wanted to have some fun," according to John Herlitz, vice president of production and design for Chrysler.

One of the challenges in keeping the Spyder affordable was lowering manufacturing costs yet providing quality where customers wanted it. The Chrysler folks accomplished this by borrowing material from Spyder's cousin, the Plymouth Pronto, which was displayed at the 1997 NAIAS. Chrysler's Composite Concept Vehicle was shown at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show. The result was to spend less on building materials and more on the engine and stylistic details.

The plastic used on these concept vehicles is called polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and is the same material used to make plastic drinking bottles that store soda or spring water. The introduction of PET technology in the automobile industry can reduce manufacturing costs by 80 percent, leaving a chunk of money for things like … an excellent supercharged engine.

Housing a mid-mounted 2.4-liter dual overhead cam transverse engine with 225 horsepower, the car is designed to drive like an exotic sports racer with a low center of gravity. The Spyder is also equipped with 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels, 225/40R18 Goodyear tires, and a 5-speed manual transmission.

Moving away from the boxy car look, this aerodynamic convertible is modeled after classic sportscars of the 50s and 60s, incorporating chrome accents and a plastic tortoiseshell steering wheel rim reminiscent of the wood trim on cars of yesteryear. The Platinum Silver concept car also sported an aircraft-inspired windshield, lightweight drilled pedals, and a tubular, low-slung fuselage.

Source: Spyder Snares Curious Flies at NAIAS -

Images Source: Chrysler Corporation

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