Car History Year 2001
Date: Monday, September 27 @ 14:04:46 UTC
Stanley Kubrick's vision of 2001 saw
PanAm star cruisers waltzing around a permanent moon base. In the 'sixties, anything was possible... It is obvious that the future of the American automobile is going to be just as varied and interesting as its past. While it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen in the years ahead, there are some changes that are already in motion - even so, the full effect of these alterations can only be guessed at.
However, one thing is for certain. After the 2001 model year, Plymouth will be no more. DaimlerChrysler announced that the name first introduced in July 1928 (on 1929 models) is being dropped, and the two models currently bearing the Plymouth badge - Neon and Prowler - will be the last. It is expected that the Dodge version of the Neon will continue as before, but the fate of the limited-production Prowler hot rod is less certain, although a change of name to the Chrysler Prowler seems a possibility. The merger/takeover that created DaimlerChrysler has also resulted in a number of designers who were responsible for the recent dramatic upsurge in Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler creativity leaving the company. Quite a few have apparently gone to work for the various divisions at General Motors, so this might herald the beginning of a bold new era for Chevvy/Pontiac/Oldsmobile/Buick/Cadillac and their products.
One name from the past that could be making a comeback is Avanti, The 1962 Studebaker design that survived in different guises until 1991 is being revived by a couple of businessmen who have set up the Avanti Motor Corporation in a small factory in Villa Rica, Georgia. Plans are to produce about 300 cars a year, with hardtop and convertible versions due to be offered. Carrying a price tag of less than $100,000, the first of the new Avantis was scheduled for the end of 2000.
Carroll Shelby's company is also building his brand of exciting sports cars on a limited basis. Shelby American Inc of Las Vegas, Nevada, has sold over 125 of the Shelby 427 S/C Cobra since restarting manufacture in 1996 and the first batch of the new high-tech Series 1 was completed during the last months of 1999. Designed as a latter-generation Cobra with a modern twist, the Series 1 looks like it will continue the Shelby tradition well into the new century.
In the mass market, the main engineering changes will probably revolve around the use of alternative fuels, with various hybrid vehicles being developed. Only time will tell whether these combinations of gasoline-powered engines and electric, hydrogen or other forms of propulsion will ever totally replace the internal combustion powerplant. In the short term at least, gasoline would still seem to be the most practical automotive fuel. Technology such as satellite navigation systems, voice-activated controls, in-car Internet capabilities and so forth are also just around the corner.
Car styling will always change, and never totally predictably. There has been a recent trend for the "retro" look, with the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Ford Thunderbird concept car leading the way in this area, but there have also been some very "knife-edge" styled cars exhibited by major auto makers. Maybe this is the way forward for the next generation.
The auto industry is now an integrated global business with many rival multinational companies engaged in joint ventures that only a few years ago would have seemed impossible. But while the shapes will change, the engines and onboard equipment will become ever more sophisticated and some long-established names may disappear, the one constant will be the need for an efficient means of personal transportation.
And in this respect the American automobile is just as much part of the fabric of everyday life today as it has been at any time since 1919. Similarly, the desire for dream machines shows no sign of diminishing as the popularity of automobiles like the Prowler and the Viper and the products of a number of small, independent manufacturers illustrate.
V8 - All aluminum
244 cu. ins
Bore and stroke
4 door sedan
No. of seats
CHRYSLER LHS SEDAN
V6 - all aluminum
215 cu. ins
Bore and stroke
4 door sedan
No. of seats
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