I'll third that one....It's the Chrysler Lambo! Cool but not too original...NoneRock said:
http://www.autoweek.com/cat_content...de=coverstory&loc_code=&content_code=02120930Now It Can Be Told: The inside story behind the stunning Chrysler supercar
By KEVIN A. WILSON
ONLY A HANDFUL OF people knew. Most of the folks working up Chrysler?s crop of new show cars for 2004 weren?t let in on it. Most of the press didn?t catch wind of it until it drove onto the stage at the end of the company?s Jan. 4 press conference revealing those ?ordinary? concept cars. Surprise was the point. After hijacking attention at the 2003 Detroit show with the Viper-powered Dodge Tomahawk motorbike, the top guns at Chrysler wanted to do something even bigger this year in a bid to upstage the arrivals of the expected stars from across town, the 2005 Ford Mustang and Chevy Corvette.
?Tomahawk was somewhat tongue in cheek, a design statement more than an engineering statement. We wanted to do something really credible, and we wanted something nobody would expect from Chrysler,? says Chrysler COO Wolfgang Bernhard, explaining the origins of the project that became the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve. It?s a mid-engine, quad-turbo V12-powered supercar boasting 850 hp, 850 lb-ft and with ambitions no lower than to out-Enzo Ferrari. That?s no mere surprise, it?s an ambush.
CHRYSLER ME FOUR-TWELVE CONCEPT
ON SALE: Prototype; potential 2006 model
BASE PRICE: $450,000 (est.)
POWERTRAIN: 5.9-liter, 850-hp, 850-lb-ft V12; rwd, seven-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 2860 pounds
0-60 MPH: 2.9 seconds (mfr.)
What could be more unexpected than a mid-engine supercar from Chrysler? How about this statement from none other than division president and CEO Dieter Zetsche: ?It?s not just a concept. It?s a prototype.?
Calm down, he?s not promising to build it for sale. Not yet, anyway. He is saying that it?s fully engineered?on computers, though the car itself wasn?t finished being built at Metalcrafters until Dec. 29?and the company intends to run it this spring to prove it can meet the ambitious performance targets. If a business case exists, Chrysler says it could start building such a machine in about a year.
A business case? Well, yes, they didn?t take time to build one before they built the car. No one really knows if the customers who can front up the money for a Ferrari Enzo or Porsche Carrera GT would splash similarly extravagant funds on a car that wears the same badge on its nose as the Town & Country minivan in the next garage bay. The ME Four-Twelve is being built to supercar standards of material and craftsmanship, however, so it would have to command a similar price. Are there enough customers to warrant the effort?
Well, let?s show ?em what they?d get. When the project began, it was a notion shared by Bernhard, Zetsche and design chief Trevor Creed, who came up with it in a meeting after last year?s Detroit show. This year?s crop of concept cars had already been assigned back in December 2002. The project started out a month late, then. So the development of the thing in only 11 months, coordinating parts suppliers from seven nations and linking them all via computer, was as big a challenge as engineering the car itself. Bernhard?who had ridden the Tomahawk onto the show stage and drove the ME Four-Twelve this year?had a head start, though. Before joining Chrysler, he was managing director of Mercedes-AMG, where he had acted as the engine supplier for the then-new Pagani Zonda and had personal insight into the development of a supercar, and a few contacts to help get things started. He wasn?t the first to wonder what would happen if a major automaker turned its engineering and acquisition resources to the development of a supercar (the Cadillac Cien was a similar exercise), but he was in a position to make things happen. And the key here was to really and truly engineer the car to achieve performance targets that exceed the world?s best in production.
It was Chrysler?s own Lou Rhodes who got the call to act as chief engineer on the project. After laying out the basic parameters to get the target performance specifications?aerodynamics, weight distribution, power, torque, etc.?Chrysler contacted AMG directly and asked that it develop an appropriate engine. This couldn?t be minor. To have a clear performance margin over the competition, it had to propel the car to 60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds, to 100 mph in less than 6.5, hit the quarter-mile in 11.0 seconds or better, and carry it to a 240-mph (400-km/h) top speed.
?We told AMG we needed 800 hp and it should weigh 500 pounds,? says Bernhard. This engine did not exist until the Chrysler project demanded it?it?s not a version of a Mercedes engine, though AMG is obviously influenced by the association in the way it approaches its work. It?s an AMG-engineered powerplant that, like the parts from other suppliers, was developed to the manufacturer?s specifications. ?What they came up with was 850 hp, but it weighs 525 pounds. We said we could work with that,? said Rhodes.
The all-alloy engine is a 365-cid/5980-cc dry-sump V12 with four turbochargers and dual-core intercoolers, a 6800-rpm redline and makes 142 hp/liter. ?We started with the engine and built the car around it,? said Bernhard, ?where some others start with the car and adapt an engine into it.?
The car they designed around it is a carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb monocoque with an alloy rear subframe to support the drivetrain and to help toward making the car reparable if crashed from behind (the Enzo and Zonda have alloy subframes, the Carrera GT doesn?t). The front end has a carefully designed composite structure to meet crash standards. That seven-speed transaxle is a double-clutch Ricardo unit with paddle-shift selectors, the brakes are carbon-ceramic matrix with six-piston aluminum calipers, the front wheels are 19x10 inches, the rear 20x12.5, and they wear Michelin tires developed specifically for this project in 265/35ZR-19 and 335/30ZR-20 dimensions. Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, with a 16:1 overall ratio, 2.4 turns lock-to-lock and a 36-foot turning circle, keeps the driver in charge of direction, but not without an assist from electronics. ABS and traction control are integrated with the powertrain management system in an advance stability management program offering up a driver-selectable range of at least three racetrack modes, one highway and one street mode, so the driver can more or less specify the amount of slip he wants to allow. All-independent pushrod suspension at both ends with a long travel (155 mm in back, where the class average is between 70 mm and 90 mm) uses electronically adjustable shocks in a unique active suspension system that draws on a reservoir of fluid stored in the back.
If that sounds a lot like your standard supercar specification of the early 21st century, well, Creed notes that this past year has been something like the year of the supercar, with magazines road testing such exotics as the Zonda, Koenigsegg CC, Enzo, Carrera GT and so on. ?Every time we read one of these things, I?d find some criticism and call Bernhard up and say, ?Our car isn?t going to do that, is it??? laughs Creed. ?[Magazine testers] really wrote our spec book.?
As long as Creed has the floor, let?s look at the design. Tom Tremont, vp for advanced product design strategy, oversaw the project. With concept cars already in the works for this year?s show, and that desire to keep the lid down on the project, choosing a designer had to be done judiciously. The studios were charged with an ?exercise? that was presented as a loosening-up program, just to flex the designers a bit by asking them to sketch a supercar concept for Chrysler.
?At first mention, this challenge was met with a blank stare,? admits Creed. ?We don?t have anything in our history to draw on for this. It was a real challenge.?
From a slew of sketches, one stood out. Brian Nielander had penned a forward-leaning design that looked like it was in motion even on paper. It was fresh, and ?something about it said Chrysler.? It didn?t have anywhere near enough cooling and ventilation openings in it, but the engineers saw where these could be worked into the bodywork without damaging the theme.
?Rather than do cooling as an afterthought,? says Bernhard, ?we built it in from day one. Two-thirds of the energy in gasoline that you pump into the engine has to get out of the car through the cooling system.? Incorporating what Bernhard calls the ?highest-capacity cooling module in the supercar business?this was not negotiable with our suppliers at AMG? was just the beginning of engineering influences on the shape. Another was the rigid discipline to achieve the 1300-kg (2860-pound) weight target, putting the ME Four-Twelve at 3.4 pounds per hp (the Enzo is at 4.2, published figures on the Bugatti Veyron work out to 4.1, the McLaren F1 was at 3.9).
Then there?s aero. The computers say the ME Four-Twelve has a 0.358 Cd minimum, with negative lift at both ends. There?s 34.5 pounds of downforce at 65 mph, 737 pounds at 186 mph. A spoiler at the tail moves backward 100 mm and raises up 10 mm as speed climbs to 200 mph, then flattens out again to reduce drag and help the car hit its 240-mph top-speed target.
The designer also was required to incorporate 39 inches of headroom, with the objective of being the only supercar that will allow really tall people to fit easily into the cockpit. The wheelbase is 110 inches, nearly six inches longer than an Enzo?s and two inches longer than the Zonda?s. The ME Four-Twelve is 44.9 inches tall, 178 inches long and 78.7 inches wide.
Nielander?s exterior features forward-leaning lines that include the rooftop satellite navigation and radio antenna with integrated CHMSL. The indented lines on the forward cargo-compartment lid resemble those on the Crossfire. While alternatives were examined, standard door hinges were found to provide the best access to the cabin and also helped keep the weight down?scissors and gullwings may be flashy, but they?re often heavy and the functional advantages are minor. There are 96 red LEDs in the taillight assemblies, which perform brake, parking and turn-signal functions.
The interior design was by Mark Walters, who did the Tomahawk, and focused tightly on the notion of craftsmanship and use of materials that reflect the car?s nature as engineering exercise. The proprietary seat design is executed in a buttery leather, with the interior trimmed out in ultrasuede, metal and carbon fiber. There is no carpet, the floors being lined in a rubber-foam sandwich material.
The exposed portions of the carbon fiber tub use a molded-in color borrowed from a high-tech surfboard design. The security electronics for the keyless ignition are housed in a carbon fiber key fob shaped to resemble the car itself, while the red ?start? button on the dashboard is lit and turns green when the engine fires.
The Nakamichi stereo will be heard if the driver so chooses?Chrysler acquired a dual-pane rear window from the supplier who provides the Saleen S7?s backlight, to insulate the cabin from the engine noise and heat.
Ah, but will there be owners? And if not, what?s the point of such a detailed engineering prototype?
?Whether we build it, and where and how we build it, depends on customer reaction and testing of the prototype,? asserts Zetsche. If enough customers want such a thing to warrant production, what might it cost? ?All we know right now is that the Ford GT is at $150,000 or so, the Enzo is at $659,000, and that our car would cost somewhere in between there, depending on volume and final specification.?
Bernhard, though, says the ME Four-Twelve has value for the corporation even if it is never built.
?This is an engineering feat. The most difficult test you can put engineers to is a supercar or race car done in less than a year,? he says. ?Designers will look to this vehicle as a guiding star for other Chryslers.?
Zetsche says it establishes, with the Pacifica, Crossfire and 300C, the image he wants for Chrysler of ?elegance, not lifeless elegance, but very spirited elegance.?
The discipline of holding to the weight target, working rapidly with suppliers to meet performance parameters and so forth, he said, makes the ME Four-Twelve team members a core ?center of excellence.? They will bring that experience to bear on other projects. And for 10 days, of course, the ME Four-Twelve will ambush attention in Detroit.
That?s all very nice. But we?re itching to slip behind the wheel, push that red button, watch it turn green and see how it goes. Spring, we?re promised. Bring it on.