The Chrysler Nassau Concept Car: A Beautiful Bird

Chrysler Nassau Concept Car

What would George Jetson choose to drive? Lack of hovering ability aside, could the Chrysler Nassau be futuristic enough for him?

DaimlerChrysler AG has just revealed this concept car at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show as a potential successor to the 300 sedan. (It’s worth noting that when the car now known as the 300 was in its concept stage it was also called the Nassau. Hmmm.) The 300 is due for a well-timed remaking in 2010; sales have been strong since its 2004 release but are now slightly declining.

You’d think a car with a 120-inch wheelbase would look big, but this one really doesn’t–at least not from the outside. Its body design limits overhang to keep up an illusion of compactness, but sit inside it and you’d feel how roomy it truly is. There’s ample legroom to accommodate your biggest moon-walking boots, and Jane Jetson would be able to fit her full week’s groceries in the hatched cargo area’s ample space.

Speaking of space, the interior of this thing is reportedly reminiscent of a rocket ship – not that I know anyone who reminisces about rocket ships, since I don’t know anyone who’s ever sat in one. Just humor me for a minute, though, and let your imagination take you there, too.

The elongated, oversized headlights and taillights catch the eye and help transport one to the future. Inside, stainless steel and aluminum interior accents add to the future-modern look. The instrument panel and controls reflect the designs of modern devices such as the cellphone and iPod, items that are ubiquitous accessories for the Nassau’s youthful target market. The instrument cluster intentionally calls to mind a pricey wristwatch, something the buyer of this car will probably own. What Chrysler designers seek to achieve is a seamless transition between the driver’s time spent in the car and the rest of his daily life. Even the vents are camouflaged (as I’m guessing they are in rocket ships), if only to keep the occupants from having to think about them, thus interrupting their busy lives.

Chrysler spokesmen have said that the car’s design was inspired by the works of a sculptor named Constantin Brancusi who worked in Paris in the early 20thcentury. His pieces shared a common theme of birds in flight, a concept that synchs well with Chrysler’s iconic wings. Now that they mention it, when you look at the Nassau head-on it’s not that hard to envision the hood as a raptor’s beak. And that field of pillar-free glass on either side, interrupted only by the subtle demarcation between front and rear windows, does call to mind a pair of wings held back flush. Show me a picture of the Nassau with its front doors open and I’ll let you know if I think it resembles a gliding avian.

As futuristic as the rest of the car may be, the grille is certainly familiar: the Nassau is a Chrysler, no doubt about it–although this fine-lined grille is more subtly rendered. Naturally, a car of the future will have modern-day features, as this one does. One of those amenities, the pair of video screens mounted in the backs of the front headrests for the backseat passengers (Judy and Elroy?), lends a clue that the car as it is would also be marketed to families of four–such as the Jetsons.

So then, what would Chrysler call it, a family sedan? They could, but it’s not really a sedan—it’s a hatchback. There’s also no room for Passenger #5, as the back consists of two bucket seats, to maximize comfort. Putting high priority on passenger comfort is one way in which the Nassau aims to be like an SUV, road-clearance and cargo-space differences aside.

Now let’s get back to that rocket ship. The rear-wheel drive Nassau concept car reportedly rolls from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds on its 22-inch wheels, with a top speed of 165 miles per hour. OK, maybe that’s not quite space-travel territory, but who’s planning a trip outside of our atmosphere anyway? In any case, the secret weapon behind those stats is a 6.1-liter Hemi V8, and you couldn’t ask for more than that for travel here on good ol’ Earth.

So that’s how the Nassau shapes up: a package of power, style, space, and comfort. If it were to be released soon, there’s no telling how it would fare. For one thing, its Generation Y target market is currently stuck on the retro concept, not ultra-modern. But maybe that will have changed by the time the Chrysler Nassau – or whatever they’ll be calling it then – sees sunlight. Perhaps then I should be asking instead, What would young Elroy Jetson drive? Could be this is not his dad’s crossover after all.

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