Rate It: The Bugatti and Talbot-Lago-Inspired Chrysler Atlantic Concept

By Colin Wood
Nov 24, 2020 | Chrysler, Rate It, Talbot-Lago, Atlantic, Concept, Buggati

The mid-to-late ‘90s seemed to give rise to a slew of neo-classical concept cars that would—for better or for worse—inspire the design language of a number of later production cars.

Perhaps some of the best examples of this came from Chrysler Group, with the most notable being this, the Chrysler Atlantic.

Taking style inspiration from the likes of Bugatti and Talbot-Lago, the Atlantic first debuted back in 1995 with Bob Lutz being one of the largest driving forces behind the concept.

If you thought the styling was the most unusual part of this concept, just wait until you find out what was under that long hood: a 4.0-liter straight-eight said to have been constructed out of two four-cylinder engines from the Neon. As well, it’s reported that the Atlantic’s engine was good for over 300 horsepower, though was mated to a four-speed “Autostick” automatic transmission.

Was the Chrysler Atlantic a bold design study that deserved some sort of production model, or is it a concept that should stay in the past forever?

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Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/24/20 10:16 a.m.

It's at least as pretty as any of the old stuff it alludes to, but unlike a lot of other Chrysler concepts from that period I dont see it having much relevance to production cars outside of a styling exercise. 

A neon-based straight eight is particularly dumb when what they really needed was a Neon-based VEE eight and what they built instead was the 4.7 sohc (which has more in common with the neon engine's predecessor). Meanwhile here we are in 2020 and literally every premium brand that matters is running 4.0L DOHC v8s. 

TurnerX19 SuperDork
11/24/20 10:24 a.m.

I have seen it in person. It is really beautiful, better than the cars it alludes to. Straight 8 is always a poor engine choice unless the power is taken from the middle.

NickD UltimaDork
11/24/20 10:27 a.m.

I remember this thing. Its still gorgeous. 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
11/24/20 10:56 a.m.

My brother is a retired Chrysler engineer, he gave me a 1:25 scale model of the car that sits on the shelf above my computer.  smiley


jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
11/24/20 2:51 p.m.

there were several retro-styled cars from that era that made it to production but they just didn't seem to do well....

The retro pony cars of the 2000's and 2010's have sold well however.

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
11/24/20 2:58 p.m.

It may have zero practicality, but it's gorgeous. A lot of "neoclassical" designs have been absolute train wrecks, although that's often because they try to combine exact details off an older car with off the shelf parts from a later car. Here, it looks like Chrysler both had a blank slate and stylists who knew better than to copy a classic car too closely - a proper neoclassical design needs both neo and classical.

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/24/20 5:25 p.m.

Looks good, shame about the powertrain. An I6 would've been a bit old-school without being silly...could've added a crank-mounted supercharger for extra nostalgia points laugh

Jesse Ransom (FFS)
Jesse Ransom (FFS) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
11/24/20 6:21 p.m.

There's a lot about it that's absolutely fantastic, though the era it's from inflicted a sort of plastic-pod-ness to the detail (or lack thereof). The doors and door windows in particular look to me like they were borrowed off of a movie spaceship or something... It's a little bit Taurus-jellybean and a little bit Future-of-the-'60s plastic pod house.

May just be my tastes, but I feel like its absence of trim is less "clean" and more "unfinished." But that's definitely rooted in the way I expect shapes like that to be trimmed out.

spandak HalfDork
11/24/20 6:28 p.m.

I'm trying to imagine this is a mid 90s Chrysler interior... ouch

Jordan Rimpela (FS)
Jordan Rimpela (FS) GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/25/20 12:22 p.m.

This and the Chrysler Phaeton were my two favorite concepts from the `90s.

And I8s rule.

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