The Firepower is a granturismo which, according to Chrysler, is said to demonstrate the brand standards of elegance, refinement and affordability. The Chrysler-branded concept pushes beyond the sports car realm by blending expressive detail and engineering.
In January 2004 Chrysler got us all ecstatic when the ME Four-Twelve concept debuted in NAIAS. The American company was finally going to get a supercar with class. Of course, the Dodge’s Viper is technically a Chrysler vehicle, but it’s a little "rough around the edges". The ME Four-Twelve proved that Chrysler can combine extreme performance and luxury. Everything was set for production until the suits at Daimler-Chrysler started to question economical viability.
The car would have been unquestionably very desirable, but few could have satisfied that desire at an estimated price of $ 200,000.
Also making a business case for the supercar, which would likely have topped $200,000 and sold maybe a few hundred copies a year, was difficult, hence the decision to scrap the project. But in 2005’s NAIAS Chrysler brought to our attention a replacement for the ME Four-Twelve, The Firepower concept which shares the Dodge Viper race-bred chassis and the 6.1 liter V8 HEMI recently launched on the Chrysler 300C SRT-8. The concept was announced to go from zero-to-sixty in just 4.5 seconds and reach thrilling 175 mph top speed, all of that via an automatic 5-speed transmission (with AutoStick feature – the alternative of manually selecting gears) also common with the 300C SRT-8.
In terms of market success it appears to be a good bit easier for the Firepower, especially since it would reduce some R&D costs by sharing parts with Viper and the 300C. So the rumors regarding While Chrysler wanting to put this car into production seem to be highly probable. The concept itself seems to be a stock car preview, rather than a technology showoff. And by utilizing an already-existing chassis, as well as a "lesser" HEMI engine, a production version of the Firepower should cost less than a Viper. An estimation made on this specs places a production Firepower at about the same price as a new Corvette.
The FirePower was Chrysler’s first V8 engine. Introduced in the Fall of 1950 for the 1951, the FirePower had hemispherical combustion chambers, leading some to refer to this engine as the early Hemi. It was replaced by the Chrysler RB engine in 1959, though the hemi heads would live again in the RB-based 426" Chrysler Hemi engine in 1964.
Chrysler, Dodge (Red Ram), and DeSoto (FireDome) all built their own versions of this engine (but not Plymouth which stayed with poly-head engines). The Chrysler, Dodge, and DeSoto versions were all independent with almost no parts in common. There was no Plymouth hemi engine until the 1964 426.
The Chrysler Fire Power engines were the first Chrysler Corporation Hemis. They had the largest bore center distance of any Chrysler engine (except the B/RB) at 4.5625".
The main competitor of the upcoming Firepower seems to be Chevrolet Corvette. Equipped with the legendary “SmallBlock”, these days a 364 cubic inches OHV V8, pulling 404 bhp the 6th ‘Vette is able to sprint from zero-to-sixty in 4.2 seconds and reach 186 mph. Corvette is also offered in a high-performance version, the Z06, which gets on Dodge’s Viper territory.
Also the GR-1 based on the platform of the Ford Shelby concept shown last year could be Ford’s riposte to GM’s Corvette and Chrysler’s Firepower.
Firepower is a two-seat coupe with a Corvette-humbling 425 bhp 6.1 litre hemi V8. Like the Chevrolet that defines this genre, and the Viper whose platform it shares, it has a classic long hood-short tail alure emphasized by door shuts that wrap round the rear wheel arch and visually move the cab even farther rearward.
“As designers, we challenged ourselves,” said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President – Chrysler Group Design. “How could we best encompass such strong Chrysler models as the Crossfire, which began the brand’s move toward a higher level of performance and elegance, while looking to the most extreme expression of engineering and design such as last year’s prototype, the ME Four-Twelve? Firepower uniquely bridges these two worlds.”
Even if the car is Viper-based the designers envision “Firepower” as more grand tourer than outright sports car; hence the softened suspension and five-speed automatic transmission.
Chrysler Firepower Artist impression of the coming Chrysler Firepower
Overall design combines aggressiveness with style, with a dominance of the first component. The vague sense of déjà vu is due to sharing the same platform with the Viper and the exterior edges of the Crossfire. The general fluid lines are broken up only by the overcrowded bonnet, that features four air exhaust outtakes. A nicer touch is given by the front arches metal plates engraved with the car’s name. The creasing lateral line ends in a beautifully sculptured rear witch might resemble to some to an Aston Martin DB9’s, also it doesn’t reach the European’s finesse. The Firepower is more svelte than its Dodge sibling, but in the flesh the car lacks the unique visual drama of the similarly proportioned Ford GR-1 concept.
The HEMI tucks neatly inside Firepower’s long hood, which gracefully flows into the raked windshield. There are elegant touches, inside and out, such as the CHMSL (Center High-Mounted Stop Lamp) which is worked into the roof-mounted satellite antenna, that seems to be a BMW one mounted backwards.
Besides the esthetic purposes of the body finish we can clearly see the functional ones, required by traveling at high speeds. Computational Fluid Dynamics modeling was used to shape the body with aerodynamics in mind. The low mounted Chrysler grille seems to serve for proper engine cooling as well. Down force in the rear is also achieved through this modeling.
Our artists best guess on the final product’s design is that the LED lights will be replaced with regular ones, the bonnet will get a e neater shape and the wheels will decrease in size. The rest of the details are good for assembling.
All of that body-work is supported by the Viper’s chassis, a ladder frame with double A-arm independent suspension for both front and rear.
The 425-horsepower, normally aspirated 6.1-liter HEMI is the highest specific-output engine ever offered by the Chrysler Group. Its 69.8 horsepower-per-liter rating exceeds even that of the legendary 1966 "Street HEMI." Torque is rated at 420 lb.-ft.
When SRT (Chrysler’s “Street & Racing Technology” division) set out to develop a more powerful HEMI they were mindful of the engine’s heritage, which led to adopting traditional HEMI engine cues, such as an orange-painted cylinder block and black valve covers.
The SRT power-train engineers achieved more horsepower by adding more cubic inches, increasing the compression ratio, redesigning the cylinder head intake and exhaust systems for increased flow, and increasing engine speed, compared to previous HEMI.
To get more displacement, SRT engineers bored out the diameter of the cylinders by 3.5 millimeters each, to increase the total displacement to 6.1 liters from 5.7 liters. Compression ratio was also increased to 10.3:1 from 9.6:1, unleashing more energy in the combustion process.
Engine breathing was increased with new high-flow cylinder heads, a specially designed intake manifold, and exhaust "headers" with individual tubes encased in a stainless steel shell, all unique to this engine. Larger diameter valves and reshaped cylinder ports in the heads allow for maximized air flow. The intake manifold was designed with larger diameter runners for higher-speed tuning. Exhaust is routed through a larger-diameter (2.75-inch vs. 2.5-inch) exhaust system.
Performance-oriented camshaft profiles were developed to balance total vehicle requirements, simultaneously allowing more air in and out of cylinders. This increases performance and manages a higher engine speed, which is another method to increase horsepower. SRT engineers increased the HEMI’s peak engine speed nearly 15 percent, to 6,200 revolutions power minute (rpm) from 5,400 rpm. Intake and exhaust valve stems are hollow, and the exhaust valve stems are filled with sodium to help dissipate heat more efficiently.
The high-performance 6.1-liter HEMI is further strengthened with a host of redesigned components, including a reinforced engine block with increased coolant flow, forged steel crankshaft, high-strength powdered-metal connecting rods, floating-pin pistons (cooled by oil squirters), and an oil pan modified for reduced oil foaming.
The 6.1-liter HEMI’s power is channeled through an A580 five-speed automatic transmission with specially calibrated AutoStick® driver-selectable range control, which offers fully automatic or manual shifting selection. A heavy-duty four-flange prop shaft sends the torque from the transmission to an upgraded differential and axles.
Why did they think to use the AutoStick instead of a traditional manual transmission? Simple, this is intended to be a luxury car. You know... the kind of car that shifts itself, allowing easier mobile phone talking and nose powdering during driving. This is another aspect that differentiate Firepower of it’s sister Viper, which gets to be the track biting car.
The concept’s interior is equally elegant, with chrome accents that are decidedly Art Deco, it represents the Chrysler brand image of beauty and elegance. Color combination consists of Ocean Deep Blue as a primary hue, with Oyster leather and Behr maple accents. Finely trimmed leather-covered sport seats, automatic climate control and a premium audio system provide a tasteful and purposeful interior environment. All touch surfaces – steering wheel, control knobs, and shifter – are finished with fine materials for a luxury feel. Not all of that are going to make it to the production version, plastic surfaces are likely to replace some of the expensive ones in the interior. The instrument panel was designed to display vital information through precisely-detailed gauges, completing the look and feel of refinement.
"It’s about 80 percent likely that we’ll build this," says a trustworthy Chrysler source, those odds echoed by others familiar with the project.
If that does happen, don’t be surprised to see the two-seater’s name change by the time it hits production. Chrysler marketers thought they owned the name, which they once used, but it turns out the company no longer has rights. Whether they can negotiate a deal for Firepower - or even want to - is unclear, yet.
The good news is that the design itself is all but completely locked down.
Does Chrysler really need another sports car, a nudge more expensive than the current Crossfire? The automaker is betting the two cars will appeal to distinctly different niches. In case of positive customer feed-back, don’t be surprised to see this sports car hit showrooms in as little as two years.