Make / Model Search

Future models - Chrysler - SR 392 Roadster

First look: Chrysler's muscle memory

Not for production: Chrysler's SR 392 roadster concept wowed Vegas.

Chrysler's Hemi-weight open-wheel fighter packs performance into a retro body

12 Nov 2007

THERE is more than a touch of irony in the timing of Chrysler unveiling a great new roadster concept car – just days before announcing that will soon stop production of the Chrysler Crossfire roadster.

Of course, the Crossfire is being canned due to slow sales (as is the PT Cruiser convertible) while the new SR 392 Roadster is not likely to be considered for production, especially after the failure of the conceptually similar Plymouth Prowler, so we can just enjoy this car for its fun factor.

Unveiled at last week’s SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show in Las Vegas, the custom SR 392 Roadster was jointly built by Chrysler’s Mopar Underground SEMA design team and Michigan-based auto industry supplier Quality Metalcraft.

The body might be straight out of the 1950s, but under the bonnet is the latest heavy iron from Detroit – a mighty 392 cubic-inch (6.4-litre) Hemi ‘Crate Engine’ that was recently introduced by Mopar. It produces 391kW of power and 692Nm of torque.

11 center imageThis racing engine was introduced last year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original Hemi 392 that was made famous in US drag racing circles by the legendary Don Garlits and his ‘Swamp Rat’.

Chrysler is using the Roadster to celebrate 70 years of the Mopar brand, which stands for ‘motor parts’ and came about after Chrysler bought Dodge in 1928 and launched a Mopar brand of antifreeze in 1937.

It is therefore appropriate that the SR 392 Roadster’s body is the first steel reproduction of a 1927 street rod body – specifically the Shadowrods XL-27 Roadster and Lakes Modified bodies – developed by hot rod legend Jon Hall.

For nearly two years, Jeep/Dodge chief designer Mark Allen and design vice-president Ralph Gilles plotted to build the SR 392 Roadster for the SEMA show and it was finally brought to life by their skunkworks team of in-house enthusiasts who donate their time to SEMA project vehicles.

Mr Allen said the team’s idea was to redefine the classic hot rod with a more functional urban and industrial attitude to create a distinctly ‘Detroit’ roadster.

“It was important to convey the car’s theme as an homage to Detroit – the cool Detroit with its unique artistic community, music and gritty vibe,” he said.

“We used durable materials and let the mechanicals show to reflect the industrial backbone of the city, then wrapped it all up in a high-gloss black-and-chrome wrapper to evoke Detroit’s cool attitude.

“The core design elements of this roadster speak to the grit and industrial edge of our city.

“Things like the mezzanine flooring detail and Eames-inspired seating – these take an industrial cue but are by no means ‘rat-rod.’ It is a refined and organised design throughout.”After several design variations were discussed – including an assessment by California hot rod king Chip Foose – Allen brought his full resources to the design’s completion and QMC stamped and performed the initial assembly on the reworked Shadowrods body, fabricating and fitting the revised hood, hood side panels, lower rocker panels and doors.

With the car’s extremely low stance, Shadowrods was built a custom frame using a unique staggered truss concept.

Overseen by Gilles, the Mopar Underground SEMA design team has been customising production vehicles for the SEMA show since 2002, creating tricked, tuned and customised vehicle concepts meant to develop performance parts and “keep the Mopar spirit and passion alive”.

The group also saw a challenge in proving that the Hemi crate engine could apply to a vehicle other than traditional muscle cars or modified upfits.

The SEMA Show is the automotive parts and accessories industry’s biggest annual showcase of technology, trends and products, with more than 100,000 industry leaders from 100 countries attending this year’s event at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Chrysler models

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here