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Chrysler LH platform

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The LH platform served as the basis for the Chrysler Concorde, Chrysler LHS, Chrysler 300M, Dodge Intrepid, Eagle Vision, and the final Chrysler New Yorker. A Plymouth was planned, but never saw production. The platform pioneered Chrysler's "cab-forward" design; featured on some Chrysler, Dodge, and Eagle cars in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Development

The LH platform was based on the AMC-developed and Renault-derived Eagle Premier. According to "Bob" Lutz, "[t]he Premier had an excellent chassis and drove so dammed well that it served as a benchmark for the LH ... the spiritual father, the genetic antecedent of the LH is the Premier."<ref>{{#if:Hailig

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}}.</ref> Like the Premier, the LH-cars featured a longitudinally-mounted engine with a front-wheel drive drivetrain, unusual in most American front-wheel drive cars, but a hallmark of Renault's designs.<ref>Gold, Aaron. "Eagle Premier/Dodge Monaco: American-branded Eurocars" About.com Cars, retrieved on 2009-08-03.</ref>

The LH platform team was headed by François Castaing, who was previously responsible for product engineering and development at AMC. Working with an engineering team of only 700, it took just over three years from the styling studio to the showrooms.<ref>{{#if:Allen

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}}.</ref> To give focus for the platform engineering team, the benchmark target was the Eagle Premier.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> The LH platform and engine design were also benchmarked against the Ford Taurus and Nissan Maxima; while the Acura Legend, Toyota Camry, Lexus ES300, and the BMW 5 Series also were targets, but to a lesser degree.<ref>"Development of the Body Shell, Suspension, and Steering of the Chrysler LH Series (Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler Concorde, Eagle Vision)" allpar.com retrieved on 2009-08-03.</ref>

A rumor at the time was that LH stood for 'Last Hope'.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> This was because Chrysler faced an uncertain future that its engineers were allowed to do what they felt was innovative. The LH vehicles were, generally, a great success for Chrysler and the cab-forward look influenced other car designs in the 1990s. Although the real gold mine was Chrysler's acquisition of Jeep from AMC, the minivans, and LH sedans also helped to bail the company out of almost certain bankruptcy in the 1990s.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> The company was also in a financial crisis during the 1980s, and survived then due to the introduction and success of the K-cars.

Chrysler advertised the advantages of the LH's "cab-forward" architecture (short, sloping hood and long windshield), and even used the platform name for the Chrysler LHS sedan. This look dictated one major design decision: the LH uses a longitudinal engine rather than the transverse engine position, which is more typical for front-wheel drive cars. This arrangement meant that the design team had to use a chain to connect the automatic transmission with the front differential, a design reminiscent of the original Oldsmobile Toronado. The transverse engine position generally uses a chain to connect the engine with the transmission, a higher-velocity application subject to greater wear and noise.

The Dodge and Eagle LH cars competed directly against the Ford Taurus and other mid-size cars, largely replacing the K-based C-bodies, The Chrysler models competed with upmarket domestics such as Buick and Oldsmobile. The LH cars debuted in 1993, and were updated in 1998. The LH platform was replaced with the rear-wheel drive Chrysler LX platform for the 2005 model year.

First generation (1993-1997)

The first generation LH cars used the existing 3.3 L OHV V6 as well as a new 3.5 L SOHC V6, and a four-speed automatic transmission.

Cars that used the first revision of the LH platform include:

Originally, Chrysler came close to giving Plymouth a variant of the LH platform, called the Plymouth Accolade. However the Accolade never made it into production.

All versions shared a 113 in wheelbase. Compared to the other three versions, the LHS and New Yorker had different rear bodywork providing 5 in more overall length, and a revised rear seat providing more leg room.

Second generation (1998-2004)

The second generation LH cars used the 2.7 L DOHC V6 and 3.2 L SOHC V6 as well as an updated version of the older 3.5, and a four-speed automatic transmission.

Cars that used the second revision of the LH platform include:

All models again shared a wheelbase of 113 in. The 300M was several inches shorter than Concorde, Intrepid, & LHS, due to shorter front and rear overhangs in order to bring the car's length under 5 meters.

Media

One episode of Robert Reich's 1992 PBS miniseries Made In America focused on the then-yet-to-be-released LH's development and its role in reversing Chrysler's flagging fortunes. A camouflaged Dodge Intrepid is seen being put through the paces at Chrysler's test track, along with concept sketches and other behind-the-scenes activities.

External links

  • AllPar.com page about Dodge Intrepid, Eagle Vision, and Chrysler Concorde, 300M, New Yorker, and LHS

See also

Related, non LH platform cars: