This is an installment in a series of posts looking back on show cars that we feel deserved a little more attention than they got. If you have a suggestion for a Forgotten Concept topic, please shoot us a line or leave a comment below.
First Shown: 1997 Detroit Auto Show
Description: 5-passenger subcompact hatchback
Sales Pitch: “Another clever response to Plymouth’s calling for unique, affordable transportation.”
First shown at the 1997 Detroit Auto Show, the Plymouth Pronto was a small, 5-passenger design study that wore retro design cues that would find their way to future Chrysler Corporation production vehicles. Though referred to by Plymouth as a sedan, the short, upright Pronto featured a rear hatch. The tidy Pronto rode on a 101-inch wheelbase and was just 149 inches long—about 6 inches longer than a Fiat 500. Instead of a sunroof, the Pronto was fitted with a large, rollback fabric top. As for color, the Pronto was painted “Cool Vanilla,” while the cabin was outfitted in Cool Vanilla with sage accents.
Somewhat pedestrian under the hood, the Plymouth Pronto was powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine borrowed from the Dodge/Plymouth Neon mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission. When the Pronto concept was shown in Europe, the drivetrain was revised, with a 1.6-liter engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
Most obviously, the Pronto foreshadowed the front-end styling of the 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser, and its “floating” bumperettes remind us of those on the Plymouth Prowler (which debuted as a 1993 concept car and saw production from 1997-2002). The first of a trio of Plymouth concepts, the Pronto was followed up in 1998 by the Pronto Spyder 2-seat roadster, and in 1999 by the Pronto Cruizer (the Pronto Cruizer became a Chrysler in light of the impending discontinuation of the Plymouth brand).
Given this car’s place in automotive design history, I am impressed by how little information is available about it online. That said, though the Pronto debuted a couple of interesting design features, it is itself not especially interesting to look at. The Pronto Cruizer, on the other hand, commands more attention, and is an obvious precursor to the popular PT Cruiser. Just for fun, click this link to see how much the Pronto resembles the European-market Chrysler Java concept.
(Click below for enlarged images)