Chrysler had been in deep trouble when the 1990s started; their products needed deep discounts to sell, they lost money on compact and midsize cars, and losses were starting to mount. Then, in 1992, after the stock had dropped below $4 per share, the New York Times printed a spread on the upcoming “LH” cars. The stock doubled, then tripled, and kept going up, not unlike the company’s share of the pickup market. By the time the 1997 cars came out, Chrysler was a major success story, but some auto writers (and many car buyers) still thought of the company as a behind the times.
The goal of the package was getting auto writers to test-drive the new Chrysler products and discover that this was a new Chrysler whose cars could compete against the best in just about any segment.
The Neon, pictured, was busily winning SCCA championships—and it had more interior space than most competitors. The Dodge Ram 1500 was spurring copycat moves at GM, Ford, and Toyota. Ford had to redesign its Contour just after it debuted to keep up with the Stratus and Cirrus. The LH large cars reinvigorated the dying American large car market.
A fold concealed a pocket with information on each car...
The mailer was an oversized, colorful fold-out pocket in a larger, equally colorful envelope; the envelopes used a thin, glossy stock. You can see the cards in their pocket above; here they are, below, one at a time. Keep in mind that all Chrysler vehicles were new at this point, save for the Cherokee; little remained from the “K era.”
The Neon had long waiting lines at its launch; demand dropped after Consumer Reports’ hit pieces and early failures of the head gaskets, exhaust donuts, and window glass alignment. These issues were all fixed by the mid-1997 models, but the damage was done. The three-speed automatic didn’t do the Neon any favors; the five-speed definitely helped.
The new minivans had been redesigned for 1996, their first full redesign. The previous generation was already considered the best minivan in many comparisons.
The Breeze was the Plymouth compact, limited to the smallest engine; it was essentially the same as the Cirrus and Stratus other than powertrain options. Only the Plymouth had the manual, but it could not get the V6.
The Vision was the European-aimed LH car, essentially similar to the Intrepid, Concorde, New Yorker, and LHS. The Vision came with a standard 3.5 liter V6, producing 214 hp for now—it would soon get a boost to 250 hp.
The Talon was a Mitsubishi Eclipse with different styling and a base-level Chrysler engine—which Mitsubishi also used in the Eclipse.
The Concorde was, with the Intrepid, the full-size car that revolutionized big cars; it started essentially with the Renault Alliance, an AMC-Renault partnership design, and went on from there.
Lee Iacocca firmly believed in convertibles, and insisted Chrysler make them. However, the ones before this had been converted from full roof cars; the Sebring Convertible was engineered to be what it was, and had many advantages over pretty much any other affordable convertible sold in 1997.
The Sebring Coupe was a disguised Mitsubishi Eclipse, like the Eagle Talon.
The Town & Country was the luxury version of the company minivan, at the time the most luxurious minivan one could buy, though that distinction was almost entirely a matter of standard features and leather-covered seats.
The Cirrus was similar to the Breeze and Stratus. The LHS, below, was the most luxurious of the LH cars; it had a standard 3.5 liter engine, pushing out a then-impressive 214 hp.
Copyright © 2021-2024 Zatz LLC • Chrysler / Mopar car stories and history.