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Jeep Designers Can Bask in Glow of Headlamp Fix

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New Jeep Compass

Baseball Hall-of-Famer Lefty Gomez once said, "I'd rather be lucky than good."

However, it's better to be both. Just ask Chrysler's design team.

Tasked with redefining the dowdy '10 Jeep Compass as part of the auto maker's aggressive 16-model showroom makeover, they determined a facelift was in order. The soft-roader's bug-eyed front end had to go.

That meant new headlamps.

Problem: CEO Sergio Marchionne moves at light speed, but the prove-out process for safety-critical headlamps does not. Not even close.

Given just five weeks to find a new direction for the '11 Compass, designers dug into the parts bin. Deeply.

Their first option was a headlamp used in the like-sized Chrysler Crossfire. A 2-seater derived from a Mercedes-Benz SLK during the DaimlerChrysler dynasty, the car was discontinued in 2008.

But the results were less than glowing.

So designers aimed higher (and closer to home) at the new-for-'11 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The verdict? Sweetness and light.

That's good design. Plain and simple.

The luck factor kicked in when the headlamps accommodated a front-end look that not only resembles the Grand Cherokee, it also is more consistent with the Jeep brand's rugged image.

Lucky and good.

(Note to trivia buffs: Lefty Gomez tossed a 9-0 New York Yankees win over the St. Louis Browns despite issuing 11 walks, the most ever in a shutout victory. The date was Aug. 1, 1941 -- the same day Willys-Overland introduced a vehicle Parade magazine described as "a tiny truck which can do practically everything." It was dubbed "Jeep.")

Old Jeep Compass

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