More stories related to 2005 NAIAS AUBURN HILLS – Not wanting to get lost in the shuffle of product announcements, Chrysler Group provides a sneak peek here at two concepts that will debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

The Jeep Gladiator harkens back to 1960s, when the production Gladiator pickup roamed the nation’s back roads and highways.

Gladiator is based on a unique platform that allowed designers to push the wheels out to the corners, reducing front and rear overhangs. Its military green paint job and boxy design are true to Jeep’s heritage.

Among unique features are a side-mounted spare tire and small access panel on the driver’s door. The 5-ft. (152.4-cm) cargo bed features a reconfigurable bulkhead that slides forward into the passenger compartment, when the rear seat is stowed under the bed, to provide an additional 3 ft. (91.4 cm) of cargo space. An open-air canvas top and simplistic interior round out the design features.

Jeep Gladiator concept

The Gladiator is powered by a 2.8L Detroit Diesel/VM Motori 4-cyl. turbodiesel engine, producing 168 hp and mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.

The Chrysler brand takes aim at some of America’s most treasured sports coupes with the Firepower.

Derived from the Dodge Viper platform, the Firepower (a working name that could be replaced for the auto show) picks up cues from the ME Four-Twelve concept car and Crossfire coupe/roadster. Chrysler design chief Trevor Creed says the mantra behind the Firepower was to develop a GT car for the Chrysler brand to serve as a “Corvette fighter.”

Chrysler Firepower concept

“We wanted to take the Viper platform and soften the suspension to provide a more Gran Turismo, GT performance,” he says.

Powered by a 6.1L Hemi V-8 producing 425 hp, the Firepower features a long hood and short rear deck, with a glass roof. The interior provides a luxurious feel with its extensive use of wood and brushed-aluminum trim.

Creed says both the Gladiator and Firepower are “pure concept vehicles” with no plans for production in place. However, an overwhelmingly positive response from potential customers could sway Chrysler’s senior management to begin building a business case for either concept.

kekelly@primediabusiness.com