Make cars safer, cleaner and greener, and you make them more expensive. And at some point this butts heads with the necessary evil of profit margins: The difference between designing, engineering, developing and producing an Up and a Golf is minimal for VW’s bottom line, but it has to sell one at half the price of the other.

Today, even in Europe, the formula is making very small cars like the Up, Peugeot 108, and Smart Fortwo a dying breed. But 25 years ago, Chrysler was one of several manufacturers attempting to make small cars cheaper by building them smarter. And, inadvertently or otherwise, it created a kind of modern-day Citroën 2CV.

Called the Chrysler CCV, the name originally stood for China Concept Vehicle, a nod to its intended audience (in 1997, China’s automotive market was somewhat different from today’s technology-focused behemoth).


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Angie Byrd