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Mystery Prototype Discovered

A Sneak Peek at Chrysler’s Almost-Was 1980 Skatt 4X4

It’s a fact that for every automotive design that makes it from the sketchpad to the showroom, many more do not. We’re always fascinated by these dead ends and recently came upon a collection of photographs from the estate of Steven N. Bollinger. If the name isn’t immediately familiar, don’t worry, he was a member of the highly influential - but mostly anonymous - fraternity of automotive stylists, the unsung heroes behind the scenes.

Though Bollinger (left) passed away earlier this year, he was a Design Specialist who worked at Chrysler between 1969 and 1988. His influence is seen on the Chrysler Cordoba, 1981 Imperial, Chrysler minivan and several K-Car variants, one of which is shown here for the very first time.
    

Though the Skatt looks production ready, it never went farther than this non-operational full size model. Hardly a small vehicle, one wonders if the intended 2.2 four-cylinder power plant would have provided enough grunt.

Looking like a cross between a Tonka truck and dune buggy, Bollinger’s 1980 Skatt 4x4 all terrain vehicle concept demonstrated Chrysler’s desire for a piece of the Jeep CJ5 market. Remember, when the Skatt was considered at the turn of the decade, Chrysler’s acquisition of American Motors – and its lucrative Jeep division – was still seven years away. That the Skatt never reached production is hardly surprising considering Chrysler’s cash strapped situation at the time of its development.

A steady of barrage of quarterly losses – $159 million in the fourth quarter of 1978 alone – left little room for anything other than getting the “hail Mary” K-Car to market as fast as possible. It’s a shame the Skatt idea wasn’t revisited later in the decade as record profits began to flow. Instead of fighting the Jeep brand, Iacocca bought it.

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