Chrysler LH platform
The LH platform was Chrysler's best-known automobile platform after the Chrysler K platform of the 1980s. The platform was loosely based on the AMC-developed and Renault-derived Eagle Premier. Like the Premier, the LH-cars featured a longitudinally-mounted engine with a front-wheel drive drivetrain, unusual in most American front-wheel drive cars.
They competed more directly against the Ford Taurus and other large mid-size cars, largely replacing the K-based C-bodies. The LH cars debuted in 1993, and were updated in 1998. The LH platform was replaced with the rear-wheel drive Chrysler LX platform for the 2005 model year.
Chrysler advertised the advantages of the LH's "cab-forward" architecture (short, sloping hood and long windshield), and even used the platform name for the Chrysler LHS sedan. This look dictated one major design decision: the LH uses a longitudinal engine rather than the transverse engine position, which is more typical for front-wheel drive cars. This arrangement meant that the design team had to use a chain to connect the automatic transmission with the front differential, a design reminiscent of the original Oldsmobile Toronado. The transverse engine position generally uses a chain to connect the engine with the transmission, a higher-velocity application subject to greater wear and noise.
The LH platform and engine design were benchmarked against the Acura Legend, though the final LH cars were larger and lighter than the Legend.
A rumor at the time was that LH stood for 'Last Hope'. This was because Chrysler faced an uncertain future that its engineers were allowed to do what they felt was innovative. The LH vehicles were, generally, a great success for Chrysler and the cab-forward look influenced other car designs in the 1990s. The LH sedans also bailed Chrysler out of bankruptcy in the 1990s, just like the K-cars did during the 1980s.
First generation (1993-1997)
Cars that used the first revision of the LH platform include:
Originally, Chrysler came close to giving Plymouth a variant of the LH platform, called the Plymouth Accolade. However the Accolade never made it into production.
All versions shared a 113" wheelbase. Compared to the other 3 versions, the LHS and New Yorker had different rear bodywork providing 5 inches more overall length, and a revised rear seat providing more leg room.
Second generation (1998-2004)
Cars that used the second revision of the LH platform include:
All models again shared a wheelbase of 113 inches. The 300M was several inches shorter than Concorde, Intrepid, & LHS, due to shorter front and rear overhangs in order to bring the car's length under 5 meters.
One episode of Robert Reich's 1992 PBS miniseries Made In America focused on the then-yet-to-be-released LH's development and its role in reversing Chrysler's flagging fortunes. A camouflaged Dodge Intrepid is seen being put through the paces at Chrysler's test track, along with concept sketches and other behind-the-scenes activities.
- LHForums.net A leading community dedicated to the LH platform cars.
- AllPar.com A popular website for all things Chrysler.
- Dodge Intrepid Forums
- Joel D. Pietrangelo. "LH engineers become true believers in teamwork" ([dead link] – Scholar search). Ward's Auto World (March 1992). http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3165/is_n3_v28/ai_11928200.