Chrysler history, profile and history video
“Walter P. Chrysler was at heart a virtuoso machinist with an unquenchable thirst to create. Whether designing and assembling the most innovative automobile of his day or hand-picking the crackerjack team who would build it, his life was about precision, style, power and performance in all aspects. “Had I been Aladdin,” he wrote, “I am certain that after just one wish or two, I’d have taken that old lamp apart to see if I could make another, better lamp.”
Discover how a Kansas prairie machinist who spent the first 37 years of his life in the railroad industry ascended to founding the Chrysler Corporation and why his spirit thrives today in the Chrysler Group as they once again set the stage for automotive innovation.”
The Chrysler company was founded by Walter Chrysler (1875–1940) on June 6, 1925, when the Maxwell Motor Company (est. 1904) was re-organized into the Chrysler Corporation.
Walter Chrysler arrived at the ailing Maxwell-Chalmers company in the early 1920s. He was hired to overhaul the company’s troubled operations (after a similar rescue job at theWillys-Overland car company). In late 1923 production of the Chalmers automobile was ended.
In January 1924, Walter Chrysler launched the well-received Chrysler automobile. The Chrysler was a 6-cylinder automobile, designed to provide customers with an advanced, well-engineered car, but at a more affordable price than they might expect. (Elements of this car are traceable to a prototype which had been under development at Willys during Chrysler’s tenure). The original 1924 Chrysler included a carburetor air filter, high compression engine, full pressure lubrication, and an oil filter, features absent from most autos at the time. Among the innovations in its early years were the first practical mass-produced four-wheel hydraulic brakes, a system nearly completely engineered by Chrysler with patents assigned to Lockheed, and rubber engine mounts to reduce vibration. Chrysler also developed a wheel with a ridged rim, designed to keep a deflated tire from flying off the wheel. This wheel was eventually adopted by the auto industry worldwide.
Following the introduction of the Chrysler, the Maxwell brand was dropped after the 1925 model year. The new, lower-priced four-cylinder Chryslers introduced for the 1926 year were badge-engineered Maxwells. The advanced engineering and testing that went into Chrysler Corporation cars helped to push the company to the second-place position in U.S. sales by 1936, a position it would last hold in 1949.
In 1928, the Chrysler Corporation began dividing its vehicle offerings by price class and function. The Plymouth brand was introduced at the low-priced end of the market (created essentially by once again reworking and rebadging Chrysler’s four-cylinder model). At the same time, the DeSoto brand was introduced in the medium-price field. Also in 1928, Chrysler bought the Dodge Brothers automobile and truck company and continued the successful Dodge line of automobiles and Fargo range of trucks. By the mid-1930s, the DeSoto and Dodge divisions would trade places in the corporate hierarchy.
The Imperial name had been used since 1926, but was never a separate make, just the top-of-the-line Chrysler. In 1955, the company decided to spin it off as its own make and division to better compete with its rivals, Lincoln and Cadillac.
On April 28, 1955, Chrysler and Philco had announced the development and production of the World’s First All-Transistor car radio. The all-transistor car radio Mopar model 914HR, was developed and produced by Chrysler and Philco, and was an $150.00 “option” on the 1956 Imperial car models. Philco was the company, who had manufactured the all-transistor car radio Mopar model 914HR, starting in the fall of 1955 at its Sandusky Ohio plant, for the Chrysler corporation.
On September 28, 1957, Chrysler had announced the first production electronic fuel injection (EFI), as an option on some of its new 1958 car models (Chrysler 300D, Dodge D500, DeSoto Adventurer, Plymouth Fury). The first attempt to use this system was by American Motors on the 1957 Rambler Rebel. Bendix Corporation’s Electrojector used a transistor computer brain modulator box, but teething problems on pre-production cars meant very few cars were made. The EFI system in the Rambler ran fine in warm weather, but suffered hard starting in cooler temperatures and AMC decided not to use this EFI system, on its 1957 Rambler Rebel production cars that were sold to the public. Chrysler also used the Bendix “Electrojector” fuel injection system and only around 35 vehicles were built with this option, on its 1958 production built car models.
Imperial would see new body styles introduced every two to three years, all with V8 engines and automatic transmissions, as well as technologies that would filter down to Chrysler corporation’s other models. Imperial was folded back into the Chrysler brand in 1973.
The Valiant was also introduced for 1960 as a distinct brand. In the U.S. market, Valiant was made a model in the Plymouth line for 1961 and the DeSoto make was discontinued during 1961. With those exceptions per applicable year and market, Chrysler’s range from lowest to highest price from the 1940s through the 1970s was Valiant, Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler, and Imperial.
In 1985, Chrysler entered an agreement with American Motors Corporation (AMC) to produce Chrysler M platform rear-drive, as well asDodge Omnis front wheel drive cars, in AMC’s Kenosha, Wisconsin plant. In 1987, Chrysler acquired the 47% ownership of AMC that was held by Renault. The remaining outstanding shares of AMC were purchased on the NYSE by August 5, 1987, making the deal valued somewhere between US$1.7 billion and $2 billion depending on how costs were counted. Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca wanted the Jeep brand, particularly the Jeep Grand Cherokee (ZJ) that was under development, the world-class, brand-new manufacturing plant inBramalea, Ontario, as well as AMC’s engineering and management talent that became critical for Chrysler’s future success. Chrysler established the Jeep/Eagle division as a “specialty” arm to market products distinctly different from the K-car-based products with the Eaglecars targeting import buyers. Former AMC dealers sold Jeep vehicles and various new Eagle models, as well as Chrysler products, strengthening the automaker’s retail distribution system.
In 1998, Chrysler and its subsidiaries entered into a partnership dubbed a “merger of equals” with German-based Daimler-Benz AG, creating the combined entity DaimlerChrysler AG. To the surprise of many stockholders, Daimler subsequently acquired Chrysler in a stock swap, before the retirement of Chrysler CEO Bob Eaton. His lack of planning for Chrysler in the 1990s, to become their own global automotive company, is widely accepted as the reason why the merger was needed. Under DaimlerChrysler, the company was named DaimlerChrysler Motors Company LLC, with its U.S. operations generally called “DCX”. The Eagle brand was retired shortly after Chrysler’s merger with Daimler-Benz in 1998 Jeep became a stand-alone division, and efforts were made to merge the Chrysler and Jeep brands as one sales unit. In 2001, the Plymouth brand was also discontinued.
On May 14, 2007, DaimlerChrysler announced the sale of 80.1% of Chrysler Group to American private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., thereafter known as Chrysler LLC, although Daimler (renamed as Daimler AG) continued to hold a 19.9% stake. The economic collapse of 2007 – 2009 pushed an already fragile company to the brink. On April 30, 2009, On April 30, the automaker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to be able to operate as a going concern, while renegotiating its debt structure and other obligations. The U.S. government described the company’s action as a “prepackaged surgical bankruptcy.”
The sale of substantially all of Chrysler’s assets to “New Chrysler”, organized as Chrysler Group LLC was completed on June 10, 2009. The federal government provided support for the deal with US$8 billion in financing at near 21%. Under Sergio Marchionne, “World Class Manufacturing” or WCM, a system of complete and thorough manufacturing quality, was introduced and several products re-launched with quality and luxury. The 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee very soon became the most awarded SUV – Ever. The Ram, Jeep, Dodge, SRT and Chrysler divisions were separated to focus on their own identity and brand and 11 major model refreshes occurred in 21 months. The PT Cruiser, Nitro, Liberty and Caliber models (created during DCX) were discontinued. On May 24, 2011, Chrysler repaid its $7.6 billion loans to the United States and Canadian governments. Being a full 5 years early, this is the only “bailout” that earned the US Taxpayer a profit. On July 21, 2011, Fiat bought the Chrysler shares held by the United States Treasury. With the purchase, Chrysler once again became foreign owned; however, this time Chrysler was the luxury division. The Chrysler 300 was badged Lancia Thema in some European markets (with additional engine options), giving Lancia a much needed replacement for its flagship.
On January 1, 2014, Fiat announced it would be acquiring the remaining shares of Chrysler owned by the VEBA worth $3.65 billion. The deal was completed on January 21, 2014.Several days later, the intended reorganization of Fiat and Chrysler under a new holding company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, together with a new FCA logo were announced. The most challenging launch for this new company came immediately in January 2014 with a completely redesigned Chrysler 200. The vehicle’s creation is from the completely integrated company, FCA, executing from a global compact-wide platform.”
*Information from Chrysler.com and Wikipedia.org
**Video published on YouTube by “WatchMojo.com“