Walter Chrysler and Chrysler Corporation
The car maker Chrysler history began in the early 1920s, when Walter Chrysler left Willys to overhaul the Maxwell Car Company. 1924 saw the introduction of the Chrysler Automobile, a well-received car that included features which, at the time, were reserved for more expensive vehicles. Among these were an air filter on the carburetor and an oil filter. In 1925, the Maxwell Car Company was reorganized into the Chrysler Corporation.
In its early years, Chrysler introduced revolutionary new features that would later be adopted by almost every automobile manufacturer including ridged rims which kept a flat tire from coming off the wheel and rubber engine mounts to reduce engine vibration traveling through the rest of the car.
The Chrysler Corporation went through many changes over the decades. In 1928, a deal brought about the acquisition of the Dodge nameplate from the Dodge Brothers. 1928 also saw the introduction of the Plymouth nameplate which was an integral part of Chrysler’s line-up until 2001 when the nameplate was dropped. In 1987, Chrysler gained a controlling share in Jeep-Eagle and began manufacturing the long-running Jeep line of vehicles. In 1998, Chrysler merged with German auto manufacturer Daimler AG to become DaimlerChrysler AG (see also Mercedes Benz car history). In 2007, Ceberus Capital Management acquired a controlling stake in Chrysler and completed its purchase of the remaining stock in 2009.
The 1960s and early 1970s were a high point for Chrysler due, in large part, to the NASCAR racing success of the Dodge nameplate. Richard Petty’s blue #43 Roadrunner Superbird car has become one of the most recognized cars in the world and was even portrayed as The King (Strip Weathers) in the Disney/Pixar animated film “Cars”. The 1969 Dodge Charger was a also featured prominently in the television series “The Dukes of Hazzard” from 1979-1985.
The Most Successful Chrysler Models
Chrysler has had several successful models including the 300, the Dodge Charger, and the Dodge Challenger/Plymouth Barracuda. More recently, Chrysler has stunned the automotive world with retro-styled vehicles that have been well-received including the Dodge Prowler and the new Dodge Challenger. In 2006, the re-introduced the Dodge Charger model as well, though this did not feature the retro-styling of the Prowler or the Challenger. In 1992, Chrysler entered the world of world-class sports cars with the Dodge Viper, a V-10 powered sports car designed to compete with cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette (read GMC history) and the Porsche 911 (read Porsche history).
Like its competitor, Ford (read Ford history), Chrysler carefully managed its nameplates according to design. Plymouth was the economy line, Dodge became the mid-grade and performance name, and Chrysler was reserved for their high-end luxury line of vehicles. The acquisition of the Jeep nameplate gave them instant recognition in the Sport/Utility vehicle market.
During its eight decade Chrysler history, the company has been an innovator and has had a strong influence in the auto manufacturing industry throughout the world. It has also seen its troubles as the #3 American auto manufacturer, but has managed to endure and survive through all its trials and tribulations.