Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

 Brand Heritage — Chrysler / Plymouth / Desoto


Walter P. Chrysler, managing Willys-Overland, takes on Maxwell and Chalmers. Maxwell rear axle re-engineered and sold as “Good Maxwell”.

1922 A reworked Maxwell appears with improved engine and chassis. Maxwell and Chalmers merge; Development of a new Chrysler car is begun by Zeder-Skelton-Breer team. Chalmers discontinued.

1924 First Chrysler produced by Maxwell-Chalmers Motors.


Maxwell-Chalmers is now Chrysler Corporation, last Maxwells built. Chrysler Canada organized Balloon tires standard. 

1926   Maxwell is now Chrysler 58, a four cylinder model. The Imperial is introduced, bigger than the Chrysler, with larger engine and distinctive styling.

1927   Chrysler Limited (UK) organized; Chrysler 50 appears, basis for Plymouth.

1928   Privately sponsored Chrysler places third overall at Le Mans; Dodge Brothers acquired; Plymouth replaces Chrysler 50 and DeSoto introduced as ’29 models.

1929   Downdraft carburetion, internal expanding hydraulic brakes, Lovejoy shocks as standard equipment.

1930   DeSoto and Dodge eights introduced.


Chrysler eights introduced; Floating power appears on ’32 model Plymouths.

1932   Ads feature Walter P. and the slogan “Look at All Three!” as Plymouth reaches #3 production spot. All models have floating power.

1933   Plymouth offers IFS and 6 cylinder. All cars have helical gear transmissions.

1934   Chrysler and DeSoto Airflows; Ray Dietrich becomes Chief Stylist.

1935   Airstream Chryslers introduced due to poor Airflow sales.


Half million Plymouths manufactured this year. K.T.Keller is President of Chrysler.

1938   Walter Chrysler is ill, retires from company Chairmanship. Fabricas Automex (Mexico) established; Chrysler offers “New York Special” for one year; Robert Cadwallader is new head stylist.


Last Dietrich styled cars. Chrysler introduces Windsor, New Yorker, and Saratoga series. Bearings are superfinished. Safety Signal speedometers and column shifts introduced.

1940   Thunderbolt and Newport show cars are shown. Walter Chrysler dies. Safety rim wheels introduced.

1941   Last models (year ’42) are produced without plated trim due to strategic need for chrome.


’42 DeSoto has hidden headlamps. Production stops for war. By wars end Chrysler will produce, among other things, 397,209 trucks, 25,507 tanks, 3 billion cartridges, and 175,000 engines of all types.


Re-conversion to car production begins July, Chrysler begins production in December.


Town and Country convertible and sedan introduced, replacing wagon.


As a “Second Series” the corporation offers re-styled cars; Virgil Exner joins Chrysler.


Keller becomes Chairman—first since WPC’s death—and “Tex” Colbert is president.


Hemi engine introduced, and power steering.


Hemis compete (in Cunninghams) at Le mans and on the stock car circuit. Hemi put in DeSotos.


Dodge gets a Hemi, a Cunningham is third at Le mans; d’Elegance show car is shown. First Chrysler fully automatic transmission.


Dodge, DeSoto, and Plymouth get automatic transmissions.


First year of the “Forward Look”, first Chrysler 300, first Plymouth V8, Imperial a separate make.


“Flite Sweep” styling offers fins, low profile created by use of torsion bar instead of spring suspension; Highest market share for next 39 years.


Share in SIMCA purchased; SIMCA began in 1934 by building the Fiat Balilla in France. The SIMCA 5 (Fiat Topolino) and the SIMCA 8 (Fiat 508C Balilla) followed, both Airflow influenced. In 1950 came the SIMCA 9 which became the SIMCA Aronde and lasted until the mid 60’s. In the mid-‘50s SIMCA acquired Ford France; SIMCA Horizon* is the inspiration for the American version.


Wedges replace the Hemi. Simcas are imported for US sale.


Valiant debuts. Everything but Imperial is unibody built. Slant Six replaces flathead six. Valiants feature alternators. William Newburg succeeds Colbert, who moves to chairman. Newburg lasts two months. Townsend succeeds Newburg. Valiant dominates short-lived compact stock car class.


Dodge version of Valiant is the Lancer; DeSoto discontinued. Colbert resigns as chairman, succeeded by George Love, Exner replaced by Elwood Engel.


50 turbine cars built.


Dart compact debuts. 5 year/50,000 mile warranty.


Chrysler buys a share in Rootes Group and controlling interest in SIMCA. The Barracuda beats the Mustang to market by two weeks, Richard Petty takes a first at Daytona in a Hemi Plymouth; Hillman founded in 1871 to build bicycles (first car 1907) and controlled after 1928 by the Rootes Brothers; Humber, formed by Thomas Humber about 1900; Humber bought Commer Cars Ltd who were, rather confusingly, truck builders, and then in 1928 Hillman as Rootes was formed. Humber known for the late thirties Humber Snipe and Super Snipes models which lasted until 1964; Sunbeam, like Hillman and Humber, were originally bicycle makers who produced their first car in 1900. In ’23 a Sunbeam was the first British car to win a Grand Prix. Associated with Talbot-Darracq from France, Sunbeam became part of Rootes after Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq collapsed in ’35. The French remainder became Talbot-Lago, later part of SIMCA. Americans best know Sunbeam for the Sunbeam Alpine; Singer, another bicycle maker, built its motorized tricycle in 1901, and its first car in 1905. They pre-dated the Airflow with a concept called Airstream, and in ’48 built a model called the SM1500 which became the Singer Hunter in 1955, which featured a SOHC engine until 1958. They joined Rootes in 1956. The Singer Hunter eventually became the Hillman Hunter.


Dodge Hemi-Charger and Plymouth SuperStock debut.


“Street Hemi” offered.


Lynn Townsend Chairman of the Board, Virgil Boyd President; Dodge Coronet R/T and Plymouth Belvedere GTX; Richard Petty wins NASCAR championship in a Plymouth.


Dodge Super Bee. First Federal emission controls.


First year of fuselage styling. Dodge Charger Daytona built for stock car racing. A 440V8 with triple two barrels—a six pack—is available for the Plymouth Roadrunner and the Dodge Super Bee.


Chrysler begins to sell Mitsubishi cars and trucks in US. Hurst modified Chrysler 300-H offered. Plymouth offers Duster coupe and the Road Runner Superbird “Winged Warrior.” Plymouth Cricket imported from Britain.


Chrysler buys share of Mitsubishi. Emission controls tighten. Last year for SIMCA. Last convertibles built. 


Rootes is now Chrysler. First OPEC oil crisis.


Barracuda discontinued.


John J. Riccardo Chairman, Eugene Cafiero President. Cordoba debuts, Imperial discontinued.


Aspen and Volare debut. Plymouth Arrow is imported from Mitsubishi.


Lee A. Iacocca president. FWD Omni/Horizons; European operations sold.


Iacocca Chairman, Paul Bergmoser President.


Guarantee Loan Act passed; Marine Division sold; Chrysler sells less than 765,000 cars. The Imperial is briefly revived. All US automakers are in the red.


K-car production begins. Defense Division sold. Gerald Greenwald Vice Chair, Harold Sperlich, President.


Chrysler revives the convertible in the form of the Chrysler LeBaron.


Loan guarantees paid off. Minivan introduced; Last year for the slant six. A Shelby Charger is introduced.


Chrysler buys part of Maserati. Daytona/Laser sport coupes introduced.


Greenwald, Chair Chrysler Motors, Bennett E. Bidwell, Vice Chair, ChrysCorp, Sperlich, President ChrysMotors. H Body Dodge Lancer and Chrysler LeBaron GTS Hatchbacks debut.


7/70 Warranty program.


Chrysler buys AMC and Lamborghini; Eagle introduced, re-enters European market; Portofino show car introduced, precurser of the cab forward designs; Robert S. Miller, Vice Chair, ChrysCorp, Bidwell, President, Marketing, ChrysMotors, Robert A. Lutz, Pres, Operations, ChrysMotors.


Diamond Star, joint venture with Mitsubishi, begins. Greenwald, Vice Chair, ChrysCorp, Miller, Exec VP and CFO ChrysCorp, Bidwell Chair, ChrysMotors; Chrysler offers first airbags as standard equipment. Dodge Dynasty introduced.


Chrysler signs agreement with Steyr-Daimler-Puch to build minivans in Europe. Maserati TC introduced; Last year for Reliant and Aries.


Last year for Omni and Horizon, Viper Concept appears, first Talon/Laser.


Robert Lutz is President, ChrysCorp. Worst year ever for American Big Three. Chrysler sells share of Diamond Star. CTC dedicated.


Jefferson North Assembly plant opens; Production of minivan begins in Europe. Dodge Viper introduced. LH cars debut; Robert J. Eaton, Vice Chair, ChrysCorp.; Viper debuts; Integrated child safety seats.


Robert Eaton succeeds Iacocca; Lutz President; LH cars debut, and Grand Cherokee. Last share in Mitsubishi sold.


Thomas G. Denomme, Vice Chair, Robert A. Lutz, Vice Chair. First LHS models; Neon debuts.


Cirrus and Stratus debut. Blue Ribbon emblem revived.


Market share is 16.2%--highest since 1957; Minivans are redesigned; Prowler debuts; Sebring convertible debuts; Headquarters in Auburn Hills officially opened.


Thomas Stallkamp, President, ChrysCorp. New LH and LHS models, Durango, 300M, and Grand Cherokee bow. Chrysler merges with Daimler Benz to make DaimlerChrysler, Jürgen Schrempp becomes Chairman, Robert Eaton becomes Vice Chair, Bob Lutz retires.