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Chrysler Group LLC

Brand Heritage — Chrysler / Plymouth / Desoto

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1921        

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.

1925

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.

1931  

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.

1936  

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.

1939  

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.

1942  

’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.

1945  

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

1946  

Town and Country convertible and sedan introduced, replacing wagon.

1949  

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

1950  

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

1951  

Hemi engine introduced, and power steering.

1952  

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

1953  

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

1954  

Dodge, DeSoto, and Plymouth get automatic transmissions.

1955  

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

1957  

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

1958  

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.

1959  

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

1960  

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.

1961  

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

1962  

50 turbine cars built.

1963  

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

1964  

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.

1965  

Dodge Hemi-Charger and Plymouth SuperStock debut.

1966  

“Street Hemi” offered.

1967  

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.

1968  

Dodge Super Bee. First Federal emission controls.

1969  

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.

1970  

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.

1971  

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

1973  

Rootes is now Chrysler. First OPEC oil crisis.

1974  

Barracuda discontinued.

1975  

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

1976  

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

1978  

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

1979  

Iacocca Chairman, Paul Bergmoser President.

1980  

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.

1981  

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

1982  

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

1983  

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

1984  

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

1985  

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

1986 

7/70 Warranty program.

1987  

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.

1988 

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.

1989  

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

1990  

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

1991  

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

1992  

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.

1993  

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

1994  

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

1995  

Cirrus and Stratus debut. Blue Ribbon emblem revived.

1996  

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

1998  

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.