In the 1960s the company expanded into Europe, creating the Chrysler Europe division, formed from the acquisition of French, British and Spanish companies. In the 1970s, a number of factors including the 1973 oil crisis impacted Chrysler's sales, and by the late 1970s, Chrysler was on the verge of bankruptcy, forcing its retreat from Europe in 1979. Lee Iacocca was brought in as CEO and is credited with returning the company to profitability in the 1980s. In 1987, Chrysler acquired American Motors Corporation (AMC), which brought the profitable Jeep brand under the Chrysler umbrella.
- Founded : Chrysler Corporation June 6, 1925
Chrysler Group LLC June 10, 2009
- Founder : Walter P. Chrysler
- Headquarters : Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.
- Website : http://www.chrysler.com
In many ways, the story of Chrysler is the story of its founder, Walter P. Chrysler. A quick-tempered railroad man who worked his way up from an apprentice to the works manager of Allegheny Locomotive, Chrysler was recruited by Buick chief Charles Nash to oversee production at the company's Flint, Mich., plant. He was so successful at reducing costs and increasing efficiency that, when he attempted to resign, General Motors founder and CEO Charles Durant offered Chrysler a three-year contract that paid him today's equivalent of $170,000 a month, and a yearly bonus of $500,000 in GM stock. When he left GM in 1919, Chrysler was one of the richest men in America.
Investors in Willys-Overland asked Chrysler to turn around their struggling company, which he did. And two years later, he moved to the Maxwell-Chalmers company. He killed Chalmers and replace it with a six-cylinder car that wore the Chrysler badge. It featured items like an air filter, full-pressure lubrication system, and oil filter at a time when most cars didn't. This reputation for advanced engineering would see Chrysler, which by the late 1920s included the Chrysler, Plymouth, Desoto, and Dodge brands, move into second place behind GM. Even the ungainly but aerodynamic Airflow models of 1934 weren't enough to harm its reputation, though it would cause Chrysler to build conservative-looking cars until chief stylist Virgil Exner introduced the "Forward Look" cars in 1955 to make better use of the powerful Hemi V-8.
By 1960, the Dodge lineup began to encroach on the other brands, leading to the death of Desoto in 1961, and the eventual demise of Plymouth in 2001. In 1979, the U.S. government extended $1.5 billion in loan guarantees to the company which were paid off, with interest, in 1983 by company chairman Lee Iacocca. Flush with cash from the success of its small front-wheel-drive K-cars and the creation of the minivan, Chrysler bought American Motors in 1987 and came nearly full-circle: Jeep started out as part of Willys-Overland. A large front-drive platform (codename: LH) also was part of the deal, and combined with adventuresome styling, it helped Chrysler become one of the most profitable American automakers of the period and attract the attention of Daimler-Benz.
Post-merger, Chrysler, once again in a financial downturn, drew from the Mercedes parts bin to produce the LX-based Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum, and Dodge Charger sedans. The Hemi-powered LX cars, Ram pickup, Jeeps, and Dodge Durango/Chrysler Aspen SUVs helped Daimler through its own restructuring, but by 2007 it was over. Daimler wanted out, and sold a majority stake in Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management for $7.4 billion, less than one-fourth what it had spent to buy it a decade before.
Like all auto companies, but especially the American ones, Chrysler has suffered mightily through the recent financial crisis. The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automaker remains independent, but the question is for how long.
1920-1924: Chrysler teamed up with three ex-Studebaker engineers, Fred Zeder, Owen Skelton and Carl Breer, to design a revolutionary new car. They defined what the products of the Chrysler brand would be - affordable "luxury" vehicles known for innovative, top-flight engineering.
1924: The first was the 1924 Chrysler Six, an all-new car priced at $1,565 that featured two significant innovations - a light, powerful, high-compression six-cylinder engine and the first time four-wheel hydraulic brakes were standard on a passenger car. The well-equipped Chrysler Six also featured aluminum pistons, replaceable oil and air filters, full-pressure lubrication, tubular front axles, shock absorbers and indirect interior lighting.
1930-1935: Within a decade of its founding, Chrysler Corporation's leadership in innovation had earned for it the label of Detroit's "engineering company." Chrysler's list of early automotive "firsts" included Floating Power (a new method of mounting engines to isolate vibration), replaceable oil filters, downdraft carburetors and one-piece curved windshields.
Chrysler entered a higher level of competition with its richly appointed Imperial series. With a custom-built body from LeBaron or Briggs, a 145-inch-wheelbase chassis, a 125-horsepower engine and a price tag of $3,145, a typical Imperial of the early 1930s rivaled a Duesenberg in style, but cost only about a third as much!
1946-1954: The first indication of changing times at Chrysler came with the 1951 development, and enthusiastic reception, of the authoritative, hemispheric-head V-8 engine. The soon-to-be legendary HEMI® combined better combustion, higher compression and lower heat loss to create much more horsepower than previous V-8s. Close behind was the fully automatic Powerflite transmission.
Chrysler then reaffirmed its engineering reputation by commissioning a revolutionary gas turbine engine program. This 27-year campaign to apply an aircraft engine turbine's smooth power and low maintenance requirements to automobiles became part of the Chrysler brand's folklore.
1955-1962: Exner revived Chrysler production car design with the sleek, sculptured Forward Look designs of 1955 that transformed the product line overnight. The Forward Look flagship was the 1955 Chrysler 300, a striking automobile that combined smooth styling with brawny HEMI power. The 300, arguably the first muscle car, became a legend on and off the race track and set records throughout the 1950s, including a 143-mph performance at Daytona Beach. As the Fifties progressed, Chrysler products began to sprout distinctive tailfins, ostensibly to improve handling and stability above 70 miles per hour. The 1957 Chrysler brand standard-bearer, the 300C, was equipped with a standard 392-cubic-inch, 375-horsepower HEMI, two four-barrel carburetors, a high-output camshaft, Torsion-Aire suspension and the new Torqueflite transmission, making it the fastest, most powerful production car built in America that year and earning it the appellation "beautiful brute."
The company's engineering "firsts" from this era include the first "safety cushion dashboard," the famous Chrysler push-button transmission (which became an icon of the '50s), power steering, torsion-bar suspension and the first practical alternator (introduced in 1960, it proved so successful it became standard equipment just one year later).]
1963-1970: Chrysler products evolved gracefully through the '60s - fins disappeared, large cars became more refined - and ads for the 1963 New Yorker promised that there were "no junior editions to compromise your investment." The 1963 Chrysler 300-J maintained the brand's style-plus-speed image with standard leather interiors, heavy-duty torsion bars and Ram induction manifolds; a special-edition Pace Setter convertible version started the Indianapolis 500.
By 1965, Chrysler sales had increased 65 percent and the brand moved from 11th to ninth place in national rankings. Models ranged from the "affordable luxury" of the Newport line (with no fewer than 376 trim and color combinations), through the high-line New Yorker to the sporty 300 with its 440-cubic-inch V-8 engine.
1971-1979: One design highlight in Chrysler's rapidly evolving 1970s lineup was the Cordoba - a 115-inch-wheelbase coupe billed as "Chrysler's new small car." With its Jaguar-like front end, formal roofline and one-of-a-kind rectangular taillamps, it became one of the era's most memorable cars - along with the TV commercials featuring actor Ricardo Montalban extolling the virtues of its "rich Corinthian leather" interior. Cordobas sold better than all other Chrysler models combined, inspiring other new, "smaller" Chrysler designs, like the LeBaron Medallion coupe.
1980-1987: The automotive "back to basics" era peaked with the 1984 introduction of the minivan. Chrysler Corporation's most practical vehicle proved to be its most popular and eventually led to the revival of the Chrysler Town & Country nameplate on an upmarket version.
The design highlight for the Chrysler brand during this period was unquestionably the LeBaron convertible, which reintroduced the convertible to the American market and enjoyed a nine-year run as it brought style and excitement back to the brand.
1988-1998: In the late 1980s, new leadership at Chrysler, determined to return the brand to its roots of engineering and design excellence, decided to create an entirely new line of "Euro-Japanese-ethic" cars - and developed platform teams to get the job done quickly and affordably. The new product philosophy was reflected in the development of concept cars like the 1988 Portofino and the 1989 Millennium.
Chrysler's renaissance began in earnest with the mid-size 1993 Concorde sedan, which was quickly followed by the full-size LHS and Chrysler 300M, the smaller Cirrus sedan, the companion Sebring luxury sports coupe and the separate Sebring convertible, and the next-generation Town & Country minivan.
2000: The new millennium ushered in a decade of innovation and design accomplishments for Chrysler, most notably the launch of the iconic Chrysler 300C-the latest generation in a long pedigree of champion 300s built for excitement since 1955. When it was launched in 2005, the stunning 300C turned the eyes of the automotive world back to Detroit. And shone a new spotlight on great American design.
But the Chrysler 300C wasn't the only shining example of Chrysler design innovation this decade-the introduction of the PT Cruiser fused modern amenities with a retro sensibility romanticizing an era of hot rod Model A wagons. And the decade was one of remarkable reinvention of the minivan. By the people who invented it. With our family flagship Town & Country receiving a host of technology and safety innovations to maintain its status as the minivan benchmark into the new millennium and beyond.
Chrysler was founded on the philosophy of design with purpose. To build revolutionary new cars - affordable luxury vehicles known for their innovative, forward-thinking engineering. And it is our purpose today and for tomorrow. .Our alliance with Fiat® Group now gives us the competitive advantage of access to new technologies and advanced engineering solutions that further our mission. Our beautiful purpose. To create the type of exciting, efficient, reliable, safe vehicles you expect and deserve.
Detroit, 2011. Design and innovation take flight. This is Chrysler now. We can't wait to unveil what's next.
2010+: Chrysler is the quintessential American brand as seen in its popular advertising campaigns. In 2011, the Chrysler brand launched the popular Imported from Detroit® campaign with a Super Bowl ad. This invigorated the brand and led to record-breaking sales.
Chrysler Group invested nearly a billion dollars into the Sterling Heights, Michigan manufacturing plant for the production of the All-New 2015 Chrysler 200. Redesigned from the ground up, the All-New 2015 Chrysler 200 debuted in January 2014. The vehicle features craftsmanship of the highest quality with a beautiful exterior design, a thoughtful, exquisitely crafted interior and an exceptional driving experience, thanks to a segment-first nine-speed automatic transmission+ and 36 hwy mpg+.
The Chrysler brand, with its ambitious American ingenuity, continues to stand for substance and style. At its core are the hallmarks of quality, design, craftsmanship, performance, efficiency, innovation and technology, all at a very affordable price.