The Car Geek: Chrysler’s Brand Heritage & Highlights from 1875-1945

The Car Geek

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chrysler’s Brand Heritage & Highlights from 1875-1945

Before Chrysler has given their significant mark in the automobile history, there are things we should need to know about this company - things that Chrysler have gone through from the past twelve decades if I’m not mistaken. I never knew Chrysler had a very colorful and interesting history, not right after I read the article. I had enough knowledge about Chrysler aside from studying about the Chrysler strut or Cadillac Escalade cold air induction.

Now, from my tireless researches, the late-night studies had paid-off. Here it is! Have a peek on Chrysler’s heritage as this information take you to the past and relive the rise of Chrysler to the automotive world! This information was taken from this site. For a complete view of Chrysler’s history, just visit this site and have a wonderful time reading!


  • Walter Chrysler from Kansas was the son of a locomotive engineer. He was associated to the transportation industries all through his life.
  • The love for machinery encouraged him to give up a college education for a machinist’s apprenticeship, and his early career comprised numerous mechanical jobs in the railroad industry.
  • In 1912, Chrysler was employed by General Motors as manager of the Buick manufacturing plant. He became president of the Buick division after four years.
  • After parting ways with GM in 1919, Chrysler’s second career was as a “doctor of ailing automakers.” He started with giving health to Willys-Overland which was then known as the Maxwell Motor Corporation.
  • Chrysler joined forces with three ex-Studebaker engineers - Fred Zeder, Owen Skelton and Carl Breer. They planned to design a new revolutionary car. They made distinctions on what the Chrysler brand merchandise would be and it came to be affordable “luxury” vehicles - renowned for modern and premium engineering. The first model was the 1924 Chrysler Six - this was a brand new car priced at $1,565 which featured two major innovations - a light high compression and powerful six-cylinder engine. It was the first one to use four-wheel hydraulic brakes in a fairly priced car. The well-resourced Chrysler Six is also featured
  • aluminum pistons
  • replaceable oil and air filters
  • full-pressure lubrication
  • tubular front axles
  • shock absorbers
  • indirect interior lighting
  • Some of Chrysler’s early high performance, stylish cars startled industry observers and customers alike, but mid-range pricing added value and assured the success of the brand. Model numbers told customers how fast each Chrysler would go. The Chrysler 72, for example, featured an optional "Red-Head" engine for better pickup and hill climbing. Chryslers would also perform commendably in other period racing venues like winning the 1925 1,000-mile Stock Car Speed Trial at Los Angeles and placing second, third and sixth at the Belgian 24-Hour Grand Prix of 1928. They also performed well in endurance competition, completing a 1926 Kansas City-Denver test at an average speed of 51.8 mph and a 1927 New York-Los Angeles round-trip speed run at an average speed of 40.2 mph.
  • The 1928 acquisition of Dodge Brothers made Chrysler the third of Detroit’s Big Three automakers - and Walter Chrysler one of the most successful industrialists of their generation.
  • 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 opulently 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!
  • In 1934, Chrysler, with advice from Orville Wright, built a wind tunnel to test body shapes that led to the first unit-body, aerodynamic car - the Airflow. The idea came from Carl Breer after he tested conventional car shapes in a wind tunnel and found they registered much less drag “tail first.”
  • Chrysler’s Airflow "streamliner" was dramatic and ahead of its time - the fluid design and pioneering unit-body construction offered improved handing and passenger comfort in a vehicle unlike any seen before. The Chrysler Airflow also featured recessed headlights, a low step-up height, a standard in-line 8-cylinder engine, automatic overdrive and good gas mileage (posting 21.4 miles per gallon on a coast-to-coast test trip). Unfortunately for Chrysler, the Airflow was a bit too different for most. Even though its design was soon widely imitated, this first truly streamlined car was not a sales success.
  • Less-than-spectacular sales led to stronger promotion of cars like the $925 DeLuxe Eight over the slow-selling, $1,400 Airflow - and to more conservative Chrysler styling.
  • A brand-new model emerged as the New York Special, and is soon recast as the luxuriously chosen Chrysler New Yorker. Its venerable fame would ultimately make it America’s longest-running car nameplate from 1938 to 1996.
  • The "Fluid Drive" became recognized as one of Chrysler’s major engineering innovation. It turned out to be an “almost automatic” transmission that nearly gets rid of shifting. Other modernization includes Superfinish that helped lessen wear on contacting metal surfaces and Oilite self-lubricating bearings was used.
  • Widespread notice in 1940 was ahead, the Chrysler Thunderbolt show car was a massive two-seater with a retractable steel roof and streamlined cladding front to rear. Chrysler turned even more heads on Memorial Day that year when its exotic Newport Phaeton, only one of the five built by LeBaron, served as pace car at the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
  • The most striking production-model Chrysler of the prewar years was the 1941-42 Town & Country, a “barrelback” sedan expanded into an aerodynamic station wagon and trimmed with ash and mahogany side panels - the company’s elegant entry into autobuilding’s “woody” era.
  • All civilian car production stopped for the duration of World War II. Chrysler was the eighth, among all manufacturers, who produced materials for the war effort.