Between 1920 and 1924, Walter P. Chrysler worked with former Studebaker engineers Fred Zeder, Carl Breer and Owen Skelton to produce an innovative new car. That vehicle was the 1924 Chrysler Six, which featured a six-cylinder high-compression engine and revolutionary four-wheel hydraulic brakes. This was just the beginning of Chrysler’s rich heritage, and since then, the automaker has continued to introduce ground-breaking automobiles and technologies over time.
Humble beginnings and inventive ideas
In its formative years, Chrysler managed to create vehicles of all styles and functions in order to appeal to a wide variety of consumers. By splitting the corporation into the Plymouth, DeSoto and Dodge divisions, the automaker managed to grasp the attention of auto enthusiasts around the country.
Heading towards the mid-twentieth century, Chrysler started working on pioneering the engine world. The first indication of this was the introduction of the hemispheric-head V8 engine in 1951. What’s now known as the HEMI® engine provided higher compression, improved combustion and lower heat loss, to allow for increased horsepower over previous V8 prototypes. But what really set Chrysler apart from competitors in this time was the campaign to commission the technology of an aircraft gas turbine within a vehicle to create fewer maintenance issues and more power.
The creation of a flagship vehicle
The mid ’50s introduced America to Chrysler’s Forward Look flagship vehicle, the 1955 Chrysler 300. The new car completely transformed the Chrysler product line, both visually and performance-wise. The 300 set and broke records on and off the race track throughout the 1950s, and earned its title as the first muscle car.
Along with the introduction of the 300 came quite a few additional engineering innovations. Features like power steering, a safety cushion dashboard, torsion-bar suspension, push-button transmission and the first practical alternator were all products of Chrysler in this remarkable time period.
Smaller is better
As certain fashions and styles were left in the 1950s, so were some of the designs on previous Chrysler vehicles. Moving into the 1960s and ’70s, vehicles slimmed down and fins vanished. The introduction of the 1963 300J welcomed a stylish take combined with the power that was expected from a Chrysler vehicle. A leather interior paired with a Ram induction V8 truly encapsulated Chrysler’s image at the time and assisted in an overall sales increase, and therefore moving the brand from 11th to 9th in national rankings. With the eventual demand for smaller vehicles, Chrysler followed suit with the introduction of the Cordoba and additional petite models like the LeBaron Medallion coupe.
The introduction of the minivan
In the 1980s, the world met the first North American-made minivan, produced by Chrysler. It achieved great success as a step up from the station wagon and paved the way for the creation of the Town & Country, which debuted in 1990. While the smaller sedans and coupes from Chrysler were still popular among consumers, the minivan was the practical choice for families throughout the ’90s.
Chrysler today and moving ahead
The new millennium brought upon exciting designs for new Chrysler vehicles, including the iconic 300C and PT Cruiser. The 300C catered to Chrysler traditionalists while the PT Cruiser offered retro style with modern technology. Later on, the Chrysler 200 was introduced and offered a more compact option for fans of the 300.
In almost 100 years, the Chrysler brand has continued to evolve and present the automotive industry with revolutionary technology and designs. The future of Chrysler looks bright, and upcoming innovations will surely add to its incredible heritage.
This article is presented by Colonial Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Hudson in Hudson, Massachusetts.