Chrysler is celebrating its 90th anniversary, an impressive achievement in an industry that has seen some of its biggest nameplates fall by the wayside. How has Chrysler done it? By always exceeding customer expectations and standing behind everything it sells.
Chrysler vehicles are known for their engineering excellence, their performance and their great value – they’ve always looked more expensive than they were. From the vehicles of yesterday, like the Chrysler Six and the Imperial, to the 300 and Town & Country of today, the legacy of Walter P. Chrysler lives on.
The Chrysler Six was the first car ever produced by the Chrysler brand, which at the time was as a piece of Maxwell Motors, where Walter P. Chrysler was the chairman. The Six was a vehicle ahead of its time, with groundbreaking features like four-wheel hydraulic brakes, shock absorbers, replaceable oil and filters, and an L-head six-cylinder engine. It’s price was a mere $1,565.
The models that followed were named for their top speed, from the “58” all the way to the “72,” and they continued the same trend of performance matched with affordability. In 1926, Chrysler developed the luxurious Imperial, too.
The 1930’s brought the Great Depression, but Chrysler survived by evolving its stylish and well-priced vehicles with engineering advances like “Floating Power” (a new way to mount engines to reduce vibration), automatic spark control, welded steel bodies and rustproofing. The 1930’s also introduced the Airflow, a truly revolutionary vehicle that set 72 national speed records and changed the face of Chrysler. Other models that debuted during that time were the New Yorker and the Town & Country (not to be confused with the minivan of today).
Walter P. Chrysler died in the 1940’s, but the company continued its growth with the introduction of the Thunderbolt and the development of the “Vacamatic” two-range, four speed transmission. The wood paneled Town & Country sedans and wagons also set the style for generations. Chrysler also helped the U.S. during World War II with the production of the M-4 Sherman Tank and other various vehicles and technologies.
In 1951, Chrysler introduced the legendary HEMI engine for the first time in three different models – the New Yorker, the Imperial and the Saratoga – and that performance legacy endures today. In 1955, Chrysler introduced the 300 muscle car, and at the time it was the most powerful full-size sedan in the world. The 1950’s also saw Virgil Exner take over as the head of the design team at Chrysler, and he brought his “Forward Look” vision with features like tailfins, a flat hood and an airy roof. Exner earned Chrysler a “Car of the Year” award for its entire line of cars, along with a Gold Medal from the Industrial Design Institute.
The Chrysler brand continues to offer inspiring products that carry on the legacy of Walter P. Chrysler. More on the impact of the 1960’s through the 1990’s in the coming months.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.