Chrysler was founded by a man who had a reputation for saving foundering companies. Walter Chrysler rose from the ranks to become the president of Buick. He resigned from his position and was hired by Willy’s Overland Motor Company to supervise the rehabilitation of its ailing operations. He did a similar job by turning around the Maxwell-Chalmers Company. In 1925, he purchased Maxwell’s assets to form the firm that still bears his name – Chrysler Corporation. Aside from the Chrysler marque, the Plymouth and DeSoto marques were created to cater to the low priced and medium priced ends of the market, respectively. Chrysler acquired The Dodge Brothers Motor Company and by spinning off Imperial as a separate luxury brand in 1955, Chrysler has assembled a five-brand lineup to compete with General Motors, which has a similar offering.
What sets Chrysler Corporation apart from other car manufacturers is its emphasis on automotive engineering rather than styling. Walter Chrysler supported engineering research and continued funding the department even through the Depression era. Because of this, Chrysler cars have been at the forefront of automotive engineering since Chrysler Six, Chrysler’s first car introduced in 1924. The Chrysler Six is touted by many as the first modern car, scoring several firsts in the industry such as an oil filter, air cleaner, high compression engine, four-wheel hydraulic brakes, and other advanced Chrysler parts. Innovation also resulted in part from the input of brilliant engineers throughout Chrysler’s history who invented those Chrysler parts and pushed the envelope of automotive engineering. The Three Musketeers, a trio of talented engineers composed of Frederick Zeder, Owen Skelton, and Carl Breer set the direction during Chrysler’s early years.
The Chrysler Corporation has gone through a series of financial difficulties, but it has always pulled through. The Plymouth and Dodge brands sustained the company during the Depression, when its introduction of the world’s first aerodynamic car, the Airflow, proved a failure. National recession again put the company in the red in 1957 but continuing innovations like the now-standard unibody helped the company recover. The 1970’s proved costly to Chrysler. Its big investment for a new full-body lineup went down the drain as demand for large vehicles plummeted during the first gas crisis in 1973. It was saved in turn by a spike in sales of its old but smaller compacts. Unsuccessful product launches and the second gas crisis would have killed Chrysler if not for the 1 billion dollars the government loaned in 1979 to bail out the company. With Lee Iacocca at the helm and with a new trio of talented car designers, the Gale-Herlitz-Creed team, Chrysler steadily recovered and became once again, a dominant force in the American automotive industry. in 1998, Chrysler merged with Daimler Benz to form the DaimlerChrysler AG company.
The Chrysler history is one in which innovation holds the key for long-term success. The passion for upgrading, refining, and looking for ways to improve Chrysler parts and Chrysler as a whole is what the company is all about. Chrysler parts like the air filter, transmission modulator, torque converter, and brake systems all contribute to make Chrysler what it is today. A car, after all, is a sum of its parts.