Welcome to 365 Days of Motoring

An Everyday Journey Through Motoring History, Facts & Trivia

Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.

Chrysler

Chrysler


A chronological day-by-day history of Chrysler.

Friday 28th November 1890

126 years ago

The Daimler-Motoren-Geselschaft, a German engine and later automobile manufacturer, which operated until 1926, was founded by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. It was based first in Cannstatt (today Bad Cannstatt), a city district of Stuttgart). Daimler died in 1900, and their business moved in 1903 to Stuttgart-Untertürkheim after the original factory was destroyed by fire, and again to Berlin in 1922. Other factories were located in Marienfelde (near Berlin) and Sindelfingen (next to Stuttgart). The enterprise was begun to produce petrol engines but after the success of a small number of race cars built on contract by Wilhelm Maybach for Emil Jellinek, it began to produce the Mercedes model of 1902. After this automobile production expanded to become DMG's main product, and it built several models. Because of the post World War One German economic crisis, DMG merged in 1926 with Benz & Cie., becoming Daimler-Benz and adopting Mercedes-Benz as its automobile trademark. A further merger occurred in 1998 with Chrysler to become DaimlerChrysler. The name was finally changed to just Daimler AG in 2007 when Chrysler was sold.

Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft Poster for a Mercedes Double Phaeton (1908)

Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft Poster for a Mercedes Double Phaeton (1908)

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Thursday 2nd April 1896

121 years ago

Armand Peugeot set up his own company, Société Anonyme des Automobiles Peugeot. He built a factory at Audincourt, dedicated to the manufacture of cars with an internal combustion engine.By 1899 sales cars for Peugeot got up to 300, which is pretty decent considering that during that year only 1200 cars were sold in France. In 1903 Peugeot added motorcycles to his factory production. After a brief period out of racing, a Peugeot car managed to win the Indianapolis 500 with Jules Goux at the wheel in 1913. The success of the car was due to the introduction of the DOHC 4 valves per cylinder engine. As war dawned in Europe, Peugeot turned to making arms and military vehicles of course. The good thing about surviving the war was that cars were now becoming more of a necessity and less of a luxury which meant bigger sales for Peugeot. In 1929 the first 201 model was introduced, a way of numbering cars that would be trademarked by the French automaker. Having survived the depression, the company the tried in 1933 to woo buyers with a more aerodynamic look. The model that came out that year had a retractable hard top, an innovation that would be also picked up by Mercedes. During the Second World War, Peugeot fate took a turn for the worse as its factories were forced to build cars and weapons for the German war effort. By the end of the war, the plants were heavily bombed and in need of reparations. It would take the company until 1948 to resume car production with the 203 model. This was only the beginning as a new series of Italian-designed models by Pininfarina completed the line-up. The success of these cars determined Peugeot to start selling in the US too in 1958. By this time, Peugeot starting collaborating with other manufacturers such as Renault (1966) and Volvo (1972). In a bid to acquire a bigger share of the market, Peugeot bought 30% of Citroen in 1974, taking over completely in just two years which meant a change in the company's name, now the PSA (Peugeot Societe Anonyme). This partnership meant that the two brands could make use of each other's technical achievements but keep their independence design-wise. Further expansion of the PSA group saw the overtaking of the European division of Chrysler in 1978, an investment which proved faulty as most Chrysler facilities and machinery was old and worn out. These models were later sold under the Talbot brand. When sales began to go under, Peugeot decided to pull the plug on all models except the Arizona which became the 309 in 1986. During the 90s Peugeot got some of its old fame back after a series of miscalculations regarding the general direction of the company. The current model line-up is aiming towards a more luxurious market, with cost cuts no longer being made to sacrifice the overall look and feel of the car. Some wins in the racing world, including rallies and even Formula 1, have helped Peugeot with sales. Now Peugeot has developed several new model ranges, outside the classic 200, 300, 400 and 600 series. The 100 and 900 are the exact opposite, with the 100 eyeing the super compact range while 900 is not for the budget shoppers. The French automaker has even a hybrid vehicle in the make, a version of the 307.

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Tuesday 3rd April 1900

117 years ago

Robert E. Twyford, a resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was issued with a US patent (646,477) for the first four-wheel drive system, which included a mechanical power steering mechanism. Chrysler Corporation introduced the first commercially available passenger car power steering system on the 1951 Chrysler Imperial under the name "Hydraguide".

Driving-gear for motor-carriages

Driving-gear for motor-carriages

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Saturday 28th February 1903

114 years ago

Henry Ford hired John F. and Horace E. Dodge to supply the chassis and running gear for his 650 Ford automobiles. Manufacturing car bodies for Henry Ford and Ransom Olds, the Dodge Brothers had become the largest parts-manufacturing firm in the U.S. by 1910. In 1914, the brothers founded the Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company, and began work on their first automobiles. Dodge vehicles were known for their quality and sturdiness, and by 1919 the Dodge Brothers were among the richest men in America. Both brothers sadly died of influenza in 1920. Their company was sold to a New York bank, before eventually being purchased by Chrysler in 1928. Under Chrysler's direction, Dodge became a successful producer of cars and trucks marketed for their robustness.

Dodge Brothers delivery trucks, Salt Lake City, 1920

Dodge Brothers delivery trucks, Salt Lake City, 1920

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Friday 25th December 1903

113 years ago

The first Maxwell was successfully tested in Detroit, Michigan, US. Maxwell was a brand of automobiles manufactured in the United States of America from about 1904 to 1925. The present-day successor to the Maxwell company is Chrysler Group.

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Tuesday 21st June 1904

113 years ago

The Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company was incorporated by Jonathan D Maxwell and Benjamin Briscoe with financial help from banker John Pierpont Morgan. The company was named after founders Jonathan Dixon Maxwell, who earlier had worked for Oldsmobile, and Benjamin Briscoe, an automobile industry pioneer and part owner of the Briscoe Brothers Metalworks, who was president of Maxwell-Briscoe at its height. In 1907, following a fire that destroyed the Tarrytown, NY, factory, Maxwell-Briscoe constructed what was then the largest automobile factory in the world in New Castle, Indiana. This factory continued as a Chrysler plant following its takeover of Maxwell until its demolition in 2004.

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Monday 16th January 1905

112 years ago

The Sunbeam Motor Car Company Ltd was registered in Wolverhampton, England with John Marston as Chairman and Thomas Cureton as Managing Director. The first new car to be produced by Sunbeam Motor Car Company was based on a Peugeot; it ws fairly popular from its 1906 introduction, with ten produced each week. A chief engineer who had worked at Humber was appointed, resulting in more local production and less outsourcing. This new engineer, Louis Coatalen, started Sunbeam's racing program, which increased popularity; he also added a new touring car based on racing vehicles. Production was interrupted by World War I, but afterwards Sunbeam saw a number of sales and racing successes, including 1922 and 1925 speed records (134 and 151 mph, respectively). Sunbeam was the first British car to win a Grand Prix race. In 1920, Sunbeam merged with Darracq of France, which had recently purchased Clement-Talbot (a company set up to import French Clements) to form a new company, STD Motors (also including a spring maker, commercial vehicle maker, and dynanometer maker). The company also manufactured aero engines in World War I and 647 aircraft during World War II. The company went into receivership in 1935 and was purchased by the Rootes Group, which continued to use the Sunbeam marque until 1976 when new owners Chrysler rebranded the vehicles.

Sunbeam Motor Car Co Ltd factory c. 1930

Sunbeam Motor Car Co Ltd factory c. 1930

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Friday 14th May 1909

108 years ago

E.G. "Cannonball" Baker finished a transcontinental motorcycle ride from San Diego, California, to New York, a distance of 3378.9 miles, in 276 hours aboard a two-speed Indian motorcycle. His best-remembered drive was a 1933 New York City to Los Angeles trek in a Graham-Paige model 57 Blue Streak 8, setting a 53.5 hour record that stood for nearly 40 years. This drive inspired the later Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, better known as the "Cannonball Run", which itself inspired at least five movies and a television series. In 1941, he drove a new Crosley Covered Wagon across the nation in a trouble-free 6,517-mile (10,488 km) run to prove the economy and reliability characteristics of Crosley automobiles. Other record and near-record transcontinental trips were made in Model T Fords, Chrysler Imperials, Marmons, Falcon-Knights and Columbia Tigers, among others.

Cannonball Baker

Cannonball Baker

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Friday 24th June 1910

107 years ago

Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A. was founded as A.L.F.A. (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili) in Milan. The company has been involved in car racing since 1911. It was owned by Italian state holding company Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale between 1932 and 1986, when it became a part of the Fiat group. In February 2007, the Alfa Romeo brand was transformed into the current Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary of Fiat Group Automobiles, now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy. The company that became Alfa Romeo was founded as Società Anonima Italiana Darracq (SAID) in 1906 by the French automobile firm of Alexandre Darracq, with some Italian investors. In late 1909, the Italian Darracq cars were selling slowly and the Italian partners of the company hired Giuseppe Merosi to design new cars. On June 24, 1910, a new company was founded named A.L.F.A., initially still in partnership with Darracq. The first non-Darracq car produced by the company was the 1910 24 HP, designed by Merosi. A.L.F.A. ventured into motor racing, with drivers Franchini and Ronzoni competing in the 1911 Targa Florio with two 24-hp models. In August 1915, the company came under the direction of Neapolitan entrepreneur Nicola Romeo, who converted the factory to produce military hardware for the Italian and Allied war efforts. In 1920, the name of the company was changed to Alfa Romeo with the Torpedo 20-30 HP the first car to be so badged. In 1921, the Banca Italiana di Sconto, which backed the Ing. Nicola Romeo & Co, went broke and the government needed to support the industrial companies involved, among which was Alfa Romeo, through the "Consorzio per Sovvenzioni sui Valori Industriali". In 1925, the railway activities were separated from the Romeo company, and in 1928, Nicola Romeo left. In 1933, the state ownership was reorganized under the banner of the Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI) by Benito Mussolini's government, which then had effective control. The company struggled to return to profitability after the Second World War, and turned to mass-producing small vehicles rather than hand-building luxury models. In 1954, it developed the Alfa Romeo Twin Cam engine, which would remain in production until 1994. During the 1960s and 1970s, Alfa Romeo produced a number of sporty cars, though the Italian government parent company, Finmeccanica, struggled to make a profit, so it sold the marque to the Fiat Group in 1986. Alfa Romeo has competed successfully in many different categories of motorsport, including Grand Prix motor racing, Formula One, sportscar racing, touring car racing, and rallies. It has competed both as a constructor and an engine supplier, via works entries (usually under the name Alfa Corse or Autodelta), and private entries. The first racing car was made in 1913, three years after the foundation of the company, and Alfa Romeo won the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925. The company gained a good name in motorsport, which gave a sporty image to the whole marque. Enzo Ferrari founded the Scuderia Ferrari racing team in 1929 as an Alfa Romeo racing team, before becoming independent in 1939. It holds the world's title of the most wins of any marque in the world.

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Saturday 14th November 1914

102 years ago

John and Horace Dodge completed their first vehicle, a car informally known as ‘Old Betsy’, and took it on a short test drive through the streets of Detroit, Michigan. Dodge vehicles became known for their quality and robustness, and by 1919 the Dodge brothers were among the richest men in America. Sadly, in 1920, both John and Horace, who suffered from chronic lung problems, died. The company was later sold to a New York bank, and in 1928 the Chrysler Corporation bought the Dodge name, its factories and the large network of Dodge car dealers.

Old Betsy

Old Betsy

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Tuesday 18th May 1915

102 years ago

Cannon Ball Baker, driving a Stutz Bearcat, arrived in New York City 11 days, 7 hours and 15 minutes after leaving San Diego, California, breaking all existing cross-country records. The following year he drove a Cadillac 8 roadster from Los Angeles to Times Square in 7 days, 11 hours and 52 minutes while accompanied by an Indianapolis newspaper reporter. In 1924 he made his first midwinter transcontinental run in a stock Gardner sedan at a time of 4 days, 14 hours and 15 minutes. He was so impressed by the car, that he purchased one thereafter. In 1926 he drove a loaded two-ton truck from New York to San Francisco in a record five days, seventeen hours and thirty minutes, and in 1928, he beat the 20th Century Limited train from New York to Chicago. Also in 1928, he competed in the Mount Washington Hillclimb Auto Race, and set a record time of 14:49.6 seconds, driving a Franklin.His best-remembered drive was a 1933 New York City to Los Angeles trek in a Graham-Paige model 57 Blue Streak 8, setting a 53.5 hour record that stood for nearly 40 years. This drive inspired the later Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, better known as the "Cannonball Run", which itself inspired at least five movies and a television series. In 1941, he drove a new Crosley Covered Wagon across the nation in a troublefree 6,517-mile (10,488 km) run to prove the economy and reliability characteristics of Crosley automobiles. Other record and near-record transcontinental trips were made in Model T Fords, Chrysler Imperials, Marmons, Falcon-Knights and Columbia Tigers, among others.

Cannonball Baker sits behind the wheel of his Stutz Bearcat while on a record breaking transcontinental trip from San Diego to New York in 1915.

Cannonball Baker sits behind the wheel of his Stutz Bearcat while on a record breaking transcontinental trip from San Diego to New York in 1915.

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Sunday 1st August 1915

102 years ago

The Ford Motor Company announced that Model T sales for the previous twelve months were 308,213 units, and that they will honour their rebate offer by mailing $50 “Profit Sharing” checks to each buyer for a total payout of $15,410,650. While Chrysler has been credited with (or blamed for) giving the auto industry its own version of the “cents-off coupon” in January 1975, Ford really was the first company to use customer rebates more than 60 years before Chrysler.

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Wednesday 5th April 1916

101 years ago

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the new Jordan Motor Car Company plant east of downtown Cleveland at 1070 East 152nd Street along the Nickel Plate Railroad tracks. This not only provided an ideal location for shipping the finished cars, but also provided Jordan with ready access to out of area suppliers. The plant was built in two stages; the first 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) building was finished in just seven weeks, while the second addition was completed within months of the first structure. In their first year of production (1916), Jordan sold over one thousand vehicles. Jordan parts were obtained from outside vendors. The cars were powered by Continental engines, used Timken axles, Bijur starters, and Bosch ignitions. While most automobile producers limited themselves to a single color combination, and Ford relied exclusively on the fast-drying Japan Black lacquer which cured in a matter of hours, Jordan automobiles were available in no less than three colors of red - "Apache Red", "Mercedes Red", and "Savage Red"- as well as "Ocean Sand Gray", "Venetian Green", "Briarcliff Green", "Egyptian Bronze", "Liberty Blue", and "Chinese Blue". Black was also available. The most flamboyant of color schemes was on the four-passenger Sport model which could be ordered in "Submarine Gray", with khaki top and orange wheels. Details given the cars were unusually advanced for an independently made assembled car. For example, Jordans boasted one of the first cowl fresh air ventilation systems. Jordan also went to all-steel construction in the mid-1920s, some ten years before Buick, and eight years before Chrysler introduced the advanced Airflow models. Jordan was also one of the first automakers to christen its model types with unique, evocative names such as the Sport Marine (with "fashionably low" 32×4-inch wheels, it was "essentially a woman's car"), Tomboy, and Playboy. In 1920, the company issued the Friendly Three coupe, with the slogan "Seats two, three if they're friendly”. Jordan was known for refined marketing with one of the most famous ads ever appearing in the June, 1923 edition of the Saturday Evening Post promoting the Jordan Playboy with artwork by Fred Cole of the car driven by a cloche hat wearing flapper hunkered down behind the wheel in abstract fashion, racing a cowboy and the clouds. The text read: "SOMEWHERE west of Laramie there's a bronco-busting, steer roping girl who knows what I’m talking about. She can tell what a sassy pony, that’s a cross between greased lighting and the place where it hits, can do with eleven hundred pounds of steel and action when he's going high, wide and handsome. The truth is - the Playboy was built for her. Built for the lass whose, face is brown with the sun when the day is done of revel and romp and race. She loves the cross of the wild and the tame. There's a savour of links about that car - of laughter and lilt and light - a hint of old loves - and saddle and quirt. It’s a brawny thing - yet a graceful thing for the sweep o' the Avenue. Step into the Playboy when the hour grows dull with things gone dead and stale. Then start for the land of real living with the spirit of the lass who rides, lean and rangy, into the red horizon of a Wyoming twilight."

Jordan Car Co. advertisement: 'Somewhere West of Montauk, We Ride'

Jordan Car Co. advertisement: 'Somewhere West of Montauk, We Ride'

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Saturday 29th July 1916

101 years ago

The Nash Motor Company, based in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US, was founded by former General Motors president Charles W. Nash after acquiring the Thomas B. Jeffery Company. Jeffery's best-known automobile was the Rambler whose mass production from a plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin began in 1902. The 1917 Nash Model 671 was the first vehicle produced to bear the name of the new company's founder. Nash enjoyed decades of success by focusing its efforts to build cars "embodying honest worth ... [at] a price level which held out possibilities of a very wide market." Charles Nash convinced the chief engineer of GM's Oakland Division, Finnish-born Nils Eric Wahlberg, to move to Nash's new company. Wahlberg is credited with helping to design flow-through ventilation that is used today in nearly every motor vehicle. Introduced in 1938, Nash's Weather Eye directed fresh, outside air into the car's fan-boosted, filtered ventilation system, where it was warmed (or cooled), and then removed through rearward placed vents. The process also helped to reduce humidity and equalize the slight pressure differential between the outside and inside of a moving vehicle. Another unique feature of Nash cars was the unequal wheel tracks. The front wheels were set slightly narrower than the rear, thus adding stability and improving cornering. Wahlberg was also an early proponent of wind tunnel testing for vehicles and during World War II worked with Theodore (Ted) Ulrich in the development of Nash's radically styled Airflyte models. Nash's slogan from the late 1920s and 1930s was "Give the customer more than he has paid for" and the cars lived up to it. Innovations included a straight-eight engine with overhead valves, twin spark plugs, and nine crankshaft bearings in 1930. The 1932 Ambassador Eight had synchromesh transmissions and free wheeling, automatic centralized chassis lubrication, a worm-drive rear end, and its suspension was adjustable inside the car. A long-time proponent of automotive safety, Nash was among the early mid- and low-priced cars to offer four-wheel brakes. The Nash was a success among consumers that meant for the company "selling for a long time has been 100% a production problem... month after month all the cars that could be produced were sold before they left the factory floor." For the 1925 model year, Nash introduced the entry-level marque Ajax. A car of exceptional quality for its price, the Ajax was produced in the newly acquired Mitchell Motor Car Company plant in Racine, Wisconsin. In 1924, Nash absorbed LaFayette Motors and converted its plant to produce Ajax automobiles. The LaFayette name was reintroduced in 1934 as a lower priced companion to Nash. LaFayette ceased to be an independent marque with the introduction of the 1937 models. From 1937 through 1940, the Nash LaFayette was the lowest priced Nash, and was replaced by the new unibody Nash 600 for the 1941 model year. Before retiring, Charlie Nash chose Kelvinator Corporation head George W. Mason to succeed him. Mason accepted, but placed one condition on the job: Nash would acquire controlling interest in Kelvinator, which at the time was the leading manufacturer of high-end refrigerators and kitchen appliances in the United States. The resulting company, as of January 4, 1937, was known as the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. Nash as a brand name continued to represent automobiles for Nash-Kelvinator. This was the largest merger of companies not in the same industry up until that time. In 1938, Nash introduced an optional conditioned air heating/ventilating system, an outcome of the expertise shared between Kelvinator and Nash. This was the first hot-water car heater to draw fresh air from outside the car, and is the basis of all modern car heaters in use today. Also in 1938, Nash, along with other car manufacturers Studebaker and Graham, offered vacuum-controlled shifting, an early approach at removing the gearshift from the front floorboards. Automobiles equipped with the Automatic Vacuum Shift (supplied by the Evans Products Company) had a small gear selector lever mounted on the dashboard, immediately below the radio controls. In 1936, Nash introduced the "Bed-In-A-Car" feature, which allowed the car's interior to be converted into a sleeping compartment. The rear seat back hinged up, allowing the rear seat cushion to be propped up into a level position. This also created an opening between the passenger compartment and the trunk. Two adults could sleep in the car, with their legs and feet in the trunk, and their heads and shoulders on the rear seat cushions. In 1949 this arrangement was modified so that fully reclining front seat backs created a sleeping area entirely within the passenger compartment. In 1950 these reclining seat backs were given the ability to lock into several intermediate positions. Nash soon called these new seat backs "Airliner Reclining Seats". In 1939, Nash added a thermostat to its "Conditioned Air System", and thus the famous Nash Weather Eye heater was born. The 1939 and 1940 Nash streamlined cars were designed by George Walker and Associates and freelance body stylist Don Mortrude. They were available in three series - LaFayette, Ambassador Six and Ambassador Eight. For the 1940 model cars Nash introduced independent coil spring front suspension and sealed beam headlights. The 1941, Nash 600 was the first mass-produced unibody construction automobile made in the United States. Post-World War II passenger car production resumed on October 27, 1945 with an Ambassador sedan first off the assembly line. There were few changes from 1942 models, most noticeable were longer and slimmer upper grille bars and a projecting center section on the lower grille. The 600 models got a new, more conventional front suspension & steering system. The inline 8-cylinder Ambassador model did not return in 1946. The large Ambassador engine thus was the seven main bearing, overhead valve 234-cubic-inch six-cylinder developing 112 brake horsepower. For the 1946 model year Nash introduced the Suburban model that used wood framing & panels on the body. It was similar to the Chrysler Town and Country and Ford Sportsman models. Suburbans were continued in 1947 and 1948 models with 1,000 built over all three years. In 1948 the Ambassador convertible returned with 1,000 built. The aerodynamic 1949 Nash "Airflyte" was the first car of an advanced design introduced by the company after the war. Its aerodynamic body shape was developed in a wind tunnel. The "cutting-edge aerodynamics" was the most "alarming" all-new postwar design in the industry since the Chrysler Airflow. The few changes for the 1950 Airflytes were a wider rear window, concealed fuel filler cap, some dashboard features and addition on Ambassadors of a GM Hydramatic automatic transmission option. The 600 models were renamed the "Statesman". A new first for an American car were seat belts, also new was a five-position Airliner reclining front passenger seat back, both optional in both models. The stroke on the Statesman engine was increased 1/4 inch giving 186 cubic inches and 85 HP and the Ambassador received a new cylinder head that increased HP to 115. Changes for the 1951 model Airflytes were to the rear fenders, elongated to incorporate vertical taillights, a new conventional dashboard replacing the Uniscope mounted on the steering column, a new vertical bar grille with horizontal parking lights and addition of GM Hydramatic as a Statesman option also. The three best sales years for Nash up to that time were 1949, 1950 and 1951. Nash-Kelvinator's President George Mason felt Nash had the best chance of reaching a larger market in building small cars. He directed Nash towards the development of the first compact of the post war era, the 1950 Nash Rambler, which was marketed as an up-market, feature-laden convertible. Mason also arranged for the introduction of the Austin-built small Metropolitan from Britain, which was introduced as a 1954 model. The full-size Nash Airflytes were completely re-designed for 1952, and were promoted as the Golden Airflytes, in honor of Nash Motors' 50th anniversary as an automobile builder (the company now counting the years of the Thomas B. Jeffery Company as part of their own heritage.) "Great Cars Since 1902" became one of the company's advertising slogans. Nash was one of the few American car manufacturers to introduce an all-new 1952 model other than Ford Motor Company. The new Golden Airflytes presented a more modern, squared-off look than did the 1949–1951 models, which were often compared to upside-down bathtubs. Pininfarina of Italy was contracted by Nash to design a body for the new Golden Airflyte; however management was unhappy with the design and the result was a combination of an in-house design and Pininfarina's model. Using its Kelvinator refrigeration experience, the automobile industry's first single-unit heating and air conditioning system was introduced by Nash in 1954. This was a compact, affordable system for the mass market with controls on the dash and an electric clutch.[21] Entirely incorporated within the engine bay, the combined heating and cooling system had cold air for passengers enter through dash-mounted vents.[20] Competing systems used a separate heating system and an engine-mounted compressor with an Evaporator in the car's trunk to deliver cold air through the rear package shelf and overhead vents. The alternative layout pioneered by Nash "became established practice and continues to form the basis of the modern and more sophisticated automatic climate control systems." 1951 saw the introduction of the Anglo-American Nash-Healey sports car, a collaborative effort between George Mason and British sports car manufacturer Donald Healey. Healey designed and built the chassis and suspension and also, until 1952, the aluminum body which another British manufacturer, Panelcraft Sheet Metal Co. Ltd., fabricated in Birmingham. Nash shipped the powertrain components. Healey assembled the cars, which were then shipped to the U.S. for sale. In 1952 the Italian designer Battista Farina restyled the body, and its construction changed to steel and aluminum. High costs, low sales and Nash's focus on the Rambler line led to the termination of Nash-Healey production in 1954 after 506 automobiles had been produced. In January 1954 Nash announced the acquisition of the Hudson Motor Car Company as a friendly merger, creating American Motors Corporation (AMC). To improve the financial performance of the combined companies, all production beginning with the 1955 Nash and Hudson models would happen at Nash's Kenosha plant. Nash would focus most of its marketing dollars on its smaller Rambler models, and Hudson would focus its marketing dollars on its full-sized cars. The Nash Metropolitan produced with the British Motor Corporation, which had been marketed under both the Nash and Hudson brands, became a make unto its own in 1957, as did the Rambler. The Ramblers quickly overtook Nash and Hudson as the leading line of cars manufactured by AMC. In 1970, American Motors acquired Kaiser Jeep (the descendant of Willys-Overland Motors) and its Toledo, Ohio, based manufacturing facilities. In the early 1980s, AMC entered into a partnership with Renault which was looking for a re-entry into the American market in the 1980s. AMC was ultimately acquired by Chrysler Corporation in 1987, becoming the Jeep-Eagle division.

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Wednesday 29th August 1917

100 years ago

The Lincoln Motor Company was founded in Detroit, US by Henry Leland, a former manager of the Cadillac division of General Motors, and his son, Wilfred Leland. The Lincoln Motor Company Plant was at 6200 West Warren Avenue (at Livernois) in Detroit, Michigan. Leland named the new company after Abraham Lincoln, his hero and for whom he cast a vote in 1864. Lincoln's first source of revenue came from assembling Liberty aircraft engines, using cylinders supplied by Ford Motor Company, to fulfill World War I government contracts. After the war, the Lincoln factories were retooled to manufacture luxury automobiles. Ford Motor Company purchased the Lincoln Motor Company in 1922, but Lincoln continued to operate as a somewhat separate company from Ford through early 1940. In April 1940, the operation of Lincoln changed as the Lincoln Motor Company became the Lincoln Division of Ford Motor Company. Once an autonomous entity, Lincoln was now brought closer under Ford control, in part to modernize the division to better compete with the equivalent competition from Chrysler (Imperial) and General Motors (Cadillac).

Lincoln Motor Company plant 1923.

Lincoln Motor Company plant 1923.

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Tuesday 6th January 1920

97 years ago

Walter P Chrysler joined Willys-Overland Company as Executive Vice President and General Manager.

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Wednesday 14th January 1920

97 years ago

John Dodge, American automobile manufacturing pioneer and co-founder of Dodge Brothers Company in 1900, died in New York at the age of 55. For ten years, the Dodge brothers' company was supplier to Ford, and John Dodge worked as vice president of the Ford company. In 1913 the Dodge brothers terminated their Ford contract and devoted their energies toward producing a Dodge automobile. They began building motor trucks, ambulances and other vehicles for the United States military during the arms buildup for World War I and in October 1917 they produced their first commercial car. At war's end, their company manufactured and marketed both cars and trucks.. Because of his temper and often crude behaviour, John Dodge was seen as socially unacceptable to most of the well-heeled elite of Detroit. Nevertheless, his wealth made him an influential member of the community and he became active in Republican Party politics in Michigan. Following the death of John and his brother Horace 11 months later the company was sold to Dillon, Read & Co. in 1925 before being sold to Chrysler in 1928. Dodge vehicles mainly consisted of trucks and full-sized passenger cars through the 1970s, though it did make some inroads into the compact car market during this time.

John Dodge

John Dodge

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Thursday 25th March 1920

97 years ago

Walter P. Chrysler resigned as executive vice president in charge of automotive operations for General Motors. Born in the western Kansas railroad town of Wamego, Chrysler grew up around Union Pacific engineers. Early in life, he formed the idea of becoming a locomotive engineer himself. Working his way up from the position of janitor, he achieved his lifelong engineering dream by the time he was 20. Chrysler's attention gradually shifted to the automotive industry. "To me it was the transportation of the future," he explained, "and as such I wanted to be a part of it. That was where I saw opportunity." In 1912, while employed by the American Locomotive Company, Chrysler was offered a position in Flint, Michigan by Buick President Charles Nash. The job promised only half of his current salary, but he took it anyway. As a manager at Buick, Chrysler revolutionized the company's mass production capabilities, and distinguished himself as an irreplaceable part of the GM team. However, in 1916, William C. Durant regained control of the company he had founded and Chrysler's mentor, Charles Nash, was forced out. Recognizing Chrysler's value, Durant offered him the presidency of Buick, a title worth $500,000 a year. Chrysler had previously made $25,000 a year. Heeding warnings from Nash that Durant was a micro-managing tyrant, Chrysler did not immediately accept the offer. Eventually, though, the money was too good to turn down. Among his many accomplishments as head of Buick, Chrysler's greatest achievement may have been initiating GM's purchase of the Fisher Body Plant, on which the company relied for its products. GM purchased 60 percent of Fisher's stock, and gained control over one of its most important components. Eventually, William Durant lived up to Nash's warnings. He began to meddle in Buick's affairs, infuriating Chrysler to the point of despair on numerous occasions. One day, Chrysler reached the boiling point during a board meeting and walked out. Longtime GM President Alfred Sloan later recalled, "I remember the day. He [Chrysler] banged the door on the way out, and out of that bang came eventually the Chrysler Corporation."

Walter P. Chrysler

Walter P. Chrysler

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Friday 18th June 1920

97 years ago

Edmund Rumpler made the first test drive of his Tropfen-Auto to coincide with his wife's 35 birthday. It was to be the first streamlined car (beating the American Chrysler Airflow and Czech Tatra T77). The Rumpler had a drag coefficient of only 0.28, a measurement which astonished later engineers and would be competitive even today. The Fiat Balilla of the mid-1930s, by contrast, was rated at 0.60. The car featured a Siemens and Halske-built 2,580 cc (157 cu in) overhead valve W6 engine, with three banks of paired cylinders, all working on a common crankshaft. Producing 36 hp (27 kW), it was mounted just ahead of the rear axle. The engine, transmission, and final drive were assembled together and installed as a unit. The rear swing axles were suspended by trailing leaf springs, while the front beam axle was suspended by leading leaf springs. Able to seat four or five, all the passengers were carried between the axles, for maximum comfort, while the driver was alone at the front, to maximize view. With the 1923 model, two tip-up seats were added. Weighing nearly 3,000 lb (1,361 kg), the Tropfenwagen was nevertheless capable of 70 mph (110 km/h) on its mere 36 hp (27 kW). This performance got the attention of Benz & Cie.'s chief engineer, Hans Nibel. Nibel conceived the Tropfenwagen racers using the virtually unchanged Rumpler chassis.[3] Poor sales and increasing losses led Benz to abandon the project. Later Auto Union racing cars resembled the Benz Tropfenwagen racers and were built in part by Rumpler engineers. Rumpler made another attempt in 1924, the 4A106, which used a 50 hp (37 kW) 2,614 cc (159.5 cu in) inline 4-cylinder engine.[6] This compelled a growth in wheelbase, with a consequent increase in seating to six or seven. Although the car was very advanced for its time, it sold poorly—about 100 cars were built. Small problems at the start (cooling, steering), the appearance of the vehicle, and the absence of a luggage compartment hindered sales. Most were sold as taxis, where easy boarding and the high ceiling were advantages. The last cars were built in 1925. The Tropfenwagen did become famous, thanks to the film "Metropolis", in which Rumplers found a burning end. It also inspired Mercedes-Benz 130H and 150H road cars. Only two examples are known to survive, one in the Deutsches Museum's Verkehrszentrum in Munich and one in the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin.

Rumpler Tropfenwagen

Rumpler Tropfenwagen

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Friday 9th June 1922

95 years ago

William C. Durant purchased the Duesenberg factory in Elizabeth, New Jersey, US to produce the Flint automobile, outbidding Walter P. Chrysler who was seeking a location to develop and manufacture the first Chrysler.

Duesenberg Motor Company factory, Elizabeth, New Jersey

Duesenberg Motor Company factory, Elizabeth, New Jersey

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Saturday 11th November 1922

94 years ago

Walter P. Chrysler signed a contract with the ZSB Engineering Company to develop ZSB's car design as the 1924 Chrysler Six. ZSB was founded in 1920 when Fred Zeder, Owen Skelton and Carl Breer leave Studebaker and form their own company.

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Saturday 5th January 1924

93 years ago

Walter Chrysler, a General Motors executive who had pioneered the introduction of all-steel bodies in motor vehicles (instead of wood), introduced his first motor vehicle. After his departure from GM in 1920, Chrysler had breathed new life into the failing Maxwell Motor Company. The first Chrysler-built Maxwell was put on display in New York City's Commodore Hotel, where it drew admiring crowds. In 1925, the Maxwell Motor Company was renamed the Chrysler Corporation.

Walter Chrysler

Walter Chrysler

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Wednesday 17th September 1924

93 years ago

Ralph DePalma driving a stock Chrysler covered 1,000 miles in 1,007 minutes at the board track in Fresno, California, US.

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Monday 5th January 1925

92 years ago

Ralph DePalma drove a stripped down Chrysler Model B-70 touring car a distance of 1,000 miles in 786 minutes at the Culver City, California tracks, setting numerous stock car records.

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Saturday 6th June 1925

92 years ago

The Maxwell Motor Corporation was reorganised in Delaware as the Chrysler Corporation.

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Monday 22nd March 1926

91 years ago

The Ford Motor Company renamed its massive River Rouge facility the Fordson Plant. The name River Rouge, synonymous with Ford history, would continue to be used. River Rouge was established in response to the massive demand for the Model T. In the spring of 1915, Henry Ford began buying huge tracts of land along the Rouge River, southwest of Detroit. He later announced his plans to construct a massive industrial complex which would include its own steel mills. Ford proclaimed he would no longer be "at the mercy of his suppliers." Ford Lieutenant William Knudsen disagreed with his boss's notion that bigger was better. The pugnacious Ford responded to his advice with typical urbanity, saying, "No, William, no. I want the Ford business all behind one fence so I can see it." The outbreak of war in Europe brought with it a scarcity of steel that threatened to halt production of the Model T. Ford ordered Knudsen to buy up all the steel he could. Henry Ford, a proclaimed pacifist, objected to the idea of preparing for war. He likened a war-ready nation to a man carrying a gun: bound for trouble. Nevertheless, once war was declared, Ford stood behind President Wilson and River Rouge became an "arsenal of democracy." The largest industrial complex of its day, River Rouge looked like a small city. After the war, the factory remained a primary character in the Ford drama. By 1937, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler recognized the United Auto Workers (UAW) as a labor union. But, despite the fact that the federal government, with the New Deal, guaranteed a worker's right to belong to a union, Ford refused to negotiate with the UAW. Instead, he ordered his strongman, Harry Bennett, to keep the workers in check. On May 26, 1937, union leader Walter Reuther led a group of men through the River Rouge Plant to distribute literature to the workers. Upon leaving the plant, Reuther and his companions were attacked by Bennett and his men. The event, named the "Battle of the Overpass," received national attention. Ford's reputation as a labor negotiator, already bad, grew worse. Amazingly, though, Bennett's fear tactics postponed the inevitable triumph of labor leaders for almost four years, when a massive sit-down strike finally succeeded in shutting the River Rouge plant down. The Ford River Rouge plant is also well-known for a Ford family controversy over a series of murals by artist Diego Rivera, which were commissioned by Edsel Ford on behalf of the Detroit Art Institute. Henry Ford objected strongly to the communist aesthetic of the murals and ordered their production ceased. Edsel, in a rare moment of defiance, refused his father's demands and the murals remained on display at the River Rouge Plant. Today, just as Henry Ford desired, the Fordson Plant at River Rouge really is "the Ford business all behind one fence," where we can see it.

River Rouge

River Rouge

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Monday 31st May 1926

91 years ago

Twenty three year-old racing sensation Frank Lockhart won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in a Miller 122. He was the first winner born in the 20th century. Louis Chevrolet drove the Chrysler pace car for the start. The race was halted at lap 72, and officials waited for the track to dry out. The race was resumed over an hour later. Rain fell again, and the race was called at the 400 mile mark (160 laps). Rookie Frank Lockhart moved up from 20th to fifth by lap 5, having had passed 14 cars on that lap alone. He moved up to second on Lap 16. After the rain delay, Lockhart and Dave Lewis battled for the lead for about 20 laps, until Lewis dropped out. Lockhart stretched out a two-lap lead when the race was called, and he was declared the winner. It was the first rain-shortened race in "500" history, and Lockhart was the fourth rookie to win the race. Lockhart may have actually completed as many as 163 laps (407.5 miles), but official scoring results reverted to the completion of lap 160.

#15 Miller - 1926 Indianapolis 500 Winner

#15 Miller - 1926 Indianapolis 500 Winner

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Saturday 26th November 1927

89 years ago

The Chrysler Imperial Series L80 was introduced.

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Monday 23rd April 1928

89 years ago

Dow Jones Services announced the pending introduction of a new car by the Chrysler Corporation, the DeSoto.

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Sunday 6th May 1928

89 years ago

Chrysler introduced the DeSoto as the corporation's new brand. The Detroit Free Press reported: "Probably no development of the past five years has created so profound a stir in the automobile industry as the current announcement that the new De Soto Six, which will be presented to the public in the next three months, is to be built by Chrysler.” With hardly any more information than this, over 500 dealers signed for franchises. Production for the 1929 model began in July, 1928, and official announcement was made at the January, 1929, New York Automobile Show. With the unveiling of De Soto at a price of $845, Walter P. Chrysler felt that he had closed a marketing gap between Dodge and Chrysler. During the first twelve months, DeSoto production set a record 81,065 cars. DeSoto built more cars during its first year than had Chrysler, Pontiac, or Graham-Paige. The record stood for nearly thirty years. The car name honored Hernando de Soto, the 16th century Spaniard who discovered the Mississippi River and had covered more North American territory than any other early explorer. As Chrysler introduced the new DeSoto, the company purchased the Dodge Brothers which gave Chrysler two mid-priced lines. With the DeSoto priced below Dodge, the two-make approach to the mid-priced market niche worked. In 1933, Chrysler reversed the position of DeSoto and Dodge in the hopes of increasing Dodge sales. This meant that DeSoto was now priced higher than Dodge. Chrysler began wind tunnel testing in 1927 and the quest for the ideal aerodynamic body which would save gasoline and increase speed. The result was the Airflow body. In 1934, the DeSoto used Chrysler’s streamlined Airflow bodies. The streamlined Airflow was originally designed for the Chrysler. However, the DeSoto wheelbase was shorter and the design was unpopular. While Chrysler offered both Airflow and standard models, the DeSoto was available only in an Airflow design.In Europe, the DeSoto Airflow was a major hit and European carmakers such as Volvo, Renault, and Peugeot began to copy the look. In the U.S., DeSoto sales dropped by 47%. In 1935, DeSoto returned to conventional styling and sales doubled. Like all automakers, DeSoto production stopped during World War II. Following the war, DeSoto reissued the 1941 model as the 1946 model. DeSoto went on to build its most-exciting cars in the '50s, only to die in late 1960 after a flash recession and sibling rivalry obliterated its narrow, well-defined price niche.

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Monday 28th May 1928

89 years ago

Dodge Brothers, Inc. and the Chrysler Corporation merged.

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Saturday 7th July 1928

89 years ago

The Chrysler Plymouth made their debut in 1928 at the Madison Square Garden, with Amelia Earhart (who had just become the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic) behind the wheel. It was billed as 'A New Zenith of Low Priced Car-Luxury and Performance.' The name Plymouth was chosen as a symbol of 'the endurance and strength, the rugged honesty, enterprise and determination of achievement and freedom from old limitations of the Pilgrim band who were the first American colonists,' at Plymouth Rock, MA. It was Chrysler Corporation's first entry in the low-priced field, which at the time was already dominated by Chevrolet and Ford. Plymouths were actually priced slightly higher than their competition, with a base price of $670, but featured such expensive-car features as 4-wheel hydraulic brakes, full-pressure engine lubrication, aluminum alloy pistons and an independent hand brake that the competition did not. Plymouths were originally sold exclusively through Chrysler dealerships, offering a low-cost alternative to the upscale Chrysler-brand cars. The logo featured a rear view of the ship Mayflower which landed at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, the inspiration for the Plymouth brand name came from Plymouth binder twine, produced by the Plymouth Cordage Company, also of Plymouth. The name was chosen by Joe Frazer due to the popularity of the twine among farmers.

American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

First Plymouth automobile - 1928

First Plymouth automobile - 1928

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Saturday 7th July 1928

89 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation held a private showing for the new DeSoto marque, at the time existing as only a single prototype. time existing as only a single prototype. Chrysler's unveiling immediately attracted 500 dealers. By the time DeSoto production was in full swing at the end of 1928, there were 1,500 agencies selling the premier 1929 DeSoto Six. Demand rocketed. During the first twelve months, DeSoto production set a record 81,065 cars. DeSoto built more cars during its first year than had Chrysler, Pontiac, or Graham-Paige. The record stood for nearly thirty years.The car name honored Hernando de Soto, the 16th century Spaniard who discovered the Mississippi River and had covered more North American territory than any other early explorer (editor’s note: the Chrysler people were probably not aware of Hernando de Soto’s evildoings). As a moniker, DeSoto reinforced the Americana theme sounded by Chrysler's other new brand, Plymouth; towns, cities, and counties named DeSoto are spread across the southeastern United States. Shortly after DeSoto was introduced, however, Chrysler completed its purchase of the Dodge Brothers, giving the company two mid-priced makes. Initially, the two-make strategy was relatively successful, with DeSoto priced below Dodge models. Despite the economic times, DeSoto sales were relatively healthy, pacing Dodge at around 25,000 units in 1932. However, in 1933, Chrysler reversed the market positions of the two marques in hopes of boosting Dodge sales. By elevating DeSoto, it received Chrysler's streamlined 1934 Airflow bodies. But, on the shorter DeSoto wheelbase, the design was a disaster and was unpopular with consumers. Unlike Chrysler, which still had more traditional models to fall back on, DeSoto was hobbled by the Airflow design until the 1935 Airstream arrived.After wartime restrictions on automotive production were ended, DeSoto returned to civilian car production when it reissued its 1942 models as 1946 models, but without the hidden-headlight feature, and with fender lines extending into the doors, like other Chrysler products of the immediate postwar period. Until 1952, DeSoto used the Deluxe and Custom model designations. In 1952 DeSoto added the Firedome with its 276-cid Hemi engine. However, in 1953, DeSoto dropped the Deluxe and Custom names and designated its six-cylinder cars the 'Powermaster' and its V8 car remained the 'Firedome'. At its height, DeSoto's more popular models included the Firesweep, Firedome, and Fireflite. The DeSoto Adventurer, introduced for 1956 as a high-performance hard-top coupe (similar to Chrysler's 300), became a full-range model in 1960. The 1958 economic downturn hurt sales of mid-priced makes across the board, and DeSoto sales were 60 percent lower than those of 1957 in what would be DeSoto's worst year since 1938. Also Ford Motor Company had introduced a new mid-price competitor for the 1958 model year with the Edsel. The sales slide continued for 1959 and 1960 (down 40 percent from the already low 1959 figures), and rumors began to circulate DeSoto was going to be discontinued.By the time the 1961 DeSoto was introduced in the fall of 1960, rumors were widespread that Chrysler was moving towards terminating the brand, fueled by a reduction in model offerings for the 1960 model year. The introduction of the lower priced Newport to the upscale Chrysler brand no doubt hastened the decision to end production of DeSoto, which was very similar in size, styling, price, and standard features. For 1961, DeSoto lost its series designations entirely, in a move reminiscent of Packard's final lineup. And, like the final Packards, the final DeSoto was of questionable design merit. Again, based on the shorter Chrysler Windsor wheelbase, the DeSoto featured a two-tiered grille (each tier with a different texture) and revised taillights. Only a two-door hardtop and a four-door hardtop were offered. The cars were trimmed similarly to the 1960 Fireflite. The final decision to discontinue DeSoto was announced on November 30, 1960, just forty-seven days after the 1961 models were introduced. At the time, Chrysler warehouses contained several million dollars in 1961 DeSoto parts, so the company ramped up production in order to use up the stock. Chrysler and Plymouth dealers, which had been forced to take possession of DeSotos under the terms of their franchise agreements, received no compensation from Chrysler for their unsold DeSotos at the time of the formal announcement. Making matters worse, Chrysler kept shipping the cars through December, many of which were sold at a loss by dealers eager to be rid of them. After the parts stock was exhausted, a few outstanding customer orders were filled with Chrysler Windsors.

DeSoto convertible - 1929

DeSoto convertible - 1929

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Tuesday 17th July 1928

89 years ago

The Plymouth Division of the Chrysler Corporation was created.to compete in what was then described as the "low-priced" market segment dominated by Chevrolet and Ford. The Plymouth was the high-volume seller for the automaker until the late 1990s. The brand was withdrawn from the marketplace in 2001. The Plymouth models that were produced up to then were either discontinued or rebranded as Chrysler.

1928 Plymouth Coupe Advertisement

1928 Plymouth Coupe Advertisement

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Monday 30th July 1928

89 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation purchased Dodge Brother, Inc from the New York City banking firm of Dillon Reed & Company for $170 million.

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Tuesday 31st July 1928

89 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation acquired Dodge Brothers from Dillon Read for $170 million.

1928 Dodge Brothers Victory Six Sedan

1928 Dodge Brothers Victory Six Sedan

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Saturday 4th August 1928

89 years ago

The De Soto marque was founded by Walter P. Chrysler, and introduced for the 1929 model year. It was named after the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. It ceased to exist in 1961.The new automobile logo featured a stylized image of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Chrysler’s announcement of the new DeSoto immediately attracted 500 deals and by the end of the year there were 1,500 dealerships. As Chrysler was bring out the new DeSoto, the company purchased the Dodge Brothers which gave Chrysler two mid-priced lines. With the DeSoto priced below Dodge, the two-make approach to the mid-priced market niche worked. In 1933, Chrysler reversed the position of DeSoto and Dodge in the hopes of increasing Dodge sales. This meant that DeSoto was now priced higher than Dodge. Chrysler began wind tunnel testing in 1927 and the quest for the ideal aerodynamic body which would save gasoline and increase speed. The result was the Airflow body. In 1934, the DeSoto used Chrysler’s streamlined Airflow bodies. The streamlined Airflow was originally designed for the Chrysler. However, the DeSoto wheelbase was shorter and the design was unpopular. While Chrysler offered both Airflow and standard models, the DeSoto was available only in an Airflow design. The Airflow design was a radical change in the way automobiles looked and performed. When asked if the public was ready for anything so radical, Mr. Chrysler replied: “I know the public is always ready for what it wants... and the public is always able to recognize genuine improvement.” In Europe, the DeSoto Airflow was a major hit and European carmakers such as Volvo, Renault, and Peugeot began to copy the look. In the U.S., DeSoto sales dropped by 47%. In 1935, DeSoto returned to conventional styling and sales doubled. Like all automakers, DeSoto production stopped during World War II. Following the war, DeSoto reissued the 1941 model as the 1946 model. In 1952, DeSoto addedthe Firedome with a 276-cid Hemi engine. In 1953, DeSoto dropped the Deluxe and Custom designations and designated its six-cylinder cars the Powermaster and its V-8 as the Firedome. In 1960, DeSoto production stopped shortly after the 1961 models were introduced. Nine DeSoto dealers in New Jersey, angered by the sudden cancellation of the DeSoto, filed suit against Chrysler Corporation. They eventually won their case.

De Soto automobile advert c. 1929

De Soto automobile advert c. 1929

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Monday 7th January 1929

88 years ago

Walter Chrysler, the founder of the Chrysler Corporation, one of America's Big Three automakers, was featured on the cover of Time magazine as its Man of the Year. In 1928, under Walter Chrysler's leadership, his company had acquired the Dodge Brothers Company, thereby becoming the world's third-largest automaker. Also that year, Chrysler launched the low-priced Plymouth line and the mid-priced DeSoto brand. Additionally, Walter Chrysler had bankrolled construction of the Chrysler Building in New York City. When it was completed two years later, in 1930, the 77-story art-deco skyscraper was the world's tallest building. Walter Percy Chrysler was born on April 2, 1875, in Wamego, Kansas. The son of a railroad engineer, Chrysler worked his way up in the railroad industry, from sweeper to machinist to plant manager of American Locomotive Company, before making his mark on the auto industry.

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Monday 17th March 1930

87 years ago

John North Willys of the Willys-Overland Corporation became the first U. S. ambassador to Poland. Willys had rescued the ailing Overland firm from its woeful production of 465 cars in 1908. By 1916, Willys-Overland produced over 140,000 cars per year. Willys subsequently left the day-to-day operations of the company, moving his personal offices to New York in order to pursue work related to World War I. During his absence, mismanagement nearly buried the company he had worked so hard to build up. Massive strikes, bloated inventories, and other troubles had cost Willys-Overland dearly. By 1920, the company was $46 million in debt. The briefly retired Walter Chrysler was called on to rework the company's daily operations, and in no time at all, he had cut the debt by nearly two-thirds to $18 million. Chrysler claimed, however, that without the release of a new model of automobile, the debt would decrease no further. Willys, who remained president of Willys-Overland, disagreed. He maintained that through the improvement of the existing models, the company could regain its original profit margins. Chrysler left. Continuing to pursue his political interests, Willys became the U.S. ambassador to Poland on this day in 1930. Eight years later Poland would be absorbed into the Third Reich. Three years after that, in 1941, Willys-Overland began mass production of the Willys Jeep, the "General Purpose" vehicle of the U.S. Army. In 1944, Willys' political and manufacturing legacies merged symbolically as Willys Jeeps carried U.S. troops across liberated Poland.

John North Willys

John North Willys

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Tuesday 27th May 1930

87 years ago

The 77-story art deco Chrysler Building in New York City opened as the world's tallest building (1,048 ft, 319 m). It was the headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation from 1930 until the mid-1950s. Although the building was built and designed specifically for the car manufacturer, the corporation did not pay for the construction of it and never owned it, as Walter P. Chrysler decided to pay for it himself, so that his children could inherit it.

Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building

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Tuesday 30th August 1932

85 years ago

The earliest known patent related to power steering was filed by American engineer Francis W. Davis.The American engineer was well aware of the problems drivers faced in the early 20th century. Cars were difficult to drive, and weight was the key factor: “There has been a trend toward larger automobiles equipped with an increasing number of accessories adding still further to the weight,” he said in his 1927 patent continuation. The introduction of pneumatic tyres increased steering resistance yet further. Many engineers attempted to reduce friction in the steering mechanisms. While this slightly eased the problem, according to Davis it created new challenges: “It gave rise to a greater evil, that is the tendency on the part of the steering wheels to vibrate excessively.” Vacuum, mechanical, electrical and hydraulic power-steering systems were all designed, but all failed. Problems of durability, packaging and cost hindered the development of a solution. Davis was convinced that a hydraulic system was the answer. Davis had graduated from Harvard University in 1906 after studying mechanical engineering. He worked for Pierce-Arrow after graduating, which gave him an insight into how hydraulic technology worked – the OEM’s press tools were all hydraulically operated. When he left the company in 1922 to become a consulting engineer he began to research the technology more closely. The challenge for Davis was to make the technology scaleable – hydraulic systems used in industrial presses needed huge storage tanks of pressurised oil, pumps, unloader valves, accumulators and hose lines. After a myriad of failures because of pressure losses, leaks and unworkable packaging, Davis changed direction. Rather than use a pressurised closed valve, he developed an open-valve system that allowed oil to flow continuously, but when power-steering assistance was needed it was closed and pressure built up. Davis described the system in his 1926 patent: “I supply the gear, particularly suitable for automobiles, which is adapted for direct hand steering where the steering resistance is slight, which instantly and automatically augments the manual steering efforts of the operator by the application of power from fluid pressure when the steering resistance exceeds a predeterminable value.” Davis was so sure of the system that he installed it in his Pierce-Arrow Roadster in 1925, proving that it not only made the car easier to drive but also removed vibrations through the steering wheel. Just as modern power-steering systems cause debate about driver feedback, so Davis was also aware of the issues surrounding driveability. Steering reversibility, as Davis described it – when the car hits an obstacle and the force is transmitted to the steering wheel – can cause the wheel to be wrenched from the driver’s hands. But removing reversibility completely can cause a loss of feeling between the driver, steering inputs and movement of the car. Davis solved this by making his system tuneable, so it could be constructed with a degree of reversibility, where the maximum torque that could be impressed on the steering wheel by road shocks was limited to a predetermined value. As ingenious as Davis’s design was, the depression of the 1930s meant that few car manufacturers were interested. But military applications opened up, helping Davis to develop the system. When the car market picked up after the Second World War, Chrysler was the first OEM to introduce a hydraulic power-steering system on its Imperial sedan. That was in 1951 and the system was based on design principles that Davis had patented, but by this time his patents had expired. Davis signed an agreement with GM to license his system to the OEM. By 1956, more than two million vehicles had been sold with power steering in the US. Thanks to Davis’s persistence, the technology is an intrinsic part of today’s vehicles.

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Saturday 27th January 1934

83 years ago

The DeSoto Airflow and Chrysler Airflow caused a sensation on the opening day of the 1934 Chicago Auto Show. However, the ultra-modern ‘aero’ styling was too dramatic and too revolutionary for most consumers. Twenty years later, the cars’ many design and engineering innovations, including the aerodynamic singlet-style fuselage, the steel space-frame construction, the near 50-50 front-rear weight distribution and their light weight, would have been celebrated. Chrysler and its DeSoto Division both tried to devolve their Airflows stylistically, giving them a more conventional grille and raising the ‘trunk’ (some later models were named Airstream), but the damage was done. Sales were disappointlingly low.

Chrysler Airflow

Chrysler Airflow

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Friday 16th March 1934

83 years ago

The Chrysler Airflow was introduced to a European audience at the Geneva Motor Show. Well ahead of its time, the Chrysler Airflow (also sold by DeSoto and Imperial with the same name), was a major engineering feat. In 1934, Chrysler brochures boasted, “It is the first ride-inside motor car... the first really spacious car...the first Floating Ride car...the first car ever to be built that literally ignores the kind of road it runs on... It is the first real motor car since the invention of the automobile.” Widely recognized as the first truly modern automobile, the 1934 Airflow was an "engineer's" car, which was hardly surprising. What was curious is that normally canny Walter Chrysler approved its daring concept without much regard for whether the public would like it. As the story goes, Carl Breer spotted a squadron of Army Air Corps planes flying overhead in 1927, which inspired him to push with Zeder and Skelton for a streamlined automobile employing aircraft-type design principles. Wind-tunnel tests suggested a modified teardrop shape (and ultimately the Airflow name).Placing the eight-cylinder engines over the front axles made for considerable passenger space. Seats were an industry-leading 50 inches across, and there was more than enough interior room for even the burly Walter P. Chrysler. What's more, the forward drivetrain positioning enabled all passengers to sit within the wheelbase, thus improving ride comfort for those in back. A beam-and-truss body engineered along aircraft principles provided great strength with less weight. Oliver Clark followed all these dictates with exterior styling that seemed downright strange. The Custom Imperial looked best, its long wheelbase allowing the rounded lines to be stretched out more -- and they needed every inch of stretch they could get. But there was no denying Airflow performance. At the Bonneville Salt Flats a '34 Imperial coupe ran the flying-mile at 95.7 mph, clocked 90 mph for 500 miles, and set 72 new national speed records. Airflows were strong, too. In Pennsylvania, one was hurled off a 110-foot cliff (another publicity stunt); it landed wheels down and was driven away. Unfortunately, the massive cost and effort of retooling delayed Airflow sales until January 1934 (June for Custom Imperials). Then, jealous competitors -- mainly GM -- began running "smear" advertising that claimed the cars were unsafe. All this blunted public interest that was initially quite favorable despite the newfangled styling, and prompted rumors that the Airflow was flawed. Save for a group of traditional Series CA and CB Sixes, the 1934 Chrysler line was all Airflow, and sales were underwhelming. While most makes boosted volume by up to 60 percent from rock-bottom '33, Chrysler rose only 10 percent. It could have been worse -- and was for DeSoto, which banked entirely on Airflows that year (all sixes). Yet the Airflow wasn't nearly the disaster it's long been portrayed to be. Though Chrysler dropped from eighth to tenth in model-year output for 1932, it went no lower through '37, the Airflow's final year, when it rose to ninth. And though the cars did lose money, the losses were far from crippling. The Airflow's most-lasting impact was to discourage Chrysler from fielding anything so adventurous for a very long time. Not until 1955 would the firm again reach for industry design leadership. There were also two immediate results of the 1934 sales experience. First, planned Airflow-style Plymouths and Dodges were abruptly canceled. Second, Chrysler Division regrouped around more-orthodox "Airstream" Sixes and Eights for 1935 and '36. Though not pure Airflow, this design's "pontoon" fenders, raked-backed radiators, and teardrop-shape headlamp pods provided a strong family resemblance, yet wasn't so wild that it discouraged customers. Airstreams literally carried Chrysler in those years.

1934 Chrysler Airflow

1934 Chrysler Airflow

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Friday 2nd November 1934

82 years ago

La Société Industrielle de Méchanique et de Carrosserie Automobile, SIMCA, was formed with FIAT at 163 to 185 Avenue Georges Clemenceau, in Nanterre, France. Simca was affiliated with Fiat and then, after Simca bought Ford's French activities, became increasingly controlled by the Chrysler Group. In 1970, Simca became a subsidiary and brand of Chrysler Europe, ending its period as an independent company. Simca disappeared in 1978, when Chrysler divested its European operations to another French automaker, PSA Peugeot Citroën. PSA replaced the Simca brand with Talbot after a short period when some models were badged as Simca-Talbots.

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Monday 22nd July 1935

82 years ago

K. T. Keller was elected President of the Chrysler Corporation succeeding founder Walter P. Chrysler who remained as Chairman of the Board.

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Tuesday 16th November 1937

79 years ago

Ferdinand Porsche was issued a United States patent for his torsion-bar suspension.Most of the credit for the wide acceptance of torsion bars in Europe goes to Dr. Ferdinand Porsche who made it standard on most of his cars, beginning with the 1933 Volkswagen prototypes. By 1954, 21 makes of European cars were equipped with torsion bars. By contrast, in America, only Chrysler went the torsion bar route on its large-sized cars. Despite its excellent ride qualities, high cost has limited its acceptance in this country.

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Friday 28th July 1939

78 years ago

Tobias John Martin Richards (89), South Australian coachbuilder and motor body manufacturer who founded the company which would eventually form the manufacturing base of Chrysler Australia Ltd, died.

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Tuesday 31st October 1939

77 years ago

The 1940 Chryslers, DeSotos, Dodges and Plymouths were introduced at the Chrysler Building in New York City.

1940 DeSoto-01 brochure

1940 DeSoto-01 brochure

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Sunday 18th August 1940

77 years ago

Walter P. Chrysler (65), the American car manufacturing tycoon, died. He began his love affair with mechanical engineering as an apprentice in a railroad machine shop. He became President of the Buick Motor Company and in 1919 resigned from General Motors to take control of the Maxwell Motor Company, which became the Chrysler Corporation in 1925. The new company, featuring a car that Chrysler designed, was soon a success. Today, the Chrysler Company owns Dodge and Plymouth, and is one of the "Big Three" in the American car industry.

Walter Chrysler

Walter Chrysler

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Friday 9th May 1941

76 years ago

Walter S Cochrane (55), a design engineer with Buick (1913-26) and a diesel engine designer with the Chrysler Corporation since 1926, died in Detroit, Michigan, US.

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Thursday 29th January 1942

75 years ago

The last pre-World War II Chrysler and Dodge automobiles were produced.

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Monday 10th April 1944

73 years ago

Henry Ford II was named executive vice president of the Ford Motor Company. His promotion confirmed his bid to become the heir to his grandfather's throne at Ford. Henry II despised his grandfather for tormenting his father, Edsel Ford. Nevertheless Henry II went on to display many of the leadership skills of his grandfather en route to becoming the head of the Ford Empire. After an unsatisfactory academic career at Yale University where Henry spent four years without receiving a diploma he returned to work at the River Rouge plant. There he familiarised himself with the operation of the company, and he witnessed the bitter struggle for the succession of Henry Ford's title as president of the company. After his father Edsel Ford's death-- the result of "stomach cancer, undulant fever, and a broken heart"-- Ford Lieutenants Harry Bennett and Charles Sorensen fought a silent battle for the Ford throne. Henry Ford Sr. had reassumed the title of president, although it was clear he was too old to stay in that position for long. The irritable Henry I wasn't dead yet though, and he intervened on behalf of his violent pet Harry Bennet, who had gained power at Ford for his suppression of organised labor. After being passed up for the vice presidency of the company, Sorensen left the company after over 40 years of service. Many attributed Ford's poor treatment of Sorensen to personal jealousy. Henry the Elder was reportedly even jealous of his grandson's presence at the Rouge Plant. At the outbreak of World War II, Henry II left Ford for military service, which he carried out in Salt Lake City, Utah, until his father died on May 26, 1943. At that time he returned to Ford to take the reigns of the company at the urging of the U.S Government. His grandfather was finally too old to run the company; and if he didn't name a successor, the company would fall out of the family's control for the first time in its existence. Realising that Henry's presence would make his own accession to the company's presidency impossible, strongman Harry Bennett attempted to bring Henry II under his influence. His efforts were of no avail, though, as Henry Ford II refused to be influenced by his tyrannical grandfather's toady. His accession to the executive vice-presidency made him the inevitable successor to the presidency of the Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford II went on to lead his family's company back to greatness from its dubious position behind both GM and Chrysler after the war.

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Saturday 24th March 1945

72 years ago

The 20,000th tank was produced by the Chrysler Corporation.

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Monday 26th April 1948

69 years ago

Production began on the 1949-model Ford, the first all-new automobile design introduced by the Big Three after World War II, civilian production having been suspended during the war, and the 1946-1948 models from Ford, GM, and Chrysler being updates of their pre-war models. Popularly called the "Shoebox Ford" for its slab-sided, "ponton" design, the 1949 Ford is credited both with saving Ford and ushering in modern streamlined car design with changes such as integrated fenders and more . The design would continue through the 1951 model year. After sticking with its well-received previous model through model year 1948, Ford completely redesigned its namesake car for the year 1949. Save for its drive-train, this was an all-new car in every way, with a modern ladder frame now supporting a coil spring suspension in front and longitudinal semi-elliptical springs in back. The engine was moved forward to make more room in the passenger compartment and the antiquated "torque tube" was replaced by a modern drive shaft. Ford's popular 226 CID (3.7 L) L-head straight-6 and 239 CID (3.9 L) Flathead V8 remained, now rated at 90 hp (67 kW) and 100 hp (75 kW), respectively.

1949 Ford

1949 Ford

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Friday 10th June 1949

68 years ago

Hailed as a visionary by some and a con artist by others, Preston Tucker (1903-1956) was the man behind an innovative, futuristic-looking car that debuted amid great fanfare during the summer of 1948, was indicted for fraud. As envisioned by Tucker himself, the "Tucker Torpedo" (as the concept vehicle was known) represented quite a departure from the standard fare offered by the Big Three automakers. Long, low, and substantially wider than other large cars then available, with sleek lines reminiscent of a rocket, it had doors that slid up into the roof and six chrome-plated exhaust pipes. Its unique safety features included headlights mounted in fenders that moved with the front wheels to illuminate the road as the car made a turn, a windshield made of shatterproof glass, seat belts, disc brakes, and a heavily padded dashboard to protect front-seat passengers in the event of a collision. In another unusual twist, the driver's seat was positioned in the middle rather than on the left, with separate passenger seats on either side. The American public responded with unbridled enthusiasm to Tucker's "car of tomorrow" and buried him in an avalanche of letters and inquiries. But first he had to secure some factory space in which to make his fantasy a reality. Under the auspices of the War Assets Administration (WAA), the federal government leased him a former B-29 engine plant outside Chicago, Illinois. Because the deal was contingent upon his ability to raise $15 million in capital by March 1, 1947, Tucker then set about lining up potential investors. However, he soon found out that in return for their financial support they expected him to surrender control of his company, a notion he found intolerable.Tucker then came up with a rather creative way to finance his dream. Although he had produced nothing more than an idea, he began selling dealer franchises and quickly amassed some $6 million that was to be held in escrow until he delivered the first Tucker. But the scheme prompted an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the first of many such probes. Tucker then devised a new strategy that involved issuing $20 million in stock. Before the SEC could rule on his plan, though, the head of the National Housing Agency demanded that the WAA cancel its deal with the Tucker Corporation so that the Lustron Corporation could use the factory to make prefabricated metal houses. By January 1947, Tucker had won the right to remain in the plant he had leased. In addition, his March 1 capital-raising deadline was extended to July 1. (The SEC's decision on selling stock in the Tucker Corporation was still pending.) But all of the setbacks and squabbles had greatly undermined the public's confidence in the would-be entrepreneur, and the struggle to underwrite the cost of his venture continued. By the spring of 1948, Tucker was ready to go into production with his car despite some lingering financial difficulties resulting from insufficient stock sales. In need of some quick cash, he came up with a new fundraising tactic that offered Tucker buyers the opportunity to pre-purchase certain accessories such as seat covers, radios, and custom luggage. But SEC officials took a dim view of his plan given the fact that not a single vehicle had yet rolled off the assembly line. In May 1948, working in conjunction with the Justice Department, they launched a major investigation into Tucker's business practices and the viability of his car. The bad publicity and lawsuits that ensued effectively disrupted production, spooked creditors, and sent the company's stock price plummeting. Finally, in January 1949, the Tucker factory was forced to close and Tucker was ousted from his own organization and replaced by two court-appointed trustees. The trial began that October, with government prosecutors using "The Tin Goose" rather than one of the actual production vehicles tried to prove that the Tucker could not be built or perform as promised. But many of the 70-plus witnesses called to testify against the company actually hurt rather than helped the government's case.Tucker himself hinted darkly that the Big Three auto-makers and their supporters were behind the attempt to destroy him because of the threat he represented to their domination of the market. Indeed, some evidence suggests that officials of both General Motors and Chrysler actively sought to make it more difficult for Tucker to succeed. Whether they also tried to influence the government to pursue him is less certain. There is no question, however, that Tucker had made some powerful enemies in Washington who repeatedly denounced him as a con artist. The trial dragged on until January 1950. In the end, the jury found Tucker and his associates innocent of all the charges against them. However, Tucker was left bankrupt and with his reputation in tatters; as a result, he was forced to sell his remaining assets, including the 51 vehicles that had been completed before the plant was shuttered. They would be the only Tuckers ever manufactured. During the early 1950s, a more subdued but still optimistic Tucker tried one more time to develop and market a new kind of car. Before he could pull together all of the necessary financing, however, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He succumbed to the disease in 1956 on the day after Christmas. Tuckers are now prized by car collectors (around 47 are still known to exist), most of whom are active members of the Tucker Automobile Club of America. Meanwhile, the debate continues over Tucker's place in automotive history. His detractors still consider him a fraud who tried to pass off what was basically a lemon as "the car of tomorrow." His fans regard him as a visionary who was brought down by sinister forces with money and power. Others believe the truth lies somewhere in between those two extremes. Even if his ultimate goal was to strike it rich, they argue, he was sincere about his desire to build an exciting, innovative new vehicle that offered a level of comfort, safety, and affordability not available in any other car at the time. What they do fault is his naivete and lack of business sense, which left the Tucker Corporation woefully under capitalized and in a constant state of financial crisis that doomed it to failure. Yet as Tucker himself once observed, as quoted in American History Illustrated, no matter what the obstacles, it was unthinkable not to try to make his fantasy come true. "A man who has once gotten automobiles into his blood can never give them up, " he said. "A man with a dream can't stop trying to realize that dream…. It's no disgrace to fail against tough odds if you don't admit you're beaten. And if you don't give up."

Preston Tucker

Preston Tucker

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Saturday 17th February 1951

66 years ago

The Chicago Auto Show opened. The U.S. automotive industry suffered production cutbacks, due to the Korean War. New introductions that year were the Chrysler "Hemi" V-8 engine, the Hudson Hornet and new hardtop body styles from Ford and Plymouth. Chicagoans were introduced to Oldsmobile's Super 88. The Buick XP-300 was one of the first concept vehicles created by General Motors, and was on display.

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Wednesday 14th March 1951

66 years ago

Plymouth introduced its XX500 prototype showcar. Designed by Virgil Exner, director of the department design of Chrysler, it was made in Italy by Ghia of Turin . With the XX-500 was inaugurated a collaboration between Chrysler and Ghia that led to the production of a number of concept cars.

Plymouth XX500

Plymouth XX500

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Saturday 24th November 1951

65 years ago

Austin and Morris agreed to merge, making the combined business, named BMC (British Motor Corporation), the biggest in the British motor trade and the fourth-largest internationally after the US ‘Big Three’ of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. In a joint statement the two companies announced that they would retain their separate identities and would not produce the same models. Forty years later the merger was recognised to have been a political decision in the face of American competition and the absence of heirs for either Morris or Austin.

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Thursday 27th March 1952

65 years ago

Kiichiro Toyoda (57) Japanese industrialist and founder of the Toyota Motor Corporation died. He was the son of famed inventor and entrepreneur Sakichi Toyoda, and the driving force behind establishment of Toyota Motor Corporation. As a young man he studied engineering at the University of Tokyo, then traveled to England, where he worked at Platt Brothers and Company, a leading manufacturer of textile machinery. He later came to the United States, where he studied American manufacturing techniques. After returning to Japan he worked at his father's loom-making business, Toyoda Industries Corporation, where he engineered improvements to the looms' high-draft spinning frames, and patented a carding machine. He began his research into automotives by dismantling and reassembling an imported motorcycle, and briefly considered the feasibility of a charcoal-powered engine. After his father's death, he convinced Toyoda Industries' new president, his adoptive brother Risaburo Toyoda, to fund research into auto-making. Kiichiro Toyoda purchased a new Chevrolet and brought in several of Japan's top engineers to disassemble and reassemble it. By 1934 Toyoda and his team had designed and built their first gasoline-powered engine, and convinced stockholders to fully fund his new division. In 1935 Toyoda built the prototype for its first car, combining Japanese components with Ford and Chevy parts under a Chrysler body to construct what they called Model A1. According to legend, Kiichiro Toyoda drove the prototype to his father's gravesite, to show what he had accomplished.Toyoda vehicles were manufactured beginning in July 1935, and in 1936 the spelling of the nameplate was altered from Toyoda to Toyota, as Toyoda himself believed the new name was easier to pronounce (the family name, when presented in English, remains Toyoda). The auto division was quickly successful and was spun off as a separate business, the Toyota Motor Corporation, in 1937, with Toyoda as Vice President. He became president in 1941, but in 1950, with the business near bankruptcy in Japan's post-war recession, Toyota Motor Corp announced massive layoffs and its workers went on strike. To settle the strike, Toyoda and other top executives tendered their resignations, and Toyoda died two years later.

Kiichiro Toyoda

Kiichiro Toyoda

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Thursday 30th October 1952

64 years ago

The 1953 Chrysler model range were introduced.

1953 Chrysler brochure

1953 Chrysler brochure

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Wednesday 18th March 1953

64 years ago

The Chrysler Imperial Newport hardtop coupe was introduced as a mid-year model.

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Friday 9th October 1953

63 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation sold its New York City real estate including the art-deco Chrysler Building.

Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building

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Thursday 14th January 1954

63 years ago

The Hudson Motor Car Company merged with Nash-Kelvinator, a car manufacturer formed in turn by the merger of the Nash automobile firm and the Kelvinator kitchen-appliance company. The new concern was called the American Motors Corporation. At the time, it was the largest corporate merger in US history. By the end of 1957 the original Nash and Hudson brands were completely phased out. The company struggled at first, but Rambler sales took off. After two model years (1963 and 1964) of only producing compact cars, AMC focused back to larger and more profitable cars like the Ambassador line from the perceived negative of the Rambler's economy car image. In the face of deteriorating financial and market positions, Roy D. Chapin, Jr., took charge to revitalize the company, and designer Richard A. Teague economized by developing several vehicles from common stampings. While prices and costs were cut, new and more sporty automobiles were introduced, and from 1968 AMC became known for the Javelin and AMX muscle cars. AMC purchased Kaiser's Jeep utility vehicle operations in 1970 to complement their existing passenger car business. From 1980, AMC partnered with France's Renault to help finance their manufacturing operations, obtain much-needed capital, and source subcompact vehicles. Renault sold its 47% ownership stake in AMC to Chrysler. Chrysler made a public offer to purchase all the remaining outstanding shares of AMC stock on the NYSE. Renault left the US market completely as a brand in 1987. The Renault Medallion was sold through the newly formed Jeep Eagle Division of Chrysler as an Eagle, not a Renault. AMC's badge would be used on the Eagle Sports Wagon through the 1988 model year, then be eliminated entirely. The Jeep/Eagle division of Chrysler Corporation was formed from the AMC Jeep Renault dealer network. The Jeep and Eagle vehicles were marketed primarily by former AMC dealers. Ultimately, the Eagle Brand of car would be phased out like Chrysler's DeSoto, Plymouth, and Imperial by 1998.

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Sunday 21st February 1954

63 years ago

Crowds gathered at the 1954 Grand National at Daytona to see which of the two dominant models of stock car--the fast Olds 88 or the tight handling Hudson Hornet--would take control of the race. However, the first car into the last turn of the first lap wasn't a Hudson or an Olds, but rather Lee Petty's Chrysler New Yorker. Unfortunately, Petty was going faster than his car, and he crashed through the wooden embankment at the back of the turn. Unperturbed, Petty got back in the race. Nineteen laps later his breaks failed. Driving the rest of the race with no breaks, Petty downshifted his way into a competitive position. A late stop for fuel, though, sealed his fate, as he overshot his pit and lost precious seconds. Petty crossed the finish line second to the favored Olds 88 car driven by Tim Flock. The next morning Petty, eating breakfast with his family in a hotel restaurant, learned that Flock's Olds had been disqualified. Petty had won Daytona with no brakes.

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Thursday 25th March 1954

63 years ago

The experimental turbine-engined Plymouth was announced to the public some six months after George J. Huebner Jr. had taken it for its first test drive. The June 1956 edition of Popular Mechanics carried an article on the car in which it documented a coast-to-coast trip undertaken by Chrysler's George J. Huebner, Jr. At the time, Huebner was the Executive Engineer in charge of research at Chrysler and he is said to have taken a strong personal interest in the turbine development program. The engine in this vehicle was a simple single-stage radial compressor with two axial-flow hot-wheels, one driving the compressor and the other driving a reduction gearbox connected to the car's driveshaft. A relatively small (compared to the later 1965 model) regenerator was used to improve fuel-economy and lower the temperature of the exhaust gasses -- which exited through a row nozzles built into the rear bumper. In the period from 1950 to 1956, the company actually built over 50 gas-turbine engines designed for use in test cars although few of them actual clocked up any actual mileage. On two occasions during the New York to Los Angeles trip in 1956 the car had to undergo major repairs: the first time when a bearing failed in the reduction gearbox and the second when the compressor intake casting cracked. An average fuel consumption of 13-14 mpg using regular unleaded gasoline. The article claims that this would likely have improved to 18 mpg if the engine had been running on kerosene.The hot-section turbines on this prototype vehicle cost $1,500 (1956 dollars!) each to manufacture but Chrysler was planning to reduce the cost to just $10 with mass-production. It seems that target was never met and the vehicle never made it to the assembly line.

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Wednesday 16th June 1954

63 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation opened the new Chelsea (Michigan, US) Proving Grounds. Jack McGarth set a world closed-track record of 179.386 mph and Betty Skelton established a women's land speed record of 143.44 mph, both drove a Dodge Firearrow show car.

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Friday 29th October 1954

62 years ago

The last Chrysler Imperial was introduced.

1954 Chrysler Town Imperial formal sedan

1954 Chrysler Town Imperial formal sedan

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Wednesday 2nd February 1955

62 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation legally made Imperial a separate marque, to better compete with its North American rivals, Lincoln and Cadillac, and European luxury sedans such as the Mercedes-Benz 300 Adenauer and the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. The 1955 models are said to be inspired by Virgil Exner's own 1952 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton show cars (which were themselves later rebodied to match the 1955-56 Imperials). The platform and bodyshell were shared with that year's big Chryslers, but the Imperial had a wheelbase that was 4.0 inches (102 mm) longer, providing it with more rear seat legroom, had a wide-spaced split eggcrate grille, the same as that used on the Chrysler 300 "executive hot rod", and had free-standing "gunsight" taillights mounted above the rear quarters, which were similar to those on the Exner's 1951 Chrysler K-310 concept car. Gunsight taillights were also known as "sparrow-strainer" taillights, named after the device used to keep birds out of jet-engines. Such taillights were separated from the fender and surrounded by a ring and became an Imperial fixture through 1962, although they would only be free-standing in 1955-56 and again in 1961-62. Two "C-69" models were available, including the two-door Newport hardtop coupe (3,418 built) and pillared four-door sedan (7,840 built), along with an additional "C-70" Crown limousine model (172 built). The "FirePower" V8 engine was Chrysler's first-generation Hemi with a displacement of 331 cu in (5.4 L) and developing 250 brake horsepower (186 kW). Power brakes and power steering were standard, along with Chrysler's "PowerFlite" automatic transmission. One major option on the 1955 and 1956 Imperials was air conditioning, at a cost of $535. Production totaled 11,430, more than twice the 1954 figure, but far below Lincoln and Cadillac. The Chrysler Corporation's luxury automobile brand between 1955 and 1975, with a brief reappearance in 1981 to 1983, and a second reapearance from 1990-1993.

Imperial car brochure - 1955

Imperial car brochure - 1955

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Thursday 10th February 1955

62 years ago

The Chrysler C-300 hardtop coupe, America's first 500 hp mass produced car, was introduced to the US public as a mid-year model. It’s difficult today to realize what a sensation a 300-horsepower auto was in 1955. That was a car-crazy year for Americans, who welcomed radically new, unexpected body styles. For 1955, General Motors offered its racy Chevrolet Corvette V-8 sports car and Ford introduced its sporty Thunderbird V-8 two-seater. Chrysler Corp. had spent $100 milllion—than a huge sum—to dramatically restyle its 1955 models and had no money or time to develop a two-seater. The 300’s V-8 easier outpowered the Corvette and Thunderbird V-8s—not to mention the costly Cadillac’s top V-8, which had 270 horsepower.The C-300 arrived when the fastest, most powerful American mass-produced cars were still mostly costly, full-size models. The Corvette and Thunderbird were generally considered frivolous, as were two-seat foreign sports cars. The big, gorgeous new 1955 Chrysler model was officially called the C-300, with the “C” likely standing for “Chrysler.” But it soon was just referred to as the “300” to prevent confusion because the second 300 was the 1956 300B, which had 340-355 horsepower. Subsequent 300s carried the letters C through L, except the “I” designation was skipped to avoid confusion with the number “1.” They’re all Chrysler Corp.’s prized collector “letter cars.” The C-300 underscored Chrysler Corp.’s outstanding engineering reputation and was essentially a showroom attention-getter that helped sell lesser Chrysler models. But it found 1,725 buyers, which was a respectable number for a specialized model. It outsold the Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe convertible, which cost $3,924 and attracted 946 buyers. The C-300 had a race-style version of Chrysler Corp.’s then fairly new “Hemi” V-8.That engine got its nickname from its hemispherical combustion chambers. A Hemi had been put in a few tamer upscale Chryslers after arriving for 1951 with a 331.1-cubic-inch displacement and 180 horsepower—a high number that year. It provided great volumetric efficiency for superb performance. And its lower compression ratio let it use lower-octane fuel than non-Hemis, although it produced more power than comparably sized engines. The 1955 Hemi 300’s 331.1-cubic-inch Hemi was modified like Hemi V-8s used in successful early 1950s race cars, with such power-enhancing items as two four-barrel carburetors, a competition camshaft and solid valve lifters. Solid lifters were more efficient than the hydraulic ones used in other Chrysler V-8s, but were noisier. The camshaft also caused a rather rough engine idle, although not an intolerable one. The exhaust system generated a rumbling sound. It soon became clear that this was no car to mess with. An unusually firm suspension for a Chrysler model provided the excellent handling and flat cornering expected only from sports cars. Some of the first buyers of the 1955 300 just wanted to own the most powerful car in America, but soon found it was louder and had a rougher ride than other top-line Chryslers. They soon traded it in for a tamer upper-line Chrysler.The 1955 300 had a Chrysler New Yorker Newport hardtop body and smooth Chrysler Windsor side trim and rear-quarter body panels. There was subtle “300” badging on the body and hubcaps, but the 300 shared the classy “twin tower” taillights of other large Chryslers.Up front was a large Chrysler Imperial “eggcrate” grille. At $4,110, the new 300 was the second most costly Chrysler brand auto. Only the big $4,209 Town & Country station wagon cost more. The price, alone, signaled that this was no car for kids. It was a hot rod luxury model for generally older affluent folks who liked fast cars. Veteran national auto writer Tom McCahill said the new 300 was a “hardboiled, magnificent piece of semi-competition transportation, built for the real automotive connoisseur.” The 1955 300 was virtually unbeatable in competition that year, winning its first NASCAR Grand National race. It took the checkered flag at 37 NASCAR and AAA races of more than 100 miles. The 300 had a lavish interior featuring gorgeous “Natural Cowhide” leather upholstery and the top-line Chrysler Imperial’s dashboard, although the Imperial speedometer was changed to read up to 150 mph. The dashboard had no space for a tachometer. But one wasn’t really needed because the only transmission was Chrysler’s new two-speed Powerflite automatic, which was a heavy duty unit that could handle the Hemi’s power and torque. After all, a 300 buyer wasn’t expected to be bothered with shifting gears. Only red, white and black paint was available, and the few extras included a radio, heater and power steering. Also offered were a clock, tinted glass, wire wheels and power seats, brakes and windows. No air conditioning was offered, which didn’t seem unusual because few cars had “air.” The 300 came as both a coupe and convertible, starting in 1957, and was built through 1965, when the 360-horsepower 300L became the last of the classic 300 “letter-series” cars. The first-generation Hemi V-8 was dropped in 1959 because it was a complicated engine that was costly to make. The 1959-65 300s thus had big, conventional, high-horsepower V-8s. The most-prized 300s are the 1955-58 models because they had the Hemi. A second version of the Hemi V-8 came in the 1960s for some Chrysler Corp. cars to keep the automaker among the hottest contenders in that decade’s muscle-car race. But they were totally different types of cars than the glamorous 1950s 300 Hemi models. The 1957-58 300C/300D looked sleeker and was more powerful than the 1955 C-300, but there’s no topping the 1955 300 because there’s no topping an original.

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Sunday 13th February 1955

62 years ago

Lee Petty won the 100 mile NASCAR Grand National race on the 1/2 mile dirt Speedway Park oval in Jacksonville Florida. Petty's Chrysler took the lead when leader Dick Rathmann pitted his Hudson for fuel with 10 laps to go. Until then it appeared Rathmann was headed for his first win of the season. Rathmann still finished second with fellow Hudson pilot Herb Thomas third and the Olds 88s of Buck Baker and Junior Johnson rounding out the top five. It was Petty's second win in three 1955 season races.

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Sunday 6th March 1955

62 years ago

Lee Petty won the 100 mile NASCAR Grand National race on the 1/2 mile dirt Oglethorpe Speedway in his Chrysler New Yorker. Former IMCA champ Don White of Keokuk, Iowa finished 4 laps down in second. White lost the 4 laps on a mid-race pit stop.

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Thursday 7th April 1955

62 years ago

The Plymouth Belvedere Turbine car was first shown to the public at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Measuring 32 inches long, 33 inches wide, and 28 inches high, the turbine, rated at 100 hp, fit snugly into the Belvedere's engine compartment. Mated to a standard Plymouth transmission with only reverse and high gears, the turbine weighed some 200 lb less than a conventional Plymouth 6-cylinder engine. Built essentially as a laboratory development tool, the first turbine, identified as the CR1, was considered by Chrysler engineers as a "milestone in automotive power engineering" because it embodied solutions to two of the major problems long associated with gas turbines: high fuel consumption and scorching exhaust gas. The key feature that contributed to removing these technical barriers was the heat exchanger or regenerator. Heat exchangers extracted heat from the hot exhaust gasses and transferred that energy back to the compressed air, thus easing the burners' job of raising gas temperature, conserving fuel, and lowering the exhaust temperature. At idle, the turbine's exhaust temperature fell to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, ranging up to 500 degrees under normal operating conditions. Almost a year later the same basic turbine engine was installed in a 1955 Plymouth Belvedere four-door sedan. Painted red and white, the 1955 Turbine Special carried a unique hood ornament and medallion, special body name plates and trunk medallion in addition to having an oval exhaust port built into the center of the rear bumper. The 1955 was never shown publicly but was driven on Detroit streets.March 1956 saw Plymouth's third Turbine Special, an all-white Belvedere four door, take to the highway on the first cross-country test run of a turbine-powered automobile. Leaving New York City's Chrysler Building March 26, the car arrived four days and 3,020 miles later in Los Angeles, California. Fuel economy on the trip averaged 13 mpg, using mostly unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel (the turbine would burn any combustible liquid, from expensive French perfume to rot-gut whiskey). The trip was to be driven nonstop, with various drivers taking turns at the wheel. George Stecher, who drove on the first and last legs, recalled that the trip was not without its problems. A bearing in a reduction gear failed; “due to somebody putting in a piece of copper tubing for an oil feed and it just fatigued and broke.” Later a cracked intake casting was replaced. Chrysler was prepared for any trouble en route; the entourage included not only the turbine car but three station wagons and a truck carrying fuel, spare parts, and a complete spare engine.

Plymouth Belvedere Sedan Turbine Special

Plymouth Belvedere Sedan Turbine Special

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Sunday 17th April 1955

62 years ago

Tim Flock took the lead when Herb Thomas' Chevy blew an engine with 10 laps to go, cruising to victory in the 100 mile NASCAR Grand National race at the Montgomery Motor Speedway, Alabama. Flock led laps 10 through 174 on the 1/2 mile dirt track before Thomas got by for the lead. Flock's Kiekhaefer Chrysler 300 finished 4 laps ahead of the Olds of Joel Million.

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Sunday 14th August 1955

62 years ago

Pole-starter Fonty Flock drove a Carl Kiekhaefer-owned Chrysler to victory in the Mid-South 250 at Memphis-Arkansas Speedway in LeHi, Ark (US), registering the 17th of his 19 career wins in NASCAR’s premier series. Flock led 88 of 167 laps on the 1.5-mile dirt track. Speedy Thompson finished second as the only other car on the lead lap. Tim Flock, the winner’s brother and teammate, took third; he qualified second, ending a streak of seven straight pole positions entering the event.

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Sunday 16th October 1955

61 years ago

Norm Nelson drove a Kiekhaefer Chrysler to victory in the abbreviated NASCAR Grand National race at Las Vegas (US). The event was shortened from 200 to 111 laps due to ­several wrecks and darkness.

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Saturday 7th January 1956

61 years ago

The Plymouth Fury sport coupe was introduced. The Fury was a sub-series of the Plymouth Belvedere from 1956 through 1958. It was sold only as a Sandstone White 2-door hardtop with gold anodized aluminum trim in 1956 and 1957. In 1958 it was only available in Buckskin Beige with gold anodized aluminum trim. These Furys had a special interior, bumper wing-guards and a V8 engine with twin 4-barrel carburetors. The 1957 and 1958, the 318 cu in (5.21 L) engine produced 290 hp (220 kW). The 1957 models were restyled; longer, wider, with very large vertical tailfins and a new torsion bar front suspension replacing the previous coil springs. While the new styling boosted sales, quality control suffered for all Chrysler products as they were brought quickly to market before their design and construction weaknesses could be fully addressed by engineering. In 1958, the optional engine was a 350 cu in (5.7 L) called Golden Commando with two 4-bbl carburetors producing 305 hp (227 kW). A 315-hp option with fuel injection was available, but the electronic Bendix fuel-injection system was recalled by the factory and owners were given a conventional dual four-barrel setup. The Golden Commando engine was optional on any Plymouth Plaza, Savoy, Belvedere, Suburban, and Fury, as was the dual four-barrel 318 cu in (5.21 L) (dubbed V-800 Dual Fury; four- and two-barrel 318s also arrived for 1958 and were simply called V-800). The Fury was a full-size car from 1959 to 1961, then a mid-size car from 1962 to 1964, again a full-size car from 1965 to 1974, and again a mid-size car from 1975 to 1978. From 1975 to 1977 the Fury was sold alongside the full-size Plymouth Gran Fury. The word "fury" denotes a type of anger, inspired by the Furies, mythological creatures in Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman mythology. The model appears in popular culture as the subject of interest in the 1983 New York Times Best-selling novel Christine by Stephen King about a 1958 custom red and ivory Plymouth Fury that is part of a frightening love triangle.

Plymouth Fury sport coupe

Plymouth Fury sport coupe

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Saturday 7th January 1956

61 years ago

“June in January" was the cheerful theme at the opening of the 1956 Chicago Auto Show, where for the first time, all exhibits appeared on the ground floor of the International Ampitheatre. The 48th edition of the nation's premiere auto show offered first showings of the Plymouth Fury hartdop, the Chrysler 300B and Plainsman station wagon, and the Dodge Town Wagon. A handful of imported models appeared at Chicago's 48th show, including the French-built Simca convertible, and a broad range of Volkswagens, from the Beetle sedan and convertible to Microbuses and pickup.

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Saturday 18th February 1956

61 years ago

The DeSoto Adventurer, a high-powered 2-door hardtop similar to the Chrysler 300, was introduced as a mid-year model. The first Adventurer, which was initially only available in a white/black/gold color scheme, with a hi-output 341 cubic inch Hemi V8, dual exhausts and custom appointments and trim. Standard trim included dual outside side mirrors, gold wheel covers, radio, electric clock, padded instrument panel, windshield washers, full instrumentation, and heavy duty suspension. A total of 996 cars were sold in its first year.

DeSoto Adventurer advertising

DeSoto Adventurer advertising

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Sunday 22nd April 1956

61 years ago

Buck Baker drove one of the Kiekhaefer team Chrysler juggernauts to victory in the NASCAR GN race on the 1 mile circular dirt Langhorne Speedway, Pennsylvania, US. Future star Fred Lorenzen made his GN debut, finishing 26th.

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Sunday 6th May 1956

61 years ago

Tim Flock racked up his third win of the season at North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, US., then surprising the racing world by quitting the championship Kiekhaefer Chrysler team. Buck Baker replaced Flock in the coveted ride.

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Wednesday 16th May 1956

61 years ago

John J. Caton (76), founder of the Chrysler Institute of Engineering, died in Phillipsburg, US.

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Tuesday 23rd October 1956

60 years ago

Buck Baker's Kiekhaefer Chrysler tiptoed around a nasty crash involving former Kiekhaefer teammate Herb Thomas and wins the 100-mile race at Shelby, North Carolina, US. Speedy Thompson, also member of the Kiekhaefer team, triggered the crash, which left Thomas gravely injured. Baker pulled to within 118 points of Thomas with three races remaining.

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Wednesday 2nd January 1957

60 years ago

The Chrysler Crown Imperial Ghia-bodied limousine was introduced.

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Monday 19th August 1957

60 years ago

Thelma Chrysler Foy, daughter of Walter Chrysler and wife of former DeSoto executive Byron C Foy, did in New York City.

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Wednesday 20th May 1959

58 years ago

Ford won the battle with Chrysler to call its new car "Falcon".

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Wednesday 1st July 1959

58 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation reorganised into three automotive divisions - Chrysler-Imperial, Dodge and Plymouth-DeSoto.

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Saturday 8th August 1959

58 years ago

The 39-day-old Plymouth-DeSoto Division of the Chrysler Corporation was renamed the Plymouth-DeSoto-Valiant Division to herald the impending arrival of the new compact Valiant, at first marketed as a new marque.

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Monday 21st September 1959

58 years ago

The first Plymouth Valiant was produced in Michigan, US although it was not known by that name until 1961. Originally code named "Falcon" after the 1955 Chrysler Falcon, plans for the new model went awry when the Chrysler marketing team found out at the last minute that Ford had already registered the name "Falcon" for its compact car. The news resulted in a wild scramble, for the logo castings had already been made and marketing plans finalised. A company-wide contest was held for a new name, and "Valiant" emerged the winner. However, there was no time to make new logo castings, so the car was simply introduced as the Valiant. It wasn't until 1961 that the Valiant became the Plymouth Valiant.

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Thursday 29th October 1959

57 years ago

The Valiant compact car was introduced by the Chrysler Corporation. At first it was considered to be a new marque, but beginning with the 1961 model year it became the Plymouth Valiant in the US. The Valiant was also built and marketed, without the Plymouth name, worldwide in countries including Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as other countries in South America and Western Europe.Road & Track magazine considered the Valiant to be "one of the best all-around domestic cars".

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Saturday 16th January 1960

57 years ago

The Chicago Auto Show opened to the public. Harsh winter weather did not keep Chicagoans away who had a batch of new imports and compact cars to gaze at in 1960, along with chrome-laden full-size models. As automakers aimed at economy, Chevrolet introduced its rear-engine Corvair, Ford offered the new compact Falcon and Chrysler developed the Valiant. The show also offered the public a glimpse of nearly three- dozen imported makes, including Deutsch-Bonnet, Toyota and Fiat. This was the final viewing of the waning DeSoto line. A few 1961 DeSotos were built, but production halted prior to the 1961 show.

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Sunday 31st January 1960

57 years ago

In a special racing series for small-bodied cars at the Daytona International Speedway, the Valiant captured the top seven positions in the 10-lap race. The Valiant was introduced by Chrysler in 1959 (the 1960 models) as a separate make. Its light handling and curvaceous European styling set the Valiant apart from other American compact cars. Over the following years, the Valiant became part of the Plymouth line, and its styling became more typically American. It retained its record for reliability and speed, however, and still has a fan club today.

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Tuesday 10th May 1960

57 years ago

Erwin George "Cannonball" Baker (78), a motorcycle and automobile racing driver and organizer in the first half of the 20th century, died of a heart attack at Community Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Baker set 143 driving records from the 1910s through the 1930s. His first was set in 1914, riding coast to coast on an Indian motorcycle in 11 days. He normally rode to sponsor manufacturers, guaranteeing them "no record, no money". In 1915, Baker drove from Los Angeles to New York City in 11 days, 7 hours and fifteen minutes in a Stutz Bearcat, and the following year drove a Cadillac 8 roadster from Los Angeles to Times Square in seven days, eleven hours and fifty-two minutes while accompanied by an Indianapolis newspaper reporter. In 1924 he made his first midwinter transcontinental run in a stock Gardner sedan at a time of 4 days, 14 hours and 15 minutes. He was so impressed by the car, that he purchased one thereafter. In 1926 he drove a loaded two-ton truck from New York to San Francisco in a record five days, seventeen hours and thirty minutes, and in 1928, he beat the 20th Century Limited train from New York to Chicago. Also in 1928, he competed in the Mount Washington Hillclimb Auto Race, and set a record time of 14:49.6 seconds, driving a Franklin. His best-remembered drive was a 1933 New York City to Los Angeles trek in a Graham-Paige model 57 Blue Streak 8, setting a 53.5 hour record that stood for nearly 40 years. This drive inspired the later Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, better known as the "Cannonball Run", which itself inspired at least five movies and a television series. In 1941, he drove a new Crosley Covered Wagon across the nation in a troublefree 6,517-mile (10,488 km) run to prove the economy and reliability characteristics of Crosley automobiles. Other record and near-record transcontinental trips were made in Model T Fords, Chrysler Imperials, Marmons, Falcon-Knights and Columbia Tigers, among others.

Cannonball Baker

Cannonball Baker

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Thursday 30th June 1960

57 years ago

William C. Newberg was fired as President of the Chrysler Corporation because of alleged conflicts-of-interest caused by owing stock in various corporate suppliers.

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Friday 30th September 1960

56 years ago

It was announced that the new Rootes car would be called Hillman 'Imp'. Being a direct competitor to the BMC's Mini, it used a space-saving rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout to allow as much luggage and passenger capacity as possible in both the rear and the front of the car. It used a unique opening rear hatch to allow luggage to be put into the back seat rest.In addition to its 875 cc aluminium engine, it was the first mass-produced British car to have an engine in the back and the first car to use a diaphragm spring clutch. The baulk-ring synchromesh unit for the transaxle compensated for the speeds of gear and shaft before engagement, which the Mini had suffered from during its early production years.It incorporated many design features which were uncommon in cars until the late 1970s such as a folding rear bench seat, automatic choke and gauges for temperature, voltage and oil pressure.This unorthodox small/light car was designed for the Rootes Group by Formula One driver Michael Parkes and Tim Fry. It was manufactured at the purpose-built Linwood plant in Scotland. Along with the Hillman marque was a series of variations including an estate car (Husky), a van and a coupé. The Imp gained a reputation as a successful rally car when Rosemary Smith won the Tulip Rally in 1965. This led the Rootes Group to produce a special rally conversion of the Imp under both the Hillman and Singer marques known as the Imp Rallye. In 1966, Rosemary Smith after winning the Coupe des Dames, was disqualified under a controversial ruling regarding the headlamps of her Imp. The Imp was also successful in touring car racing when Bill McGovern won the British Saloon Car Championship in 1970, 1971 and 1972. Arguably, it was considered advanced for the time with its various innovative features and technical advantages over other cars. But reliability problems harmed its reputation, which led to the Rootes Group being taken over by Chrysler Europe in 1967. The Imp continued production until 1976, selling just under half a million units in 13 years.

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Friday 18th November 1960

56 years ago

Just two weeks after the 1961 DeSoto was introduced to an uninterested market, Chrysler announced the termination of the DeSoto marque. The Chrysler DeSoto was a hit even before the first model was built in the summer of 1928. When Walter P. Chrysler announced that his Chrysler Corporation intended to build a mid-priced vehicle boasting six-cylinders, dealerships signed on immediately, and in the first 12 months of production the DeSoto set a sales record that stood for 30 years. The automobile, named after Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, was a large and powerful vehicle marketed to the average American car buyer. The innovative designs of the DeSotos of the 1930s were as daring as their namesake. In 1958, DeSoto's designers introduced their most flamboyant cars ever, the Firesweeps, Firedomes, and Fireflites, but the public failed to embrace these new models, and all but the Fireflite was dropped in 1959. In 1960, William C. Newberg, the new president at Chrysler, decided to limit the DeSoto program, and the uninspired 1961 DeSoto was doomed for failure.

1961 DeSoto 4-door hardtop

1961 DeSoto 4-door hardtop

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Wednesday 30th November 1960

56 years ago

The De Soto marque, founded by Walter Chrysler in 1928, was officially dropped, just forty-seven days after the 1961 model year was announced. It was named after the Spanish explorer Hernando deSoto. Shortly after DeSoto was introduced, however, Chrysler completed its purchase of the Dodge Brothers, giving the company two mid-priced makes. Had the transaction been completed sooner, DeSoto never would have been introduced. Initially, the two-make strategy was relatively successful, with DeSoto priced below Dodge models. Despite the economic times, DeSoto sales were relatively healthy, pacing Dodge at around 25,000 units in 1932. However, in 1933, Chrysler flipped the marques in hopes of boosting Dodge sales. By elevating DeSoto, it received Chrysler's streamlined 1934 Airflow bodies. But, on the shorter DeSoto wheelbase, the design was a disaster and was unpopular with consumers. Unlike Chrysler, which still had more traditional models to fall back on, DeSoto was hobbled by the Airflow design until the 1935 Airstream arrived. Aside from its Airflow models, DeSoto's 1942 model is probably its second most memorable model from the pre-war years, when the cars were fitted with pop up headlights, a first for an American mass-production vehicle. DeSoto marketed the feature as "Air-Foil" lights "Out of Sight Except at Night".In 1953, DeSoto dropped the Deluxe and Custom names and designated its six-cylinder cars the Powermaster and its V8 car the Firedome. At its height, DeSoto's more popular models included the Firedome, Firesweep, and Fireflite. At the time of the announcement to discontinue the marque, warehouses contained several million dollars in DeSoto parts, so the company ramped up production in order to rid itself of the otherwise unusable parts. Chrysler and Plymouth dealers, which had been forced to take possession of DeSotos under the terms of their franchise agreements, received no compensation from Chrysler for their unsold DeSotos at the time of the formal announcement. Making matters worse, Chrysler kept shipping the DeSoto backstock through December 1960; much of this was sold at a loss by dealers eager to be rid of the cars themselves. The DeSoto name survived on a line of heavy trucks built overseas, particularly in Turkey.

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Monday 28th August 1961

56 years ago

Art Malone drove Bob Osiecki's aluminium-bodied "Mad Dog IV" to a World Closed Course Speed Record of 181.561 mph at Daytona International Speedway. "Mad Dog IV" was a front-engined Curtis Indy roadster powered by a supercharged Chrysler 413 Wedge motor. It had a vertical stabilizer and a pair of inverted air foils, or upside down wings, to the chassis to aerodynamically stabilize the vehicle at speed. This feat won him the $10,000 award posted by Bill France to anyone who could post a speed in excess of 180 mph on a closed course speedway.

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Tuesday 15th May 1962

55 years ago

The semi-production Chrysler Turbine Car, designed by Elwood P Engle and built by Carrozzeria Ghia, was introduced to Chrysler dealers at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Chrysler began researching turbine engines in the late 1930s, led largely by engineer George Huebner, who was one of a group of engineers who started exploring the idea of powering a car with a turbine after the end of World War II. Other members of the secretive Chrysler Research team that worked on automotive turbines included engineers Bud Mann and Sam B. Williams. After continually improving their turbine design, and most notably engineering a solution to heat exchanging-related problems in the form of a regenerator, the team's efforts reached an early state of maturity when they mated a turbine to a stock 1954 Plymouth Belvedere. Chrysler proceeded to test the Belvedere, and claimed that its turbine engine contained 20% fewer parts and weighed 200 pounds (91 kg) less than comparable conventional piston engines. The company publicly unveiled the Belvedere at its Chelsea Proving Grounds on June 16, 1954, in front of over 500 members of the press. On March 23, 1956, Chrysler unveiled its next turbine car, a 1956 Plymouth, which Huebner drove 3,020 miles (4,860 km) on a four-day trip from New York City to Los Angeles.[8] The success of the coast-to-coast journey led Chrysler to double the size of the turbine program and move it from Highland Park to a more spacious facility on Greenfield Road in Detroit. The program began producing numerous patent applications from 1957, in no small part due to the contributions of metallurgist Amedee Roy and engineer Giovanni Savonuzzi. The next iteration of the Chrysler turbine engine was placed into a 1959 Plymouth, which averaged 19 miles per US gallon (12 L/100 km; 23 mpg‑imp) on a trip from Detroit to New York City. After Chrysler named former accountant Lynn Townsend as its new president in 1961, the company unveiled its next, third-generation turbine engine on February 28, 1961, which it mated to a variety of vehicles, including a 1960 Dodge truck and the Chrysler Turboflite concept car. Further refined third-generation turbines were installed into a 1962 Dodge and a Plymouth Fury that were also driven across the country, although after arriving in Los Angeles on this occasion Huebner spent two hours giving members of the media rides in a turbine-powered car. By February 1962, Chrysler had barnstormed its fleet of turbine cars to its dealers across North America, as well as in Europe and Mexico, ultimately visiting 90 cities, giving almost 14,000 people rides, and being seen by millions more. The third-generation turbine program ended at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1962, where Chrysler displayed its current turbine-powered fleet, but shortly before the show had announced its forthcoming fourth-generation turbine engine and its plans to put it in a limited run of 50–75 cars that would be loaned to the public at no cost in late 1963.

Chrysler Turbine Car - 1962

Chrysler Turbine Car - 1962

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Thursday 9th August 1962

55 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation set an industry milestone by announcing (for 1963) a 5-year, 50,000-mile warranty covering all of its cars and trucks.

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Monday 29th October 1962

54 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation began its Consumer Delivery Program as a public hands-on test of the semi-production Chrysler Turbine Car.

Chrysler Turbine Car

Chrysler Turbine Car

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Friday 18th January 1963

54 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation acquired a majority share interest in the Societe Industrielle de Mecanique et Carrosserie Automobile (Simca).

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Friday 6th December 1963

53 years ago

The first 426 Hemi engine was successfully tested by the Chrysler Corporation. In February 1964 at the Daytona 500, Chrysler unleashedt the new engine for teams running Dodge and Plymouth cars in NASCAR’s Grand National series. Though the Chrysler-powered racers had previously been uncompetitive on superspeedways, the new 426-cu.in. Hemi V-8 was a game-changer, and the 1964 Daytona 500 saw 426 Hemi-powered cars cross the finish line in first, second and third position, as well as claim two more spots in the top 10. Though few spectators realized it at the time, they witnessed the birth of an engine that would become a performance legend on racetracks, drag strips and back streets across America, and would inspire a year-long celebration of the engine half a century later.

Polished and chromed 426 Hemi engine in a 1971 Hemi 'Cuda

Polished and chromed 426 Hemi engine in a 1971 Hemi 'Cuda

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Saturday 8th February 1964

53 years ago

The stage revue was still a part of the 56th Chicago Auto Show, during which The Chicago Automobile Trade Association celebrated its 60th anniversary. The 50-strong cast of "Motorevue of 1964," brought familiar auto ads to life. Performance was a dominant theme for the 1964 event, with Pontiac's Tempest GTO and Ford's Mustang II concept commanding attention. The Mustang II concept evolved into the Mustang, launched in late spring of the same year. After trying out its turbine engine in a nearly-stock Dodge and Plymouth, Chrysler created 50 specially-bodied Turbine cars. Though experimental in nature, they were driven for about three months each by 203 "consumer representatives." A number of Chrysler engineers were on hand at the 1964 show to answer questions about these innovative cars.

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Wednesday 1st April 1964

53 years ago

The Plymouth Barracuda was released to the public, 15 days ahead of the Ford Mustang. Plymouth's executives had wanted to name the car Panda, an idea that was unpopular with the car's designers. In the end, John Samsen's suggestion of Barracuda was selected. Barracuda was the first pony car, but was largely overlooked by buyers in their stampede to purchase the Ford. The Barracuda borrowed the Valiant’s wheelbase, hood, headlight bezels, quarter panels, A-pillar, bumpers, doors, and windshield. This significantly reduced Chrysler’s development costs, allowing the company to get the car to market in record time. The base engine was a 4 litre slant 6 with a 180 hp, 4.5 litre V8 available. With the V8, early Barracudas could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 12.9 sec, with fuel consumption of just 16-19 miles per gallon. 90% of 1964 Barracudas ordered were fitted with the V8. The ’64 Barracuda’s most distinctive characteristic, though, was its massive rear window. Covering a total of 14.4 sq. ft., the huge piece of glass was a joint effort between Chrysler designers and a Pittsburgh company. Towards the end of ’66, Plymouth made an effort to pull the Barracuda off the Valiant nameplate. In 1967, the new redesign would prove a serious competitor in the segment.

Plymouth Barracuda

Plymouth Barracuda

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Friday 12th November 1965

51 years ago

Bob Summers driving the "Goldenrod" averaged 409.695 in the kilometer and 409.277 mph in the mile. These speeds were the average of the required two direction run completed with one hour. The "Goldenrod" was powered by four naturally aspirated Chrysler Hemi engines. This car was just recently restored and now resides in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Goldenrod (1965)

Goldenrod (1965)

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Tuesday 30th November 1965

51 years ago

Ralph Nader's “Unsafe at Any Speed,” a book that has been voted among the top 100 pieces of journalism of the 20th century, was published. In the book Nader accused car manufacturers of resistance to the introduction of safety features, like seat belts, and their general reluctance to spend money on improving safety. Less than a year after the book was published, a balky Congress created the federal safety agency that became the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — an agency whose stated mission is to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce crashes. Today, even some of the book’s harshest critics acknowledge its impact. “The book had a seminal effect,” Robert A. Lutz, who was a top executive at BMW, Ford Motor, Chrysler and General Motors, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t like Ralph Nader and I didn’t like the book, but there was definitely a role for government in automotive safety.”

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Saturday 1st January 1966

51 years ago

Viewers of the Rose Bowl were first introduced to the new "Leader of the Dodge Rebellion", the 1966 Dodge Charger. The Charger's introduction coincided with the introduction of the new street version of the 426 Hemi (7.0 L). Designed by Carl "CAM" Cameron, the Dodge Charger introduced a fastback roofline and a pot-metal "electric shaver" grille. The grille used fully rotating headlights (180 degree) that when opened or closed made the grille look like one-piece unit. Hidden headlamps were a feature not seen on a Chrysler product since the 1942 DeSoto. In the rear of the new Dodge, the fastback design ended over a full-width six-lamp taillight that featured chromed "CHARGER" lettering. Inside, the standard Charger featured a simulated wood-grain steering wheel, four individual bucket seats with a full length console from front to rear. The rear seats and rear center armrest pad also folded forward while the trunk divider dropped back, which allowed for generous cargo room.[9] Numerous interior features were exclusive to the Charger including door panels, courtesy lights, as well as premium trim and vinyl upholstery. The instrument panel did not use regular bulbs to light the gauges, but rather electroluminescence lit the four chrome-ringed circular dash pods, needles, radio, shifter-position indicator in the console, as well as clock and air conditioning controls if equipped. The dash housed a 0 to 6000 rpm tachometer, a 0 to 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer, as well as alternator, fuel, and temperature gauges as standard equipment. Engine selections consisted of only V8s, though a straight-six engine became standard by 1968. 1966 transmissions included a three-speed steering-column mounted manual with the base engine, a console mounted four-speed manual, or three-speed automatic. In 1966, four engines were offered: the base-model 318 cu in (5.2 L) 2-barrel, the 361 cu in (5.9 L) 2-barrel, the 383 cu in (6.3 L) 4-barrel, and the new 426 Street Hemi. Only 468 Chargers were built with the 426. Total production in 1966 came to 37,344 units for the mid-model year introduction. In 1966, Dodge took the Charger into NASCAR in hopes that the fastback would make their car a winner on the high-banks. However the car proved difficult to handle on the faster tracks because its body generated lift. Drivers would later claim that "it was like driving on ice." To solve this problem Dodge installed a small lip spoiler on the trunk lid that improved traction at speeds above 150 mph (240 km/h). This was made a dealer-installed option in late-1966 and in 1967 because of NASCAR rules (with small quarter panel extensions in 1967). The 1966 Charger was the first U.S. production vehicle to offer a spoiler. David Pearson, driving a #6 Cotton Owens-prepared Charger, went on to win the NASCAR Grand National championship in 1966 with 14 first-place finishes.

1966 Dodge Charger advert

1966 Dodge Charger advert

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Friday 28th January 1966

51 years ago

The 27-month public testing program of the semi-production Chrysler Turbine Cars concluded.

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Saturday 19th February 1966

51 years ago

Introductions at the Chicago Auto Show included the Chevrolet Caribe and Concours, the Ford Magic Cruiser, the Chrysler 300-X research car and the Dodge Charger, which was easy to spot with its long fastback body. Dodge also displayed the Coronet 500, which was equipped with a V8 engine and only available as a convertible or hardtop coupe. Also that year, Chevelles ranked high on the wish lists of muscle car fans. Visitors couldn't get enough of the models on display fitted with Super Sport (SS) trim, and a massive 6.5 litre V8 engine, packing 325 horsepower.

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Tuesday 12th April 1966

51 years ago

Sydney Allard (55), who won both the Monte Carlo rally and achieved a podium finish at the Le Mans 24 hours race on his first attempt, in cars bearing his own nam, died. Educated at Ardingly College in Sussex. Allard commenced racing in 1929 with a Morgan three-wheeler, later converted to four wheels, which he ran at Brooklands and in early trial events. In 1935 he won his class for unlimited unsupercharged sports cars, at the Brighton Speed Trials in the first of his Ford V-8 engined speciaIs. Further competition success ensured that the Allard Special was put into limited production with Ford V8 and Lincoln V12 motors. In 1937 Allard attempted to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland, in his Allard Special. The car overturned and rolled, but Allard emerged with only bruising. That year, Allard, with Ken Hutchison and Guy Warburton in the ‘Tailwaggers’ Allard-Specials team, competed successfully in trials, sprints, rallies and races.On July 15, 1939, Allard took a class win at the Lewes Speed Trials in a time of 22.12 secs. Allard won the last speed event to be held in England prior to World War Two. Having set the fastest time at the Horndean Speed Trials, his car overturned past the finish line. Both he and his passenger, Bill Boddy, were thrown clear and uninjured. During World War Two Sydney Allard operated a large repair shop fixing army vehicles, including Ford trucks and Jeeps. In 1943 he had 225 employees and was renovating more than 30 vehicles a week. At the end of the war Sydney soon returned to competition, taking part in the Filton Speed Trials on October 28, 1945. He restarted his car company, coping with petrol rationing, material shortages and export quotas. Allard won the 1949 British Hill Climb Championship at the wheel of the Steyr-Allard, fitted with a war surplus air-cooled V8 engine. He was third in the Championship in 1947 and 1948, winning in 1949, second in 1950, and third again in 1951. In 1949, Allard cars won the team prize in the Monte Carlo Rally (L. Potter 4th overall, A.A.C. Godsall 8th, A.G. Imhof 11th) with Sydney Allard finishing in 24th place. In 1950, Allard finished eighth in the Monte Carlo Rally, then raced in the Targa Florio in Sicily where his J2 Allard caught fire after losing control over a railway crossing. He bounced back with a third place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year, again in the J2 Allard, partnered with Tom Cole. A gearbox failure left Allard and Cole driving for hours with top gear only. Allard’s determination and fearless driving captured the imagination of the huge crowd. Sydney then achieved international recognition by winning the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally in an Allard P1, with co-driver Guy Warburton and navigator Tom Lush. Starting from Glasgow he narrowly defeated Stirling Moss, in a Sunbeam-Talbot 90, who finished second overall while competing in his first rally. The P1 was powered by a 4,375 c.c. Ford V8 side-valve motor. Mrs. Eleanor Allard, Sydney’s wife, also competed in this event, accompanied by her sisters Edna and Hilda, but retired. Allard competed again in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1951, 1952 and 1953 but did not finish. In 1952 he and Jack Fairman drove the works J2X, chassis number 3055, fitted with a Chrysler hemi engine, where the car retired at 6.30 a.m. In 1953 he shared a Cadillac-engined Allard JR with Philip Fotheringham-Parker, leading the race at the end of the first lap, but on lap four he was the first to retire when the quick-change differential chassis mounting fractured, causing damage to a rear brake pipe. In 1952 and 1953, a sister car was driven at Le Mans by Zora Arkus-Duntov, a one-time Allard employee. Carroll Shelby also raced an Allard-Cadillac J2 in the United States early in his driving career. Thus the successful Allard formula of an American V8 engine in a light chassis inspired the development of the Chevrolet Corvette and the A.C. Shelby Cobra. In the 1960’s, Sydney Allard continued to compete in rallies mostly accompanied by Australian navigator Tom Fisk. They won their class in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally in a Ford Allardette. Starting from Glasgow they reached Monte Carlo unpenalised. In the 1964 Monte Allard hit a level-crossing in Czechoslovakia in his Ford Cortina and retired. Sydney’s final outing in the Monte Carlo Rally came in 1965. In 1961 Sydney Allard, (considered by many to be the father of British drag racing), built the Allard dragster. Constructed in 23 weeks between January and June 1961, in a small workshop directly beneath Sydney’s office at the Allard main works on Clapham High Street, the car featured a 354-cubic inch Chrysler motor with front-mounted 6-71 GMC supercharger. The car was then invited to appear over the standing start quarter mile at an N.S.A. record meeting at Wellesbourne Aerodrome, near Stratford-Upon-Avon, on October 14, 1961. Denis Jenkinson writing in Motor Sport said: “Sydney Allard pointed the sleek blue dragster down the quarter-mile, let in the clutch, opened up and with a sound like a large bomber going down the runway disappeared through the timing traps in 10.841 sec”. Sadly few spectators witnessed this achievement. According to Jenkinson: “Allard’s temperamental machine eventually did 10.48 sec on its best run,” for the standing-start quarter mile, which took place at Debden, Essex on April 14, 1962. At the time, this was the fastest quarter-mile time ever recorded in the U.K. He passed away at his home, Black Hills, Esher, Surrey on April 12, 1966, the day after the opening of Santa Pod, the first purpose-built dragstrip in England. Fittingly, it was one of the biggest events to date for drag racing in England and several Allard Dragons were in competition that day.

Sydney Allard

Sydney Allard

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Tuesday 11th October 1966

50 years ago

Jensen presented its latest models, the FF and Interceptor. The Jensen Interceptor was one of the biggest and best British GTs ever built. In 1966 it catapulted Jensen into the upper echelons of the supercar manufacturers. The Interceptor was styled by Touring of Milan and, initially, the bodies were built by Vignale in Italy before Jensen switched production to the UK. The standard car’s most distinctive feature was a curved glass hatchback - and its most distinctive sound was the rumble that came from its exhaust tailpipes. The Interceptor Convertible was launched alongside - and despite losing that hatchback, it was still a very stylish machine. It was conceived as a flagship to boost Jensen sales in the USA, and the convertible was mechanically the same as the coupe – the 7212cc Chrysler V8 with TorqueFlite automatic transmission – but changes to the body included strengthening around the sills and the windscreen pillars. But technical star of the range was the Jensen FF. It was the world’s first performance car with permanent four-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes - a proto-Audi quattro, if you like. It was closely related to the Interceptor, but had a longer wheelbase, twin vents in the front wings and a bonnet scoop. FF stood for Ferguson Formula, the tractor company behind the all-wheel drive system, while the ABS was by Dunlop. For those who thought the standard Interceptor wasn't quite powerful enough, the 1971 Jensen SP was just what the doctor ordered. ‘SP’ stood for ‘Six-Pack’ and denoted that these Jensen Interceptors sported three twin-barrel Holley carburettors in a ‘six-pack’ configuration. The designation also hinted at a macho and hairy-chested nature, for the SP was the most powerful Jensen ever built. That 7212cc powerhouses peaked at 385bhp, which meant a speed of 150mph. But it faded out in the wake of the 1973 enegy crisis, with the rest of the Interceptors dying out by 1976. Production has continued ever since in fits and starts

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Wednesday 19th October 1966

50 years ago

The London Motor Show opened with each end of the motoring spectrum exhibited. The best of British luxury car manufacturing was represented by the 6 cylinder Jaguar 420 (£1,930), 420G (£2,238) and their sister model the Daimler Sovereign (£2,121). The Jensen Interceptor (£3,743) was launched to replace the C-V8; the first Jensen to use steel, rather than fibreglass, panels, but again used a Chrysler 6.2-litre V8. Reliant stayed with fibreglass, however, with its revised Scimitar, a more affordable £1,516 despite a new Ford-sourced 3.0-litre V6. Cheaper yet was the Triumph GT6 (£985), a Spitfire-based coupe and the Vitesse's six-cylinder, 95bhp 2.0-litre engine. More practical family cars were also present, too. The Mk 2 Ford Cortina was set to emulate the runaway success of its predecessor and visitors were impressed by the German Taunus engined Ford Zephyr V4, costing just £949. This engine also made its debut in a quirky Swedish import - the Saab 96 V4, Saab's first four-stroke car (£801). With prices from just over £800, the Hillman Hunter, launched to replace the old Super Minx and a sister model to the latest Singer Vogue, promising 90mph and 30mpg, also on display. The twin-carburettor version of the 2000, the Rover 2000TC, previously only made for export, perhaps stole the show. This £1,415, 114bhp sports saloon was capable of 112mph and 0-60mph in 11.5 seconds.

Playboy bunnies on the Aston Martin stand at the 1966 London Motor Show

Playboy bunnies on the Aston Martin stand at the 1966 London Motor Show

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Wednesday 9th November 1966

50 years ago

Rootes introduced the £838 Hillman Hunter. In its 13-year production run, its UK market contemporaries included the Ford Cortina, Morris Marina and Vauxhall Victor. The Hunter was rebadged as Chrysler from 1967 until Chrysler sold its European division to Peugeot, whereupon Hunter production was shelved.

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Monday 19th December 1966

50 years ago

Two Sunbeam Tiger Mk II production prototypes were completed. The Tiger was introduced to American buyers in 1964, and launched in the UK the following year. The first 6,155 cars, built between 1964 and 1966, were powered by the 260; they were followed by just 534 examples of the Mk II, which used Ford's 289cu in (4727cc) V8 engine pushing out 200bhp; giving it a top speed rose to 125mph. Who knows how long Tiger production might have continued if Rootes Group, which produced the Sunbeam, had not come under the control of Chrysler in 1967. Selling a car powered by a competitor's engine was impossible, and no Mopar V-8 was judged suitable for the task. And so, the Tiger was retired.

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Tuesday 17th January 1967

50 years ago

Technology Minister, Tony Wedgewood-Benn stated in the House of Commons that the US car manufacturer Chrysler would be allowed to take-over the Rootes Group.

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Monday 11th September 1967

50 years ago

Peter Monteverdi introduced his first automobile, the Monteverdi 375 S High Speed, at the Frankfurt Automobile Show. The car used a heavy and simple steel frame provided by Stahlbau Muttenz GmbH with an aluminium body designed by Pietro Frua. It looked quite similar to other Frua creations of that time, particularly the Maserati Mistral Coupé and the British AC 428. There are rumours that all the three shared some details like windows etc. The elegant looking car was powered by a 440c.i. (7.2 Litre) Chrysler V8 engine delivering up to 375 bhp (according to SAE standards) and had a luxurious interior finished to the highest standards. Eleven copies of the Frua-designed Monteverdi coupé were built from 1968 to 1969, then the alliance of Monteverdi and Frua split in anger. Not long before, Frua had built two 2+2 coupés with a stretched wheelbase. One of them was presented as Monteverdi 375/L, the other one stayed for some years at Frua before, in 1971, it was slightly modified and sold to AC where it was presented as a one-off AC 428.

Monteverdi 375 S High Speed

Monteverdi 375 S High Speed

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Tuesday 17th December 1968

48 years ago

The London-Sydney Rally which had started from the Crystal Palace racing circuit in London at 2pm on Sunday, November 24th 1968, finished at Warwick Farm (an outer Sydney suburb), in Australia. Roger Clark established an early lead through the first genuinely treacherous leg, from Sivas to Erzincan in Turkey, averaging almost 60 mph in his Lotus Cortina for the 170 mile stage. Despite losing time in Pakistan and India, he maintained his lead to the end of the Asian section in Bombay, with Simo Lampinen's Ford Taunus second and Lucien Bianchi's DS21 in third. However, once into Australia, Clark suffered several setbacks. A piston failure dropped him to third, and would have cost him a finish had he not been able to cannibalise fellow Ford Motor Company driver Eric Jackson's car for parts. After repairs were effected, he suffered what should have been a terminal rear differential failure. Encountering a Cortina by the roadside, he persuaded the initially reluctant owner to sell his rear axle and resumed once more, although at the cost of 80 minutes' delay while it was replaced. This left Lucien Bianchi and co-driver Jean-Claude Ogier in the lead ahead of Gilbert Staepelaere/Simo Lampinen in the German Ford Taunus, with Andrew Cowan in the Hillman Hunter 3rd. Then Staepelaere's Taunus broke down leaving Cowan in second position and Paddy Hopkirk's Austin 1800 in third place. Approaching the Nowra checkpoint at the end of the penultimate stage with only 98 miles to Sydney, the Frenchmen were involved in a head-on collision which wrecked their Citroën and hospitalised the pair. Hopkirk, the first driver on the scene (ahead of Cowan on the road, but behind on penalties), gave up any chance of victory when he stopped to tend to the injured and extinguish the flames in the burning cars. That left Andrew Cowan, who had requested "a car to come last" from the Chrysler factory on the assumption that only half a dozen drivers would even reach Sydney, to take an unexpected victory in his Hillman Hunter and claim the £10,000 prize. Hopkirk finished second, while Australian Ian Vaughan was third in a factory-entered Ford XT Falcon GT. Ford Australia won the Teams' Prize with their three Falcons GTs, placing 3rd, 6th and 8th.

The banner for the original London-Sydney Marathon

The banner for the original London-Sydney Marathon

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Thursday 8th January 1970

47 years ago

John J Riccardo was elected President of the Chrysler Corporation.

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Friday 3rd July 1970

47 years ago

The last Volvo Amazon was produced. When introduced in 1950, the car was named the Amason (with an 's'), deriving from the fierce female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazons. German motorcycle manufacturer Kreidler had already registered the name, and the two companies finally agreed that Volvo could only use the name domestically (i.e., within Sweden), modifying the spelling to Amazon. Subsequently, Volvo began its tri-digit nomenclature and the line became known as the 120 Series. The Amazon was originally manufactured at Volvo's Lundby plant in Gothenburg and subsequently at the company's Torslandaverken plant,[5] which began operating in 1964. By the end of production, 234,653 four-door models, 359,917 two-door models and 73,220 station wagons had been produced, of which 60% were exported; for a total of 667,791 vehicles. The Amazon sedan's ponton genre, three-box styling was inspired by US cars of the early 1950s, strongly resembling the Chrysler New Yorker sedan and the Chrysler 300C hardtop Coupe. According to designer Jan Wilsgaard, the Amazon's styling was inspired by a Kaiser he saw at the Gothenburg harbour. The Amazon featured strong articulation front to rear, pronounced "shoulders", and slight but visible tailfins. These features became inspiration for Peter Horbury when reconceiving Volvo's design direction with the V70 after decades of rectilinear, slab-sided, boxy designs.The Amazon's bodywork was constructed of phosphate-treated steel (to improve paint adhesion) and with heavy use of undercoating and anti-corrosive oil treatment.Original specifications for the Amazon included the new Volvo B16 engine, a 3-speed manual gearbox (H6) and rear-wheel drive. In 1958 the sport model, Amazon Sport, was released and later the same year the Amazon became the first series produced car with a three-point safety belt in the front seats as standard. In 1962, Volvo introduced a two-door version, a five-door wagon, and the new B18 engine, deleting two-tone paint and upholstery. In 1965 the Amazon color-coordinated embossed vinyl upholstery and door panels became available. The new gearbox selections were the three-speed M30 (briefly offered with an automatic electric clutch), the four-speed M40 and the M41 with four-speed and overdrive. The M31 gearbox was also introduced in 1961 but was only available that year (a three-speed fully synchronized gearbox with overdrive on both second and third direct gears). Gearbox options on the 121 were the M30, M31 and M40 while gearbox options on the 122S were the M40 and M41 gearboxes. In 1964 the Borg-Warner BW35 three-speed automatic transmission also became available on the four-door and two-door.The station wagon (estate) version was introduced at the 1962 Stockholm Auto Show, and Volvo manufactured 73,000 examples between 1962 and 1969. The Amazon estate featured a two-piece tailgate, with the lower section folding down to provide a load surface and the upper section that hinged overhead. The vehicle's rear license plate, attached to the lower tailgate, could fold "up" such that when the tailgate was lowered and the vehicle in use, the license plate was still visible. This idea was used by the original 1959 Mini. In recent years a similar arrangement was used on the tailgate of the Subaru Baja. The Amazon platform was used as the basis for the P1800 and 1800ES.

Volvo Amazon

Volvo Amazon

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Thursday 10th December 1970

46 years ago

Lee Iacocca became president of Ford Motor Company. Iacocca joined Ford as an engineer in the 1940s, but quickly moved into marketing, where he gained influence quickly as a supporter of the Ford Mustang. Iacocca was eventually ousted from Ford in 1978. He went on to become president of the struggling Chrysler Corporation, which was saddled with an inventory of gas-guzzling road-yachts, just as the fuel shortage began. Iacocca made history by talking the government into offering Chrysler $1.5 billion in loans. The bailout worked, with the help of Iacocca's streamlining measures. Chrysler recorded record profits in 1984.

Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca

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Saturday 12th June 1971

46 years ago

The last Lincoln Continental Mark III was produced. The 1969 Mark III was created when Lee Iacocca, president of Ford Motor Company at the time, directed Design Vice President, Gene Bordinat, to "put a Rolls Royce grille on a Thunderbird" in September 1965. The Mark III was based on the fourth generation Lincoln Continental (1961-1969) and the four-door fifth generation Thunderbird introduced for 1967. With the Thunderbird "dying in the marketplace" Iacocca wanted to put the company's development investment to better use by expanding its platform over several models. The Mark III was intended to compete head-to-head with the top of the domestic personal luxury car market, Cadillac's heavily redesigned front wheel drive Eldorado. This placed it above the second tier premium personal luxury cars such as the Ford Thunderbird, Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Toronado. As the Eldorado was built upon the Toronado frame, the Mark III's was based off the Thunderbird's. While the side-rail frame was identical to the Thunderbird's, the Mark III bore almost 300 lb (140 kg) more bodywork. Power was adequate from Lincoln's Ford 385 engine-based 460 cu in (7.5 l) 365 bhp (272 kW) V8. Introduced in April 1968 as an early 1969 model, the model was a remarkable commercial success because it combined the high unit revenue of a luxury model with the low development costs and fixed cost–amortizing utility of platform-sharing, in a car that was appealing enough to buyers that many units were sold. Iacocca said, "We brought out the Mark III in April 1968, and in its very first year it outsold the Cadillac Eldorado, which had been our long-range goal. For the next five years [Marks III and IV] we had a field day, in part because the car had been developed on the cheap. We did the whole thing for $30 million, a bargain-basement price, because we were able to use existing parts and designs." Iacocca explained that this transformed the Lincoln-Mercury Division from losing money on every luxury car (via low unit sales on high fixed costs) to a profit center, making the new Mark series as big a success as any he ever had in his career—a remarkable statement from an executive who led the programs for the original Ford Mustang and the Chrysler minivan family. Iacocca explained of the Mark series, "The Mark is [in 1984] Ford's biggest moneymaker, just as Cadillac is for General Motors. It's the Alfred Sloan theory: you have to have something for everybody [...] you always need a poor man's car [...] but then you need upscale cars, too, because you never know when the blue-collar guy is going to be laid off. It seems that in the United States the one thing you can count on is that even during a depression, the rich get richer. So you always have to have some goodies for them." The 1969 Continental Mark III was a spiritual successor of the limited-production, ultra-luxurious Continental Mark II produced by a short-lived Continental division of Ford Motor Company between in 1956 and 1957. The new Mark III was actually not the first model to use the designation, which had been used on a 1958-1960 Continental Mark III. Large and extremely extravagant even for its time, it did not sell as well as the iconic "tail-fin" Cadillacs it competed against. The new Mark III was built at the enlarged facility at the Wixom, Michigan assembly plant, home to subsequent generations of the model. In style, the Mark III was squarer and more upright than the Thunderbird, highlighted by an unashamedly rip-off Rolls-Royce style grill flanked by hidden headlights, with an ersatz Mark II spare tire bulge on on the rear.

Lincoln Continental Mark III brochure

Lincoln Continental Mark III brochure

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Saturday 31st July 1971

46 years ago

Abarth & Co. the racing car and car maker founded by Carlo Abarth of Turin in 1949, was sold to Fiat. The acquisition was only made public by Fiat with a press release on 15 October. Under Fiat ownership, Abarth became the Fiat Group's racing department, managed by engine designer Aurelio Lampredi.[11] Abarth prepared Fiat's rally cars, including the Fiat 124 Abarth Rally and 131 Abarth. In December 1977, in advance of the 1978 racing season, the beforehand competing Abarth and Squadra Corse Lancia factory racing operations were merged by Fiat into a single entity named EASA (Ente per l'Attività Sportiva Automobilistica, Organization for Car Sports Racing Activities).[17] Cesare Fiorio (previously in charge of the Lancia rally team) was appointed director, while Daniele Audetto was sporting director; the EASA headquarters were set up in Abarth's Corso Marche (Turin) offices. The combined racing department developed the Lancia Beta Montecarlo Turbo Group 5 racing car (1980 and 1981 World Sportscar Championship winner) and the Lancia Rally 037 Group B rally car (which won for Lancia the 1983 World Manufacturers' Championship). On 1 October 1981, Abarth & C. ceased to exist and was replaced by Fiat Auto Gestione Sportiva, a division of the parent company specialized in the management of racing programmes that would remain in operation through to the end of 1999, when it changed to Fiat Auto Corse S.p.A. Some commercial models built by Fiat or its subsidiaries Lancia and Autobianchi were co-branded Abarth, including the Autobianchi A112 Abarth, a popular "boy racer" because it was lightweight and inexpensive. In the 1980s Abarth name was mainly used to mark performance cars, such as the Fiat Ritmo Abarth 125/130 TC. In 2000s, Fiat used the Abarth brand to designate a trim/model level, as in the Fiat Stilo Abarth. On 1 February 2007 Abarth was re-established as an independent unit with the launch of the current company, Abarth & C. S.p.a.,controlled 100% by Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A., the subsidiary of Fiat S.p.A. dealing with the production and selling of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The first model launched was the Abarth Grande Punto and the Abarth Grande Punto S2000. The brand is based in the Officine 83, part of the old Mirafiori engineering plant.[19] The CEO is Harald Wester. In 2015 Abarth's parent company was renamed FCA Italy S.p.A., reflecting the incorporation of Fiat S.p.A. into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that took place in the previous months.

Carlo Abarth and Company

Carlo Abarth and Company

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Tuesday 21st December 1971

45 years ago

Carl Breer (87), one of the core engineering people along with Fred M. Zeder and Owen Skelton that formed the present day Chrysler Corporation, died.

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Saturday 7th October 1972

44 years ago

Dennis Priddle driving his 6424 cc supercharged Chrysler dragster developing 1700 bhp using nitromethane and methanol achieved a world record for two runs in opposite directions over 440 yards, from a standing start of 6.70 seconds, at Elvington Airfield, North Yorkshire.

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Saturday 22nd December 1973

43 years ago

Stylist Virgil M Exner Sr (64) an automobile designer for numerous Americancompanies, notably Chrysler and Studebaker, died in Michigan, US. He is known for his "Forward Look" design on the 1955-1963 Chrysler products and his fondness of fins on cars for bothaesthetic and aerodynamic reasons.

Virgil M. Exner photographed on the Ghia stand at the 1956 Turin Motor Show

Virgil M. Exner photographed on the Ghia stand at the 1956 Turin Motor Show

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Sunday 12th January 1975

42 years ago

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Minnesota Vikings (16-6) in the Superbowl in New Orleans. Bob McCurry of Chrysler Corporation introduced the auto rebate in a 1975 Superbowl commercial.

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Thursday 12th June 1975

42 years ago

Production of the Chrysler Imperial came to an end. Imperial was the Chrysler Corporation's luxury automobile brand between 1955 and 1975, with a brief reappearance in 1981 to 1983, and a second reapearance from 1990-1993. The Imperial name had been used since 1926, but was never a separate make, just the top-of-the-line Chrysler. However, in 1955, the company decided to spin Imperial off as its own make and division to better compete with its North American rivals, Lincoln and Cadillac, and European luxury sedans such as the Mercedes-Benz 300 Adenauer and the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.[1][2][3] Imperial would see new body styles introduced every two to three years, all with V8 engines and automatic transmissions, as well as technologies that would filter down to Chrysler corporation's other models.

Chrysler Imperial

Chrysler Imperial

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Wednesday 21st April 1976

41 years ago

A Cadillac convertible, the ‘last’ American-made soft-top car, rolled off the assembly line at GM’s Cadillac production facility in Detroit, ending a tradition that began in 1916. However, just a few years later, Chrysler Corporation, under chairman Lee Iacocca, began production once again of soft-top cars. Then Ford brought back the convertible Mustang and GM responded with the convertible Pontiac Sunbird and a new, smaller Cadillac version.

"Last" American Made Convertible

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Tuesday 17th August 1976

41 years ago

Jensen Motors Ltd ceased trading after 42 years..The marque began as a small coachbuilding firm run by brothers Richard and Alan Jensen; they bought out the body works of W.J. Smiths & Sons where they worked after the owner's death and renamed it Jensen Motors in 1934. They built exclusive customised bodies for standard cars produced by several manufacturers of the day including Morris, Singer, Standard, and Wolseley. In 1934 they were commissioned by American film actor Clark Gable to design and build a car for him based on a Ford V-8 chassis.The resultant car won them much acclaim and stimulated huge interest in their work including a deal with Ford to produce a run of Jensen-Fords with Jensen bodywork with a Ford chassis and engine. In 1934 they also started to design their first true production car under the name White Lady. This evolved into the Jensen S-type which went into production in 1935. In the late 1930s Jensen diversified into the production of commercial vehicles under the marque JNSN, including the manufacture of a series of innovotive lightweight trucks, built with aluminium alloys, for the Reynolds Tube Company and the prototype for the articulated Jen-Tug which went into production in the late 1940s.During World War II Jensen concentrated on the war effort and produced components for military vehicles including the turrets for tanks, and on the production of specialised ambulances and fire-engines. After the war production of the Jen-Tug thrived and Jensen also produced a new range of JNSN lightweight diesel trucks and chassis which were used for a variety of vehicles including pantechnicons and buses. A handful of Jensen buses and coaches were produced for independent operators into the 1950s, with Perkins diesel engines, David Brown gearboxes, and bodywork by a variety of bodybuilders of the time, which had the distinctive large JNSN marque cut into the sheet metal on the front of the bus, below the windscreen. In the 1950s Jensen were chosen by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) to build the bodies for the four-wheel-drive Austin Gipsy. In 1958 they built a small number of Tempo minibuses, a German original design, under licence. Production of cars ceased during the war years, but by 1946 a new vehicle was offered, the Jensen PW (a luxury saloon). Few were produced since raw materials were still in short supply. Also in 1946 body designer Eric Neale joined the company from Wolseley and his first project was the more modern coupe which followed in 1950, named the Interceptor, which was built until 1957. In 1955, Jensen started production of Neale's masterpiece, the 541, which used the then-revolutionary material of fiberglass for its bodywork. The 541 was replaced by another Neale design, the CV8 in 1962, which replaced the Austin-sourced straight-6 of the previous cars with a 6 litre American Chrysler V8. This large engine in such a lightweight car made the Jensen one of the fastest four-seaters of the time. For its replacement, the Interceptor (launched in 1966), Jensen turned to the Italian coachbuilder, Carrozzeria Touring, for the body design, and to steel for the material. The bodyshells themselves were built by Vignale of Italy and later by Jensen. The same 383 cu in (6.3 L) Chrysler wedge-head powerplant was used in the earlier cars with the later cars moving to the 440 cu in (7.2 L) in engine. The Interceptor was offered in fastback, convertible and (rare) coupé versions. The fastback was by far the most popular with its large, curving wrap-around rear window that doubled as a tailgate. Related to the Interceptor was another car, the Jensen FF, the letters standing for Ferguson Formula, Ferguson Research being the inventor of the full-time all wheel drive system adopted, the first on a production sports car. Also featured was the Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock braking system in one of the first uses of ABS in a production car. Outwardly, the only differences from the Interceptor were four extra inches of length (all ahead of the windscreen) and a second row of air vents behind the front wheels. The small number of 320 FFs were constructed, and production ceased in 1971.

Jensen C-V8 MK3

Jensen C-V8 MK3

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Friday 3rd September 1976

41 years ago

The Ford Fiesta was formally launched. It was originally developed under the project name "Bobcat" and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127 (although shorter than some other rivals, like the Peugeot 104, Renault 5 and Volkswagen Polo), but with an overall length shorter than that of the Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in December 1973, with Ford's engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta belonged to General Motors when the car was designed, as they had used the name for the Oldsmobile Fiesta in the 1950s; however, it was freely given for Ford to use on their new supermini. Ford's marketing team had preferred the name Bravo, but Henry Ford II vetoed it in favour of the Fiesta name. The motoring press had begun speculating about the existence of the Bobcat project since 1973, but it was not until December 1975 that Ford officially announced it as the Fiesta. A Fiesta was on display at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in the UK in January 1977. Mechanically, the Fiesta followed tradition, with an end-on four-speed manual transmission of the Ford BC-Series mounted to a new version of the Ford Kent OHV engine, dubbed "Valencia" after the brand new Spanish factory in Almussafes, Valencia, developed especially to produce the new car. Ford's plants in Dagenham, England, and Saarlouis and Cologne (from 1979) in Germany, also manufactured Fiestas. To cut costs and speed up the research and development, the new powertrain package destined for the Fiesta was tested in Fiat 127 development "mules". Unlike several rivals, which used torsion bars in their suspension, the Fiesta used coil springs. The front suspension was of Ford's typical "track control arm" arrangement, where MacPherson struts were combined with lower control arms and longitudinal compression links.The standard rear suspension used a beam axle, trailing links and a Panhard rod, whilst an anti-roll bar was included in the sports package. All Mk1 Fiestas featured 12-inch wheels as standard, with disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear.[3] Ford paid particular attention ease of service, and published the times required to replace various common parts.UK sales began in January 1977, where it was available from £1,856 for the basic 950 cc-engined model.[7] It was only the second hatchback mini-car to have been built in the UK at this stage, being launched a year after the Vauxhall Chevette, but a year before the Chrysler Sunbeam and four years before the Austin Metro. The millionth Fiesta was produced in 1979.[1] The car was initially available in Europe with the Valencia 957 cc (58.4 cu in) I4 (high compression and low compression options), and 1,117 cc (68.2 cu in) engines and in Base, Popular, L, GL (1978 onward), Ghia and S trim, as well as a van. The U.S. Mark I Fiesta was built in Saarlouis, Germany but to slightly different specifications; U.S. models were Base, Decor, Sport, and Ghia, the Ghia having the highest level of trim.[8] These trim levels changed very little in the F iesta's three-year run in the USA, from 1978 to 1980. All U.S. models featured the more powerful 1,596 cc (97.4 cu in) engine, (which was the older "Crossflow" version of the Kent, rather than the Valencia) fitted with a catalytic converter and air pump to satisfy strict Californian emission regulations), energy-absorbing bumpers, side-marker lamps, round sealed-beam headlamps, improved crash dynamics and fuel system integrity as well as optional air conditioning (a/c was not available in Europe). In the U.S. market, the Ford Escort replaced both the Fiesta and the compact Pinto in 1981. At the beginning of the British government's Motability scheme for disabled motorists in 1978, the Fiesta was one of the key cars to be available on the scheme. A sporting derivative (1.3 L Supersport) was offered in Europe for the 1980 model year, using the 1.3 L (79 cu in) Kent Crossflow engine, effectively to test the market for the similar XR2 introduced a year later, which featured a 1.6 L version of the same engine. Black plastic trim was added to the exterior and interior. The small square headlights were replaced with larger circular ones resulting in the front indicators being moved into the bumper to accommodate the change. With a quoted performance of 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 9.3 seconds and 105 mph (169 km/h) top speed, the XR2 hot hatch became a cult car beloved of boy racers throughout the 1980s. For the 1979 auto show season, Ford in conjunction with its Ghia Operations in Turin, Italy, produced the Ford Fiesta Tuareg off-road car. It was touted in press materials as "a concept vehicle designed and equipped for practical, off-road recreational use." Minor revisions appeared across the range in late 1981, with larger bumpers to meet crash worthiness regulations and other small improvements in a bid to maintain showroom appeal ahead of the forthcoming second generation. In 1978, the Fiesta overtook the Vauxhall Chevette as Britain's best-selling supermini, but in 1981 it was knocked off the top spot by British Leyland's Austin Metro and was still in second place at the end of 1982. The Fiesta has sold over 16 million units over 6 generations making it one of the best selling Ford marques behind the Escort and the F-Series.

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Wednesday 15th September 1976

41 years ago

Volkswagen AG purchased Chrysler Corporation's assembly plant in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, US.

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Thursday 17th March 1977

40 years ago

The Lamborghini Cheetah – Lamborghini’s first attempt at an off-road vehicle that wasn’t a tractor was presented at the ’77 Geneva Motor Show. It was built on contract from Mobility Technology International (MTI), which in turn was contracted by the US military to design and build a new all-terrain vehicle. The basis of the design came from MTI, and was largely a copy of FMC's XR311 prototype developed for the military in 1970. This resulted in legal action from FMC against MTI and Lamborghini in 1977. The Cheetah was built in San Jose, California. After initial construction, the prototype was sent to Sant'Agata so Lamborghini could put on the finishing touches. They decided to go with a large, waterproofed 180 bhp 5.9L Chrysler engine, rear mounted, with a 3 speed automatic transmission. The body was fiberglass, and inside there was enough room for four fully equipped soldiers as well as the driver. The mounting of the engine in the rear gave the Cheetah very poor handling characteristics, and the engine choice was not powerful enough to be adequate for the heavy vehicle (2,042 kilograms (4,502 lb)), resulting in overall poor performance. The only finished prototype was never tested by the US military, only demonstrated to them by its designer, Rodney Pharis. It was later sold to Teledyne Continental Motors by MTI and is apparently still in the US. In the end, the military contract was awarded to AM General and their similar looking Humvee. The failure of the Cheetah project, along with Lamborghini financial problems, led to the cancellation of a contract from BMW to develop their M1 sports car.

Lamboughini Cheetah

Lamboughini Cheetah

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Monday 12th December 1977

39 years ago

Chrysler Europe announced its new Horizon range of five-door front-wheel drive hatchbacks, to be built in Britain as a Chrysler and France as a Simca. It gave buyers a more modern alternative to the Avenger range of rear-wheel drive saloons and estates.

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Saturday 25th February 1978

39 years ago

Visitors to the Chicago Auto Show flocked to see the Mercedes-Benz C-111 sport coupe equipped with a turbocharged 5 cylinder diesel engine, that set three world records, averaging 156.5 mph for 10,000 miles. Additionally that year, Oldsmobile offered its Starfire Firenza, Holiday 88 coupe and sport-painted Cutlass Supreme. Buick showed a 75th anniversary Riviera, and Chrysler introduced its subcompact front-drive Dodge Omni/Plymouth Horizon. Dodge used a pair of space-suited presenters from the imaginary planet "Omni" to promote the car. Concept cars on show included the American Motors Crown Pacer, American Motors Gremlin GT, Chevrolet Black Sterling. Dodge Big Red and Ford Corrida by Ghia.

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Thursday 2nd November 1978

38 years ago

Lee Iacoccoa joined Chrysler Corporation as President and Chief Executive Officer.

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Tuesday 9th January 1979

38 years ago

Just 33 months after its launch, the millionth Ford Fiesta was built at Ford's Cologne (Germany) facility, breaking all previous European production records. The Fiesta was originally developed under the project name "Bobcat" (not to be confused with the subsequent rebadged Mercury variant of the Ford Pinto) and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972, just after the launch of two comparable cars – the Fiat 127 and Renault 5. The Fiesta was an all new car in the supermini segment, and was the smallest car made by Ford. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127, but with overall length shorter than that of Ford's Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in late 1973, with Ford's engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta (meaning "party" in Spanish) belonged to General Motors, used as a trim level on Oldsmobile estate models, when the car was designed and was freely given for Ford to use on their new B-class car. After years of speculation by the motoring press about Ford's new car, it was subject to a succession of carefully crafted press leaks from the end of 1975. A Fiesta was on display at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in January 1977. Its initial competitors in Europe, apart from the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, included the Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Chevette. Chrysler UK were also about to launch the Sunbeam by this stage, and British Leyland was working on a new supermini which was launched as the Austin Metro in 1980.

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Tuesday 10th July 1979

38 years ago

Peugeot announced the revival of the ‘Talbot’ trade name. They acquired the rights to the name on buying Simca, to market the products of the Chrysler Europe subsidiaries, which it had bought the previous year.

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Friday 7th September 1979

38 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation petitioned the United States government for $1.5 billion in loan guarantees to avoid bankruptcy.

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Thursday 20th September 1979

38 years ago

After being fired from the Ford presidency, Lee Iacocca was elected chairman of the failing Chrysler Corporation. Despite dire predictions, Iacocca succeeded in rebuilding Chrysler through layoffs, cutbacks, hard-selling advertising and a government loan guarantee. Famous for his strong work ethic and no-nonsense style, Iacocca reduced his salary during Chrysler’s crisis years to $1 per year to set an example for the rest of the company. By 1983, Chrysler had moved from the verge of bankruptcy to being a competitive force, paying back all of its government loans in less than 4 years.

Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca

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Thursday 1st November 1979

37 years ago

The US Government loaned Chrysler Corporation $1.5 billion after it had lost $460M in 3rd Quarter.

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Friday 21st December 1979

37 years ago

The U.S. Congress approved $1.5 billion in loans to the financially threatened Chrysler Corporation in an effort to save the battered automotive giant. President Jimmy Carter signed the bill on January 7, 1980. Under the stewardship of Lee Iacocca, Chrysler rebounded quickly. By the late 1980s, the car manufacturer was posting record profits.

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Sunday 6th January 1980

37 years ago

Jimmy Carter signed a bill authorising $1.2 billion in federal loans to save the failing Chrysler Corporation. At the time it was the largest federal bailout in history. The "Big Three" American car makers (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) had suffered through the 1970s, as Japanese competitors led by Honda and Toyota outperformed them in quality and price. Chrysler, which lacked the vast cash reserves of GM and Ford, was brought to the brink of bankruptcy by 1980. The federal bailout, which required Chrysler to find billions in private financing in order to receive the federal money, brought Chrysler back from the brink. Lee Iacocca, the charismatic executive largely responsible for Ford's successful Mustang, joined Chrysler in late 1979, and engineered the company's return to profitability during the 1980s.

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Monday 7th January 1980

37 years ago

President Carter signed the Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act. Financier James Wolfensohn persuaded 400 private lenders to restructure their debt so that a $1 billion loan from the US government could prevent Chrysler from sliding into bankruptcy.

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Saturday 10th May 1980

37 years ago

The United States Secretary of the Treasury G. William Miller announced the approval of nearly $1.5 billion dollars in federal loan guarantees for the nearly bankrupt Chrysler Corporation. At the time, it was the largest rescue package ever granted by the U.S. government to an American corporation.

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Tuesday 13th May 1980

37 years ago

Douglas A. Fraser, president of the UAW, was named to the Chrysler Corporation Board of Directors, becoming the first union representative ever to sit on the board of a major U.S. corporation. Born in 1916 in Glasgow, Scotland, to a Socialist father, Fraser was brought up to the tune of organized labor. He dropped out of high school and began work at a Dodge plant as a metal polisher. Fraser soon moved to the DeSoto plant in Detroit, where he began his career in labor activism. Rising through the ranks of his local UAW chapter, Fraser eventually caught the eye of powerful UAW figure Walter Reuther. Reuther's similar immigrant and Socialist background meant that the two men shared ideas in common. Fraser worked as Reuther's administrative assistant through the groundbreaking years of the 1950s, during which the UAW solidified policies on retirement pensions and medical care for its members. Like Reuther, Fraser believed that to achieve its goals the UAW needed to be willing to make reasonable compromises. It wasn't until 1977 that Fraser was elected president of the UAW. He inherited the title as the automotive industry suffered its greatest recession since the Depression. Fraser is credited with having led the UAW through the uncertain years of the globalization of the automotive industry. As it became evident that the Big Three could build their cars wherever they wanted, Fraser fought to make sure that the union stayed flexible in its negotiations with industry executives. His detractors sometimes accused Fraser of pandering, but those who knew him described him as a stern proponent of international labor causes. His flexibility owed to his desire to keep the union an open-minded and competitive organisation. The New York Times described Fraser as "an extremely tough-minded unionist, like most who rise through the ferocious fighting that can characterise union politics." In 1973, Fraser helped to solidify the industry's "thirty and out" policy. During his presidency, Fraser attempted to address the less tangible hardships facing autoworkers. Gone were the days of unfair hours and dangerous conditions, but the monotony that faced the average autoworker was still a cross to bear. In 1982, Fraser enacted his most daring and visionarymov as UAW president. Faced with Chrysler's imminent collapse, Fraser negotiated away millions of dollars already guaranteed to his union in order to help save a company with valuable jobs. In return, Chrysler traded stock options to the union. The resurgence of Chrysler bore out Fraser's unpopular decision. Respected by his adversaries, Fraser received the unprecedented accolade of being named to Chrysler's board. "His word is enough for us," one Chrysler executive explained. "He gets into plant problems like no other union leader I know." Conceding that his position on Chrysler's board was largely symbolic, Fraser nevertheless strove to bring the issues of the labourer into the boardroom. It is one thing to vote to close a plant on paper and quite another to vote after hearing in detail the hardship the decision will cause. Douglas Fraser was a proud and unselfish leader who must be remembered for maintaining his ideals, even after his prosperity made them unnecessary.

Douglas A. Fraser

Douglas A. Fraser

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Monday 11th August 1980

37 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation revived the Imperial marque after a 5 year lapse as Frank Sinatra drove a 1981 metallic silver coupe off the assembly line in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The Imperial fs was a rare example of automotive history, as it was one of only a handful of regular production cars bearing a celebrity's name. This limited edition Imperial was available only in Glacier Blue Crystal paint - Chrysler advertising claimed it matched the color of Sinatra's eyes - and had special fs (lowercase) external badging, with a large glovebox placard proclaiming "Frank Sinatra Signature Edition". Inside, 16 cassette tapes of Sinatra titles were presented in a specially made Mark Cross leather case. In the center console of the car there was also a special tray for 8 cassettes. 271 fs edition cars were manufactured. The "fs" cost $1,078.

Frank Sinatra in first 1981 Imperial built

Frank Sinatra in first 1981 Imperial built

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Tuesday 17th February 1981

36 years ago

Chrysler Corp reported the largest corporate losses in US history. But the company saw light at the end of its financial tunnel -- from the headlamps of its new K-cars. Developed on a limited budget, the Dodge Aries and the Plymouth Reliant, code-named the "K-cars", enjoyed sales success which Chrysler rode to profitability in 1982.

Dodge Aries (1982)

Dodge Aries (1982)

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Saturday 4th April 1981

36 years ago

The 'last full size Chrysler' was produced as the Chrysler Corporation discontinued the Chrysler New Yorker, Chrysler's Newport, Dodge St Regis, and Plymouth Grand Fury, and permanently closed the Lynch Road plant in Detroit, Michigan, where these cars had been assembled.

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Friday 10th April 1981

36 years ago

Henry Ford II rejected Chrysler Corporation's offer to merge.

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Monday 1st June 1981

36 years ago

Production of Corvettes began at a new plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, US and the facility has remained the exclusive home of the Corvette ever since. Known around the world as America’s sports car, the Corvette exemplifies the definition of innovation. The Corvette is the world’s longest-running, continuously produced passenger car. When the first Corvette rolled off the line over 60 years ago, it was born an icon. GM has continued this reputation for the car with six decades of refinement and innovation, raising the bar for performance cars with each generation. The Corvette Stingray is no exception; man and machine work in harmony to bring to life the perfect balance of technology, design and performance. Corvette didn’t always call Kentucky home, however. In 1953, the first 300 were built by hand in Flint, Michigan, just after General Motors unveiled the Corvette as a “dream car” in the Motorama show in New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The following year, production moved to St. Louis. In June of 1981, Corvette production transferred from St. Louis to Bowling Green, Kentucky. Previously a Chrysler air-conditioning unit factory, the building was completely renovated within 14 months into a modern automotive facility twice the size of the previous structure. At the conclusion of the 1996 production year, the entire plant was gutted to make way for a totally redesigned manufacturing facility for the fifth generation Corvette. Production of the XLR began in June 2003 and ceased on April 30, 2009. The plant built the 1 millionth Corvette on July 2, 1992 and the 1.5 millionth on May 28, 2009. The 50th anniversary of the Corvette was celebrated in June 2003, marked with a special 50th anniversary Corvette package, and the 30th anniversary of Bowling Green Assembly was celebrated in June 2011.

Bowling Green Assembly Plant

Bowling Green Assembly Plant

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Wednesday 26th August 1981

36 years ago

General Motors launched the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2, available for the first time with front-wheel drive and as a hatchback. On its launch, it offered class-leading levels of fuel economy and performance which had previously been unthinkable for this sector of car. Sales began towards the end of September. This model was part of GM's family of compact "J-cars", along with the Ascona, the Australian Holden Camira, the Brazilian Chevrolet Monza, the Japanese Isuzu Aska, and the North American Chevrolet Cavalier, Pontiac Sunbird, Buick Skyhawk, Oldsmobile Firenza, and Cadillac Cimarron. In the UK, the new Cavalier was a huge success and challenged the supremacy of the Ford Cortina as the company car of choice. By 1982, Ford and Vauxhall had an effective two-horse race at the top of this sector on the British market, as sales of the Talbot Alpine (previously a Chrysler until Peugeot took over the European operations of Chrysler) had tailed off by 1981, while British Leyland was winding down production of the Austin Ambassador hatchback and Morris Ital saloon and estate in preparation for the launch of all-new car (which would be sold as the Austin Montego) by 1984. Cavalier sales topped 100,000 in 1982, compared to less than 40,000 the previous year.

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk 2

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Saturday 27th February 1982

35 years ago

The 74th Chicago Auto Show opened to the public. Visitors enjoyed a close look at the sporty Dodge Daytona and Chrysler Laser. Concept vehicles that year included the Buick Questor, Ford Probe IV, Continental Concept 100 and Nissan NRV II research vehicle. Convertibles were coming back into fashion, with rag top models of the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunbird. The Oldsmobile subcompact Firenza also made is debut, and a GM experimental, unnamed economy car, said to achieve 60 mpg. Chevrolet redesigned the Camaro for 1982, while Pontiac undertook comparable action with its Firebird. The new Camaro was nearly 10 inches shorter and 500 pounds lighter, with an all-coil suspension, and for the first time, a standard four-cylinder engine. The compound-curved backlight served as a hatch.

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Saturday 26th February 1983

34 years ago

The 75th anniversary edition of the Chicago Auto Show opened. Chrysler Corporation debuted two sporty models: the Dodge Daytona and related Chrysler Laser. Both models could get a turbocharged engine, but Daytona's would be the consumers' preference. Concept vehicles seen in Chicago shown included the Buick Questor, Ford Probe IV, Continental Concept 100, and Nissan NRV II research vehicle. Convertibles were in fashion once again with Ford's Mustang, Chevrolet's Cavalier, and Pontiac's Sunbird all displayed in ragtops.

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Monday 15th August 1983

34 years ago

Automobile advertising pioneer Ross Roy (85) died in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, US. The Ross Roy Group is still active in the Automobile Advertising Industry, but due to mergers, the Ross Roy name is no longer in use. Roy, a successful automobile salesman, founded his own agency in 1926 in Detroit. His sales record at a Dodge dealership in Janesville, Wis., had attracted the attention of Dodge Brothers Corp. executives, who were impressed by Mr. Roy's use of competitive product information as a sales tool. In 1927, when Chrysler Corp. acquired Dodge Brothers, Ross Roy's sales approach was extended to all Chrysler Corp. dealers. The agency continued to grow with Chrysler, specializing in sales training and merchandising and, during the 1930s, producing education and training films.

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Wednesday 2nd November 1983

33 years ago

A new type of vehicle rolled off an assembly line for the first time; a minivan. The Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Famed automotive exec Lee Iacocca and companion Hal Sperlich designed a vehicle for Ford in the mid 70's but the design was rejected. After moving on to Chrysler the two revised their design and provided it to Chrysler where it became an instant success. Reaching Car & Driver's Top Ten list in its second production year.

Dodge Caravan

Dodge Caravan

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Friday 22nd November 1985

31 years ago

Lee Iacocca, the CEO of the Chrysler Corporation, presided over the largest swearing-in ceremony for new U.S. citizens in American history. At the end of six days of rallies around the country, Iacocca, the son of Italian immigrants himself, lead 38,648 people in a swearing of allegiance to the United States. Iacocca served as president of the Ford Motor Company during the 1970s, and was largely responsible for the extremely profitable Mustang marquee. After a falling out with Henry Ford II in 1978, Iacocca moved to the struggling Chrysler Corporation, and steered the company back to profitability as president and later as CEO. Iacocca was also one of the most charismatic and influential men Detroit had ever known.

Lee Iacocca

Lee Iacocca

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Saturday 1st March 1986

31 years ago

The first Shelby GLH-S, a Dodge-based performance car designed by Carroll Shelby was produced at the Shelby Automobiles Inc., plant in Whittier, California, US. The '1986 Shelby GLH-S' was a modified Dodge Omni GLH, with changes made at the Shelby factory. They were retitled as Shelby Automobiles cars sold at select Dodge dealerships. GLH stood for "Goes Like Hell" and GLHS stood for Goes Like Hell S'more. Just 500 were made. Dash plaques used a 3-digit serial numbering system (as only 500 were made). The Turbo I engine was modified with pre-production pieces from what would become the Turbo II inline-four engine. These changes included an intercooler and other changes to produce 175 hp (130 kW) and a flat 175 ft·lbf (237 N·m) torque curve. Not included were any of the durability changes to the short block (forged crank, full floating pin, stouter connecting rods, etc.) of the 1987 Chrysler Turbo II engine. Luckily, the Shelby engines have proved to be reliable even without the durability enhancements of the production Turbo II. Performance was impressive, with just 6.5 s needed for 0–60 mph (97 km/h) and 14.8 s for the quarter mile (402 m) run. Top speed was 130 mph (209 km/h). Shelby Automobiles received the first T-2 induction pieces (prior to Dodge/Chrysler), and installed them on the 500 GLH cars that shipped to the Whittier factory. Engine mods. included: New T-2 fuel rail, T-2 injectors, wiring harness, larger throttle body, bigger turbo, tuned intake & exhaust manifolds, intercooler/rad. & fan assemblies, induction hoses, T-2 airbox, GLHS specific logic module, CS-Shelby-CS windshield decal, & tape graphics pkg. Interestingly, there was a Dodge emblem left on in production. A black/yellow overlay sticker was placed at the bottom of the speedometer to read to 135 mph (217 km/h). A Momo leather-wrapped shifter knob, Izumi leather-wrapped steering wheel, and shift pattern sticker were also installed. A Use only Mobil 1 in your GLHS plaque was affixed to the front of the standard production valve cover. The primary differences between the Shelby engine and the Chrysler Turbo II engine are the torque: Shelby's unique engine computer shaved the torque to save the stock Omni transaxle, Chrysler Turbo II engines had 200 lb·ft (270 N·m) of torque; the trimetal bearings, forged crank and extra oil passages weren't present; and the wiring harness is a conglomeration of original Turbo I, with splicings for the heated oxygen sensor. All-in-all this was a very formidable car, especially on short tracks. In SCCA Solo competition, it was never allowed a place in the stock categories because it failed to meet the required 1000 unit a year production quota. It also was significantly faster In the quarter mile than the Chevrolet Camaro with the 305 V8, Pontiac's

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Monday 9th March 1987

30 years ago

Lee Iacocca announced that the Chrysler Corporation and Renault had signed an agreement whereby Chrysler would purchase and absorb American Motors.

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Thursday 23rd April 1987

30 years ago

Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, the media reported that Chrysler had paid $25 million for Lamborghini, which at the time was experiencing financial difficulties. Lamborghini was established in 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini (1916-1993), a wealthy Italian industrialist who made his fortune building tractors and air-conditioning systems, among other ventures. Lamborghini owned a variety of sports cars, including Ferraris. According to legend, after experiencing mechanical problems with his Ferraris, he tried to meet with Enzo Ferrari, the carmaker´s founder. When Enzo Ferrari turned him down, Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to build cars that would be even better than Ferrari´s. Lamborghini´s first car, the 350 GTV, a two-seat coupe with a V12 engine, launched in 1963. Chrysler eventually sold it to a Malaysian investment group Mycom Setdco and Indonesian group V'Power Corporation in 1994. In 1998, Mycom Setdco and V'Power sold Lamborghini to the Volkswagen Group where it was placed under the control of the group's Audi division.

Lamborghini 400GT (1964)

Lamborghini 400GT (1964)

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Wednesday 20th May 1987

30 years ago

The American Motors Corporation approved Chrysler Corporation's purchase offer.

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Monday 14th December 1987

29 years ago

The last American Motors-designed Eagle station wagon was produced. The AMC Eagle was a compact-sized four-wheel drive passenger vehicle that was produced by American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 1979. Affordable cars offering a comfortable ride and handling on pavement together with superior traction in light off road use through AMC's innovative engineering and packaging. the AMC Eagle is "today known as the first crossover vehicle." In March 1987, Chrysler Corporation reached an agreement to acquire AMC.

AMC Eagle (1987)

AMC Eagle (1987)

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Monday 19th September 1988

29 years ago

Walter Percy Chrysler jr, who had a brief career in his father's company but is best remembered as the manager of the Chrysler VBuilding in New York City, died.

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Wednesday 1st February 1989

28 years ago

Chrysler Corporation and Hyundai Motor Company signed a marketing agreement whereby Chrysler could offer Hyundai motor cars in the US.

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Friday 22nd September 1989

27 years ago

In a move that sent ripples throughout the automotive world, the Chrysler Corporation sold 50% of its interest in the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. The decision came at a time when most other American automobile manufacturers, including Chrysler's top rivals Ford and General Motors (GM), were eagerly buying up shares of Japanese automobile stock and strengthening ties with Japanese manufacturers. Chrysler claimed that it was taking advantage of a bullish Japanese market at a potential gain of $310 million, but industry pundits speculated that the motive went much deeper. Chrysler's audacious move likely stemmed from disagreements between the two companies over Mitsubishi's U.S. sales and distribution. In many cases, Mitsubishi-made products were being sold under the Chrysler name, often in direct competition with the Mitsubishi marque.

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Saturday 9th February 1991

26 years ago

Mercury showed the Mystique concept minivan, Chrysler displayed a Neon with a two-stroke engine, and Pontiac's ProtoSport 4 "idea car" suggested the possibility of a four-door Firebird. Chevrolet's Monte Carlo predicted the next-generation Lumina, at Chicago Auto Show. People got an early peek at the 1992 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis, as well as the Buick LeSabre, Pontiac Bonneville, and Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight. A brand new, "breaking the mould" model debuted for 1991, the Saturn, a division of General Motors but maintaining a separate identity. Eight years in development, Saturn sold for "no-haggle" prices and soon became known for a customer-friendly buying experience.

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Thursday 5th September 1991

26 years ago

Lee Iococca announced he would retire as Chairman of the Chrysler Corporation at the end of the year.

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Thursday 16th January 1992

25 years ago

William Rootes (74), 2nd Baron Rootes of Ramsbury, Chairman of Chrysler UK 1967-73, died in Hungerford, England. He opened his first car sales agency in 1913, leading to the global Rootes Group. During the Second World War he supervised the volume manufacture of aircraft and engines, as well as the supply of military motor vehicles and armoured fighting vehicles. He was knighted in 1942 for these services and for organising the reconstruction of bomb-damaged Coventry after its saturation bombing by the Luftwaffe on 14–15 November 1940. In the 1950s, he became a leader of Britain's export drive, and chaired a committee to found the University of Warwick with a vision of academic links with industry.

William Rootes

William Rootes

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Monday 16th March 1992

25 years ago

Robert J. Eaton, head of General Motors' profitable European operations, joined Chrysler Corp. as Chairman Lee Iacocca's future successor.

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Friday 20th November 1992

24 years ago

Former Ultravox member Midge Ure was fined £500 and ordered to pay £35 costs by magistrates in King's Lynn, Norfolk, after he admitted driving without due care and attention. The court heard that Ure was involved in a minor accident in Norfolk while driving his Chrysler people carrier to a concert near Fakenham where he was performing.

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Thursday 31st December 1992

24 years ago

Lee Iacocca retired as Chairman of the Chrysler Corporation.

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Tuesday 7th September 1993

24 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation introduced its new Neon at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The sporty compact indicated a new direction for Chrysler and quickly gained fame through its multi-million dollar "Hi" campaign. The slick ads emphasized friendliness - friendly handling, comfortable seats, reliable safety features - punctuated with a simple "Hi. I'm Neon."

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Sunday 2nd January 1994

23 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation introduced the Neon compact car. The Neon, an economy car, quickly became a popular car, particularly among young drivers. It replaced the Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance & Duster models and the Dodge & Plymouth Colt. The two-door model also replaced the Plymouth Laser in Plymouth's lineup. The Neon was offered in multiple versions and configurations over its production life, which ended on September 23, 2005.

Chrysler Neon

Chrysler Neon

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Thursday 27th January 1994

23 years ago

Production of the Ford Windstar began at Oakville (Ontario) Assembly Plant. Its sleek design, front-wheel drive layout, and better car-like handling made it more competitive with similar offerings from Chrysler and GM. The Windstar had beaten the third-generation Chrysler minivans to the market by over a year, which played a crucial role in Ford taking significant market share in the minivan market. Standard features on the Windstar were anti-lock brakes, dual airbags, seven-passenger seating, and a 3.8 L V6 engine, borrowed from the Taurus/Sable. This engine produced 155 hp (116 kW) and 220 lb·ft (298 N·m) of torque. For its inaugural year, the Windstar was available in base GL and high-end LX trim, as well as a cargo version called Cargo Van.

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Saturday 5th February 1994

23 years ago

At the 1994 Chicago Auto Show, Buick used a product presentation theatre to promote the new 1995 Riviera. Ford teased visitors with its Profile concept, said to suggest the coming-soon Contour. Lincoln's Contempra concept foretold the 1995 Continental. As their names suggest, the Dodge Venom and Chrysler Espresso concepts could hardly have been more different. Official debuts in Chicago included the Toyota Avalon, Mercury Mystique, Pontiac Firebird convertible, 1995 Chevrolet Blazer, and 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon. The 1994 Cadillac Northstar engine was guaranteed not to require a tuneup for the first 100,000 miles!

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Thursday 24th March 1994

23 years ago

The Ford Windstar minivan was introduced. Its sleek design, front-wheel drive layout, and better car-like handling made it more competitive with similar offerings from Chrysler and General Motors. The Windstar had beaten the third-generation Chrysler minivans to the market by over a year, which played a crucial role in Ford taking significant market share in the minivan market.

Ford Windstar (first generation)

Ford Windstar (first generation)

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Wednesday 12th April 1995

22 years ago

In a move that stunned the business world, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca made an unsolicited $22.8 billion-dollar bid to buy the nation's third largest automaker; Chrysler responded that it wasn't for sale.

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Thursday 13th July 1995

22 years ago

The Chrysler Corporation opened a car dealership in downtown Hanoi, Vietnam. One week later, Chrysler opened another dealership in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with the intention of marketing 200 import vehicles per year through the two dealerships. The openings were a part of Chrysler's long-term goal of implementing auto production in Vietnam--something that rivals Ford and Toyota were also pursuing at the time. On September 6, Chrysler received permission from the Vietnamese government to assemble vehicles in Vietnam, allowing Chrysler to construct a production facility in Dong Nai Province, Southern Vietnam, with the aim of manufacturing 500 to 1,000 Dodge Dakota pick-up trucks for the Vietnamese market annually. Chrysler Vice President of International Operations Tom Gale stated, "We're taking a very long term view with our program in Vietnam. Southeast Asia is a significant market on our international growth strategy, so it is vital to establish a foothold there now. Since it is a young market, it will take several years before we can produce at capacity level." Chrysler planned to achieve production of 17,000 vehicles annually in three car types: the Neon, the Dakota, and the Jeep Cherokee. Of the significant hang-ups faced by the foreign car companies attempting to set up shop in Vietnam was the Vietnamese government's refusal to give up rice pasture land for the construction of new production facilities. The American car companies also met resistance from some Vietnam veterans groups, but Chrysler held that it would not have gone forward with its move unless it met with the nation's approval. On this issue, Gale said, "By starting business here we feel we're helping the healing process. We have consulted with veterans groups and the U.S. government. Some feel it's time to move on. Many of the veterans groups support American investment in Vietnam as an outlet to increase access to the country."

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Sunday 31st March 1996

21 years ago

Italian Dante Giacosa (91), an automobile designer whose small, economical cars, particularly the popular Fiat 500, helped motorize Italy in the 1950s, died. He was the head of design for Fiat for more than 40 years and managed the creation of some beloved cars, led by the Topolino. Maybe now that Fiat is returning to the U.S. through Chrysler in the form of the Cinquecento, he will be more broadly recognized. Giacosa was born in 1905 and took his studies at the Polytechnic in Turin before arriving at Fiat in 1928, following officer candidate school for the Italian armed services. The monstrous S.p.A. was under control of Giovanni Agnelli, with Cesare Momo as engineering chieftain, but Giacosa's true first boss at Fiat was Carlo Cavalli, a notable character in his own right: Trained as a lawyer, descended from a long line of Italian justices and barristers, but enthralled with engineering first. One of Giacosa's first projects was a highly advanced, multi-articulated road tractor for the military called the Pavesi. Its basic concept (much) later was revisited as the M561 Gamma Goat, evaluated by the U.S. Army during the post-Korea era, at first with Corvair power. That's probably the least-well-remembered vehicle with whose design Giacosa was ever associated. The best is unquestionably the Topolino, which came after he'd worked on Fiat rarities such as the C Cabriolet and the SS sports roadster, along with a record-shattering aero engine. By this time, chronic illness had forced Cavalli's retirement, elevating Giacosa to the post of lead engineer at Fiat. The company's lead product, at that time, was the 508 sedan, known widely as the Balilla. Italy was in the grip of Fascism by then, the early Thirties. Rome decreed that Fiat should build a new, miniature car, its price set at 5,000 lire, less than half the cost of a new Balilla. In hindsight, the original Fiat 500 shows that Giacosa's mind was envisioning eventual fundamentals of monocoque design principles, the Topolino's bodywork serving as part of its load-bearing structure and its tiny engine hung ahead of the radically light-drilled, dual-spar frame. The first 500 also incorporated a very basic form of independent front suspension, not what most might have expected from a Thirties car constructed to meet a government-dictated cheapness objective. Of course, it's fair to say that the like-minded regime in Germany was also building innovative, inexpensive cars around the same time, and that both self-declared nationalist dynasties collapsed spectacularly. Their best automotive engineers, on the other hand, prospered anew. Post-war, Giacosa redefined the light Fiat more than once. The first true, fresh effort was the Fiat 1400 sedan of 1950, which, as rebodied by Pinin Farina, became the Cisitalia. The addition of 500cc made it a much more usable engine. Money issues limited the Topolino to rear-wheel drive, but Giacosa insisted on transverse front drive for the Autobianchi Primula of 1964 and then, the Fiat 128 of 1969, a bigger-than-Mini car (with MacPherson struts) that beat both the Honda Civic and the first Volkswagen Golf to market. A true giant of European auto design, Giacosa died in 1996.

Dante Giacosa

Dante Giacosa

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Monday 13th January 1997

20 years ago

Detroit (North American) Auto Show opened. Production cars introduced included the Chevrolet Corvette C5, Chrysler Concorde, Dodge Durango, Ford Escort ZX2, Mercedes-Benz CLK, Subaru Forester, Toyota Sienna, and the Volvo C70 convertible.

Ford Escort ZX2

Ford Escort ZX2

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Tuesday 7th October 1997

19 years ago

A jury in South Carolina ordered Chrysler Corporation to pay $262.5 million to the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in a 1994 accident due to a defective rear latch. $250 million was for punitive damages.

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Thursday 7th May 1998

19 years ago

German automobile company Daimler-Benz, maker of the world-famous luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz, announced a $36 billion merger with the US-based Chrysler Corporation. The purchase of Chrysler, America's third-largest car company, by the Stuttgart-based Daimler-Benz marked the biggest acquisition by a foreign buyer of any U.S. company in history. Though marketed to investors as an equal pairing, it soon emerged that Daimler would be the dominant partner, with its stockholders owning the majority of the new company's shares. For Chrysler, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, the end of independence was a surprising twist in a striking comeback story. After a near-collapse and a government bailout in 1979 that saved it from bankruptcy, the company surged back in the 1980's under the leadership of the former Ford executive Lee Iacocca, in a revival spurred in part by the tremendous success of its trendsetting minivan. While Daimler had been attracted by the profitability of Chrysler's minivans and Jeeps, over the next few years profits were up and down, and by the fall of 2003 the Chrysler Group had cut some 26,000 jobs and was still losing money. In May of 2007 DaimlerChrysler announced it was selling 80.1 percent of Chrysler to the private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management for $7.4 billion. DaimlerChrysler, soon renamed Daimler AG, kept a 19.9 percent stake in the new company, known as Chrysler LLC. By late 2008, increasingly dismal sales led Chrysler to seek federal funds to the tune of $4 billion to stay afloat. Under pressure from the Obama administration, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2009 and entered into a planned partnership with the Italian automaker Fiat. The takeover was later documented by Bill Vlasic and Bradley A. Stertz in their book “Taken for a Ride: How Daimler-Benz Drove Off with Chrysler.”

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Thursday 12th November 1998

18 years ago

Daimler-Benz completed a merger with Chrysler to form Daimler-Chrysler. The merger was contentious, with investors launching lawsuits over whether the transaction was the ‘merger of equals’ that senior management claimed or actually amounted to a Daimler-Benz takeover of Chrysler. Daimler-Chrysler appeared to run as two independent product lines until 2002 when the company launched products that integrated both sides of the company, including the Chrysler Crossfire, which was based on the Mercedes SLK platform and utilised Mercedes’ 3.2L V6, and the Dodge Sprinter/Freightliner Sprinter, a re-badged Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. They demerged in 2007 when Daimler agreed to sell the Chrysler unit to Cerberus Capital Management for $6 billion.

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Tuesday 17th November 1998

18 years ago

The brand-new DaimlerChrysler began trading its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The company had formed five days earlier, when the American Chrysler Corporation merged with the German conglomerate Daimler-Benz AG. As a result of the merger, DaimlerChrysler became the world's fifth-largest automaker (behind General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen. The Daimler-Chrysler merger, for which Daimler-Benz AG paid $36 billion, was supposed to create a single powerhouse car company that could compete in all markets, all over the world. Daimler-Benz was known for its high-quality luxury cars and sturdy trucks, while Chrysler's minivans and Jeeps had a big chunk of the growing sport- utility vehicle market; meanwhile, the American company seemed to have mastered the art of high-volume, low-cost manufacturing. However, things did not quite work out that way. Chrysler actually lost so much money—$1.5 billion in 2006 alone—that in 2007 Daimler paid a private equity firm to take the company off its hands. In 2009, Chrysler filed for bankruptcy again. In order to stay afloat, it merged with the Italian company Fiat.

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Sunday 26th September 1999

17 years ago

A bank worker broke the world land-speed record for a blind person. Steve Cunningham, from Chacombe in Oxfordshire, broke the then record of 132.5 mph in a borrowed £70,000 Chrysler Viper, capable of 180 mph. The 36-year-old father-of-two reached a speed of 147 mph at the Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire.

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Tuesday 5th October 1999

17 years ago

Using its famed muscle cars, interactive exhibits and a head-turning concept car tower, DaimlerChrysler unveiled its American heritage to the world at the opening of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Michigan. A 125-seat theatre featured three brief films: The Early Years: The Life and Times of Walter P. Chrysler; Speed And Power: Chrysler's Cars Burn Up Road And Track, Inside the Tech Center: Tour the DaimlerChrysler Technology Center.

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Monday 14th February 2000

17 years ago

Manufacture of the Chrysler PT Cruiser began at the Toluca Car Assembly in Toluca, Mexico.

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Thursday 13th April 2000

17 years ago

The first 450 Chrysler PT Cruisers bound for Europe were loaded on a ship at the port of Veracruz, Mexico. Built at the Toluca Assembly Plant in Mexico, the Chrysler PT Cruisers are the first DaimlerChrysler vehicles to be shipped from the port at Veracruz, a new export facility for the company which will reduce transit time to Europe from 27 to 21 days. Previously, vehicles built in Mexico bound for Europe went by train to Baltimore and were then transported via ship to markets around the world.

Chrysler PT Cruiser

Chrysler PT Cruiser

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Monday 15th January 2001

16 years ago

The Chrysler LMP racer was unveiled to the press.

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Thursday 28th June 2001

16 years ago

The last Plymouth automobile, a silver Neon, rolled off the assembly line. Plymouth was introduced in 1928 as Chrysler Corporation’s entry-level car. At this time, the low-priced field was dominated by Ford and Chevrolet. While Plymouth was priced higher than Ford and Chevrolet, the Plymouth offered some standard features not available on the competition, such as external expanding hydraulic brakes. In the beginning, Plymouth was sold exclusively through Chrysler dealerships. With regard to the name Plymouth, the official story goes: "Product of Chrysler engineering and craftsmanship, Plymouth has been so named because its endurance and strength, ruggedness and freedom from limitations so accurately typify that Pilgrim band who were the first American Colonists." The real story is somewhat different. When Walter Chrysler decided to get involved in the low-priced car field in 1926, everybody knew that Ford and Chevrolet dominated this market and thus any new car entering the market would have a struggle. While every farmer by this time had to have a car and most were buying Fords, every farmer had heard of Plymouth Binder Twine. By naming the new car Plymouth, Chrysler took advantage of a well-known and trusted name. In spite of the competition, during its first year of production (actually only six months) became fifteenth in terms of production and by 1931 it had become the third best-selling vehicle in America. In 1930, Chrysler expanded its distribution of Plymouths to all three Chrysler divisions (Chrysler, DeSoto, and Dodge). By the 1950s, Plymouth had a reputation for engineering, affordability, and durability. In 1957, Plymouth reached its production peak. By the 1960s, Plymouth rapidly lost market share and lost its third place standing to Pontiac. Between 1971 and 1974, Plymouth briefly reclaimed its third place status, but in the 1980s its popularity continued to fall. By 2001, Plymouth only had one model, the Neon, and the last Plymouth was assembled in June 2001.

The last Plymouth car

The last Plymouth car

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Sunday 8th July 2001

16 years ago

The BMW Mini went on sale in the UK. By 10:00 am the 148 dealerships had taken more than 3,000 orders. The hatchback/hardtop Mini was the first model of the new generation Mini, and was back then known as simply Mini. It was available in Cooper, Cooper S and One variations at launch. In many European markets, the Mini One was powered by a 1.4 litre I4[34] version of the Tritec engine but all other petrol powered Minis used the 1.6 litre I4 version. The names Cooper and Cooper S followed the names used for the sportier version of the classic Mini, which in turn come from the involvement of John Cooper and the Cooper Car Company. The Cooper heritage was further emphasised with the John Cooper Works (JCW) range of tuning options that are available with the Mini. John Cooper also created a one-off racing model of the Mini Cooper S named the Mini Cooper S Works. This car featured many extras which help to improve performance, such as a racing exhaust and air filter as well as uprated suspension. The car also had one-of-a-kind 17-inch (430 mm) racing wheels. The Mk I Mini One, Cooper and Cooper S used some version of the reliable, Brazilian-built Tritec engine, co-developed by Chrysler & BMW; the Mini One D used a Toyota-built 1ND-TV diesel engine. In August 2006, BMW announced that future engines would be built in the UK, making the car essentially British-built again; final assembly took place at Oxford, and the body pressings were made in nearby Swindon at BMW's Swindon Pressings Ltd subsidiary. The last Mk I variant was the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit: a light-weight, quasi-race-prepped John Cooper Works model. Hand-finished by Bertone in Italy, it was offered as a limited-production run of 2,000 cars during the 2006 model year, with 444 of those originally intended for the UK market (although ultimately, 459 were sold).

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Saturday 13th October 2001

15 years ago

Jean Daninos (94) constructor of luxury cars Facel Vega, died from cancer. The first Facel Vega model, designed by Daninos himself, debuted in 1954, equipped with a Chrysler engine. Daninos counted among his clients celebrities (eg Tony Curtis, Ava Gardner) and racing drivers (eg Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant). Several sports car models followed until the company's demise in the mid-1960s. During ten years of production, Facel manufactured 3,000 automobile.

Facel Vega FV1 (1955)

Facel Vega FV1 (1955)

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Monday 5th January 2004

13 years ago

The spectacular quad-turbo, V-12 powered, mid-engine Chrysler ME Four-Twelve super car was introduced at Auburn Hills, Michigan, US - the most advanced Chrysler ever built. The name was rooted in the Mid-Engine with Four turbochargers on a Twelve-cylinder engine. Powered by a very light, aluminium V12 engine coupled with the four turbochargers, it could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 6.2 seconds, and a top speed of 136 mph (219 km/h). These numbers resulted in an estimated top speed of 248mph, just 5 mph slower than the original Bugatti Veyron.

Chrysler ME Four-Twelve

Chrysler ME Four-Twelve

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Friday 11th February 2005

12 years ago

New exhibitors at the Chicago Auto Show included Chicago's own International Truck, featuring its CXT concept. Also new was a 20,000 sq.ft. exhibit by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). More than a dozen excitiy concept vehicles at the '05 show included the Ford SYNus, Jeep Hurricane, Lexus LF-A, Mercury Meta One, Chrysler Firepower, Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe and Suzuki Concept-X.

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Tuesday 18th April 2006

11 years ago

Peugeot announced plans to close the 60-year-old car factory at Ryton near Coventry, which it bought from Chrysler in 1979, within a year. Developed by the Rootes Group as a shadow factory in 1939[1] to produce aircraft engines for World War II, post war it became the headquarters of the group. Taken over eventually by Peugeot, it shut in December 2006, and was subsequently redeveloped by Trenport Investments Ltd, for industrial use in March 2007. The plant, however, met its final demise in November 2007, when it was completely demolished.

Peugeot's Ryton plant

Peugeot's Ryton plant

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Tuesday 1st August 2006

11 years ago

Market share of Detroit auto companies fell to 52% in July 2006, its lowest point in history (52.2% in October 2005). Auto sales figures showed that Toyota passed Ford Motor Company to rank as the second-biggest-selling auto company in the US. Honda outsold DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler group for the first time. General Motors held a 27% share of the auto market and Chrysler - 10%.

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Wednesday 14th February 2007

10 years ago

German-US auto giant DaimlerChrysler said it planned to axe 13,000 jobs at its loss-making Chrysler subsidiary as part of a broad restructuring plan aimed at returning the US unit to profitability by 2009. The bulk of the job losses would affect union workers, with 9,000 hourly jobs eliminated in the United States and 2,000 in Canada.

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Tuesday 17th April 2007

10 years ago

"Fiat Veicoli Commerciali", a subsidiary for FCA Italy's (formerly Fiat Group Automobiles) light commercial vehicles and their passenger variants , was rebranded as "Fiat Professional". It is only present in the EMEA and Asia-Pacific regions; the Fiat Automobiles brand is used in the Latin America region. Since 2013, certain Fiat Professional models are reengineered and marketed by Chrysler (FCA US) for the NAFTA region under the Ram Trucks brand.

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Monday 14th May 2007

10 years ago

European-American carmaker DaimlerChrysler, created in 1998 in a $36 billion merger, announced that it was selling 80.1 percent of the Chrysler group to the U.S. private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus paid $7.4 billion in the deal, mostly in the form of investments in Chrysler; Daimler AG, as it was soon renamed, retained a 19.9 percent stake in the new company, known as Chrysler LLC. The sale marked the end of a troubled nine-year transatlantic relationship between Daimler-Benz, the German maker of the world-famous luxury automobile brand Mercedes-Benz, and the Chrysler Corporation, America's third-largest car company. Though the much-buzzed-about merger, concluded in May 1998, had been touted as a pairing of equals, it was soon clear that it in fact amounted to a takeover by the German company. The end of Chrysler's independence was a surprising twist after its near collapse in the 1970's and stunning comeback in the 1980's under the leadership of the former Ford executive Lee Iacocca.

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Wednesday 4th July 2007

10 years ago

The Chrysler Group signed a deal with Cherry, China’s biggest automaker, to create a low cost production venture that could import the first Chinese-made cars to the US.

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Friday 3rd August 2007

10 years ago

Carmaker DaimlerChrysler completed a deal to sell a majority stake (80%) of its ailing US Chrysler division to the private equity company Cerberus Capital Management for 7.4bn euros ($10.1bn; £5bn).

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Thursday 13th September 2007

10 years ago

At the Defence Systems & Equipment International trade show, Chrysler LLC unveiled a Wrangler Unlimited version designed for military use dubbed the J8. The unarmored Jeep J8 was equipped with larger brakes, axles and suspension components than the civilian version and had a payload capacity of 1,339 kg (2,952 lb). The J8 also differed from the civilian model by utilizing heavy-duty rear leaf springs for carrying heavier payloads. The Jeep J8 was powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that produced 158 hp. The engine was mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The J8 also features a unique air-intake system with special filtration and a hood-mounted snorkel that enabled the J8 to wade in water up to 30 inch deep and tackle sandstorm conditions for up to five hours. Targeted for use by the militaries in overseas markets, the J8 was not available in the United States because it did not meet U.S. emissions requirements. The J8 was be produced in Egypt.

Jeep J8 2.8 L Turbo diesel

Jeep J8 2.8 L Turbo diesel

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Wednesday 12th December 2007

9 years ago

Ryton manufacturing plant located in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire, England produced its last car, a Peugeot 206. After the war Ryton became the headquarters of the Rootes Group, but when the organisation entered financial difficulties in the 1960s the company (in stages) and thus the plant were taken over by American car-making giant Chrysler. Chrysler itself entered financial difficulties and sold the plant, along with the rest of its European operations for a symbolic US$1.00 to PSA Peugeot Citroën in 1978. The 140-acre site was sold to developer Trenport Investments Ltd for industrial use in March 2007 and was demolished in November 2007.

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Thursday 11th December 2008

8 years ago

The $14 billion package to aid General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC collapsed amid disputes over union wage cuts. A group of mostly Republican Southern senators, including states that subsidised foreign car manufacturers, formed the heart of the opposition.

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Friday 20th February 2009

8 years ago

The Canadian units of General Motors Corporation and Chrysler sought as much as C$10 billion ($8 billion) in aid from the Canadian and Ontario governments as they fought to survive an industry wide crisis.

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Monday 30th March 2009

8 years ago

US President Barack Obama issued an ultimatum to struggling American automakers General Motors (GM) and Chrysler: In order to receive additional bailout loans from the government, he said, the companies needed to make dramatic changes in the way ran their businesses. The president also announced a set of initiatives intended to assist the struggling U.S. auto industry and boost consumer confidence, including government backing of GM and Chrysler warranties, even if both automakers went out of business. In December 2008, GM (the world's largest automaker from the early 1930's to 2008) and Chrysler (then America's third-biggest car company) accepted $17.4 billion in federal aid in order to stay afloat. At that time, the two companies had been hit hard by the global economic crisis and slumping auto sales; however, critics charged that their problems had begun several decades earlier and included failures to innovate in the face of foreign competition and issues with labour unions, among other factors.

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Monday 30th March 2009

8 years ago

U.S. President Barack Obama issued an ultimatum to struggling American automakers General Motors (GM) and Chrysler: In order to receive additional bailout loans from the government, companies needed to make dramatic changes in the way they ran their businesses. The president also announced a set of initiatives intended to assist the struggling U.S. auto industry and boost consumer confidence, including government backing of GM and Chrysler warranties, even if both automakers went out of business. In December 2008, GM (the world’s largest automaker from the early 1930s to 2008) and Chrysler (then America’s third-biggest car company) accepted $17.4 billion in federal aid in order to stay afloat. At that time, the two companies had been hit hard by the global economic crisis and slumping auto sales; however, critics charged that their problems had begun several decades earlier and included failures to innovate in the face of foreign competition and issues with labor unions, among other factors. President Obama’s auto task force determined that Chrysler was too focused on its sport utility vehicle (SUV) lines and was too small a company to survive on its own. In his March 30 announcement, Obama gave Chrysler a month to complete a merger with Italian car maker Fiat or another partner. Shortly before its April 30 deadline, Chrysler said it had reached agreements with the United Auto Workers union as well as its major creditors; however, on April 30, Obama announced that Chrysler, after failing to come to an agreement with some of its smaller creditors, would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, then form a partnership with Fiat. The move made Chrysler the first big automaker to file for bankruptcy and attempt to reorganize since Studebaker did so in 1933. As for General Motors, according to the conditions Obama announced on March 30, the auto giant had 60 days to undergo a major restructuring, including cutting costs sharply and getting rid of unprofitable product lines and dealerships. Over the next two months, GM said it would shutter thousands of dealerships and a number of plants, as well as phase out such brands as Pontiac. Nevertheless, on June 1, 2009, GM, which was founded in 1908, declared bankruptcy. At the time, the company reported liabilities of $172.8 billion and assets of $82.3 billion, making it the fourth-biggest U.S. bankruptcy in history.

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Friday 24th April 2009

8 years ago

The Canadian Auto Workers union and Chrysler Canada reached a tentative concession deal that would cut about C$19 ($15.70) an hour from labour costs in a bid to keep the struggling automaker from bankruptcy.

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Sunday 26th April 2009

8 years ago

Chrysler and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union reached a tentative deal that met government requirements for the struggling auto manufacturer to receive more federal funding. As part of the deal, the UAW agreed to let Chrysler reduce the amount of money it would pay toward healthcare costs of its retired workers. The month before the deal was announced, President Barack Obama issued an ultimatum to Chrysler that it must undergo a fundamental restructuring and shrink its costs in order to receive future government aid. Obama also gave Chrysler a month to complete a merger with Italian car maker Fiat or another partner. Although Chrysler reached a deal with the UAW as well as its major creditors shortly before the one-month deadline, Obama announced on April 30 that Chrysler, after failing to come to an agreement with some of its smaller creditors, would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, then form a partnership with Fiat. The move made Chrysler the first big automaker to file for bankruptcy and attempt to reorganise since Studebaker did so in 1933.

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Thursday 30th April 2009

8 years ago

Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection after overnight talks broke down with a small group of the company's creditors. Canada's government said it would take an ownership stake in Chrysler in exchange for more than $2 billion in loans, under a sweeping North American rescue plan. Ottawa and Washington demanded the Detroit company partner with Fiat as a condition for funding.

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Monday 4th May 2009

8 years ago

In Germany, Sergio Marchionne, the boss of Italy's Fiat, drummed up support in Berlin for audacious plans to snap up General Motors' European arm and merge it with the bankrupt Chrysler to create a new global auto giant. Germany's economy minister said Fiat Group SpA wanted to take over GM's Opel unit without running up debt and would preserve the three main German assembly plants if successful.

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Monday 17th May 2010

7 years ago

The US Treasury Department received a $1.9 billion loan repayment from Chrysler Holding. The Treasury had made a $4 billion loan to the carmaker in January 2009. The loan was reduced by $500 million when assets of Old Chrysler were sold to the new company in June. The latest payment cleared Chrysler of obligations incurred as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

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Monday 10th January 2011

6 years ago

Italian auto giant Fiat said it had increased its stake in Chrysler to 25% from 20% as part of a deal signed after the iconic US brand emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.

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Friday 11th February 2011

6 years ago

The 2011 Chicago Auto Show celebrated its 103rd edition with rave reviews and a 10 percent increase in attendance over the 10-day run when compared to the 2010 show. Two new vehicles, a 2011 Honda CR-Z and a 2011 Hyundai Sonata turbo, were awarded to the fortunate ticket holders during the First Look for Charity event held the evening before the show opened to the public. Eighteen area charities shared in the $1,905,060 raised from the tickets sold for the black-tie fund-raiser. Four brands rolled out ride and drive tracks, including Jeep, Ford, Toyota and Chevrolet. Among brands unveiled at the 2011 show included the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Volkswagen GLI, Hyundai’s Genisis 5.0 R-spec and Veloster Rally Car, the 2012 2Acura TL with Acura Vice President of Sales Jeff Conrad. The 012 Shelby GT350 convertible, Toyota Matrix and Chrysler 200 convertible were seen for the first time at this show, and Audi presented the TT RS for the first time anywhere in North America. Ram Truck announced a new trim package for the Ram Tradesman, and Dodge unleashed five new performance models. A bold experiment premiered on the second media day that proved auto shows and social media are a match made in marketing heaven.

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Thursday 3rd March 2011

6 years ago

It was announced that Bristol Cars had gone into administration, with the immediate loss of 22 jobs. The first car, the 1947 Bristol 400, was heavily based on pre-WW2 BMWs. The body looked very like the BMW 327, while its engine and suspension were clones of BMW designs (engine and front suspension based on those of the BMW 328, rear suspension from the BMW 326). Even the famous double-kidney BMW grille was carried over intact. Until 1961 all Bristol cars used evolutions of the 6-cylinder BMW-derived engine. This well-regarded engine also powered a number of sports and racing cars, including all post-war Frazer Nash cars (apart from a few prototypes), some ACs, some Lotus and Cooper racing cars, and several others. Some Bristol cars were made in chassis form and then bodied by specialist firms such as the lightweight Zagato bodies and the custom line of Arnolt Bristols. In 1961, with the launch of the Bristol 407, the company switched to larger Chrysler V8 engines, which were more suitable for the increasingly heavy cars. All post-1961 Bristols including the Blenheim and Fighter models use Chrysler engines. From 1960 to 1973, former racing driver T.A.D. Tony Crook and Sir George White owned Bristol Cars; In 1973, Sir George sold his stake to Tony Crook. In 1997, Toby Silverton came on board and there followed the greater level of development of cars seen in recent years (particularly, the new Bristol Fighter). Crook eventually sold the company to Silverton in 2001. In April 2011, the company was purchased by Kamkorp. Since 2011, the company has restored and sold all models of the marque while a new model is being developed

Bristol 401 (1948-53)

Bristol 401 (1948-53)

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Thursday 21st April 2011

6 years ago

Italian automaker Fiat, closed in on its goal of taking a majority stake and full control of Chrysler LLC by announcing a deal to buy another 16 percent share at a price of $1.3 billion.

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Friday 3rd June 2011

6 years ago

The US Treasury reached an agreement to sell the rest of its holdings in Chrysler to Italy’s Fiat.

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Saturday 4th June 2011

6 years ago

Italy-based Fiat offered $125 million to buy the Canadian government's stake in Chrysler Group LLC as it moved swiftly to strengthen its control of the US automaker.

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Thursday 10th May 2012

5 years ago

Carroll Shelby, the American automotive designer, racing driver and entrepreneur who gave his name to the famous Shelby Cobra sports car, died at the age of 89. He was one of the nation's longest-living heart transplant recipients, having received a heart on June 7, 1990, from a 34-year-old man who died of an aneurism. Shelby also received a kidney transplant in 1996 from his son, Michael. The one-time chicken farmer had more than a half-dozen successful careers during his long life. Among them: champion race car driver, racing team owner, automobile manufacturer, automotive consultant, safari tour operator, raconteur, chili entrepreneur and philanthropist. Shelby first made his name behind the wheel of a car, winning France's grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race with teammate Ray Salvadori in 1959. He already was suffering serious heart problems and ran the race with nitroglycerin pills under his tongue. He had turned to the race-car circuit in the 1950s after his chicken ranch failed. He won dozens of races in various classes throughout the 1950s and was twice named Sports Illustrated's Driver of the Year. Soon after his win at Le Mans, he gave up racing and turned his attention to designing high-powered "muscle cars" that eventually became the Shelby Cobra and the Mustang Shelby GT500. The Cobra, which used Ford engines and a British sport car chassis, was the fastest production model ever made when it was displayed at the New York Auto Show in 1962. A year later, Cobras were winning races over Corvettes, and in 1964 the Rip Chords had a Top 5 hit on the Billboard pop chart with "Hey, Little Cobra." ("Spring, little Cobra, getting ready to strike, spring, little Cobra, with all of your might. Hey, little Cobra, don't you know you're gonna shut 'em down?") In 2007, an 800-horsepower model of the Cobra made in 1966, once Shelby's personal car, sold for $5.5 million at auction, a record for an American car. It was Lee Iacocca, then head of Ford Motor Co., who had assigned Shelby the task of designing a fastback model of Ford's Mustang that could compete against the Corvette for young male buyers. Turning a vehicle he had once dismissed as "a secretary car" into a rumbling, high-performance model was "the hardest thing I've done in my life," Shelby recalled in a 2000 interview with The Associated Press. That car and the Shelby Cobra made his name a household word in the 1960s. When the energy crisis of the 1970s limited the market for gas-guzzling high-performance cars, Shelby weathered the downturn by heading to Africa, where he operated a safari company for a dozen years. By the time he had returned to the United States, Iacocca was running Chrysler Motors and he hired him to design the supercharged Viper sports car. In the meantime, Shelby had also inaugurated the World Chili Cookoff competition and he began marketing Carroll Shelby Original Texas Chili. In recent years, Shelby worked as a technical adviser on the Ford GT project and designed the Shelby Series 1 two-seat muscle car, a 21st century clone of his 1965 Cobra. He created the Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation in 1991 to provide assistance for children and young people needing acute coronary and kidney care. According to its Web site, the foundation has helped numerous children received needed surgery, as well as provided money for research.

Carroll Shelby (2007)

Carroll Shelby (2007)

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Thursday 2nd January 2014

3 years ago

Italy-based Fiat secured full ownership of Chrysler in a $4.35 billion agreement.

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Thursday 2nd April 2015

2 years ago

A US jury ordered automaker Chrysler to pay $150 million to the family of a four-year-old boy who was killed when their Jeep exploded into flames. Remington Walden was killed in March 2012 in the US state of Georgia when a car rear-ended the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee he was in, causing the fuel tank behind the car's rear axle to leak and set the car on fire.

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