The Ups and Downs of Chrysler
The story of Chrysler is one of perseverance and getting up when you are down instead of quitting. In addition to being renowned for engineering innovations and well-engineered cars, Chrysler also has a history of financial troubles, mergers and acquisitions and intermittence of profits and losses. Despite its troubled past (and present), Chrysler has always been a manufacturer of quality high-end cars with cutting edge technology and innovations at every turn. Here are a few interesting facts about the automaker that has consistently ranked among the best automakers in the U.S.
The origin of the brand and the first Chrysler automobile
Once upon a time, a company named Maxwell Motor Company was established. Within a few years of operation, it became troubled, and so it brought in a specialist to overhaul its operation. The specialist was Walter Chrysler, and in 1925, the Maxwell Motor Company was renamed after the man who saved it. That is how the Chrysler Corporation was born.
The Chrysler 70 was the first Chrysler-branded car to be launched, and it coincided with the end of production of the Chalmers automobile. The Chrysler 70 was a car before its time, featuring superior engineering works and comfort at a price many felt was low. The 6-cylinder automobile was a great success.
This is where Chrysler hits without missing. Chrysler was among the first automakers to fit into their cars innovations such as the carburetor air filter, engine full pressure lubrication, high compression engine as well as an oil filter. Such innovations helped Chrysler stand out from the competition, and it also paved the way for more engineering innovations.
Four wheel hydraulic brakes weren’t always practical when produced, and to mass produce them was one of the early achievements of Chrysler. Most of the engineering behind practical hydraulic systems for all four wheels was made possible; thanks to Chrysler. Chrysler was also safety conscious and was at the heart of the ridged rim wheel. This wheel design was meant to keep a tyre from flying off the wheel once it deflated, and this innovation has been adopted by the rest of the automobile industry since. Other worthy innovations by Chrysler include rubber engine mounts to deal with excessive vibration and shaft super finishing as well as Oilite bearings.
All the amazing engineering innovations at Chrysler were not in vain, as they catapulted the company into second place in sales by 1936, a position it would hold for over a decade.
World War II and government projects
With the breakout of World War II, Chrysler found most of its facilities devoted to military vehicle construction. It was ranked the 8th most important U.S Corporation for wartime purposes. Despite its prowess in vehicle making, Chrysler’s more important contributions in the war were in the radar field. Its most telling contribution was in the Manhattan project when it made converters for the project’s diffusion plant. Chrysler’s association with the government continued even after the war, helping the government in the aerospace field.
In the 1960’s, Chrysler made another first in making unit body cars. The advantages of the unit body are countless, and it is now a worldwide standard. Around the same time, Chrysler made the first car that used an alternator with rectification diodes, the Valiant.
Bankruptcy, merger with Fiat and the future
Chrysler went into deep financial troubles post the millennium turn that culminated in its filing for bankruptcy on May 1, 2009. This led to the establishment of a new Chrysler company by the name Chrysler Group LLC with shares held by VEBA (55%), Fiat (20%) as well as the US and Canadian governments (8% and 1% respectively). By June 10, 2009, most of the assets belonging to the old Chrysler Company had been sold to the “new Chrysler Company”. Fiat worked its way to more shares and by July 21, 2011, become the majority shareholder, making Chrysler foreign owned.
Like always, we expect the storied automaker to rise from the ashes and make great cars once more.