In terms of genesis, Chrysler is almost synonymous with an unwanted premature detonation. Amidst the depression of 1921 and the great collapse of 1929, when most car producers were facing extinction due to drastic decrease in sales, lack of resources and investors, a small company would try to make its way to the auto shows and into the American citizens' garages. Despite the economic meltdown that drove investors away and locked-down companies faster than a second Ice Age, the US auto market was mainly divided among two powers: the ever expanding GM and Ford.
The sum of such horrific conditions would have normally drove away contenders, but Walter P. Chrysler thought otherwise. Determined to get an equally slice of the market share pizza for himself, he exhibited a handsome car at the 1924 New York Auto Show. The automobile was none other than the Chrysler 70, the model that would drag the Chrysler name to he Pantheon of American car builders.
However, Chrysler wasn't born as Chrysler (from the company's standpoint). Facing a rapid and possibly permanent dissolution, the two initial companies held by Walter P., Maxwell and Chambers, merged to form a new entity that would later rub shoulders with its competitors at the time. The 70 model had an instant success that allowed the newly formed corporation to expand freely, unabated by the competition's efforts and much wider rage of automobiles.
The Chambers name was dropped, whist Maxwell was re-branded as a Plymouth. By 1931, the Plymouth brand had already become a fierce competitor in the small car segment and was insistently knocking on Ford stronghold's door, yelling to make room or evict the place. Although Ford was basically partying due to the high sales registered by their model A, the more advanced Plymouth did far better. Sporting hydraulic brakes, more flowing body lines and a “floating power”engine, the Plymouth cast an awfully large cloud of doubt over Ford's headquarters.
The improvements brought by the Plymouth became so popular that other producers started using them as well. Citroen would later use Chrysler's patented “floating engine” technology that had the great advantage of reducing engine vibrations through the use of three rubber mounts that separated the engine from having direct contact with the chassis.
Chrysler did so good the following years that by the end of the 30's it had already surpassed Ford and moved to a comfortable second position. Almost unknowingly, Chrysler became a titan. The time to wrestle the no. 1 car manufacturer was near and Chrysler carefully readied its match.
However, what was designed as a model of crushing beauty was not well received by the American public. The 1934 Airflow model, a gorgeous curvy sparkling beauty failed to make an impact and consequently sales dropped faster than CBS dropped “The Will”.
Funnily enough, the public was not touched by a car that was way ahead of its time, at least as far as the bodywork was concerned. However, poor sales were efficiently countered once Chrysler released the Imperial model. Large, powerful and luxurious, it was an instant hit and catered for the need of a stand-out motorized social status statement, as well as a reliable day to day ride.
As soon as World War II was over Chrysler had entered a sales numbness, focusing more on research and engineering improvements rather than holding the company's position as a top car industry leader. The post WW II days brought along some significant changes in auto design and shape, with a legendary tail fin craze initiated by Ford and GM.
In response to the existing trends, Chrysler's automobiles became longer and wider and sacrificed performance and reliability for looks. This happened because of a shift in the consumers' perspective who came to prefer style and exterior features over practicality and quality. The by know well established Chrysler products were removed to make way for a new range of flashy cars that failed to climb to the height of the precedent line-up. In doing so, Chrysler was pushed back to the third place once more.
By the beginning of the 60's, Chrysler made a comeback with the introduction of the spectacularly enduring, fast and well balanced 300-F. Though some drivers complained about the vehicle's great size, its performance was hard if not impossible to contest. The machine could develop 400 hp and its acceleration was phenomenal.
Once the modern times arrived, Chrysler proved its versatility and changed once with the automotive industry, delivering quality vehicles for an ever increasing mass of enthusiasts. Models such as the Sebring, 300M, 300C and PT Cruiser, a vehicle conceived as a blend of modern technology and retro style elements, managed to keep Chrysler among the top choices within US borders. Unlike other American car brands, such as Cadillac, Buick or Lincoln, Chrysler has received a great deal of attention overseas as well. During the 90's, the company merged with Daimler-Benz AG and formed Daimler Chrysler, which is currently a world leader in transportation.