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The WPC Club, Inc.                      Mopar Logo
             Plymouth, Dodge, Fargo, DeSoto, Chrysler, Imperial, Maxwell, Chalmers,  
                                         Jeep and Eagle & related Automobiles.    
All Mopar /  All Years /  All Models     

   
  
     This page contains four articles as follows: 

A  Brief Look at Walter P. Chrysler   By Mike Petersen

The Chrysler Building,  by Ian Smale

Chrysler Corporation, 1925 -1928  by Dr. David George Briant

Chrysler Corporation's Pulsating Years, 1930 - 1938  by Dr. David George Briant

Early Chrysler History, 1903 - 1928  by Cliff Lockwood

 

 


 

Walter P Chrysler

Time Magazine's Man of the Year - 1928


 

A Brief Look at Walter P. Chrysler   By Mike Petersen
This article was featured in the November, 1986 issue of WPC News
  

Chrysler,  the last independent car manufacturer  to enter the automotive industry. Most of us see the name everyday, but few know much about the man. We can still hear him speak to us from the pages of his autobiography "Life of an American Workman." In the book "Birth of a Giant," by Richard Crabb, all of the personalities and the events of the early automobile days are tied together.  These two books are highly recommended reading as a means of understanding where the industry came from and to reflect on where it may be going.

Chrysler was the third of four children. He was born in Wamego, Kansas in 1875 ( raised in Ellis, Kansas ) and recalled later in life the Indian scare of 1880 and the six shooter that his father, a locomotive engineer, carried.   "Scientific American" was Chrysler's favorite magazine.

His first job as a janitor brought him 10 cents an hour.   In 1893 he took a cut in pay to 5 cents an hour in order to enter a four year machinist apprentice program.   By the second year he was earning 10 cents an hour, then 12.5 cents in the third year, and finally 15 cents an hour in the fourth year.  During this time he studied air brakes before the Union Pacific Railroad installed them, and he studied steam heat that was replacing the coal stoves in passenger cars.

In 1897 Chrysler moved to Wellington, Kansas to work for Santa Fe Railroads and to learn new  things.  After two weeks he was at the top of the pay scale -- 27.5 cents an hour. So he went back to Ellis, Kansas for 30 cents an hour and then on to Denver, Colorado where a job at Colorado & Southern lasted two weeks.  From there he hopped freights and moved around looking for work in places like Cheyenne, Wyoming.

In 1900, Chrysler was back to 30 cents an hour in Salt Lake City, Utah working for the Denver and Rio Grande Western. He had saved $60 and took the big plunge -- marrying Della Forker from Ellis, Kansas. At this time Chrysler took  an electrical engineering correspondence course.

Chrysler was earning $90 a month as a foreman over 90 men in  1902.    He took more correspondence courses and moved on to the Colorado and Southern Railroad in Trinidad, Colorado for $105 a month as general foreman.  In 21 months he became a master mechanic; only 29 years old, yet the boss of 1000 men and earning $140 a month. He was then transferred  to Childress, Texas to build a new shop with a raise in pay to $160 a month. At the completion of that assignment Chrysler went to Chicago Great Western in Oelwein, Iowa at $200 a month and had a life savings of $500.

In 15 months Chrysler moved up to general master mechanic and just 3 months later to superintendent of motive power for $350 a month.  A keen interest in automobiles started at the Chicago Automobile Show in 1908.  The Locomobile touring car was on display and could be purchased for a mere $5,000. Chrysler put up $700, all of his savings, and borrowed $4,300 in a loan arranged by Ralph Van Vechten and co-signed by Bill Causey.   Chrysler took the Locomobile apart as soon as he got it home and studied it.   He did not drive it for three months; however, on the first outing in the car, indeed the first time behind the wheel of any car, Walter P. Chrysler ran into the neighbor's ditch and garden.

At 34 years of age he was in charge of thousands of men and millions of dollars worth of equipment, stilt at $350 a month. Chrysler took more correspondence courses in engineering and after an unpleasant meeting with the new president, Chrysler took a cut in pay to $275 a month in order to work for American Locomotive Company as a foreman in the Allegheny shop in Pittsburgh.   Here he bought another car -- a Stearns-Duryea 6 cylinder.

Chrysler was promoted to works manager at the age of 36.    Storrow, director of American Locomotive Company, got Chrysler together with Charles Nash, who was then president of General Motors. Chrysler was earning $12,000 a year but accepted a job as works manager at Buick for $6,000 a year. He was finally in the automobile business.    In his first week at Buick he reportedly earned his first year's pay.    It seems there were no records on cars released for test drives and Buick was "losing" one to four  cars per day.  This was brought under control rather quickly.   A piece-work schedule was established at Buick.  Elimination of a chassis gloss coat cut the time per chassis of 4 days to 2 days and production increased from 45 a day to 75 a day. An assembly line was started along with spray paint and the idea of painting before assembly -- production rose to 200 a day. Other changes essentially involved the substitution of metallurgy for cabinet making. After three years and no raise, Chrysler asked for $25,000 a year.

In that year, 1915, Billy Durant returned to gain control of GM for the second time.  Chrysler was general manager of Buick in 1916 when Durant offered him the presidency of Buick. Chrysler accepted (he also backed out of the formation of Nash Motors Company) and received $120,000 a year and $380,000 a year in GM stock at the price of the stock on the day of the contract.   During these years at Buick, Chrysler became acquainted with K.T. Keller, a young master mechanic.

Chrysler quit GM in 1920 as the president of Buick and the vice-president of GM in charge of operations. This action came about when Durant announced at a civic meeting that GM would build a new plant in Flint, Michigan to manufacture Buick frames. Chrysler had arranged with A.O. Smith to build the 1921 Buick frames, so this surprise announcement resulted in Chrysler's resignation.  

At forty five years of age Chrysler was retired and puttering about his Detroit office.  Willys-Overland was $50 million in debt and back into the picture comes Ralph Van Vechten who earlier arranged Chrysler's $4,300 car loan.  Chrysler was asked to come into Willys and save the banker's $50 million but the risk of not pulling this off was so great that Chyrsler asked for 2 years at $1 million per year.  He was concerned that failure to save Willys would reflect on his abilities.  In two years the debt was reduced to $18 million.  

During those two years Chrysler brought in Fred Zeder, Owen Skelton, and Carl Breer to an engineering center in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  These men (all of whom were at Studebaker the year before) worked on a new car and a new  engine.   Failure to interest Willys executives in a new engine lead to the break with Willys at the end of two years.   At this time Maxwell Motors was $26 million in debt and Chrysler was asked to help out, and he did at a salary of $100,000 a year and a stock option. He secured a loan of $15 million for Maxwell and sold cars out of existing inventory for $995 -- a profit of $5 per car.   Chrysler went after the New Jersey engineering center for $5 million, but Durant outbid him at $5,525,000. The work done on the new car was turned over to Durant in the deal, and thus the Flint car came into existence. Zeder, Skelton, and Breer were moved to the Chalmers plant in Detroit as part of Maxwell to continue work on the new engine.

At this point, Studebaker made an unsuccessful attempt to buy Maxwell and the new high compression engine. This engine, and a new car, required $5 million to get into production in 1923, money that Maxwell did not have. The 1924 New York Auto Show was an excellent place to display the new car and secure a loan, but since the car was not in production it could not be displayed at the show (Ed. Note: recent evidence uncovered at the Detroit Public Library show s that Chrysler had a display at the NY Auto Show. All the attention, however, at the coup of providing a display at the Commodore has led many astray -- even the story In Chryler's own book). Chrysler rented the lobby of the Hotel Commodore, the show's headquarters and a place where men in the industry stayed during the show, and displayed the new Chrysler.
 
Financing was secured from Ed Tinker of the Chase Securities Corporation and 32, 000 Chryslers were built in 1924 and sold for $1595 — the same as Buick.  This car was a true 70 mph performer with four wheel hydraulic brakes and a replaceable oil filter.   On $5 million debt the company had a net profit of $4,115,000!

in 1925, MaxwelI Motor Corporation was re-organized into the Chrysler Corporation and Chrysler bought the banker's stock at $16.   In 1926, K.T. Keller, from the Buick days, came on board as general manager and become president a few years later. Also that year the Chrysler 50 replaced the Maxwell and competed with Dodge. The model numbers indicated top speeds - 50, 60, 70 and 80 mph -- and later models used 62 and 72 designations to indicate improved models.

Chrysler was in fifth place in 1927 with sales of 192,000 cars.   $75 million was needed to build a foundry, forge, and new facilities;  Chrysler became acquainted with Clarence DiIIon, of Dillon, Reed and Company, who had brought Dodge in 1924 for $146 million.  In May, 1927, Chrysler and Dillon negotiated for 5 days straight in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and at 5 p.m. on the fifth day, the deal was struck -- Dodge was sold for $225,000,000 (comprised of $170,000,000 in Chrysler stock and $55,000,000 in Dodge liabilities). Chrysler had canvas signs made up in advance that were installed that evening at the Dodge Main -- they simply read "Chrysler Corporation - Dodge Division".   Chrysler's capacity was increased five fold!

K.T. Keller became Dodge president in 1929 and by 1937 Chrysler was free of debts. There were 76,000 employees.  

Chrysler died on August 18, 1940 and was not there to witness the fine contribution Chrysler Corporation made to the war effort. This effort was perhaps the most fitting tribute to the man and to the company that could get things done. In May of 1940, Keller was asked to build tanks and from a set of blueprints and a cornfield, tanks were rumbling out the door of a new plant in just seven months! Really remarkable.   


 

The Chrysler Building

405 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, New York City.   

This amazing building represents the pinnacle of achievement for Walter P. Chrysler.  After putting together the Chrysler Corporation from the remnants of Maxwell-Chalmers in 1925, acquiring the Dodge Brothers Company in 1928 and introducing both the Plymouth and DeSoto the same year, thus becoming the number 3 position automaker, Walter Chrysler decided to wind down a little and do something different.   This was the project.   Built from 1928 -1930 and designed by well known architect William Van Alen, it was briefly the tallest building in the world, until it was surpassed in height (but not beauty)  by the Empire State Building in 1931,  and today represents the finest of the Art Deco style and indeed is probably the most beautiful Art Deco building in the world.    Walter Chrysler had his personal office here for a number of years.   Contrary to popular belief this building was not built or financed by the Chrysler Corporation but was a personal project of Walter Chrysler himself to be given as a business venture for his sons Walter Jr. and Jack Chrysler who were not interested in the automobile business.   The building is 77 stories  and the height to the top of its spire is 1048 feet.  The tower culminates in a beautiful, tapered stainless steel crown that supports the famous spire at its peak. 

The  building has a lot of ornamentation that is based on features that were being used on Chrysler cars of the day. The corners of the sixty first  floor are graced with eagles, replicas of the 1929 Chrysler hood ornaments.   On the thirty first floor, the corner ornamentations are replicas of 1929 Chrysler radiator caps. The building is steel frame,  masonry construction,  and metal cladding. There are  3,862 windows on its facade and 4 banks of 8 elevators designed by Otis Elevator Corporation.      Currently, the Chrysler Building is tied for 4th as the tallest building in New York City. (In 2007 Bank of America Tower increased their spire to 1,200 feet taking 2nd. The under construction One World Trade Center is in 3rd and The New York Times Building, opened in 2007, is exactly the same height.).  It does have the distinction of being the world's tallest brick building.

 

Mark Shaber Fisher Investments

Chrysler Building, Entry Way Details 

The Spire

   

CHRYSLER CORPORATION
 1925-1998
 
By Dr. David George Briant
 
"To the Stockholders of the Chrysler Corporation: The past year has been one of notable progress and achievement for your business.  With an increased volume amounting to 167% of that of the previous calendar year, 1924, the net profits for the calendar year 1925 aggregate $17,126,135.85 after making provision for Federal Taxes estimated at $2,471,000.  This is nearly four times the net profit earned during the preceding year and reflects the improved position won by Chrysler cars in the automobile trade."
 - Walter P. Chrysler, March 9, 1926, from the first Annual Report message by WPC following incorporation in 1925.
 

Though Chrysler Corporation came to play a major role in the life of the United States of America the essential character of the firm stemmed from the genius of Walter Percy Chrysler (WPC) - truly self-described as An American Workman.  His leadership sparked and drove efforts to counterattack the infamous Great Depression.  Certainly, one of the most compelling industrial sagas of the 20th century was the rise of the Chrysler Corporation.  WPC's 1924 Chrysler Six came to life as the third engine design he spawned although the first to get into production.  His work in turning Buick around led eventually to his rescue successes at Willys and later Maxwell-Chalmers.  The details of this background are told in Willem L. Wireman's masterly book Chrysler Engines, 1922-1998 (SAE International, Warrendale, PA, 2007).   WPC's association with engineers Fred Zeder, Carl Breer and Owen Skelton yielded engines and a host of other vehicle advances over the years ahead.  Public acceptance had to be earned for survival given the more than 2,000 firms that had tried and failed - and entry into and subsequent success in an established oligopoly meant leadership of the first order.  While the adage  - preparation plus opportunity equals luck - is too simplistic, indeed WPC had the right stuff at precisely the right time in history.  There was boldness in engineering, care in manufacturing, skill in marketing, yes. But more, far more . . . 
 
Examination of the record reveals clearly that conservative financial controls kept the corporate ship mid-channel even in stormy weather.  Innovations and technical "firsts" came along steadily throughout the worst business depression in all history.  Only the coming of World War II finally expunged its effects.  Despite the times, Chrysler's reputation soared.  In fact, the competition mounted more that one defamation campaign to offset the firm's potency of those days.  Indeed, the federal government was watching - and when the war tocsin sounded Chrysler was tapped to take on important projects, including tanks, work that was key to obtaining the atom bomb before Germany, and on into motivating missile programs to meet Cold War needs.  Volume and dollar figures used herein are Calendar Year totals as published in official Annual Reports issued by Chrysler Corporation and DaimlerChrysler AG.
 
WPC served as Chairman of the Board of Directors until his death in 1940 at age 65.  He had appointed Kaufman Thuma Keller to the presidency in 1935, turning over daily operations at that point.  WPC remained a strong influential force until his stroke in 1938.  The years 1926 to 1940 encompass 1929"s peak and the descent into the world's Great Depression.  WPC rolled up his sleeves and went on the offensive to ensure that his company would not only survive, but also prosper.  Financial management was deliberately conservative while engineering inventiveness continued to be encouraged via uncut budgets throughout the period.  In 1924, under the Maxwell name, the firm achieved seventh place in sales dollar terms (from moving 82,289--a mix of Chrysler and Maxwell vehicles) and again, now newly incorporated as the Chrysler Corporation, seventh place in 1925 (106,857).  At December 31, 1925, the new firm had current assets of $28,021,131.27 versus 1924"s $11,755,227.11.  Total assets stood at $85,602,497.43 (including "good will" at $25,000,000).  Net profits were an astonishing $17,126,135.85.  The years 1926 through 1940--brought happenings few fiction writers could have conceived, much less put to print!  Progress continued at an amazing rate as public acceptance grew. 
 
At the close of 1926, the firm occupied fifth place (fourth place according to the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce) based on selling 170,392 vehicles.  As Fisher bodies became unavailable, Chrysler bought Kercheval and worked with Briggs, Hayes, and soon Budd.  Gross profit from the sale of vehicles and parts for the year totaled $29,074,112.92.  Exports were 10.29 percent of business done.  Net profit totaled $15,448,586.84.  Dividends paid amounted to $9,846,828.  Facilities were provided for off shore assembly in Germany and Australia.  By introducing three new models of Chrysler brand vehicles for 1926 the firm announced extended market coverage across the entire passenger car field of the time.  The Chrysler "70"  had made her magnificent entrance for 1924 and now was named "G-70" and joined by the Chrysler "58"  and Imperial "E-80".  These numerical designations corresponded to the respective top speed abilities of each line - recognizing, of course, that varying bodies, loads, road conditions, vehicle tune, and driver skills affected results.  They all were "performers" in their day.    
 
1927 volume moved to 192,083 for third place in the industry via Series I-50, H-60, G-70, aka Finer 70, and Imperial E-80 offerings.  Net profit reached $19,484,880.11 with dividends paid totaling $9,852,352.75. Exports were important, with 14.56 percent compared to 10.29 (1926), 8.28 (1925), and 5.42 (1924). A strong balance sheet showed that current assets exceeded current liabilities by a ratio of 4.2 to 1.  Carl Breer began serious wind-tunnel research leading to the breakthrough Airflow engineering.  In-Line Eight engine development was begun. Late in 1927, Chrysler fielded the 52, 62, 72, and Imperial 80L (now with a more powerful 309.3 CID Six) as 1928 models.  Plans were afoot to establish Plymouth (out of the 52) and create De Soto.  WPC led the entry of the firm into the marine engine field, linked to his interest in boating.  In short order, the word spread that his Chrysler Imperial Marine Engines were sturdy and efficient, quite beyond any competition of the time.  Selected Chrysler employees were trained to support the new product line - used by Chris Craft initially, followed shortly by Gar Wood, Hacker, and Sea Lyon.
 
In 1928 sales of automobiles and parts brought in $315,304,817.32.  Moreover, after provision for taxes, net profit totaled a quite amazing $30,991,795.20 out of which were paid dividends of $11,747,306.57 from moving 360,399 vehicles, up from 1927"s 192,083.  USA and foreign corporate income taxes reached $4,138,962.81.  WPC knew very well that the firm needed more capacity and especially desired to take Dodge Brothers extensive works and dealer network away from the banker consortium - when price and terms had been negotiated.  WPC required that 90 percent of Dodge stockholders approve the change in order to avoid future lawsuits.  WPC friend Alfred Sloan at General Motors had suggested in 1926 to banker Clarence Dillon that he contact WPC about the Dodge Brothers business being up for potential sale.  1928 saw the introduction of Plymouth and De Soto, plus the purchase for $170,000,000 in Chrysler stock of the entire Dodge Brothers holdings, domestic and overseas, effective 30 July 1928. Chrysler Corporation took on the Dodge Brothers outstanding debt consisting of 6 percent Gold Debentures amounting to $56,705,000 plus 5 percent Serial Notes of $2,750,000.  Payments on this obligation were made steadily and the company was debt-free by 1936.  Chrysler 72s placed third and fourth at world-class LeMans, France.  Imperial took second place ahead of 72s in third and sixth place in the 24-hour endurance race at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.  Enabling actions during the year included a large new Central Engineering building, completion of a thousand cars per day Plymouth factory, an additional facility at Walkerville, Canada, additions to Highland Park to meet De Soto needs, major rearrangement of Dodge plants to improve efficiency, and re-design of Dodge cars.  As the year concluded, product offerings were listed formally as: Passenger Cars--The Plymouth, The De Soto, The Dodge Six, The Chrysler "65", The Chrysler "75", The Dodge Senior, The Chrysler Imperial.  Commercial Vehicles included: The Fargo Delivery and Station Wagons, The Fargo Trucks, The Dodge Light and Heavy Duty Trucks, The Dodge Buses and Motor Coaches, The Chrysler Marine Engines.  Mrs. Ethel Miller of Turlock, California bought the first Plymouth sold to the public.
 
For 1929 a total of 450,543 vehicles were sold for $375,033,455.01.  Dividends paid reached $13,335,764.25.  Net Current Assets at year-end were $71,385,178.08.  The ratio of total current assets to current liabilities was 4.77 to 1 ($90,312,897.79 vs. $18,927,719.71).  Funded debt, mainly the assumed Dodge Brothers" sum, was reduced by interest saving early payments totaling $10,172,000 to a balance of $49,765,000 reflecting WPC's acute sensitivity to paying interest.  The pivotal year 1929 found the firm working hard on a new four-main, In-Line Six engine family plus In-line, L-Head Eights and bringing 'down-draft' carburetion to some models.  Hydraulic brakes were now internal-expanding and Lovejoy hydraulic shock absorbers were standard on Chryslers.  Using a mature tree analogy, complete with fully leafed branches, the company's public face touted Chrysler's "root"  principle of "standardized quality"  thus capitalizing on its truly outstanding engineering and manufacturing prowess.  As a 1930 model, Dodge Brothers brand added its first Eight to sell alongside the Dodge Six.  De Soto set a new all-time record first year sales of 81,065.  Late in the year, De Soto introduced a new model as the 'lowest price eight-cylinder car in the market.  WPC is named TIME magazine's Man of the Year.  Economic uncertainty reared up, as manifested loudly by the catastrophic crash of the stock market in October.   Earlier in 1929, WPC had taken steps to conserve his personal and family finances - moves that proved prescient, given the stock market crash reality of minus $50 billion soon to damage the economy and cause massive unemployment.
 
Business slowed dramatically during 1930, with the firm selling 269,899 vehicles for $207,789,338 while recording net income of only $234,154.97 available to common stockholders.  Nevertheless, the Board collectively took a deep breath and dipped into net worth for dividends totaling $11,065,268.  Chrysler brand's lineup was led in sales volume by the new, less costly, CJ.  Plymouth franchises were extended to all 7,000 dealerships.  Bodies could be wired for radios at the factory.  The same rugged individual who designed (and costed personally) powerful steam locomotives in Pittsburgh - at a profit consistently - was not about to be thwarted.  Let the fray continue!
 
Despite continued and worsening economic factors in 1931 the company increased sales to 272,118 units, generating net profits of $1,468,935.06 on reduced revenue of  $183,805,104.77 as buyers shifted to lower-priced vehicles.  Dividends drew partly on the retained earnings balance to total $4,412,240.  Plymouth benefited by the introduction of Floating Power as it smoothed out the four-cylinder engine and led to a revolution in scientific mountings.  Research toward an automatic transmission began, led by Czech emigrant Augustin Syrovy, and taking into account prior work by Wilhelm von Pittler (1903) and Harold Sinclair (1926).  A plucky PA Plymouth handled by true driving expert Louie Miller rolled up 6,237 miles in 132 hours.  The powerful nine-main bearing engined Imperial set 12 new official class B speed records.  Fairly stated, the firm's performance was relatively cheerful given that the whole industry at retail was down 27.3 percent less than in 1930.  The industry produced 70.4 percent of its 1930 output while Chrysler Corporation managed 101.7 percent of 1930.  Model years 1931 to 1933 presented absolutely gorgeous Custom Imperials powered by the magnificent In-Line, L-Head Eight of 385 CID.  They grace show fields ever since as ultimate designs of classic elegance.
 
1932 revenue from sales totaled $136,546,522.38 and despite a net loss of $11,254,232.10 dividends were paid out totaling $4,390,243.50.  The company had been carrying as an asset, $25,000,000 for 'good will' since 1925 and now took the opportunity to reduce that figure to one dollar, while concurrently reducing net worth (called "surplus" by financial folks in those days).  Thus at year-end 1932 Chrysler Corporation was stripped for action at a balance sheet value of $138,386,703, down from $209,741,379 in 1929.  Over the years, one reads periodically that Chrysler suffered disastrous financial woes during The Great Depression.  Happily, those reports were usually imprecise, if not actually specious, and the firm remained dynamic while actually growing overall.  Its only loss year when WPC was at the helm was that incredibly difficult 1932.  The whole young auto industry suffered its worst year since 1915.  Overall 1932 production in the USA was only 57.3 percent of 1931's lackluster total. But Chrysler managed to move 222,512 units, constituting 83.7 percent of its 1931 total, thanks to all out team effort especially praised by WPC.  Industry retail sales were off a stunning 42.5 percent.  In the face of darkness, Chrysler's market share moved up to 17.4 percent versus 1931's 12 percent.  In February Chrysler took an amazing 30 percent!  Plymouth gained registrations totaling 118.6 percent over 1931. The new six-cylinder engine factory came on stream and by November was turning out power for the 1933 models.
 
Chrysler's 1933 results were quite above and beyond encouraging in those desperate times for the USA.  The company sold 25.8 percent of the market compared to 17.4 percent in 1932.  New car sales in the industry were 136.2 percent of 1932-while the Chrysler brand surged to 201.5 percent of 1932. The unit total of 451,734 topped 1929-s record total of 450,543.  Dodge soared 206.2 percent! Plymouth moved up 123 percent.  Chrysler's share of exports grew to 22,741 cars and trucks for 21.56 percent of all USA vehicle exports.  Revenues reached $238,675,952.  Net profit rebounded to $12,129,119.92, out of which was paid $4,303,567.50 in dividends.   In his message to stockholders, WPC noted that higher prices of product were forced on the company by the requirements of the National Recovery Administration code system - subsequently nullified by the US Supreme Court in 1935.
 
A 1934 total of 598,884 units rolled out, bringing in $362,254,625.84, just $12.8 million less than the all-time dollar volume peak year for the company set in 1929.  1934 saw the firm offering the following major products: Plymouth Six, Plymouth De Luxe, Dodge Six, Airflow De Soto, Chrysler Six, Airflow Chrysler Eight, Airflow Chrysler Imperial, Airflow Chrysler Custom Imperial, Dodge Brothers Commercial Cars, Trucks and Buses, Fargo Motor Coaches, Chrysler Marine and Industrial Engines.  Marketing of Airflows was indeed marred by a troubled introduction and certain embarrassing manufacturing lapses as the startup was rushed.  Corrections were rapid and thorough.  Airflows had arrived and the world automotive scene was never to be the same again.  They were simply outstanding performers in every way important at that time.  Use of true overdrive transmissions made for high speed cruising and award-winning economy should drivers opt for moderate operation.  The crack California Highway Patrol made quick use of them to apprehend readily those ever present scofflaws!  Hailed as the fastest closed stock car in America, the Airflow earned 72 Official AAA Records not exceeded until 1957.  Passenger space and comfort were revolutionized.  True, Airflows entered the market as higher-priced cars and in a blaze of competitor ridicule.  Sadly, the greatest break-through yet known in the industry did not receive its deserved praise (although having immediate influence technically) for a number of years after WPC's passing from the scene.  The facts are indisputable:  Airflow ushered in the truly modern automobile with effects -flowing- to the present day.  Usually 'lost' over the decades since 1934 is that the Chrysler Airflow that year sold 10,839 units versus Cadillac's 5,819 and Packard's 6,552. Toyota recognized her merits immediately. Against this panorama, what were the actual effects on the firm and its financial performance? Not discussed generally in the popular media then or in automotive magazines to the present day, the truth is quite positive.  The respected magazine Scientific American proclaimed Airflow's decisive influence in their August 1977 issue.  Dodge quietly engineered a highly successful four-wheel drive system much valued soon by the US Army.  Factory output, overall, actually soared over the improved 1933 results.  Plymouth starred again, building 351,113 units.  Mrs. Miller appeared, and thanks to WPC himself, bought the 1,000,000th Plymouth.
 
1935 proved to be a record year for Chrysler Corporation as output rose to 843,599 units versus 1934's 597,756.  Revenue dollars exceeded by 38 percent the previous peak achieved in pre-Depression 1929, a most welcome $516,830,333.41.  Dividends paid amounted to $8,664,652.25.  Assets at year-end reached $193,510,531.47.  Adjustments had to be made to meet production demands including reopening the Evansville, Indiana plant for exclusive Plymouth production.  Dodge built its cumulative 3,000,000th vehicle since 1914.  A leading tire manufacturer used a 1935 Chrysler as a test vehicle.  Driven twenty hours per day in two shifts excluding only Sundays and holidays between August 1935 and August 1936 the car covered 242,782 miles.  Using a test regimen that required near full throttle operation frequently, speed averaged 48.4 miles per hour and overall 15.7 miles per USA gallon.  Service and repair costs calculated to .0051 cents per mile.  Research toward the next generation of Chrysler engines began -   leading to the HEMI of 1951.  Fred M. Zeder (FMZ) was named Vice-Chairman of the Board while KTK became President and General Manager.  Following WPC's death in 1940, the Chairman position was not filled until 1950, although FMZ retained the title of Vice-Chairman until his death in 1951.  KTK was now firmly at the corporate helm.
 
1936 sales reached $667,138,391.08 on a record volume of 1,066,229 vehicles plus other equipment, earning after all charges a net $62,110,542.97 ($14.25 per common share outstanding).  Assets totaled $210,676,184.10 as the year closed. Tight financial discipline materially aided Chrysler's rise to second place, displacing the Ford Motor Company.  HFI's insistence on retaining mechanical brakes and an obsolete suspension system plus internal business control chaos certainly contributed to Ford's decline.  Chrysler's product array was now listed as: Plymouth Business Six, Plymouth De Luxe Six, Dodge, De Soto Airstream De Luxe, De Soto Airstream Custom, De Soto Airflow III, Chrysler Six, Chrysler De Luxe Eight, Chrysler Airflow Eight, Chrysler Airflow Imperial, Chrysler Airflow Custom Imperial, Dodge Brothers Commercial Cars and Trucks, Chrysler Marine and Industrial Engines, Airtemp Air Conditioning Equipment.   What a year 1936 was!  By year-end, all debt had been paid in full - Chrysler owed only Current Liabilities!  De Soto made a significant mark in the fleet taxi business garnering useful publicity from appearing in a number of Hollywood films.  All of that plus adding a new De Soto factory, construction of a new press plant, reopening the firm's Dayton, Ohio operation (for making Airtemp products) and establishing a service parts facility in Marysville, Michigan. 
 
1937 revenues reached $769,807,839.11 derived from selling still another all-time company record 1,158,518 passenger cars and commercial vehicles plus other products and service parts.  About one vehicle in four sold in the USA was Chrysler-built.  Net profit after all charges and provision for taxes was $50,729,211.40 of which a record $43,520,620.00 was paid out as stock dividends.  The Annual Report is silent as to reasons for this whopping increase in dividends.  Quite possibly, the Board was positioning the firm for the coming union move.  General Motors was already engaged heavily in organized labor actions that reduced GM production and concurrently enabled Chrysler and Ford to benefit for a time.  The firm spent, all out of current year operations as usual, $21,915,332.00 for improvements at all plants, a new facility in always important Canada for six-cylinder engine machining and assembly, plus site preparation for a new truck plant in Detroit.  Year-end assets were $188,803,076.93.  Chrysler people under direction of the famed Raymond Dietrich designed the lineup.  Across the board safety improvements included recessed instruments and improved padding for front seat backs. Rear axles were of silent hypoid design, incorporated across the lineup including Plymouth, thus extending that brand's technical leadership over Ford and Chevrolet.  Chrysler Corporation signed a labor agreement on 6 April with the United Auto Workers, led by John L. Lewis.  Business across the economy began to decline in November and was felt across industry.  The final magnificent Chrysler Airflows moved to customers, having opened sustained creative energies--eventually for the benefit of all personal mobility consumers!  Mrs. Miller, buyer of the first Plymouth in 1928, and the 1,000,000th in 1934, appeared again to take number 2,000,000 as WPC closed his direct corporate influence in positive fashion.  What a record!
 
Chrysler Corporation performance during 1926-1938 has served as a model for business study.  Here was a rare combination of product acceptance and fiscal integrity that included all participants except the banking community - since Mr. Chrysler, beyond the assumed banker-instigated bonds from the former Dodge Brothers Corporation, made little use of funds on which interest had to be paid out.  Still, the bankers had benefited previously in major ways from WPC's genius in saving their investments in both Willys and Maxwell following his "magic" in bringing Buick manufacturing to efficient fruition.  No other brand family surpassed consistently Chrysler's powerhouse engineering and manufacturing acumen grounded as it was in well-educated personnel, technically focused products, intelligent management of cash flows/inventories and the entire spectrum of a real team approach.  The yield was a tremendous 6,627,492 vehicles over those active WPC years.  Net Profits after income taxes totaled a brilliant $266,554,111.30 for the years 1926 through 1938 inclusive.  Only 1932 saw 'red' ink in a masterly performance. Moreover, Chrysler Corporation consistently paid its workers more than General Motors or Ford.  Looking at just the company and its host of suppliers tells only a part of the real economic story.  The thousands of individual dealerships across the land and in other nations, in turn, sold vehicles and service in a tremendous multiplier effect.  WPC never lost his zest for mingling among members of the entire workforce and was always approachable with a ready laugh, booming voice, gifted musical ability, generous community interests, and detailed knowledge of every aspect of humane business operations - superbly presented in Vincent Curcio's Chrysler, The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius (Oxford University Press, 2000). 
 
Total sales in 1938 fell sharply to $413,250,511.70 consisting of 570,852 passenger cars and commercial vehicles plus service parts, industrial and marine engines.  Company export shipments were up to 59,407 units.  At year-end, the Balance Sheet was healthy at $140,550,279.08 in Net Worth against Assets of $212,046,854.83.  Dividends paid totaled $8,702,264.  Chrysler introduced both Superfinish (all models) and Fluid Drive (standard on Crown Imperials, optional on other Eights) into the 1939 lineup.  Chrysler's share of the reduced market held at about 25 percent.  The New York Special appeared on the Imperial chassis and impressed via its lovely interior and serving as 'New Yorker' impetus for decades to come.
 
As 1939's lineup was announced in the Fall, models/products were now named Plymouth Business Six, Plymouth De Luxe Six, Dodge, De Soto, Chrysler Royal, Chrysler Imperial, Plymouth Commercial Cars, Dodge Brothers Commercial Cars and Trucks, Chrysler Marine and Industrial Engines, plus Airtemp Air Conditioning Equipment.  Calendar 1939 would see the appearance of several names that are popular among collectors to this day - including Royal Windsor, Windsor, Traveler, Imperial New Yorker, Imperial Saratoga, New Yorker, Saratoga, and Plymouth Roadking. 
 
Sans WPC, Chrysler rolled on as war clouds gathered in both Europe and Asia.  The Gold Seal engines became Spitfires, decorative plastics came on and in the fall of 1939 there appeared the quite different and attractive 1940s design theme.  Interior colors and more plastic brightened both 1941 and 1942 lines, especially in De Soto and Chrysler models.   Sales materials for both years stressed their links to the Airflow with evident pride.  The combination of the fluid coupling plus overdrive in 1939-1841 Eights gave them unsurpassed cruising capabilities.  Then Pearl Harbor.  The firm played a tremendous role in support of World War II, including 22,235 tanks (variously mounting beyond 75 and 76 mm guns a plethora of 105 and 155 mm howitzers, 155 mm and eight-inch long guns, bull-dozer blades, flamethrowers, mine destructors, Culin Cutters, and more), 18,413 18-cylinder (HEMI) B-29 engines, 2,098 SCR-584 mobile radar systems for directing 90 mm anti-aircraft guns, 5,500 gyroscope ship systems, 3.25 billion rounds of .30 and .45 caliber ammunition, 60,000 40mm gun systems, 60,000 spare 40mm barrels, 62,000 field cooking ranges, container plating vital to the nuclear bomb 'Manhattan' program, durable 30-cylinder tank engines (from applying some 50,000 250.6 CID engines hardened to truck specifications), 15,000 Burma Road trucks, over 438,000 other trucks in varying configurations, 34,000 ,sirens, and thousands of industrial and marine engines.  The In-Line 323.5 CID five-main bearing Eight powered 7,800 single and dual engined Sea Mule tractors and tugs. 
 
Second place was maintained after the 1945 victory via revised versions of the 1940 body shape.  The 1946-1948 technicals were proven and long-lived.  Plymouth, Dodge and De Soto earned a sterling reputation in mail delivery, sales route duty and taxi service.  Much delayed styling change appeared in 1949.  The lineup was well made though with boxy shapes that stressed functionality over sleekness.  Sales held up well at first although an extended strike in 1950 denied thousands of customer deliveries. KTK moved up to Chairman in August 1950 and Lester Lum "Tex" Colbert became President.  Introduction of the fabulous HEMI V-8s drew rave reviews though the firm still used a clutch pedal.  Net earnings remained positive during 1946 through 1952 but heavy federal taxes roughly halved the latter two years. Ford introduced well-styled new bodies for 1952 and regained second place ahead of Chrysler.  Now it was the Korean War having negative effects. 1953 styles came out conservative though the hot Dodge HEMI set 196 official stock car records.  Still the buying public was anxious for glamour and in 1954 the piper was paid as sales sank to 13 percent of the industry.  Net earnings fell 75.2 percent below 1953.  Change was needed and triggered.  KTK had hired Virgil Exner in 1949 and Ex had already done beautiful creations such as the K-310 Chrysler and had them executed in Italy.  Now, in the face of stark reality he was given full charge of a new look.  Borrowing 250 million dollars from an insurance company, Chrysler swung back hard with a stunning 1955 lineup.  The first of the Letter Series Chryslers appeared, inspired by the brilliant Bob Rodger amidst plenty of publicity.  They were the real deal and soon were into racing. Chrysler's new Chelsea Proving Grounds saw exciting 140 mph+ action.  Now gorgeous Imperial was given separate make status although still sharing certain sheet metal with Chrysler.  1956 lines were given slight fins, ample power, TorqueFlite pushbutton-controlled three-speed automatic transmissions and publicity out of NASCAR wins plus gas turbine research stimulated excitement.  All new1957 bodies swept in with fins the center of attention.  Suspension engineering made use of front torsion bars and fundamental improvements overall that made these cars handle superbly.  Unfortunately, their rushed introduction soon proved embarrassing stemming out of body sealing problems and lack of corrosion control.  Ironic indeed since 1930s company vehicles had been leaders in rust prevention.  1958 versions were much improved but faced a USA business slump of significance.  The 1959 lineup was without HEMIs in favor of a new line of OHV V8s that were conventional and said to be less costly to build. HEMIs by the factory would be back.  Chrysler reported building 11,873,600 vehicles during 1950-1959 yielding net profits of $500.8 million.  Another round of fins would open the busy 1960s.
 
1960 demonstrated Chrysler Engineering's prowess in the form of unit bodies across the board except for Imperial.  These units were well executed and given superior rust protection.  There was tribulation at the top as Colbert moved to the Chairmanship and William Newberg came in as President - lasting 64 days until toppled by a conflict of interest kept concealed but then revealed.  Lynn A. Townsend came in and George Love took the Chair slot.  De Soto was closed out in November, Fins faded as Elwood Engel took the styling helm with emphasis on big, bold and no apologies.  The firm enjoyed very good years overall but double trouble lay just ahead. A movement toward safety took hold that included mandated measures not always to advantage.  The involvement of the US Congress meant heavy political influence frequently overcoming sound engineering.  Pressure mounted to clean engine exhaust.  Fossil fuel began to be a subject of concern and compact cars played a growing role with Valiants and the soon to be famous Slant Six taking the engineering lead.  The decade 1960-1969 rolled out 17,740,100 vehicles, garnering net earnings of $1.487 billion in the process.
 
John Riccardo took office as President on 9 January 1970 subsequently becoming Chairman on 1 October 1975 as Townsend retired.  Eugene A. Cafiero became President.  The 1970s had opened with Chrysler volume booming -until the OPEC boycott of October 1973 to March 1974 signaled a new game - affecting the industry by oil supply manipulation to the present day.  Quickly the 'muscle car' mania faded as compression ratios were reduced.  Plymouth and Dodge came to dominate the very public police vehicle market on demonstrated merit.  Downsizing came on strongly and by decade's end everyone had reduced dimensions and weight.  By 1975 Chrysler had fallen to 14 percent with Ford rising to 28 and GM leading with 53 percent.  A pleasant public relations interlude centered on a new 115-inch wheelbase Chrysler called Cordoba as coaxed onto the scene by handsome actor Ricardo Montalban and selling a startling 150,000 in year one.  Chrysler Engineering again demonstrated its ability by creating front-wheel drive compacts sold as Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon and managing to do so without fanfare in a thoroughly professional fashion - shades of WPC himself.  The spring of 1979 brought another fuel crisis multiplied by a concurrent economic crunch.  Chrysler dropped 15 percent to less than 10 percent of the industry.  A savior was needed.  Lee Iacocca, fired by Ford in 1978, came in as President on 2 November 1978 and with alacrity labored to bring Chrysler back from the brink.  Over the next three years 33 of 35 vice-presidents were replaced as Mr. Iaccoca acted.  Those troubled years 1970-1979 saw volume reach 21,467,300 vehicles sold and a net loss of $520.6 million.  Indeed, the final two years concentrated an abyssal crisis at a combined loss of $1.302 billion. 
 
Chrysler's 1980s rebound had many helping hands including pragmatic Tip O'Neill when both Presidents Carter and Reagan were not vigorously engaged.  Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant 'K-car' front-wheel drive (FWD) sedans star as savior vehicles as Chrysler engineering solves long-standing FWD challenges.  The 50,000-mile warranty of 1963 is revived.  Despite all, the firm roared back with vehicles numbering 18,784,000 and net earnings of $5.047 billion. Not a dime of taxpayer money was needed and the US Treasury netted $344,000,000 via warrants imposed by Congress.  Only Chrysler met the federal CAF - requirement of 27.5 mpg.  Convertibles returned.  Collaboration with Maserati yielded briefly a sporty TC dual-top coupe and inspired the first enthusiast club founded by a lady, energetic Karleen Tarola.  American Motors is taken over along with the world-famous Jeep line.  Minivans are the real success story of the era.  Dodge Diplomat and Plymouth Gran Fury conclude their police car dominance.
 
As the 1990s opened, Chrysler had brought pension obligations to fully paid current status as money flowed as never before via product popularity as perceived by customers.  A 29-day strike was settled and a rare automatic transmission difficulty solved by aggressive action.  Mr. Iaccoca retired in 1992 and GM veteran Bob Eaton was brought in to head the firm.  Popular Bob Lutz continued to contribute.  Big returns; SUVs proliferate.  Thomas C. Gale led styling as Chrysler issued such machines as Cirrus, Viper, Avenger, Sebring, Stratus, Spirit, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Concorde, LHS, Intrepid, Neon, Lxi, Breeze, Voyager, PT Cruiser and Durango.  Chrysler moves to market an upscale minivan branded Town & Country.  WPC's creation never shown more brightly than during the years 1990 through 1997 inclusive with production totaling 19,782,100 vehicles and net earnings a whopping record $14.8 billion.  Total revenues saw the years 1996 and 1997 reach a tremendous $61.397 billion and $61.147 billion respectively.  Concurrently, industry leaders knew a crisis impended in the form of foreign firms growing both here and in their home nations without the labor, job-bank, work rules, and health care cost burden carried by the few remaining American firms. Chrysler's late successes made it ripe for a takeover. Thinly disguised (the reality was in the fine print that might have been read--to be sure) as a merger, top leadership was enriched by a very lucrative payoff and soon left a scene that had for decades ached for reform and a return to reality.  Chrysler Corporation--a publicly held USA firm since 1925--came to a close during 1998. A major American icon departed our shores without a whimper from the incumbent national administration, preoccupied by sex scandal and impeachment, in a transaction the story of which is yet to be told fully.  Record production totals for the decade's final two years were reported by then DaimlerChrysler - for 1998, 3,093,716; during 1999, 3,229,270.  The Chrysler Group of the new firm was credited with adjusted operating profits of Euro 4.255 billion (1998) and $5.266 billion (1999).  Given Chrysler's earned, hard won position by 1997/8 and its demonstrated momentum the events that followed were unfortunate to say the least.  During May 2007 DaimlerChrysler sold 80.1 percent of their Chrysler Group to Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., changing their name to Daimler AG.  300C name returns; Chrysler's minivans continue their 25-year leadership and for 2009 can be equipped with features as varied as powered sliding doors on both flanks, tire pressure monitoring system, dual-screen entertainment systems, interior scanning mirror, 115-volt outlet, self-contained fold into floor seats, three different engine power levels, progressive pressure air bags, and much more.  Retired Chrysler Master Technician Robert Lelakowski reports completing a cross-country vacation in a 2008 version, operating in air-conditioned comfort over more than 6,500 miles at Interstate speeds while averaging 29 mpg in open country and nearly 26 overall.  Surely vehicle success honoring the combined efforts of many.  WPC Club members in all 50 USA states and more than 20 countries are joined together in spirited appreciation of Chrysler's contributions.                                      
                                      Dr. David George Briant, December 25, 2008


 

CHRYSLER CORPORATIONS PULSATING YEARS:  1926-1938
 
By Dr. David George Briant
 
To the Stockholders of the Chrysler Corporation: The past year has been one of notable progress and achievement for your business.  With an increased volume amounting to 167% of that of the previous calendar year, 1924, the net profits for the calendar year 1925 aggregate $17,126,135.85 after making provision for Federal Taxes estimated at $2,471,000.  This is nearly four times the net profit earned during the preceding year and reflects the improved position won by Chrysler cars in the automobile trade. 
Walter P. Chrysler, March 9, 1926, from the first Annual Report message by WPC
following incorporation in 1925.
 
To the Stockholders of Chrysler Corporation: Chrysler Corporation sales, for the year ended
December 31, 1936, were $667,138,391.08.  It sold 1,066,229 vehicles and earned $62,110,542.97 after all charges.  These earnings amount to $14.25 per share of common stock outstanding . . .The balance of $10,000,000 bank loans outstanding at the beginning of the year was paid.  The Corporation now has no debts outstanding other than current liabilities.  During the year, the Corporation increased its wage rates and continued to pay wage rates higher than the average in the automobile industry, which, itself, is one of the highest wage-rate industries in the country . . .
Walter P. Chrysler, February 10, 1937, from the final Annual Report message signed solely by WPC.
 

Chrysler: A Soon To Be Mighty
Industrial Force Takes Hold 
 
Certainly, one of the most compelling industrial sagas of the 20th century was the rise of the Chrysler Corporation.  Public acceptance had to be obtained for survival to be sure, given the more than 2,000 firms that had tried and failedand entry into and subsequent success in an established oligopoly meant leadership of the first order.  While the adage preparation plus opportunity equals luck is too simplistic, indeed Walter Percy Chrysler (WPC) had the right stuff at precisely the right time in history.  There was boldness in engineering, care in manufacturing, skill in marketing, yes.  But more, far more . . . 
 
Built On Innovative Engineering
Yet Prudently Fiscally Focused 
 
Examination of the record reveals clearly that conservative financial controls kept the corporate ship mid-channel even in stormy weather.  Board of Directors members as 1926 opened were: WPC
, Chairman, J. S. Bache, J. C. Brady, Harry Bronner, Hugh Chalmers, Delos W. Cooke, Allen F. Edwards, B. E. Hutchison, W. F. Kenny, D. R. McLain, Giles W. Mead, W. Ledyard Mitchell, Mercer P. Moseley, Henry Sanderson, and E. R. Tinker.  Innovations and technical firsts came along steadily throughout the worst business depression in all history.  Only the coming of World War II finally expunged its effects.  Despite the times, Chryslers reputation soared.  In fact, the competition mounted more that one defamation campaign to offset the firms potency of those days.  Indeed, the federal government was watchingand when the war tocsin sounded Chrysler was tapped to take on important projects, including tanks, work that was key to obtaining the atom bomb before Germany, and on into motivating missile programs to meet Cold War needs.  Volume and dollar  figures used throughout are Calendar Year totals as published in official Annual Reports issued by Chrysler Corporation.
 
Walter Percy Chrysler: Automotive Genius & Undisputed Corporate Leader
 
WPC served as Chairman of the Board of Directors until his death in 1940 at age 65.  He had appointed Kaufman Thuma Keller to the presidency in 1935, turning over daily operations at that point.  WPC
remained a strong influential force until his stroke in 1938.  WPC NEWS has presented previously the background and startup of the firm (WPC NEWS, October 2000, August 2005).  Herein, is taken up emphasis on corporate performance during the years 1926 to 1938, encompassing 1929s peak and the descent into the worlds Great Depression.  WPC rolled up his sleeves and went on the offensive to ensure that his company would not only survive, but also prosper.  Financial management was deliberately conservative while engineering inventiveness continued to be encouraged via uncut budgets throughout the period.  In 1924, under the Maxwell name, the firm achieved seventh place in sales dollar terms (from moving 82,289--a mix of Chrysler and Maxwell vehicles) and again, now newly incorporated as the Chrysler Corporation, seventh place in 1925 (106,857).  At December 31, 1925, the new firm had current assets of $28,021,131.27 versus 1924s $11,755,227.11.  Total assets stood at $85,602,497.43 (including good will at $25,000,000).  Net profits were an astonishing $17,126,135.85.  Lets go to pulsating action during the years 1926 through 1938--years that brought happenings few fiction writers could have conceived, much less put to print!    Progress continued at an amazing rate as public acceptance grew. 
 
1926: Offerings Broadened, Performance Emphasized, Fifth Place Earned
Net Earnings: $15,448,586.84
 
At the close of 1926, the firm occupied fifth place (fourth place according to the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce) based on selling 170,392 vehicles.  As Fisher bodies became unavailable, Chrysler bought Kercheval and worked with Briggs, Hayes, and soon Budd.  Gross profit from the sale of vehicles and parts for the year totaled $29,074,112.92.  Exports were 10.29 percent of business done.  Net profit totaled $15,448,586.84.  Dividends paid amounted to $9,846,828.  Facilities were provided for off shore assembly in Germany and Australia.  By introducing three new models of Chrysler brand vehicles for 1926 the firm announced extended market coverage across the entire passenger car field of the time.  The Chrysler 70 had made her magnificent entrance for 1924 and now was named G-70 and joined by the Chrysler 58 and Imperial E-80.  These numerical designations corresponded to the respective top speed abilities of each linerecognizing, of course, that varying bodies, loads, road conditions, vehicle tune, and driver skills affected results.  They all were performers in their day.    
 
1927: Chrysler Takes Third Place
Net Earnings: $19,484,880.11
 
Volume moved to 192,083 for third place in the industry via Series I-50, H-60, G-70, aka Finer 70, and Imperial E-80 offerings.  Net profit reached $19,484,880.11 with dividends paid totaling $9,852,352.75.. Exports were important, with 14.56 percent compared to 10.29 (1926), 8.28 (1925), and 5.42 (1924).  A strong balance sheet showed that current assets exceeded current liabilities by a ratio of 4.2 to 1.  Carl Breer began serious wind-tunnel research leading to the breakthrough Airflow engineering.    In-Line Eight engine development was begun.
Plymouth & DeSoto Planning Underway.
  Late in 1927, Chrysler fielded the 52, 62, 72, and Imperial 80L (now with a more powerful 309.3 CID Six) as 1928 models.  Plans were afoot to establish Plymouth (out of the 52) and create DeSoto.
Marine Engine Offerings Immediately Successful. WPC led the entry of the firm into the marine engine field, linked to his interest in boating.  In short order, the word spread that his Chrysler Imperial Marine Engines were sturdy and efficient, quite beyond any competition of the time.  Selected Chrysler employees were trained to support the new product lineused by Chris Craft initially, followed shortly by Gar Wood, Hacker, and Sea Lyon.
 
1928: WPC Buys Dodge Brothers
Introduces DeSoto &
Plymouth
Net Earnings: $30,991,795.20
 
Sales of automobiles and parts brought in $315,304,817.32.  Moreover, after provision for taxes, net profit totaled a quite amazing $30,991,795.20 out of which were paid dividends of $11,747,306.57, from moving 360,399 vehicles, up from 1927s 192,083.  USA and foreign corporate income taxes reached $4,138,962.81.
More Factory Capacity Needed.
  WPC knew very well that the firm needed more capacity and especially desired to take Dodge Brothers extensive works and dealer network away from the banker consortiumwhen price and terms had been negotiated.  WPC required that 90 percent of Dodge stockholders approve the change in order to avoid future lawsuits. WPC friend Alfred Sloan at General Motors had suggested in 1926 to banker Clarence Dillon that he contact WPC about the Dodge Brothers business being up for potential sale. 
Cashless Purchase Of Dodge Successful. 1928 saw the introduction of Plymouth and DeSoto, plus the purchase for $170,000,000 in Chrysler stock of the entire Dodge Brothers holdings, domestic and overseas, effective 30 July 1928.  Some sources indicate that the Dodge Brothers acquisition was a merger rather than the sale that it, in fact, waswith new management taking over immediately.  Chrysler Corporation took on the Dodge Brothers outstanding debt consisting of 6 percent Gold Debentures amounting to $56,705,000 plus 5 percent Serial Notes of $2,750,000.  Payments on this obligation were made steadily and the company was debt-free by 1936.
Chrysler 72s & Imperials Perform Impressively.  Chrysler 72s placed third and fourth at world-class LeMans, France.  Imperial took second place ahead of 72s in third and sixth place in the 24-hour endurance race at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. 
On The Move For Certain! Enabling actions during the year included a large new Central Engineering building, completion of a thousand cars per day Plymouth factory, an additional facility at Walkerville, Canada, additions to Highland Park to meet De Soto needs, major rearrangement of Dodge plants to improve efficiency, and re-design of Dodge cars.  Illustrative of the firms tight management practices throughout these years was the writing off to current operations of all new model expense incurred.  Of course, the dollar went a lot further in those days. 
Now A Big Three Operator!  As the year concluded, product offerings were listed formally as: Passenger Cars--The Plymouth, The DeSoto, The Dodge Six, The Chrysler 65, The Chrysler 75, The Dodge Senior, The Chrysler Imperial.  Commercial Vehicles included: The Fargo Delivery and Station Wagons, The Fargo Trucks, The Dodge Light and Heavy Duty Trucks, The Dodge Buses and Motor Coaches, The Chrysler Marine Engines.  Mrs. Ethel Miller of Turlock, California bought the first Plymouth sold to the public.
 
1929: Peak Year Volume Thus Far
Standardized Quality Theme Appears
Net Earnings: $21,902,168.25
 
A total of 450,543 vehicles were sold for $375,033,455.01.  Dividends paid reached $13,335,764.25.  Net Current Assets at year-end were $71,385,178.08.  The ratio of total current assets to current liabilities was 4.77 to 1 ($90,312,897.79 vs. $18,927,719.71).  Funded debt, mainly the assumed Dodge Brothers sum, was reduced by interest saving early payments totaling $10,172,000 to a balance of $49,765,000 reflecting WPCs acute sensitivity to paying interest.  The pivotal year 1929 found the firm working hard on a new four-main, In-Line Six engine family plus In-line, L-Head Eights and bringing down-draft carburetion to some models.  Hydraulic brakes were now internal-expanding and Lovejoy hydraulic shock absorbers were standard on Chryslers.
Standardized Quality Touted.  Using a mature tree analogy, complete with fully leafed branches, the companys public face touted Chryslers root principle of standardized quality thus capitalizing on its truly outstanding engineering and manufacturing prowess.  As a 1930 model, Dodge Brothers brand added its first Eight to sell alongside the Dodge Six.  DeSoto set a new all-time record first year sales of 81,065.  Late in the year, DeSoto introduced a new model as the lowest price eight-cylinder car in the market.  WPC named TIME magazines Man of the Year.
WPC Anticipated Market Troubles. Economic uncertainty reared up, as manifested loudly by the catastrophic crash of the stock market in October.   Earlier in 1929, WPC had taken steps to conserve his personal and family financesmoves that proved prescient, given the stock market crash reality of minus $50 billion soon to damage the economy and cause massive unemployment.
 
1930: Swinging To The Offensive
Net Earnings: $234,154.97
 
Business slowed dramatically during 1930, with the firm selling 269,899 vehicles for $207,789,338 while recording net income of only $234,154.97 available to common stockholders.  Nevertheless, the Board collectively took a deep breath and dipped into net worth for dividends totaling $11,065,268.  Chrysler brands lineup was led in sales volume by the new, less costly, CJ.  Plymouth franchises were extended to all 7,000 dealerships.  Bodies could be wired for radios at the factory.  By the close of 1930 world conditions had darkened and real hardships emerged.  Media doubters, always lurking, began to have a field day of gloom. 
WPC Swims Strongly Forward.
  The genius Walter Percy Chrysler was not about to bail out of a Manhattan office window for a quick end as hundreds did.  Rather, he considered carefully, then swung to the offensive.  The same rugged individual who designed (and costed personally) powerful steam locomotives in Pittsburghat a profit consistentlywas not about to be thwarted. Concurrently, the non-corporate 1,046-foot Chrysler Building was completed in Aprildeliberately towering higher than the Eiffel in Paris and briefly the tallest structure in the history of the world.  Let the fray continue!
 
1931: Corporate Sales Edge Higher
Classic Imperials Astound
Net Earnings: $1,468,935.06
 
Despite continued and worsening economic factors in 1931 the company increased sales to 272,118 units, generating net profits of $1,468,935.06 on reduced revenue of  $183,805,104.77 as buyers shifted to lower-priced vehicles.  Dividends drew partly on the retained earnings balance to total $4,412,240.  Plymouth benefited by the introduction of Floating Power as it smoothed out the four-cylinder engine and led to a revolution in scientific mountings.  Research toward an automatic transmission began, led by Czech emigrant Augustin Syrovy, and taking into account prior work by Wilhelm von Pittler (1903) and Harold Sinclair (1926). 
Plymouth
Four Rips Off 6,237 Mile Run In 132 Hours.  A plucky PA Plymouth handled by true driving expert Louie Miller rolled up 6,237 miles in 132 hours.  The powerful Imperial set 12 new official class B speed records.  Fairly stated, the firms performance was relatively cheerful given that the whole industry at retail was down 27.3 percent less than in 1930.  The industry produced 70.4 percent of its 1930 output while Chrysler Corporation managed 101.7 percent of 1930. 
Those Wonderful Custom Imperials.  Model years 1931 to 1933 presented absolutely gorgeous Custom Imperials powered by the magnificent In-Line, L-Head Eight of 385 CID.  They grace show fields more than seventy years later as ultimate designs of classic elegance, as demonstrated during the 2005 WPC National Meet by Sherwood Kahlenbergs 1931 example.
 
1932: Chrysler Corporations Sole Red Year During WPCs Leadership
Net Loss: $11,254,232.10
 
Revenue from sales totaled $136,546,522.38 and despite a net loss of $11,254,232.10 dividends were paid out totaling $4,390, 243.50.  The company had been carrying as an asset, $25,000,000 for good will since 1925 and now took the opportunity to reduce that figure to one dollar, while concurrently reducing net worth (called surplus by financial folks in those days).  Thus at year-end 1932 Chrysler Corporation was stripped for action at a balance sheet value of $138,386,703, down from $209,741,379 in 1929.  Over the years, one reads periodically that Chrysler suffered disastrous financial woes during The Great Depression.  Happily, those reports were usually far wrong, if not actually specious, and the firm remained dynamic while actually growing overall.  Its only loss year when WPC was at the helm was that incredible 1932.  Auto Industry Has Worst Year Since 1915.  The whole young auto industry suffered its worst year since 1915.  Overall production in the USA was only 57.3 percent of 1931s lackluster total. But Chrysler managed to move 222,512 units, constituting 83.7 percent of its 1931 total, thanks to all out team effort especially praised by WPC.  Industry retail sales were off a stunning 42.5 percent. 
Chrysler Corporation Share Moves Up From 12 To 17.4%.   In the face of darkness, Chryslers market share moved up to 17.4 percent versus 1931s 12 percent.  In February Chrysler took an amazing 30 percent!  Plymouth gained registrations totaling 118.6 percent over 1931. The new six-cylinder engine factory came on stream and by November was turning out power for the 1933 models.
 
1933:  Chrysler Corporation Takes
25.8 Percent Market Share
Net Earnings: $12,129,119.92
 
Chryslers 1933 results were quite above and beyond encouraging in those desperate times for the USA.  The company sold 25.8 percent of the market compared to 17.4 percent in 1932.  New car sales in the industry were 136.2 percent of 1932while Chrysler surged to 201.5 percent of 1932.  The unit total of 451,734 topped 1929s record total of 450,543.  Dodge soared 206.2 percent! 
Plymouth moved up 123 percent.  Chryslers share of exports grew to 22,741 cars and trucks for 21.56 percent of all USA vehicle exports.  Revenues reached $238,675,952.  Net profit rebounded to $12,129,119.92, out of which was paid $4,303,567.50 in dividends.   In his message to stockholders, WPC noted that higher prices of product were forced on the company by the requirements of the National Recovery Administration code systemsubsequently nullified by the US Supreme Court in 1935.
 
1934: Airflows Giant Leap
Revolutionary Overwhelming Change
Net Earnings: $9,534,836.68
 
A total of 598,884 units rolled out, bringing in $362,254,625.84, just $12.8 million less than the all-time dollar volume peak year for the company set in 1929.  1934 saw the firm offering the following major products: Plymouth Six, Plymouth De Luxe, Dodge Six, Airflow De Soto, Chrysler Six, Airflow Chrysler Eight, Airflow Chrysler Imperial, Airflow Chrysler Custom Imperial, Dodge Brothers Commercial Cars, Trucks and Buses, Fargo Motor Coaches, Chrysler Marine and Industrial Engines. 
Airflow Portends Automotive Paradigm Shift.
  Marketing of Airflows was indeed marred by a troubled introduction and certain embarrassing manufacturing lapses as the startup was rushed.  Corrections were rapid and thorough.  Airflows had arrived and the world automotive scene was never to be the same again.  They were simply outstanding performers in every way important at that time.  Use of true overdrive transmissions made for high speed cruising and award-winning economy should drivers opt for moderate operation.  The crack California Highway Patrol made quick use of them to apprehend readily those ever present scofflaws!  Hailed as the fastest closed stock car in America, the Airflow earned 72 Official AAA Records.  Passenger space and comfort were revolutionized.  True, Airflows entered the market as higher-priced cars and in a blaze of competitor ridiculeemblematic of harshness common in capitalistic, free speech societies.  Sadly, the greatest break-through yet known in the industry did not receive its deserved praise (although having immediate influence technically) for a number of years after WPCs passing from the scene.  The facts are indisputable:  Airflow ushered in the truly modern automobile with effects flowing to the present day. 
Though Expensive Airflow Outsold Cadillac & Packard.  Usually lost over the decades since 1934 is that the Chrysler Airflow that year sold 10,839 units versus Cadillacs 5,819 and Packards 6,552.   Toyota recognized her merits immediately. Against this panorama, what were the actual effects on the firm and its financial performance?  Not discussed generally in the popular media then or in automotive magazines to the present day, the truth is quite positive.  Factory output, overall, actually soared over the improved 1933 results.  Plymouth starred again, building 351,113 units.  Mrs. Miller appeared, and thanks to WPC himself, bought the 1,000,000th Plymouth.
 
1935: Chrysler Corporation At Record Level
Net Earnings Surge To $34,975,818.69
 
1935 proved to be a record year for Chrysler Corporation as output rose to 843,599 units versus 1934s 597,756.  Revenue dollars exceeded by 38 percent the previous peak achieved in pre-Depression 1929, a most welcome $516,830,333.41.  Dividends paid amounted to $8,664,652.25.  Assets at year-end reached $193,510,531.47.  Adjustments had to be made to meet production demands including reopening the Evansville, Indiana plant for exclusive Plymouth production.  Dodge built its cumulative 3,000,000th vehicle since 1914.  A 1935 Chrysler was used as a test vehicle by a leading tire manufacturer.  Driven twenty hours per day in two shifts excluding only Sundays and holidays between August 1935 and August 1936 the car covered 242,782 miles.  Using a test regimen that required near full throttle operation frequently, speed averaged 48.4 miles per hour, averaging overall 15.7 miles per USA gallon.  Service and repair costs calculated to .0051 cents per mile.  Research toward the next generation of Chrysler engines beganleading to the HEMI of 1951.  Fred M. Zeder (FMZ) was named Vice-Chairman of the Board while KTK became President and General Manager.  Following WPCs death in 1940, the Chairman position was not filled until 1950, although FMZ retained the title of Vice-Chairman until his death in 1951.  KTK was now firmly at the corporate helm.
 
1936: Chrysler Pays Three Bonuses Totaling $8,000,000 To Hourly Employees
Net Earnings A Record $62,110,542.97
 
Sales reached $667,138,391.08 on a record volume of 1,066,229 vehicles plus other equipment, earning after all charges a net $62,110,542.97 ($14.25 per common share outstanding).  Assets totaled $210,676,184.10 as the year closed.  Tight financial discipline materially aided Chryslers rise to second place, displacing the Ford Motor Company.  HFIs insistence on retaining mechanical brakes and an obsolete suspension system plus internal business control chaos certainly contributed to Fords decline.  All despite Edsel Fords brilliance and impact on exterior styling.  Chryslers product array was now listed as: Plymouth Business Six, Plymouth De Luxe Six, Dodge, DeSoto Airstream De Luxe, DeSoto Airstream Custom, DeSoto Airflow III
, Chrysler Six, Chrysler De Luxe Eight, Chrysler Airflow Eight, Chrysler Airflow Imperial, Chrysler Airflow Custom Imperial, Dodge Brothers Commercial Cars and Trucks, Chrysler Marine and Industrial Engines, Airtemp Air Conditioning Equipment.   What a year 1936 was! 
Debt-Free: Dodge Bonds Concluded.
  By year-end, all debt had been paid in full -Chrysler owed only Current Liabilities!  Imagine for a moment that the USA federal authorities were to practice such discipline!  DeSoto made a significant mark in the fleet taxi business garnering useful publicity from appearing in a number of Hollywood films.  All of that plus adding a new DeSoto factory, construction of a new press plant, reopening the firms Dayton, Ohio operation (for making Airtemp products) and establishing a service parts facility in Marysville, Michigan.  Professional boxing was of widespread interest at the time and rising Nazi Germany made much of former World Champion Max Schmelings knock out of young Joe Louis, former worker in Detroits auto plants!
 
1937: A Record 1,158,518 Vehicles Made
Net Earnings Total $50,729,211.40
 
 
Revenues reached $769,807,839.11 derived from selling still another all-time company record 1,158,518 passenger cars and commercial vehicles plus other products and service parts.  About one vehicle in four sold in the USA was Chrysler-built. 
Airflow Four Years Tremendously Profitable.
  Net profit after all charges and provision for taxes was $50,729,211.40 of which a record $43,520,620.00 was paid out as stock dividends.  The Annual Report is silent as to reasons for this whopping increase in dividends.  Quite possibly, the Board was positioning the firm for the coming union move.  General Motors was already engaged heavily in organized labor actions that reduced GM production and concurrently enabled Chrysler and Ford to benefit for a time.  The firm spent, all out of current year operations as usual, $21,915,332.00 for improvements at all plants, a new facility in always important Canada for six-cylinder engine machining and assembly, plus site preparation for a new truck plant in Detroit.  Year-end assets were $188,803,076.93.  Chrysler people under direction of the famed Raymond Dietrich designed the lineup.  Across the board safety improvements included recessed instruments and improved padding for front seat backs.
Plymouths Technical Leaders Of Low-Priced Field. Rear axles were of silent hypoid design, incorporated across the lineup including Plymouth, thus extending that brands technical leadership over Ford and Chevrolet.  Chrysler Corporation signed a labor agreement on 6 April with the United Auto Workers, led by John L. Lewis.  Business across the economy began to decline in November and was felt across industry.  The final magnificent Chrysler Airflows moved to customers, having opened sustained creative energies--eventually for the benefit of all personal mobility consumers!  Mrs. Miller, buyer of the first Plymouth in 1928, and the 1,000,000th in 1934, appeared again to take the 2,000,000th!
 
1938:  USA Consumer Confidence Slumps
Net Earnings $18,798,293.65
 
Total sales in 1938 fell sharply to $413,250,511.70 and included 570,852 passenger cars and commercial vehicles plus service parts, industrial and marine engines.  Company export shipments were up to 59,407 units.  At year-end, the Balance Sheet was healthy at $140,550,279.08 in Net Worth against Assets of $212,046,854.83.  Dividends paid totaled $8,702,264.
Major War Imminent.
  International conditions were ominous thanks to aggressive Germany and Japan, while the worlds great democracies as well as other forms of governments were pitifully unprepared for defense.  The hapless League of Nations failed utterly (the United States Senate had failed by one vote to confirm USA membership following World War I). 
Technical Advances Continued. Chrysler introduced both Superfinish (all models) and Fluid Drive (standard on Crown Imperials, optional on other Eights) into the 1939 lineup.  Chryslers share of the reduced market held at about 25 percent.  The New York Special appeared on the Imperial chassis and impressed via its lovely interior and serving as New Yorker impetus for decades to come.
Fall Sees Name Changes.  As 1939s lineup was announced in the Fall, models/products were now named Plymouth Business Six, Plymouth De Luxe Six, Dodge, DeSoto, Chrysler Royal, Chrysler Imperial, Plymouth Commercial Cars, Dodge Brothers Commercial Cars and Trucks, Chrysler Marine and Industrial Engines, plus Airtemp Air Conditioning Equipment.  Calendar 1939 would see the appearance of several names that are popular among collectors to this dayincluding Royal Windsor, Windsor, Traveler, Imperial New Yorker, Imperial Saratoga, New Yorker, Saratoga, and Plymouth Roadking.  Board members included WPC, Chairman, F. M. Zeder, Vice-Chairman, J. S. Bache, J. C. Brady, Carl Breer, Harry Bronner, Waddill Catchings, W. P. Chrysler, Jr., George W. Davison, J. E. Fields, Byron C. Foy, John A. Hartford, B. E. Hutchison, K. T. Keller, Nicholas Kelley, W. Ledyard Mitchell, O. R. Skelton, Matthew S. Sloan, Harold E. Talbott, and Juan T. Trippe.   Champion boxer Joe Louis (1914-1981) defeated Max Schmeling (1905-2005) in 2 minutes, four seconds of round one of their return match that drew massive world attention.  Years later, Max helped pay the cost of Joes funeral.
 
Chrysler Corporations Pulsating Saga
Kept Firmly On Course
 
Chrysler Corporation performance during 1926-1938 serves as a model for business study.  Here was a rare combination of product acceptance and fiscal integrity that included all participants except the banking communitysince Mr. Chrysler, beyond the assumed banker-instigated bonds from the former Dodge Brothers Corporation, made little use of funds on which interest had to be paid out.  Still, the bankers had benefited previously in major ways from WPCs genius in saving their investments in both Willys and Maxwell following his magic in bringing Buick manufacturing to efficient fruition (in 1926, Buick made 266,753 cars, exceeded only by Ford and Chevrolet!).  No other brand family surpasses consistently Chryslers powerhouse engineering and manufacturing acumen grounded as it was in well-educated personnel, technically focused products, intelligent management of cash flows/inventories and the entire spectrum of a real team approach. 
 
From Fifth To Second Place While Creating 6,627,492 Vehicles To Net $266,554,111.30
 
The yield was a tremendous 6,627,492 vehicles over 13 pulsating years.  In the Team Effort Pays Off realm, Net Profits after income taxes totaled a brilliant $266,554,111.30 for the years 1926 through 1938 inclusive.  Only 1932 saw red ink in an amazing surge.  Moreover, Chrysler Corporation consistently paid its workers more than General Motors or Ford.  Looking at just the company and its host of suppliers, of course, tells only a part of the real economic story.  The thousands of individual dealerships across the land and in other nations, in turn, sold vehicles and service in a tremendous multiplier effect.
Mr. Chrysler Unspoiled By Success.
WPC never lost his zest for mingling among members of the entire workforce and was always approachable with a ready laugh, booming voice, gifted musical ability, healthy sports interests, and detailed knowledge of every aspect of humane business operations superbly presented in Vincent Curcio's Chrysler, The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius
Plymouths Benefited Via Engineering Largess. Plymouth sales were, of course, the core sustaining the firm during many of these years and linked to the love for the famous post-war P15s as honored by Chuck and Lois Jensen at WPC National Meets.
                


Early Chrysler Corporate History   1903 - 1928
By Cliff Lockwood, October 18, 1968
This article was featured in the November, 1983 issue of the WPC NEWS
     

     

1903 -- Jonathan Maxwell designed the first Maxwell car and, with Benjamin Briscoe, formed the Maxwell-Briscoe Company. Using an existing Plant at Tarrytown, N. Y., they started production on June 1904, building 532 Maxwell cars in the first year. In 1907 they built a new plant at Newcastle, Indiana, which is still part of Chrysler facilities in that city.

1910 -- Benjamin Briscoe organized the United States Motor Company, as an amalgamation of several independents, who were encountering difficulty in securing necessary financial backing. These included: Maxwell, Stoddard-Dayton, Courier, Columbia, Brush, Sampson Trucks and Gray Marine, with the Thomas and other lines being added later.

1913 -- United States Motor Company failed, due to conflict between two of its backers, who also had a financial interest in General Motors. The Maxwell assets were then purchased by Walter Flanders, who   reorganized the company as the Maxwell Motor Company, Inc., and continued to build the popular Maxwell cars, sales of which ranked 5th in N.A.C.C. ratings. The Maxwell facilities included plants at Newcastle, Dayton and Highland Park, the latter consisting of a small, two story brick office building on Oakland Avenue and three factory buildings that had been built in 1909. One of these buildings still survives as the Engineering Road Test Garage (Ed. Note: This building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) .

1917 -- Maxwell Motor Company leased the Chalmers Motor Company's Jefferson Avenue Plant, to augment their Highland Park facilities, both of which were needed by Maxwell to fill World War I government orders.

1920 -- Maxwell Motor Company, Inc., owing some $43,000,000 was on the verge of bankruptcy and Walter P. Chrysler, who had retired as President of Buick and vice-president of General Motors, was asked to head-up a reorganization committee, which arranged for the purchase of the combined assets of Maxwell and Chalmers -- and formed Maxwell Motor Corporation, effective May 1921. Mr. Chrysler became Chairman of the Board.

1921 -- Maxwell Motor Corporation continued to build the Chalmers car and an improved Maxwell car, advertised as the "Good Maxwell."

1923 -- Walter Chrysler brought Fred Zeder, Owen Skelton and Carl Breer into the organization, as the nucleus of a new Engineering Department - and while continuing to build the Good Maxwell at Highland Park, commenced production of pilot models of the Chrysler Six in the Jefferson Ave. Plant.

1924 -- The Chrysler Six was introduced to the public in January 1924 during the National Auto Show in New York City, where it was very favorably received, getting off to a good start with production of 32,000 units in the first year.

The Chrysler Corporation was organized effective June 6, 1925, replacing the Maxwell Motor Corporation -- and the Maxwell car was discontinued. A new four- cylinder car, the Chrysler Four, went into production in June at the Highland Park Plant, as a companion car to the Chrysler Six, which was built at the Jefferson Avenue Plant.

1926 -- Chrysler introduced its first big, luxury car - the Imperial "80" to round out its line, along with the Chrysler "50", the "60" and the "70"

1928 -- In June, Chrysler commenced production of the Plymouth car, at Highland Park, replacing the 4-cylinder Chrysler. In July they also started production on a new light six to be known as the DeSoto for distribution though a new DeSoto dealer organization.

In July 1928, Chrysler Corp. also purchased Dodge Brothers, INC., from the New York banking firm of Dillon, Read & Co., for $170,000,000.00 The bankers had purchased the company from Dodge family a few years earlier, after the death of the two Dodge brothers. Dodge became a division of Chrysler Corporation.

In 1928, Chrysler Corporation also established separate divisions for distribution of various lines of cars: Plymouth Motor Corporation, Dodge Brothers Corporation, DeSoto Motor Corporation and the Chrysler Sales Corporation. The Fargo Motor Corp. was also organized to handle national fleet business and the following year Chrysler Motors Parts Corp was formed to merchandise parts for all of the Corporation's lines. Chrysler Export Corp., had been organized in 1927.

1930 -- The Plymouth Franchise, which had been handled by Chrysler Division dealers was also given to Dodge and DeSoto dealers, as well as Chrysler dealers, thereby providing approximately 10,000 outlets for Plymouth cars.  

 



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