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A Short History of Chrysler

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One of the best American cars(?)

Chrysler's history is long and varied.

By The Editors

Thu, Mar 21, 2024 11:22 PM PST

Featured Image by Boriskin Vladislav.

The USA has given the world many unique car models. Their manufacturers have become absolute world legends and received universal recognition. Among them, the most famous is Chrysler. This brand is now going through hard times and is desperately fighting for its existence. However, for many decades before that, it was at the peak of popularity and became the automotive symbol of the country for Americans. Let's study each stage of the development of the legendary band together and try to predict its future fate.

Period before WWII

The legendary American automobile company appeared in 1925. Its founder was businessman and engineer Walter Chrysler, who was 50 years old then. This man initiated the transformation of the already existing MMC into Chrysler Corporation. Its headquarters were in Michigan, where it was for many years (until 1996). Even though Chrysler was born in 1925, the first car under this brand was released in 1924. It was built at Willys-Overland when this famous company was not in the best financial position, and its management was given to the W. Chrysler Corporation. This vehicle created a natural sensation, as it was equipped with many modern innovations that were not found even in the models of the best manufacturers of that time.

In 1926, Chrysler released several budget cars. They had the MMC logo on them, but everyone still knew who was behind the production of these vehicles. These models became popular in the United States, allowing Chrysler to quickly rise in ranking the most profitable automobile companies. Over the next few years, the legendary US manufacturer released its new products under various brands. Budget cars were called Plymouth, and models from the mid-price segment were called DeSoto. Chrysler also founded the Dodge Brothers brand, which offered customers trucks with the Fargo logo and Dodge cars.


With the beginning of WWII, the direction of Chrysler's activities changed dramatically. He completely stopped car production and switched his attention to various military equipment. The most popular tanks were the M2, M4 Sherman, and M26 Pershing, of which more than 25 thousand were produced. They were used during several famous military operations and performed well there.

After the end of hostilities, Chrysler was in no hurry to return to his previous occupation. The company was producing various components, particularly engines and some devices related to cars (for example, transistor radios for car interiors). It was not until 1955 that Chrysler fully returned to the American automobile industry. At this time, the company began producing premium models under the Imperial brand. They were supposed to become serious competitors for Lincoln and Cadillac and gradually gain the most popular status in the United States.

In the 1960s, Chrysler actively bought up enterprises that could produce cars. Most of them were located in different European countries, which enabled Chrysler to begin entering the markets of Spain, Great Britain, and France.


A difficult period for Chrysler cars began in the 70s of the last century. At this time, the famous oil crisis occurred, which caused the cost of gasoline to increase significantly. This circumstance has forced many people to forget about uneconomical Chrysler models and switch to smaller cars. It was decided to start producing compact vehicles to restore the legendary American brand to its former popularity. They were of exceptionally high quality, allowing Chrysler to improve its financial position slightly. However, the situation quickly changed for the worse. The main reason for this was increased competition within the Big Three. In this case, Chrysler was significantly inferior in financial capabilities to GM and Ford, so its presence in the US market noticeably decreased.

Another negative aspect was the emergence of new rules for car production. According to them, the vehicles produced would become safer, more economical, and less environmentally harmful. It was tough for Chrysler to adapt to new realities. Their initially high-quality new products had many hidden problems and shortcomings (due to lack of money for testing), which negatively affected sales.

In 1978, a significant event occurred in Chrysler's life. She was joined by the famous manager Lee Iacocca, who was supposed to try to save the company from bankruptcy. To do this, he began radical changes among the Chrysler staff and rebuilt the financial management process. Iacocca immediately closed all unprofitable enterprises, got rid of many third-party projects and fired many employees who were not involved in auto production. In addition, he borrowed vast amounts of money from the government and used it to develop the company. All these actions benefited Chrysler. Already in 1981, it became a profitable automaker. At this time, the production of models of the budget Chrysler K line and the premium Imperial line began. All these cars turned out to be almost perfect, enabling the company to gain financial stability. Six years later, Chrysler acquired AMC, which owned the Jeep brand. Thanks to this lucrative deal, the company's profits increased dramatically. After five years, Lee Iacocca left Chrysler, which became one of the critical factors in the future decline of the legendary automaker.

Modern History

The modern period of Chrysler’s history began in 1998. At this time, it underwent a merger with the German Daimler-Benz, after which it became known as DaimlerChrysler. Immediately after this, various events began to change the image of the legendary American brand. The change in management and the associated closure of the Plymouth and Eagle brands led to a decline in Chrysler's popularity. The detachment of Jeep, which has now received the status of an independent division, also added to the negativity.

The only positive thing was the appearance of several exciting models. In 2001, the Chrysler PT Cruiser was released. This compact car, the original design of which is made in retro style, did not become super popular but still found its admirers. In 2004, the company began selling the Chrysler 300. This full-size sedan was equipped with components from various Mercedes-Benz models, making it exceptionally high-quality, reliable and durable. This car was the most popular in the Chrysler lineup for several years, and its production was stopped only in 2023.

In 2007, Chrysler became the Cerbeus Foundation's property; two years later, the legendary brand was declared bankrupt. Shortly after that, Fiat acquired a stake in Chrysler. The Italian concern became the complete owner of the latter in 2014. After this event, both companies were reorganized, creating FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles). The Italian-American company quickly got down to business, thanks to which the updated Chrysler 200 was presented to the public. It helped the company earn enough money and slightly improve its financial situation. However, already in 2017, FCA faced a severe problem. USEPA accused the company of deliberately concealing absolute emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere. There was no direct evidence of fraud, but such a statement was enough to bring FCA shares down. After denials of manipulation of data on emissions of harmful substances, the price of shares went up, but during this time, the company lost several billion dollars.

In 2019, FCA announced the start of merger negotiations with the French PSA. All issues were settled only in 2021, when a new powerful corporation, Stellantis, was born. She received ownership rights to Chrysler and other well-known manufacturers in the USA, Italy, France, Germany, and Great Britain. The new corporation immediately chose the path of electrification, which is why the legendary Chrysler models began to be discontinued. However, no modern alternative was presented. This left only the Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the 2024 model lineup for North America. If this car is not suitable for buyers, then they can only choose the wrecked Chrysler 300, Town & Country, PT Cruiser and other models sold at online auctions. After restoration, these vehicles will be almost like new and will be able to extend the presence of the legendary brand on the roads of various cities.

Future of Chrysler

The future of one of America's finest cars is shrouded in mystery. Experts often express that Stellantis will actively develop other brands, which is why Chrysler will receive minimal attention. There is also a more optimistic scenario. According to this, the development of new models will be carried out, which will be equipped with electric motors and all modern innovations. Of course, this will not be the Chrysler that everyone is used to, but it will provide an opportunity to continue the legendary brand's history. The company recently showed a concept of its future electric car, Halcyon. This sports sedan has a futuristic design and rich interior design. It has a powerful lithium-sulfur battery, which can cover vast distances on a single charge. The future production car will have many standard and unique features. They will expand the user's capabilities and increase the level of comfort. Production of this model is expected to begin in 2025.

Chrysler is a true legend of the American auto industry. This manufacturer has a long history that everyone can envy. Throughout its history, Chrysler repeatedly experienced ups and downs but always coped with the current situation with dignity. Despite the not-very-good current situation in the company, I would like to hope for the best and believe that bright times will come very soon.

This article was compiled by the editors of LACar.

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