Fallen giant was first formed in 1925
30 April 2009

Chrysler, which has today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, was first organised as Chrysler Corporation in 1925.

It is now expected to undergo a major restructuring on every level, with a union with Fiat central to its plans for reviving its fortunes.

Chrysler: what happens next?

Click here to read about Chrysler's decision to file for bankruptcy protection

Chrysler facts & figures

However, while today's announcement marks the biggest upheaval in the company's history, it is far from being the only one.

Walter Chrysler founded the company shortly after New York motor show organisers refused to let his prototype Chrysler Six be displayed in 1924; he was so incensed that he drove it into the lobby of the show halls and parked it up, for all to see.

On 6 June he put the car on sale, enjoying great success as it was the most affordable car powered by a six-cylinder engine at the time.

In 1934 the Airflow was launched, its striking appearance inspired by fighter plan manoeuvres. It lived up to that billing, setting speed records on Utah's salt flats, but sold poorly.

At this time technical innovations helped keep the company afloat. Among these was Fluid Drive, a forerunner to automatic transmission.

Walter Chrysler died in 1940, the same year as his company's luxury Town and Country brand was launched.

From 1942 car production was halted, with Chrysler concentrating its efforts on producing everything from tanks, aircraft engines and anti-aircraft guns.

Post-war, Chrysler again stood out for technical innovations that included air-cooled brakes, the Hemi V8 engine, a dashboard mounted record player and Hydraglide, a pioneering power steering system.

The oil crisis in the late 1970s resulted in a slump in car sales, and Chrysler received $1.5bn (£1 billion today) of loan guarantees from the US government to save it from collapse.

In late 1983, Chrysler launched the pioneering Dodge Caravan, and its sister the Plymouth Voyager, bringing the concept of the modern MPV to the US market for the first time, and even beating the Renault Espace to market.

In the early 1990s, under the creative leadership of product guru Bob Lutz, Chrysler experienced a flurry of creativity. In the period of a few short years, it launched the Dodge Viper and Plymouth Prowler sports cars, and brought a distinctive 'cab-forward' design language to its everyday saloon range.

Chrysler continued to grow, and by 1998 it was part of the German based DaimlerChrysler (now Daimler AG) group.

Under DaimlerChrysler, the company was named "DaimlerChrysler Motors Company LLC", with its US operations generally referred to as the "Chrysler Group".

On 14 May, 2007 DaimlerChrysler AG announced the sale of 80.1 per cent of Chrysler Group to American private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, although Daimler continued to hold a 19.9 per cent stake until earlier this week. The company then became known as Chrysler LLC.

In recent months Chrysler has survived on US government bailouts, and had been given until the end of April by the Obama administration to prove it is a viable business or apply for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Range Rover Sport SVR
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    More power and an intoxicating soundtrack have breathed new life into our love affair with the biggest, baddest Range Rover Sport variant
  • First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new Vantage has been developed as a Porsche 911 beater, and our first taste on UK roads suggests it can live up to that bold claim
  • Nissan Leaf Tekna
    The is the new Nissan Leaf
    First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new version of the world's best-selling electric car gains a bigger battery and more power. How does it compare to rivals such as the Volkswagen e-Golf?
  • Range Rover p400e
    First Drive
    20 March 2018
    The original luxury SUV is now available as a plug-in hybrid, promising lower emissions and the capacity for silent electric motoring
  • BMW i3s
    Car review
    20 March 2018
    Revised hatchback sets out its range-extended electric stall in a new, sportier tune