Just Ten Important Chrysler Products

Walter P. Chrysler, the found of Chrysler Corporation, visits the White House in 1937.
Walter P. Chrysler, the founder of Chrysler Corporation, visits the White House in 1937. (Source: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016872437/)

On June 1st, 2018, MSN published a list of The 10 most important Chrysler vehicles. The list is better than most, and it had me until it substituted a 1958 Chrysler Windsor for a 1960 model. Sure, Chrysler styling was advanced in ’58, but c’mon. Like many publications, MSN missed the important Chryslers that still influence how cars are made and driven today. Here is my list of just 10 important Chrysler Products.

  1. The 1924 Chrysler: The first car to bring high-performance and hydraulic brakes to the near-luxury price range. If you drive a car that can stop, thank Chrysler.
  2. The 1929 Dodge line: The symbolic representation of Walter Chrysler ingenious acquisition of Dodge Brothers, and the salvation of one of the most important industrial legacies in world history. Without Dodge, Henry Ford and, a hunk of our military-industrial complex, would have been up the proverbial creek. If you’re an American happily not speaking Russian or German, thank Chrysler.
  3. 1928 Chrysler Imperial 80: “America’s Most Powerful Motor Car”. The first MoPar muscle car, and the one that laid waste to the Automotive Aristocracy with smarts, ingenuity, and high-technology. If you’ve ever shut-down a car twice the price of yours, thank Chrysler.
  4. The 1934 Chrysler and DeSoto Airflows: Streamlining for the masses, but more importantly, both cars gave the industry a complete re-think in how cars should be designed. At last, engineers brought driving dynamics to heel in the service of driver and passenger comfort. If you drive a car that doesn’t throw itself off the road every time it hits a bump, thank Chrysler Corporation.
  5. 1937 Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, and Chrysler: The first cars to take automotive safety seriously. Dr. Claire Straith, chief of plastic surgery at Harper Hospital in Detroit, met with Walter Chrysler to describe the car crash injuries Straith saw in his ER. Consequently, the ’37 Chrysler Products introduced smooth dashboards, non-protruding controls, collapsible armrests, and padded seatbacks. If you’ve survived a minor accident without a cigar lighter up your nose, thank Chrysler.
  6. 1939 Chrysler Custom Imperial: The car that introduced Fluid Drive to the Chrysler Corporation line-up. One of the first cars to employ a fluid coupling ahead of the transmission, the Custom Imperial eliminated the need to clutch while braking and smoothed power impulses for better control under all driving conditions. Fluid Drive would be joined later by Chrysler’s excellent semi-automatic gearbox for a great leap-forward in driving ease. If you can’t drive a stick, thank Chrysler Corporation.
  7. 1931-32 Plymouth PA: Chrysler introduced the Plymouth PA with “Floating Power” in the summer of 1931. A balanced engine suspension system, Floating Power eliminated the typical shake, shiver and stutter of four-cylinder engines. If you drive a modern four that doesn’t rattle your brains, thank Chrysler Corporation.
  8. 1950 Plymouth Suburban: The first civilian-style, all-steel station wagon and the perfect family hauler for the blossoming middle-class after World War II. If you don’t have to sand and varnish your SUV every spring, thank Chrysler Corporation.
  9. 1951 Chrysler Imperial, New Yorker, and Saratoga: The cars that introduced the Hemi engine to a whole new world of motorists. ‘Nuff said.
  10. 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car Consumer Testing Program: The first serious effort to predict an alternative-fuel future without sacrificing all the luxury, power, convenience and confidence Americans took for granted from typical US automobiles. You’re late to the game, Elon.