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Cars > 69fstbck’s Garage > Blog


The Cricket

By 69fstbck

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

The Plymouth Cricket was a "captive import" from England, based on the Hillman Avenger, and was also a fraternal twin to the Dodge Colt that was made in Japan by Mitsubishi. The Cricket was short-lived in the U.S. market, only being offered from 1971-1973. It was a rather anonymous-looking car, and unlike the Colt or other subcompacts at the time, was initially only offered as a 4-door sedan (which may partly explain its low popularity). The only engine offered was at first was a 69 hp 1.5L (91 cid) I4 engine, but later a twin carburetor option became available, boosting its hp a little. Transmission choices were a 4-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic. A 5-door wagon was added in 1972, and the sedan carried on with little change. Other than stronger bumpers with larger rubber guards added on 1973 models, they remained unchanged. The Cricket far less popular than the Dodge Colt, selling only 41,000 units over its 3-year lifespan - a very dismal figure, considering Chevrolet managed to sell over 200,000 Vegas in its first year alone. This prompted Plymouth to pull the Cricket from the U.S. market. Plymouth would not have another subcompact entry until the 1976 Arrow sport coupe.

1971–73: Plymouth Cricket for North America

By 69fstbck

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

In North America, the Avenger was sold as the Plymouth Cricket through Plymouth dealers as a
captive import. The car was essentially an
example of badge engineering and Plymouth made few changes to it. Only the 4-door saloon and 5-door estate variants were ever offered, due to the 2-door Avenger being unavailable at the time.

A Chrysler Plymouth press release dated 30 June 1970 stated that the Cricket was going to be shown to the automotive press for the first time in November 1970. The first shipment of 280 Crickets from the UK arrived in the USA on 20 November 1970. Another press release issued on 23 February 1972 stated that the "station wagon" version was going to début in early spring of 1972.

Differences from the Avenger
The 1500 cc engine was offered on the Plymouth Cricket, the 1250 being a little underpowered for United States tastes. Side parking lights were added, and front disc brakes were standardised; these were originally optional in the UK. The single carburettor / manual choke combination was standard. From 1972 the single carburettor / automatic choke combination, dual carburettors, and air conditioning were all options.

Due to American federal laws regarding headlight design, all Cricket models regardless of trim level used the round four headlight grille of the "GL" and "GT" model Avengers.

Demise of the Cricket
The Cricket was discontinued midway through the 1973 model year, paradoxically, just as the gas crisis of 1973 began to increase demand for small cars sharply, and Dodge began to see real success with its similarly-sized Dodge Colt, built by Mitsubishi Motors.

The Cricket name lived on in Canada though, as Chrysler Canada replaced the British-built Cricket with a rebadged Dodge Colt in mid 1973 model year. The Cricket's version of the Colt GT was called the Cricket Formula S. For the 1975 model year, the Plymouth Cricket was rebadged as the Plymouth Colt. Thus began Chrysler Canada's dual marketing system, selling the Colt as both a Dodge and a Plymouth. The later Plymouth Arrow was similarly sold as a Dodge Arrow.

The last British-built Crickets were actually imported into the USA in the later part of 1972 but were sold until mid-1973 as "1973" models. This was because US safety and emission laws became effective based on the calendar year the car was manufactured in or imported in, NOT the model year. Chrysler used this loophole to continue selling what were essentially 1972 cars through 1973 as 1973 models.

Chrysler Europe Hillman Avenger, Plymouth Cricket

By 69fstbck

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

When the Cricket was brought out in the UK in 1970, Chrysler Europe was still known as the Rootes Group with the Hillman, Singer, Sunbeam and Commer brands. Not until 1971 was the first Chrysler-badged model (the 180/2-Litre) introduced, but by 1976 the last of the Rootes-branded cars (Hillmans) became Chryslers.

The first shipment of 280 Crickets from the UK arrived in the USA on 20 November 1970.

The new car, a small-medium (B-class) sedan and wagon to compete with cars such as the Ford Escort, Austin 1300, and Vauxhall Viva. It was to be similar in size to the Arrow range introduced in 1966, but these sold in a higher price class, competing with the Ford Cortina; they were also available as Singers, with wood trim and chrome in a luxury style.

The new car was to be just a basic Hillman, so no frills, but a low price and conventional (yet contemporary) technology such as a live rear axle suspension, four-speed manual gearbox, sedan and wagon bodies, and overhead-valve all-iron engine of 1250 or 1500cc capacity. Compare that with the Austin Maxi, a competing product launched the previous year - 5-speed gearbox, front wheel drive, overhead cam engine, hatchback body, independent gas suspension...yet the Avenger was just right for the British public who were scared of new-fangled technology and it is said used spark plug access and cheap exhaust replacement as primary considerations when choosing a new car. This was the Hillman Avenger, to be sold in the US as the Plymouth Cricket.

Someone at Chrysler US must have seen the subcompact herd coming (in the form of the AMC Gremlin, Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto) and decided that Plymouth needed a competing product. As nothing was in the pipeline they went down the "captive import" route; this is where a domestic company imports a car from another country and puts their name on it. Usually it is from one of their subsidiaries in another country, in some cases (e.g. the Dodge Colt from the same era) it is from another company which it has shares in.

Plymouth made a few changes to the Avenger to make it become the Cricket. Only the 4-door sedan and 5-door wagon were ever offered. The 1500cc engine was offered, the 1250 obviously a little underpowered for US tastes, probably due to the high sales of power-sapping automatics. Front disc brakes were standardised; these were originally optional in the UK. [David Rosicke adds: The Plymouth Cricket was a Hillman Avenger (made by Chrysler Europe) adapted for use in the United States.

In 1970-71, the single carb/manual choke was standard. In 1972 forward, the single carb/auto choke, dual carb, and air conditioning were options.]

As per Federal requirement, front seats with integral headrests (in a high-backed tombstone style) were unique to the US cars, head rests coming much later in the UK (when it became a Chrysler, and then these head rests were separate from the seats and adjustable), and side markers were fitted, again unique as there was no law for them in the UK. A seat-belt warning light system (operated when a weight of 20lb or greater was put on a front seat) was fitted starting in 1973. Also, later in its life, in order to meet the bumper impact standards of the time, large rubber-tipped over-riders were fitted [according to David Rosicke, this was optional in 1971 and 1972, standard in 1973].

Otherwise the only way the car differed externally was by the use of the uplevel UK model's four round headlights - Washington hadn't okayed the use of rectangular lights yet, or it would have had two of them instead like the lower Avengers.

Apart from these changes and the badging, the car was pretty much as we had it. Launched in 1971, the car was sold for only two seasons, being withdrawn after the 1973 model year. Why? I think there are several reasons. The first is due to falling sales, mainly attributable to the poor workmanship of the product. Alas, this was typical of most 1970s UK products. Perhaps it didn't help that the car was launched in the US so soon after it was in other countries (to allow bugs to be ironed out), and it probably wasn't tested enough for US conditions. Maybe the price was too close to the Dart/Valiant, a much bigger, roomier car. Remember too that before 1974 no-one even imagined anything about a fuel crisis, so why bother with a small car the price of a larger one?

MECCA 2nd Annual Mopar Show

By 69fstbck

Well the Show went on. We pulled it off with another fun filled event. The sun was hot, but everyone had a great time. We had the chance to meet a lot of great Mopar folks,see some really nice Mopars and swap tips and tricks. Everyone won a door prize and got some really great Mopar T's. We would like to thank Laird Noller for sponsoring the Show and all the food. The Band was great also. Thanks again to everyone that attended the Show and we hope to see you and more Mopar folks in the future!!!!

The big winners were:
Todd Wilson of Hutch won 2 trophies, Oldest Mopar and Participants Choice!!!

Viewers Choice went to Randy Tennent from Wichita with his Plum Crazy Charger

Best Custom went to Loren's Big Block Dart from Topeka

Best Stock went to the Superbird

Thanks to all and Ya'll come back now ya hear!!!!

Checklist For First Startup of A Fresh Rebuilt Engine

By 69fstbck

Engine Installation Guide

Things to do and know before installing your new engine.

Before Installation Checklist

Be sure to inspect the following components for condition
and proper operation:

Engine & Transmission Mounts & Bolts
Radiator (Is your radiator cooling properly? It may need to be flushed by a professional radiator shop.)
Oil cooler lines (check for debris)
A/C Compressor, Power Steering Pump, all attaching lines and seals
Inspect intake Manifold for warping or cracks
Vacuum lines and Tee connections

Items you should replace at installation
Water pump
Hose clamps
Radiator and heater hoses
Spark plugs and wires
Distributor cap & rotor
Oil, Air and Fuel filters
PCV Valve

Items you will need at installation
Oil - Don't forget to put oil in your engine!
We suggest the use of a good diesel oil and GM EOS or Valvoline Synpower additive for extra break-in protection.
Intake gaskets and silicone
All other necessary gaskets for installation

Suggested Break-In Procedures for New Engines

(1) Safety first - check everything you have done, make
sure you are ready to start your new engine by reviewing
your installation procedures and inspecting all engine and drivetrain components. Set the emergency brake and chock the wheels. Re-check all your engine fluid levels before starting the engine.

(2) Upon cranking your new engine, you may find it
necessary to adjust your distributor timing by hand to
allow the engine to start. Once the engine is running, you
should set the timing with a timing light to the factory
specifications and get the rpm's up to 2000 as quickly as
safely possible. Note, on late-model computer controlled
ignitions this is not necessary.

(3) We suggest a minimum of 20 minutes break-in time at varying speeds. You should keep the RPM range below 3000 and above 2000. It is critical to vary the RPM's to allow proper cam and lifter break-in for flat tappet cam- shafts. Varying the RPM's is also necessary for proper ring sealing and initial break-in of all moving components.

(4) During the first 20 minutes, inspect the engine for any oil, fuel or coolant leaks. Keep close observation on the engine oil pressure and water temperature gauges for any problems.

(5) Once you have completed the 20 minute break-in time and have inspected the engine & drivetrain for leaks, you are ready to drive the vehicle. Do not forget to reset your idle and check your timing.

(6) Driving break-in procedures vary by application, we
recommend that for the first 30 to 50 miles that you vary
the speed and engine load while keeping close watch on
your engine gauges.

(7) After completing the initial break-in drive, you should
change the oil and filter. Always inspect the oil filter
contents, and the removed oil for any unusual debris.

(8)Once you have driven the recommended 500 miles for final break-in, change the oil and filter again. Your engine should be completely broken-in at this point and ready for normal driving.

9) You should change the oil and filter every 3000 miles
for proper maintenance.

Getting Our Cars Out of Hybernation

By 69fstbck

It's not too early to think about getting the old flivver (well, it's most likely a muscle car these days, but what the heck!) ready for its first springtime drive. If you live in the southwestern part of the country you've probably been driving your treasure regularly, but those of us in the East, Midwest and Northeast don't have such luxury. We're happy to get the occasional drive between bouts of wet, icy, snowy weather, constantly fearing road salts - and that's if we're lucky.

Most classic cars housed east of the Rockies, therefore, get little or no use from November through March and getting them ready for the road is just a bit more complicated than turning the key. Casually starting a car that hasn't run in months can put more mileage (damaging wear, that is) on it than driving across the country, so here are some tips on ways to "wake up" your car while doing the least possible harm.

The Basics
Hopefully you disconnected the battery when you first stored the car. If not, there's most likely an accumulation of corrosion on the terminals and the cells are nearly discharged. Put a trickle charger on the battery and leave it long enough to get a full charge, typically overnight. While you're waiting clean the terminals and cables. You want to start the season with the freshest possible electrical system.

While you're looking around the engine bay, take the time to investigate for loose hoses, belts and evidence of rodents. Mice love to nest in engine bays for some reason, and when that happens the little devils tend to chew on wiring.

Check all fluids. Things like brake fluid and coolant can leak out slowly and dry up without leaving much trace, so verify that everything was as you left it. Don't forget to check tire pressures (betcha' the spare's flat, so check it now!)

Put your foot on the brake pedal to make sure the system hasn't bled down. Turn on the ignition and test for stop lights while you're at it.

Over the past several months, oil has drained from the engine's galleries and lifters. Starting it now will tend to cause undue wear on the bearing surfaces, so we want to pre-pressurize the oil system. Some owners have pre-oilers installed on their cars but these things are unnecessary. The best pre-oiler is the starter motor, so let's use it...

Leave the choke off so no raw gas is drawn into the engine. Disconnect the coil wire from the distributor cap to prevent firing, then hit the key to turn the engine over without touching the accelerator. Let it spin for about 10 seconds, then stop for 10 seconds to keep the battery and starter from heating up. Repeat this two or three times or until you see oil pressure on gauge-equipped cars. Now that you have oil pressure you can re-connect the coil wire, set the choke and start the car.

Warm It Up?
No! The worst thing you can do is to warm the engine to operating temperature and then put its power through a cold transmission, u-joints and differential. Get the engine to run smoothly enough so that it won't stall, then put the car in gear and drive. Go slowly until the engine and drivetrain components reach full operating temperature together.

In those first few hundred feet of driving, test the brakes. They will probably groan and pull a little until surface rust goes away, but in any case don't wait to test them until you're going 60 mph. That's no time for a surprise.

Drive the car for at least 20 minutes. It should start to smooth out as flat spots on the tires go away and bushings flex, and bear in mind that the gas in the tank has lost some of its aromatic content. Don't expect the car to feel all that powerful because it probably won't. Top off the tank on your way home.

Is There Anything More?
When you get back to your garage don't forget to test all the lights, signals and horn. Once you know everything is working, give the old machine a good wash and wax.

Article from Second Chance Garage

What You Need to Know About Classic Car Insurance

By 69fstbck

Most of us who own collector cars have been using classic car insurance for over 15 years. It's inexpensive and very easy to get as long as certain agreements exist between the companies and the owners.
Those agreements usually include storage of the vehicles in locked garages, ownership of other (everyday) vehicles and limited use of the collector cars - sometimes with a yearly mileage cap. The resultant reduced risk to the insurer allows for the low rates.

All that is fine, but no insurance company can spell out specifics of coverage other than in general terms without creating a lengthy book of rules on how you can operate your collector car. Since no two people drive their cars in the same way, same geographic areas, same days of the week, etc., the insurance companies have to handle claims on an individual case basis. That leaves many owners in doubt about their coverage in certain instances, sometimes making them hesitate to drive their cars.

In order to help get to the nitty-gritty of coverage we came up with a "real-world" set of situations wherein coverage might be in doubt. These are taken from actual stories we've heard from owners, by the way. The situations were presented to a number of the major collector car insurers and their responses were synopsized. Since the purpose of this article is one of clarification and not one of comparison, we've omitted the names of the companies. Most of you know who they are...

Questions And "Typical" Replies:

Do you pay out the agreed-upon value of the car even though it is aging?
Yes. Your policy is an "agreed value" contract that guarantees the insured they will receive full reimbursement of insured value in the event of a total loss.

What is your maximum allowable yearly mileage for the insured vehicle?
Some companies want you to limit use to less than 2500 miles per year, but most are quite flexible. Vehicles insured must be used on a limited basis consistent with the operation of something valuable, such as club functions, exhibitions, meets, tours and limited pleasure driving.

To what extent can I modify my car? (Engine, Body, etc.)
Most Street Rod, Custom and Muscle car modifications are acceptable. The only major concern is that the vehicle be kept in a safe operational configuration. Racing is a no-no that requires separate insurance coverage.

Can I insure a vehicle under restoration? If so, how is value calculated?
Yes. Value is based on the vehicle's current market value, taking into consideration the amount spent on materials and labor to date.

Do you require periodic safety inspections? Some states do not require them for vehicles licensed under "antique" status.
There are no additional safety inspection requirements other than those specified by the states.

Under which of the following scenarios would you NOT pay out for a stolen or severely damaged vehicle?

1. I parked the car in the lot of an upper-scale restaurant in the suburbs on the way back from a weekend car show. The loss occurred while I was in the restaurant.
2. I parked in the lot of a chain restaurant on a weekday evening, during which the loss occurred.
3. I parked the car in the lot of a B&B in a small town during a driving tour with members of the local club. The loss occurred there.
4. I parked the car in the hotel garage in a city our club driving tour was visiting.
5. The car was hit while I was driving it on a Sunday afternoon.
6. The car was hit while I was testing repairs on a weekday afternoon.
7. The car caught fire and was totaled while I was making repairs to the fuel system.
8. The car's electrical system shorted out and the fire destroyed the car.
9. The car was vandalized while being shown at a car show. I wasn't on hand at the time.
10. A tree fell and crushed my garage, severely damaging my insured vehicles.
11. I drove the car to my office during the week and parked it in the garage. It was sideswiped by some other vehicle but there were no witnesses.
12. I loaned the car to a friend for a school reunion. It was damaged in the parking area.

Believe it or not, the companies responded that they would most likely cover the loss in every one of the scenarios listed above. However, specific circumstances surrounding the loss might alter their decisions in those cases where the car was clearly not being used for "pleasure" driving. If you're planning to use the car for any other purposes be sure to consult the company.

When purchasing insurance for your antique or classic car, these are the kinds of questions you need to ask your insurance agent. Also read the policy carefully for any exclusions or other rules that may apply. Enjoy driving your classic. As long as any damage or loss occurs in any reasonable set of circumstances the insurance company usually will pay out. By the way, it wouldn't hurt to take yearly photos of your car and keep them on file. That way there won't be any arguments as to its overall condition in the event of a claim.

Speed Queen of The "50's"

By 69fstbck

World-famous driver, stunt pilot and model Betty Skelton set a Women’s Closed-Course World Speed Record at the opening of the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Mich., in September, 1954.

She hit 143.44 mph on the high-speed test track in a Dodge Firearrow sport coupe, a concept vehicle that had been introduced at the 1954 Detroit Automobile Show.

Chrysler Corp. never actually built the concept for the public, but the Firearrow did become a production vehicle in 1955 when a convertible version was built under license to Dual Motors, an independent company in Detroit. Called the Dual-Ghia, the car later became popular in Hollywood and was driven by actor Peter Lawford in "The Thin Man," a TV version of the popular movie series of the 1930s.

Betty Skelton
The high-flying, fast-driving Skelton (now Frankman) was born in Pensacola, Fla., in 1926. At age 12, she soloed in an airplane. By 1950, Skelton and her open-cockpit biplane, Little Stinker, were famous worldwide.

From 1948 to 1950 she won three international aerobatics competitions for women. One of her specialties was a maneuver known as "the inverted ribbon cut," in which she flew her plane upside down, 10 feet above the ground, and sliced through a ribbon stretched between two poles. In 1949 and 1951 she set the world light-plane altitude record.

On the ground, she broke her own women's land-speed record three times at Daytona Beach, Fla., the last time in 1956. She holds more combined aviation and automotive records than anyone else – man or woman – in history.

1956-58 Dual Ghia
Skelton also was the first woman to drive a jet car over 300 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats and to establish transcontinental auto records in the U.S. and South America.

Wheelstanding legend on the drag strip

By 69fstbck

The Little Red Wagon became a drag racing legend as the first "wheelstander" back in 1965.

Then the world's fastest truck, the customized Dodge A-100 compact pickup was a major hit with fans at drag strips throughout the United States as owner-driver Bill "Maverick" Golden screamed through the quarter-mile with the Wagon's front wheels in the air.

What made the Wagon famous was that, when Golden hit the throttle, it popped its front wheels into the air while continuing to accelerate. How did that happen?

The Dodge A-100 normally was powered by a slant six, but the Little Red Wagon was outfitted with a 426 Hemi – with roughly four times the horsepower of the six.

Bill "Maverick" Golden
There wasn’t enough room for the huge engine under the hood, so it was placed behind the cab, in front of the rear wheels, which required cutting a hole in the pickup bed and another into the cab itself.

The truck then was lightened by jettisoning items such as the heater, dash panels and front bumper, and by replacing the doors with fiberglass versions. The first time out of the box, using a stock Hemi, the truck ran a quarter mile in the 11 second range at 120 mph.

Then something weird happened. In a 1965 practice run at the Motor City Dragway north of Detroit, the Hemi's astounding torque and horsepower, and the truck’s rear wheel drive and slight rear-weight bias, all combined to surprise the Wagon's driver by throwing its nose into the air.

The result was an unexpected (the first time), thrilling, and moderately dangerous quarter mile.

When the accidental automotive acrobatics were repeated for race fans, they went wild, and Golden and the Wagon soon found themselves before the TV cameras filming Dodge truck commercials. Magazine photographers risked their lives to get dramatic shots of the Wagon doing its famous wheelies.

Before the season was over, the Maverick and the Wagon had become the most talked about combination in drag racing.

Their popularity continued for many years, and Golden last ran the Little Red Wagon in 2005 – 40 years after its debut.

The Ram

By 69fstbck

DETROIT – Trying to sell a dubious Walter P. Chrysler and corporate executives on using the ram as a symbol for Dodge, sculptor Arvard Fairbanks explained the animal was "king of the trail," adding "Besides, if you saw one on the trail in front of you, you'd think ? 'Dodge!' "

Arvard Fairbanks
Chrysler immediately agreed, "That's it! The Dodge gets the ram!" And it did, beginning with the 1933 models.

In 1981 the ram moved beyond a symbol as Dodge Ram became the formal name for the company's full-size.

Fairbanks, who died at age 90 in 1987, created inspiring works, characterized by a fusion of classical realism and modern sensibilities. He studied art in the United States and Europe, and earned his doctorate in anatomy at the University of Michigan, where he was a professor of sculpture.

The artist created more than 100 public monuments dedicated to American leaders and historical events, four of which are located in the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Some of his other commissioned projects were designs for original radiator ornaments, including both the ram and Plymouth's winged mermaid.

Walter Chrysler's farm-country ties were key to naming Plymouth

By 69fstbck

DETROIT – "A product of Chrysler engineering and craftsmanship, Plymouth has been so named because its endurance and strength, ruggedness and freedom from limitations so accurately typify that Pilgrim band who were the first American Colonists."

It sounded logical. Plymouth colony was founded by the Pilgrims, who journeyed to North America on the Mayflower and stepped off their landing boats, the story goes, onto a granite boulder they called Plymouth Rock. It was a solid-sounding name if ever there was one.

And the official line was backed up with pilgrim garb supplied to each dealer to dress up an employee who would lead a Plymouth Parade introducing the new low-priced car for the young Chrysler Corporation.

But behind the official line is a story, which surfaced years later, about what really happened behind the closed boardroom doors of Walter P. Chrysler’s company.

"What we want," Chrysler had said as the launch of the new car was being planned, "is a popular name, something people will recognize instantly."

In that room was Joe Frazer, later to become president of Graham Motors and still later to join Henry Kaiser in a post-war automotive venture. "Well, boss," replied Frazer, "why not call it Plymouth? That's a good old American name."

The other assembled executives didn't much like the notion of their car bearing such a puritanical-sounding name. But Frazer persisted. "Ever hear of Plymouth Binder Twine?" he asked.

"Well," boomed out Chrysler, "every goddam farmer in America's heard of that!"

The hidden appeal wasn't wasted on this one-time Kansas farm boy. Every farmer had to have a car, and most of them at the time were driving Fords. Now here was an opening to the giant's vulnerability. "Every farmer uses Plymouth Binder Twine," he said, "let's give them a name they're familiar with!"

And so the name was Plymouth. The Mayflower ship on its radiator suggested the rock and the Pilgrims, but if it weren't for the binder twine, used to tie up bales of hay all over the country, there might never have been a car named Plymouth.

On Jan. 11, 1928, the first Plymouth was produced. It sold well, reaching Number 15 in production its first half year.

By 1931, it had reached the No. 3 position, which it would hold until 1954. In 1932, while Chevrolet and Ford sales were dropping drastically from pre-depression highs, Plymouth was the only car to gain in sales over 1931. In fact, all through the Great Depression Plymouth continued to gain in sales.

The brand persisted through the decades until the nameplate finally was abandoned at the end of the 2001 model year.

A Brief Look at Walter P. Chrysler

By 69fstbck

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 frcm Ed Tinker of the Chase Securities Corporotion 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 aquainted with Clarence DJIIon, 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 simp!y 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.

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