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Cars > 69fstbck’s Garage > Blog > Walter Chrysler's farm-country ties were key to naming Plymouth

 

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69fstbck

M –56
Salina, Kansas
United States

 

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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.

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canadianpontiacguy’s Profile Photo
canadianpontiac
guy
Mar 1, 2007 at 3:46 pm
Great to see someone interested in the history of the Chrysler Corp'n.

I have some info about a local Canadian company that manufactured from 1911-1914, but it's pretty obscure stuff. I doubt if too many people on this site would be interested.
You probably never heard of the Brockville Atlas.

Thanks for sharing the information about Walter Chrysler and his vehicles.
 

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Cars > 69fstbck’s Garage > Blog > Walter Chrysler's farm-country ties were key to naming Plymouth

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