Pack Automotive Museum

Performance - Hot Rods - Custom - Antiques - One Offs Many with valid Race and Movie Build Histories

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CHRYSLER CORPORATION

  Just like the Dodge brothers who grew up watching and learning from their father who worked in the steamboat industry in the 1800’s, Walter P. Chrysler also watched and learned from his father who worked for the Kansas Pacific Railroad (changed later to the Union Pacific Railroad).  He was so intrigued with machinery, and the engines in particular, that by the age of 18 he became a machinist's apprentice. Chrysler continued to work with many other railroads in his career and became more and more proficient, and respected for his knowledge of that industry as well as being tremendously interrested in the mechanics of the engines themselves. This interest led Walter to attend the 1905 Chicago Auto Show where he saw and purchased a Locomobile Phaeton with his seven hundred dollars in savings and financing the rest of the five thousand dollar price tag. (You heard me right….$5,000 for a car in 1905). He had it shipped home and preceded to completely disassemble his new horseless carriage. He did this several times to learn every detail of its workings and see if he could design and make improvements to this creation although he remained in the railroad industry and gathered more experience as an executive as well as an engineer.
It was this extraordinary combination of engineering and executive skills that led to a meeting between one of his railroad senior managers and his ties to the auto industry.  As a result, in 1911 Walter Chrysler went to work for Charles Nash (doesen’t that name sound familiar), President of the Buick Motor Division of the General Motors Corporation.
Chrysler immediately impressed his seniors by increasing production from 40 Buicks a day to over 500 and did so well managing with this opportunity that he actually retired a few years later.  It was during this early retirement that Walter was approached by a group of bankers who were overseeing their investments in the ailing Willys - Overland Company and they offered him a 2-year contract to manage their interests.  He would have the title of Executive Vice President and have the freedom to operate the company the way he thought it best and, with a salary of (listen to this) one million dollars.
Not only did Chrysler reduce the company’s debt by over 3o million dollars in a two short years and with a brand new car on the horizon they actually going to call the Chrysler 6.  Walter Chrysler, in fact, was so good at what he did that he was also approached by the Maxwell - Chalmers automakers with a similar problem they were having like Willys (remember comedian Jack Benny always talking about the old Maxwell he used to drive?).  With the Willys company’s permission, Walter took on the Maxwell challenge also but only charged them $100,000 per year but got a huge amount of stock options. Eventually there was an attempted merger between Willys and Maxwell but because of fierce bidding from such names as
W. C. Durant of General Motors, John N. Willys, Studebaker and several eastern brokerage firms, Chrysler eventually lost this attempt and stayed, instead, with Maxwell where he eventually (in 1924) sold 80,000 of his new, re-designed Chrysler model Maxwell’s instead.  The Maxwell Motors Company underwent one last reorganization and on June 6, 1925, the Chrysler Corporation was incorporated with Walter P. Chrysler as the President and Chairman of the Board.
Three years later, and with much success from the Chrysler line of cars, the Plymouth line was introduced and, one month later and after several months of intense negotiations, Chrysler Corporation announced their purchase of the Dodge Brothers line of vehicles.  By this time, Walter Chrysler was one of the wealthiest men in the Nation not to mention just the auto industry.  As with all other industry front-people who had offices in New York City, Walther Chrysler was not satisfied with just offices, rather, personally oversaw the construction of the tallest building in the world, The 77 story Chrysler Building (albeit the tallest for just a few short months until the 102 story Empire State Building was completed).
Next time you are in New York City or see a panoramic view of the city, look for the "silver" building with the "stepped", sculptured edges at the top and the red, white and blue lights accenting the tower. That's Walter's building.

  Walter P. Chrysler was indeed an extremely talented and unique man and continued to serve as President of Chrysler Corporation until 1935 and Chairman of the board until 1940 when passed away at the young age of 65.
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