My First Car Was a Chrysler

I bought my first car in 1953—a six year-old Chrysler Windsor
convertible and it was a beauty. Not red, which might have been my
boyhood fancy, but deep, midnight blue and I drove it through my last
two years of high-school and then to Michigan State.

I bought my first car in 1953—a six year-old Chrysler Windsor
convertible and it was a beauty. Not red, which might have been my
boyhood fancy, but deep, midnight blue and I drove it through my last
two years of high-school and then to Michigan State.
Chryslerconvertible
I loved that car. It was an absolute slush-bucket, pickup wise. That is
to say it was slow—one of the first automatic transmissions, perfectly
named Fluid Drive, it left the stoplight like an incoming tide. Its
pickup qualities with girls were considerably more appealing.
Eddyhoward
The car even had a history. I bought it from Eddy Howard, a singer in the Big Band days. You might remember Careless, Maybe It’s Because and To Each His Own, all of which were Howard hits. It was a big car—a schooner form a crooner. Gas was 22 cents a gallon.
That little trip down memory lane brings me to the news in today’s paper that Chrysler may not be long for this world.

Maybe it’s because Chrysler just couldn’t kick the big-car big-truck habit and was careless during union negotiations in those bygone salad days of big profit. But they’re owned by the Germans now and to each his own means Daimler will for sure be the surviving member of Daimler-Chrysler.
DaimlerceodieterzetscheDieter
Zetsche is the CEO of the German parent and anyone who’s ever had
German parents, knows they brook no nonsense. Chrysler is not the usual
Detroit disaster-story. They are probably the American best bet among old-style corporations worth saving. Unlike Ford and GM, Chrysler has been recently profitable.

Leftlane News-January
auto sales numbers are in, and as always the results are a mixed bag.
Sales at GM were off 20 percent, and Ford wasn’t far behind, posting a
19 percent decline. Chrysler Group reported an increase of one percent,
driven by a strong Jeep brand.

Last year’s loss was
exacerbated by a Chrysler decision to gamble on the building of 100,000
vehicles that had not been ordered. They ate them all, at a per vehicle
write-off of three grand. That’s a heavy meal, but it’s hard to believe
the Teutons didn’t have a say in ordering up the American menu.
Dodgeviper
So, Chrysler is off on another cost-cutting reorganization—the only
thing Detroit seems able to do these days and they don’t do that very
well. Further dependence upon SUVs and trucks, further lobbying against
mileage requirements, further crashes into the wall of reality. But
don’t cash in your Chrysler stock just yet, they’re showing some hot
product.
The smallest of the big three, the parent of my first car still
takes home 15% of the 18 million vehicles sold in America. Hard to walk
away from two million, seven hundred thousand sales and harder yet to guess where Daimler (Mercedes) would even begin to fill that size market segment with their own product.
It won’t happen. Corporations, like individuals, always make choices in their own best interests and
the best interests of Chrysler’s German counterpart is to expand rather
than contract that market share. Don’t bet they can’t do it. Germans
are practical and unsentimental. That lack of sentimentality should not
be lost on the UAW as Zetsche rattles the saber of downsizing, sale or
outright closure. He’ll get whatever concessions he deems necessary.
But again, an actual sale won’t happen. With GM and Ford on the
block, there are no suitors for a Chrysler acquisition. Even though
anyone out there shopping for an automobile manufacturer to be had at
fire-sale prices would be far likelier (and wiser) to pick up Chrysler
than either General Motors or Ford. Daimler already has them.
After decades of struggle hankering to be #2, it turns out that
number three is a winning number. In 2005, Ford lost a billion (on
autos), GM 12 billion and Chrysler eked out a 2 billion profit. With
half GM’s market share, Chrysler was fourteen times as profitable.

“No
option is being excluded in the interest of arriving at the best
possible solution for the Chrysler Group and DaimlerChrysler as a
whole.”

You can’t get any more pragmatically German than that.
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