1978 UK advert for the Chrysler Wheel of Fortune promotion.
The company was founded by Walter Chrysler (1875–1940) on June 6, 1925, when the Maxwell Motor Company (est. 1904) was re-organized into the Chrysler Corporation.
Walter Chrysler had originally arrived at the ailing Maxwell-Chalmers company in the early 1920s, having been hired to take over and overhaul the company’s troubled operations (just after a similar rescue job at the Willys car company). In late 1923 production of the Chalmers automobile was ended.
In January 1924, Walter Chrysler launched the well-received Chrysler automobile. The Chrysler was a 6-cylinder automobile, designed to provide customers with an advanced, well-engineered car, but at a more affordable price than they might expect. (Elements of this car are traceable back to a prototype which had been under development at Willys at the time that Walter Chrysler was there). The original 1924 Chrysler included a carburettor air filter, high compression engine, full pressure lubrication, and an oil filter, at a time when most autos came without these features. Among the innovations in its early years would be the first practical mass-produced four-wheel hydraulic brakes, a system nearly completely engineered by Chrysler with patents assigned to Lockheed, and rubber engine mounts to reduce vibration. Chrysler also developed a road wheel with a ridged rim, designed to keep a deflated tire from flying off the wheel. This safety wheel was eventually adopted by the auto industry worldwide.
Following the introduction of the Chrysler, the Maxwell was dropped after its 1925 model year run, although in truth the new line of lower-priced 4-cylinder Chryslers which were then introduced for the 1926 model year were basically Maxwells which had been re-engineered and rebranded. It was during this time period of the early 1920s that Walter Chrysler assumed the presidency of Maxwell, with the company then ultimately incorporated under the Chrysler name.
In 2009, Fiat acquired a stake in United States-based Chrysler and plans for the Chrysler brand and Lancia to codevelop products, with some vehicles being shared. Olivier Francois, Lancia’s CEO, took over as CEO of the Chrysler division in October 2009. Fiat has also stated that, depending on the market, some Chrysler cars will be sold as Lancias and vice versa. Francois plans to reestablish the Chrysler brand as an upscale brand.