When was that? I drove Chryslers in the 60's and 70's, owned one in
the 80's, and my SO had one in the 90's. The 60's and 70's were
nothing special (a better term would be "unreliable junk").. The one I
owned in the 80's drove nicely but was so poorly thrown together I
kept it less than a year. My SOs Plymouth was OK, but certainly
nothing "technically superior."
Demolition derby materials?
I guess he was talking about the years that they made the big
Imperials. Around here, some demolition derbys will not let anybody
enter a Chrysler Imperial because of the big advantage that you have.
Other than that, who knows?
A few examples of Chrysler technical superiority over GM and Ford during the
late '50s up until about 1973 when most all of Detroit went to hell:
TorqueFlite trans. Superior in performance, weight, durability and
Torsion bar front suspension. Better handling and adjustable.
Widespread use of an alternator from about '60 up.
Unit body from about '62 up.
First widespread use of electronic ignition starting in '72.
I am sure there are others.
I drove 60's era Chryslers. The advantage was never obvious to me.
I've always hear it claimed they were durable (no reason to think they
weren't), but I find your claims of superior performance and
efficiency hard to swallow. They were definitely heavier than a C4
Ford Automatic (but lighter than a C6 or an FMX).
Torsion bars are notorious for transmitting noise and harshness to the
body (especially unit bodies) - even Chrysler stopped using them for
cars. The last gasp was the horrible arrangement used for the
Aspen/Volare. What a POS that was.
As for "better handling" - the Chryslers I drove in the 60's were
horrible. I see no reason to think that torsion bars should provide
for superior handling.
The old Chrysler alternators were great. I still have one in a 35 year
old truck that works just fine.
I think they actually had unit bodies before that, but then so did
Ford (Falcon, Fairlane) and GM (Covair, Tempest, Skylark, etc>).
Chrysler actually had some unit bodies before WWII (Airflow).
I don't think they were ahead of anyone else on this. By 1972 every
manufacturer had some cars with electronic ignition. And Chrysler
still had some cars with conventional ignition later (at least as late
as 1975 - probably later).
I think you could legitimately argue that Chrysler was the most
innovative US auto manufacturer from the 30's until around 1957. After
that I can't point to any significant new technological innovation
Chrysler introduced unless you want to count the front wheel drive
mini-van or the horrible lean-burn system.
I'm not so sure that the Chrysler-made front wheel drive mini-van was
so great except the fact that they were the first company to build one
and for that reason they've had the greatest sales. They (like
everybody else) have had their faults.
Probably one of the bigger blunders about their minivan was the day it
was introduced. In front of about a hundred photographers, a company
big wig drove up the first minivan with Lee Iacoca (sp?) riding in the
middle seat. Amid hundreds of camera flashes the van stops and the big
wig gets out, walks over to the sliding door to let Lee out,
and..........the sliding door is stuck. Mr Iacoca has to crawl over
the front seat and has to exit out a front door.
Gawd, I wished I had that on video.
The best work car I ever had was a 1980 Plymouth police package. Road
and handled wonderfully, engine was so smooth and well isolated I
often started the car when it was already running. It was a little
hard on brakes but not much went wrong with it for the 100K I had it.
And as the movie showed, the Chryslers of the late 50's early 60's
were way ahead of the competition. Heck, up thru the eighties Ford
couldn't even make a power steering system that didn't give up in an
abrupt steering maneuver. And technical superiority doesn't
necessarily mean they were well made.
I worked for a company in the 1970's that had a fleet of Plymouth
Dusters '72-'74 model years. Most had the "slant-6" engine. Nearly all
of them were driven 250K miles. A few exceeded 300K with amazingly few
problems. I hadn't seen any line of vehicles before or since hold up
like that in a fleet environment (which tend to receive a bit of abuse).
I would agree that it does't seem there are many people bragging about high
mileage on recent Chrysler products, but I know (and have personally
experienced) LOTS of people that could brag about high mileage success from
other manufacturers, including GM, Toyota, Ford, Honda, just to name a few.
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