CHRYSLER: THE IRONY CORPORATION
This whole shakeup at Chrysler and the subsequent sale has me thinking a lot about the ironies of the Chrysler Corp. Not just now in the present or in terms of the sale but in general. Heck, I found it kind of ironic that two corporations that once made machines to wipe out the other were now one corporation. Anyway, I find the whole merger/break-up thing rather sad and I hope the best for all the former, current, and retired employees of the company. Private equity firms are not known for coddling employees. They exist for one reason only and that is to maximize profits for themselves.
From the standpoint of a performance enthusiast lost in the world of 440 six packs, Hemis, and Max Wedges I had hoped that maybe Mopar performance would have become an entirely separate company catering to the restoration and performance crowd. Pretty selfish I know, but wouldn’t it be cool? Anyways, back to all this talk of irony. Here is my list of Mopar ironies in no particular order:
Some of the world’s best automotive engineering; alternators, Hemi engines, the Slant Six, and the Torque-Flite never got produced in a package seductive enough to sell in great numbers.
The Barracuda came out before the Mustang only to be outsold by it ten to one.
Max Wedges ruled the strip and Chrysler failed to capitalize on the tremendous street credibility.
Chrysler's B-bodies retained their grocery getter looks combined with blistering performance right up to 1968 (the ’67 GTX was basically a non-functional hood scoop option with a bitchin’ motor).
You could not buy a high performance Chrysler product with a four speed manual transmission until 1964.
The fastest Mopar you could buy in 1978 was a pickup truck.
Despite having the worst quality control, arguably the cheapest interior appointments and shoddiest fit and finish, the Mopars of the mid 60’s are the most commonly daily driven vintage cars today. (at least in San Francisco)
When Chrysler improved their alternator and regulator system in 1970 they added wires.
The K-car, maybe the ugliest crap box ever built saved the corporation.
Cars the press lambasted in the late 60’s and 70’s are the most sought after and most highly valued in the 21’st century.
At the height of the Arab oil embargo Chrysler launched the biggest C-bodies ever (1974).
The same corporation that dared to produce the Viper also produced the abominable Prowler.
Hardly anybody wanted a “Mod Top” vinyl roof. Ditto for the interior.
The coolest wheels Mopar ever offered were junk. (the 1969 Kelsey Hayes cast aluminum jobs)
Despite being labeled stodgy or even ugly, Darts and Valiants became the darlings of the indie rock scene of the 1990’s. There was even an all girl indie band from the Washington D.C. area called Slant Six.
Ten years ago nobody really noticed my ‘66 Satellite. One group of gentlemen looked at it and pretended to pee on it. Now it’s, “Hey! Is that a Mopar? What year is that?”
A Dodge Charger now has four doors.
Chrysler will finally build a retro styled two door rear wheel drive pony car and instead of using the iconic and readily recognized ‘Cuda nameplate they will call it a Challenger. Barracudas have had songs written about them. Challengers have not.
The 1968 Dodge Charger was the coolest, swoopiest, muscle car body style ever and was also an aerodynamic failure on the racetrack.
Now that there are more parts available to fix or restore a Mopar it has never been more expensive.