Corporate Identity

Did you hear the story of the Chrysler exec, Peter Somebody, who arrived at Devonshire House full of corporate identity zeal and desire to show us the correct use of the Pentastar? He was immediately nicknamed Pentastar Pete, and one of his goals was to make executives and others wear the thing in the buttonhole of their suits - where a flower might appear at a wedding. Being from Detroit or somewhere he didn't realise that no English gentleman   - and Devonshire House was full of them -   would dream of putting anything in his buttonhole - except a flower.

Anyway, shortly after the Pentastar edict came out, he spotted a very gentlemanly gentleman executive, whose perfectly cut suit was missing the Star.

"Say" says Pete, "don't you know you should always be wearing your Star?"

"Oh, I am so terribly sorry, Pete" came the reply. "Please forgive me. I must have left it on my pyjamas."

The Imp Site


Although it is the third largest of the United States' domestic manufacturers, Chrysler has at times seemed close to going under. Walter Percy Chrysler was no Henry Ford. He started working at GM's Buick plant, rising to works director before leaving in 1921 to buy two ailing Detroit marques, Maxwell and Chalmers. His first Chrysler model appeared in 1924, and by 1928 he had launched the DeSoto and Plymouth names, to rival GM's Oldsmobile and Chevrolet models. At around this time the company also acquired Dodge, which had made engines for Ford prior to WW1.

The 1934 Airflow was Chrysler's most extreme model. It was roomy and handled well, but the 'streamlined' looks did not sell. It lasted for just three years before being replaced by more conventional styling.
There is a theory that most failures of car models are caused by

  1. overly courageous innovations, either technical or stylistic, for which the public isn't ready
  2. a failing marketing policy

The Airflow's design wasn't oldfashioned even in the 50s. It was avantgardistic. It had been tested in a wind tunnel and had a well considered streamline. But the public spat it out. Consumers who appreciate Avantgarde are a minority.

The DeSoto name was dropped in 1960.

In January 1967 the British governement gave Chrysler permission to overtake Rootes (about 10% of British car industry). In 1966 Rootes suffered a loss of 3 million pounds. 1961 - 1965 only saw a minimal profit. Chrysler will inject 20 million pounds immediately. Especially Labour's left wing is worried by this Amrican penetration of the British market and had recommended nationalisation of the entire company. However, Rootes would likely not be able to maintain itself as a nationalised company, either.
One of the many conditions that the British goverment made, was that the majority of the commissioners will be British. Plus, through the Corporation of Industrial Reorganisation, the governement will partake in Rootes with 3 million pounds which grants them 1 seat.

Chrysler United Kingdom is one of the four major United Kingdom motor manufacturers. In 1972 the company produced 263,452 cars and 24,145 commercial vehicles. About 40% of the cars were exported to coutries all over the world. The company's share of the British car market in 1972 was 11,5%.

About 29,000 people are employed by Chrysler United Kingdom and its subsidiaries.

Chrysler United Kingdom assumed its present name in 1970. It was formerly Rootes Motors Limited and was founded by the Rootes family in 1917.

Chrysler Corporation first acquired a shareholding in 1964 and now has 100 per cent ownership.

In the last five years, the company has been totally re-organised and an additional E100 million has been invested, a major part of the money going into the modernisation and extension of the company's manufacturing facilities.

Chrysler United Kingdom has commercial vehicle manufacturing plants at Luton and Dunstable in Bedfordshire.

Car manufacturing operations are carried out at Linwood, Refrewshire, Scotland and at Stoke, Ryton and Bagington on the outskirts of Coventry.


British government handed £162 million to Chrysler in early 1976. In April Chrysler held a press conference stating their actions towards making a profit. Managing director Don Lander predicted that Chrysler UK would be out of debt by 1977. With additional money from the Chrysler corporation itself, the injection of capital, a new model programme and various labour deals indicated that Chrysler UK was on the road to recovery.
Some people lost their jobs, but plants were modernised and production was 'rationalised' to put all Avenger manufacture up to Linwood and leave the Ryton Coventry plant free to tool up to eventually produce the Alpine (Simca 1307/ 1308) which would initially be assembled in England from imported parts.
There were also plans to intergrate British production with the rest of Europe and so make it possible for British cars to help meet demands in other countries.

Chrysler told about their plans for new models years in advance, to counter the critics who said their range was out of date.

  • A facelifted Avenger at the 1976 Motor Show: Alpine type front and some comfort and trim changes
  • For 1977 a 424: a short Avenger-based hatchback, designed to compete with acrs like the Vauxhall Chevette. This could well use a version of the engine fitted to the recently discontinued Imp. Front engine, rear wheel drive.
  • For 1978 a C2: front wheel drive and around 1100cc, to sell in the same market as the VW Polo and the Renault 5.
  • For 1979 a medium saloon to replace the Chrysler 180 series, possibly bearing a relationship with the Alpine but with a larger engine.

Chrysler Competitions, unlike the rest of the company, actually made a profit over 1974 and 1975. Chrysler Comps and Special Tuning were not affected by any of Chrysler's economy measures. The rally programme under Des O'Dell continued with Chris Sclater driving the twin cam engined Avenger.

The move into Europe in 1967 was not Chrysler's first visit. During the 1930s, Chrysler cars had been assembled in the UK, with the kits being delivered to the plant at Kew, west London, by river. The second attempt was less happy, when Talbot, Simca and the former Rootes Group were taken over. The Chrysler name was used, although the 160 and 180 will probably go down in automotive history as its most forgettable models. The move put Chrysler into serious financial difficulties, so the offer to sell out to the Peugeot group in 1978 for one dollar was gratefully accepted. Lee Iacocca moved from Ford to head a new team at Chrysler, turning the company round and repaying the US government the money used to tide it over.

1978/1979 - Chrysler were 15% stakeholders in a European organisation that is controlled by Peugeot-Citroen.

Foreign Divestment and International Rationalisation: The Sale of Chrysler (UK) to Peugeot / Casson, Mark. - In: Divestment and strategic change / Coyne, John; Wright, Mike (eds.) - Oxford: Allan; Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble, 1986. - p. 102-39.

The Talbot Tagora was ready for production when Chrysler sold their Talbot shares to Peugeot. The Tagora would have had to compete with the Peugeot 604 and therefore it was taken off the market.

The marque came back to the UK in 1993 establishing a dealer network and selling a 4.0-litre Jeep Cherokee and Wrangler.

The Imp Site
   The Rootes Group
      The Creating of Chrysler UK - from the point of view of Manufacturing

newspaper articles that mention both Linwood and Chrysler