The Forward Look?

Posted by on May 3, 2009

Hello everyone!

Well Spring is marching forward as well as some major upheavals in the automotive industry!  With the coming bankruptcy of Chrysler, yet another iconic American automobile company seems to be on the ropes.  While I’m sure you can remember others, my only memory of a similar event was the AMC debacle of a few years ago…

For 1959, we’re going to take a diversion today and spend some time outlining how Chrysler approached the year!  Automotively speaking, it was a year of transformation.  The era of the small car was about to change America!  VW had been steadily making inroads into the country via the Beetle, but the domestic manufacturers seemed puzzled by the whole thing.

The St. Petersburg Times, in an article on April 12th of 1959 quoted the president of Chrysler, Colbert as saying:

“…Who will buy a shorter, narrower, less easy riding economy version of a Plymouth, for example, when for $150 more he can buy the Plymouth itself?…” (1)

Also, the automotive manufacturers for that year were beset with many strikes, uprooting the production lines and wrecking havoc on schedules. 




Chrysler, for 1959 offered a nice selection of options, including swivel seating arrangements, new engines and base pricing from $2,900 and up. 



Quality control was better for 1959, however, the tendency for many of the models to rust down was abysmal.

Here’s a quote to illustrate:

…The quality control methods were discernably better on the 1959 models. Seats, interior materials, paint, trim match, and other highly visible quality items were all far better than the previous two years. They should be. Engineers had worked their hearts out making running line changes to get quality back under some semblance of control. The 1959 models were just heavily "face lifted" remakes of the 1957-58 models. The chassis were the same. The body shells underneath were the same. There were improvements throughout the entire line, but to call them totally "new" stretched it a bit….” (4)

In any event, I’ve assembled some links below to some personal recollections of Chrysler as well as published stories.  I hope you find them informative as well as enlightening on this classis American company!

Have a great day!


Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (Google Books)

The Chrysler Corporation (external web site)

Chrysler Personal History—Pt. I. (external web site)

Chrysler Personal History—Pt. II. (external web site)

Personal History—Imperial Restoration


(1) St. Petersburg Times, April 12th, 1959 (Google News Archive)

(2) Detroit, City On The Move (Internet Archive)

(3) Popular Science, Oct. 1958 (Google Books)

(4) Inside History….

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