9 Replies to “The 1966 Chryslers: Sheer Perfection”

  1. AvatarJohn C.

    These cars have a sort of Camelot regency to them that probably hurt them in the marketplace of the day post JFK’s killing. For that matter all of Engel’s efforts afterward were less special. This isn’t a complaint, people just have their era.

    Chrysler was also not as adept with noise control, transmission smoothness or soft ride as what was offered over at GM. They had their strengths but not in the areas that made the sales. The American car that a Mercedes owner would pick if forced to buy American was not the selling point some would imagine in 1966. After all, who will force them?

    I was struck by the ad with the painting and the elegant black couple. I suppose that I should be impressed by the early portrayal, but instead it just seemed that the ad agency was already then spending more time injecting their politics than figuring out how to sell more of the product.

    • AvatarJustPassinThru

      In 1965, the Mercedes line was barely past its postwar-taxicab era. Those were not status cars – those were cars for academics and other eccentrics. An engineer might be drawn to one, but only if he cared nothing for the negative status he’d get. An Olds, which in those years also tried to stress engineering, offered a better value package.

      Regarding the black couple: Chrysler was onboard with proto-Affirmitive Action, early on. Chrysler always had a higher percentage of minorities working its Detroit plants than other companies. Just the way it played out. It was about the time of Townsend’s appointment as CEO, that the question of black dealers came up.

      Ed Davis, Jr., quoted on Allpar:

      “We were all standing around, talking in groups at the cocktail reception before dinner. The men talking with Townsend were asking him about opportunities for blacks in the automotive industry. “Why don’t you have any Negro dealerships?” he was asked.

      “There’s no reason why,” Townsend answered. “We’re looking for dealers, and we don’t care whom they are, so long as they’re qualified.”

      “Well, I know a Negro who would qualify and make a good dealer,” one of the men said.

      “Who is he? I’d like to meet him.”

      “Ed Davis.” And with that, my friend drew me away from a nearby group and had me come over to meet Chrysler’s dynamic young president.

      “I’m glad to meet you,” Townsend said as we shook hands. “We’re looking for dealers.” ”


      • AvatarJohn C.

        On the Mercedes, seems like they had some pretty prestigious offerings by the mid 50s and Max Hoffman was trying to make that point in his dealers in the USA.

        I suppose we are again supposed to nod along how wonderful it was that Chrysler gave a franchise to Mr. Davis. I wonder, the article doesn’t say, if Mr. Davis was actually coming up with the franchise fees out of his own pocket as would be expected of any other prospective dealer. If not, it seems like misguided charity out of the hides of those who actually paid for the privilege of a Chrysler dealership.

        • AvatarJustPassinThru

          Actually, Davis did. I came across the incident in David Halberstam’s business biography, The Reckoning. It focused on Ford vis-a-vis Nissan, but veered off into Chrysler. Partly because Ford’s story of the 1950s-70s was Lee Iacocca’s story, and that story continued with the left-for-dead Chrysler. So – obviously as Halberstam was researching – shifting realities obligated him to take a detour into Chrysler history, including how Lynn Townsend ran the company into the ground. After first saving it. Townsend brought fresh outlook and an open mind to the Chrysler of K.T. Keller and George Love. He forced a change in design, but then tried a marketing change as well, and then focused on stock performance and raw numbers over quality and dealer concerns.

          But Davis was a Studebaker dealer with strong auto-dealer cred. And he had his own financing – actually there was a small hiccup in that his line of credit didn’t initially match what Chrysler demanded.

          Yeah, I’m not race-focused, but there’s no legitimate question that Davis was qualified and paid his way in.

    • AvatarCarmine

      I don’t think their supposed to be black, they look grey-purpleish flesh-tone but the colors for the ad are all over the place.

  2. Avatar-Nate

    Truly these were fine cars .

    I’m not a big MoPar fan but I rode in and worked in these cars and the ride was fine and the road holding was far better than anything GM had at the time, and right out of the box too .

    If you wanted this big car to float and wallow like a Caddy, Easy-Peasy ~ just adjust the torsion bars .


  3. AvatarTony LaHood

    There is nothing about these cars that I do not love. Make mine the six-window sedan in the top shot.


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