THE LEGEND THAT WAS WALTER
Walter Chrysler, the man, the myth, the legend. Most of the time that phrase is over used and it is usually meant as a joke or to parody someone. But Walter Chrysler was an extraordinary man, so we will let the phrase stand as a serious opening to his story.
The luxury Chrysler cars you see today and throughout the last 90 some years have all the byproduct of one man’s vision: Walter Chrysler. He loved cars and he loved precision – he was a railroad man and worked with machines to begin with, so he knew what the word “precise” meant and he also knew and recognized quality when he saw it and he wanted both concepts to be fully involved in each and every car he made.
When he was 36, the head of Buick had heard about his success as a railroad supervisor and hired him to run Buick. Chrysler did such an outstanding job cutting costs and expanding Buick’s profit margin that they paid him the equivalent of $165,000 per month. That kind of money was simply unheard of in those days, but when a company is selling tens of thousands of cars, then the justification and certainly the money is there to do that sort of thing. Chrysler also received $500,000 in stock and $500,000 in an annual bonus. This guy must have been amazingly good at what he did.
He was a wealthy man when he left the company – he sold his stock for $10 million and went on to another car company for a salary of $1 million per year. After a couple of years he left that firm, bought a few car brands like Plymouth, DeSoto and Maxwell and started the Chrysler Corporation in 1925. He manufactured those brands along with his name brand of Chrysler, which he positioned in the marketplace as a luxury vehicle – because it was – and then he purchased Dodge.
Did we mention that he also had the Chrysler Building built from 1928 to 1930.
Walter Chrysler had a keen eye for quality and he knew how to get things done efficiently and the right way. His name will always be associated with the highest quality, whether it is a building or a luxury automobile. You can see some of his namesake cars at Texan Dodge Chrysler.