A century ago, Chrysler officially launched its first car, the Model B-70. It had an advanced, high-compression straight six engine boasting 68-70 horsepower; only one American car had a higher top speed than the Chrysler B-70’s 70 mph, and that was a luxurious straight-eight Packard.
Production of the Chrysler B-70 started in January 1924. Yet, the company’s centennial, marked by the production or sale of its first car, has gone by practically unnoticed. The 1924 car was a technological tour de force which advanced the state of the art considerably, but was still mid-priced. Ironically, the original car’s sole engine was a straight six—an architecture which has only recently been brought back to the company’s successor, and might not be used in future Chryslers. (The sole current Chrysler vehicle has six cylinders, but in a V6 format.)
DaimlerChrysler retroactively set Chrysler’s start date to June 1925, the year Walter Chrysler created an eponymous holding company and took over the assets of Maxwell, as well as those of Chalmers and the Zeder-Breer-Skelton Engineering Company. By then, Chrysler cars had been in production for around a year and a half. During the 1924 calendar year, Maxwell Motors built 79,144 Chryslers and Maxwells, and reputedly 32,000 of those were Chryslers.
There are still nearly eleven months for Stellantis to acknowledge the centennial of Chrysler as a marque, but it’s too late to celebrate its actual production start date on time.
Chrysler as a corporation lasted from 1925 to 1998, when it was merged into Daimler-Benz to form DaimlerChrysler, but Chrysler-nameplate cars were first shown in 1923, and were made for resale from January 1924 to the present. See more of the 1924 Chrysler.