Chrysler Zombie Watch

Tales of the Auburn Hills automotive undead

Junkyard Find: 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Limited Roadster
Much of the automotive press went absolutely ape over [s]the press events for[/s] the 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster, particularly the writer who deemed it the Sexiest Car of the Year and compared its rear end favorably to Melania Trump’s jeans-clad hindquarters. Closing in on two decades later, the Crossfire’s image has fared about as well as memories of the DaimlerChrysler “merger of equals,” which makes a first-year Crossfire Roadster an excellent Junkyard Find.
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Junkyard Find: 1991 Chrysler TC by Maserati

With The General offering a costlier-than- an-S-Class Cadillac built in Turin and Hamtramck (the two assembly lines connected via custom-built 747 freighters) as well as Italianate Buicks and Oldsmobiles in the late 1980s, Lee Iacocca decided to leverage Chrysler’s investment in Maserati to create a K-Car-based Italian sports car: the TC by Maserati. Like the Allanté, Troféo, and Reatta, the TC hasn’t held its value so well over the decades, and I find the occasional example during my junkyard travels. Here’s a crashed ’91 in a yard near Denver, Colorado.

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What's to Become of Chrysler?

Chrysler has certainly changed since emerging from the ashes of the Maxwell Motor Company in 1925, spending the better part of the 20th century purveying all manner of car to the American public. The current century has seen the company merge with Daimler, followed by Fiat. Now it’s cozying up to PSA Group, leaving many to wonder what purpose Chrysler serves beyond being the corporate namesake.

Officially, the merger isn’t supposed to impact any FCA or PSA brands. But the Chrysler brand isn’t exactly a model of industrial health. Its current lineup consists of four vehicles, one of which (Voyager) is just the lower-trim version of the non-hybrid Pacifica. The minivan sales are enviable, comprising over half of all vehicles sold within the segment for the United States last year — if you incorporate the Dodge Caravan — but Chrysler’s overall trajectory leaves much to be desired.

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King of the Molester Vans Sports Factory V8 and 4-Speed, May Be Doomed

Malaise Era Molester Vans are rarely worth sparing from The Crusher’s jaws these days, what with steel prices stoking The Crusher’s hunger to insatiable levels, particularly when they’re on the rusty side. However, when that van is a ’78 Dodge Tradesman with a factory-installed 318 and floor-shifted overdrive 4-speed, things might be different. We hope.

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Chrysler Zombie Watch 10: Might As Well Jump

Chrysler has always held a special place in TTAC’s chronicling of Detroit’s decline, enjoying a bespoke “Suicide Watch” in contrast to our Ford and GM “Deathwatches.” In the first entry in that series Frank Williams wrote of a gutted firm, dependent on incentives and flagging truck sales, seemingly doomed to drag its foreign partner into bankruptcy. Four years and countless opportunities for death with (some) dignity later, Chrysler presents much the same picture. Sure, it’s been rinsed of debts and excess capacity in bankruptcy court, but the Pentastar’s brands are still fundamentally damaged from years of self-abuse and the firm is struggling (and failing) to improve on last year’s sales numbers, which were recorded en route to said bankruptcy. Inventory may be under control, but Frank’s four-year-old assessment of an investor warning by JP Morgan could have been written yesterday [with “DCX” replaced by “Fiat”]:

JP Morgan remains convinced that management patience towards Chrysler has “worn thin and increases the likelihood that DCX will reduce exposure to Chrysler.” It’s the investment community’s equivalent of yelling “jump!” to someone standing on a ledge.

In fact, analysts from London’s Bernstein Research wrote nearly the exact same line yesterday. Chrysler has officially shuffled back onto the ledge, and once again the analysts are shouting “Jump!”

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Chrysler Zombie Watch 9: Brand-Aid

TTAC did not file a full Chrysler Zombie Watch from the launch of Chrysler’s five year business and product plan, but two major points dominated our coverage. The first was this graph that shows 2009 as a trough year for Chrysler sales, with 2010 heralding a major and sustained turnaround in Chrysler’s fortunes beginning next year. Underlying this rosy projection is the second main point of Chrysler’s turnaround, a product/branding strategy that we summarized as “refresh and market like hell.” But refreshes take time, which is something that Chrysler simply doesn’t have. While the automotive world waits for the crucial Fiat-fettled refreshed Chryslers (due to begin arriving at the end of 2010), the “market like hell” portion of the plan is hitting America’s airwaves first, in the form of new ads aimed at reviving “consideration” of Chrysler’s damaged brands. But now that we’ve seen the opening salvos in this $1.4b war on consumer apathy, it’s becoming clear that Chrysler’s journey (no pun intended) of a thousand miles is beginning with a stumble.

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Chrysler Zombie Watch 8: "We Have to Do Business Different"
I can hear TTAC’s audience wincing at the headline. It should be “differently,” not “different.” Of course, if you imagine this…
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Chrysler Zombie Watch 7: What's Bothering Ruthie?
The brilliant lawyer, author, and ex-blogger, Bill Patry (now senior copyright counsel at Google), wrote on his Patry Copyright Blog back in 2005 about the greatest Biblical scholar of all time, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhak (whom everyone affectionately calls “ Rashi“).Bill wrote:Rashi is used as a learning device for children not because he is simple (he isn’t) but because of the unusual nature of his commentary. His commentary consists of very terse conclusions, but without the questions that prompted the conclusions. Children are left with the task of asking “What’s Bothering Rashi?”The “What’s Bothering Rashi?” approach to learning text is useful in analyzing statutes because it teaches one to ask the why of things, rather than as we almost always do, just read the literal words divorced from what the law would be like in their absence.Bill’s post came to mind in thinking about “What’s Bothering Ruthie?” that would prompt her to call a halt to a sale that remarkably worked its way from bankruptcy filing to cert. review in less time than it takes the average person to buy a used Town & Country. Here are a few ideas:
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Editorial: Chrysler Zombie Watch 6: Bankruptcy Prof. Condemns Chrysler C11
David A. Skeel Jr. is the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and author of “Icarus in the Boardroo…
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Editorial: Chrysler Zombie Watch 5: Saving Private Chrysler
Saving Chrysler is just stupid. There isn’t one shred of pure economic logic—never mind basic business sense—to rescue this company from li…
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Chrysler Zombie Watch 3: Zombie Strippers!
Proponents of Chrysler’s current reinvention often refer to the exercise as a “surgical” bankruptcy. OK, who’s the surgeon? As far as…
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Editorial: Chrysler Zombie Watch 4: Bella Macchina?
Editorial:Chrysler Zombie Watch: Bella Macchina?
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Chrysler Zombie Watch 2: Politics Vs. The Rule of Law
Announcing Chrysler’s bankruptcy, President Obama vilified the “investment firms and hedge funds” who decided to “hold out for the pr…
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  • Arthur Dailey Love the Abe Rothstein tribute suits. Too bad about the car. Seems to have been well loved for most of its life.
  • K. R. Worth noting that the climate control is shared with (donated to) the Audi 5000 of the mid-late 1980s.
  • Sloomis Looks like 108,000 miles to me, not 80,000. Not much better though...
  • Johnds If I’m not mistaken, the odo appears to say 8016, not 80016.
  • Motorqjoe Had a Volt as company car ~2012. What stunted the experience for me was a lack of reliable charging. The 42 miles of all battery range was excellent, but the experience when the gen-set had to kick in was lackluster. I don't think it was a lack of brand awareness.