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by Jack Stewart
Note: The following story was excerpted from the April 2016 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine.
Nineteen sixty didn’t turn out the way that Virgil Exner envisioned.
If I may be allowed to overgeneralize, allow me to suggest that American car buyers appreciate utility, but would rather a given vehicle not look too utilitarian.
Note: This article is reprinted from the October 2016 issue of Collectible Automobile
By Jack Stewart
In 1953, the U.S. economy was robust. Bestowed with fresh styling, Plymouth set a record with almost 650,000 cars built while retaining its number-three sales position behind Chevrolet and Ford—as it had since 1931. Nineteen fifty-three was also Plymouth’s 25th anniversary, but it chose not to celebrate. Perhaps with Ford and Buick celebrating golden anniversaries that year, Plymouth felt like an upstart.
Stephen Stills wasn’t thinking about the American automotive “Malaise Era” when he wrote “Love the One You’re With,” but for enthusiasts of the time, the sentiment was apt:
Plymouth became a stand-alone brand in 1929. For a year prior, said vehicles were branded Chrysler-Plymouth and sold as more affordable alternatives to the pricer Chrysler cars they were sold alongside.
I think it’s fairly typical of people to group memories into convenient categories. Most people probably look back at their lives thus far and see periods of time easily identified by markers such as childhood, high school, post-acne, and marriage—or something akin to that. But, our memories can play tricks on us.
The quixotic tale of a doomed luxury car and an interview with a veteran car designer turned out to be golden opportunities for two freelance contributors to Collectible Automobile® magazine, a companion publication to Consumer Guide® Automotive.
Chrysler’s rear-wheel-drive “LX” car platform has served the company well. Introduced in 2004 for the 2005 model year, the basic architecture was inherited from Mercedes-Benz during the DaimlerChrysler days.