Sunday, April 26, 2009

Plymouth Superbird

The short-lived Plymouth Road Runner Superbird, a sister design to the Dodge Charger Daytona, was designed to beat the Ford Torino Talladega at NASCAR stock car racing and to lure Richard Petty back to Plymouth. Both cars famously featured a protruding, aerodynamic nosecone, a massive rear spoiler, and a horn whose sound mimicked the Road Runner cartoon character.

Plymouth Superbird

Manufacturer Plymouth

Production 1970

Assembly Detroit, Michigan

Class Muscle car

Body style(s)

2-door coupe

Layout FR layout

Platform B-body


426 Hemi
440 Super Commando
440 Super Commando Six Barrel


Plymouth Road Runner
Dodge Charger Daytona

Plymouth Road Runner Superbird


Developed specifically for NASCAR racing, the Superbird, a modified Plymouth Roadrunner, and the Charger Daytona, a modified Dodge Charger 500, were among the first American cars to be designed aerodynamically using a wind tunnel and computer analysis. The Superbird's smoothed-out body and nosecone with retractable headlights added nineteen inches to the Road Runner's original length. A rear wing (spoiler) was mounted on tall tail-fins that put it into less disturbed air thus reducing the car's lightness by keeping the rear tires firmly on the ground at high speeds. The extreme height of these fins also gave clearance for the trunklid to open freely. The rear-facing fender scoops were used for releasing trapped air from the wheel wells.

Plymouth Superbird

Plymouth Superbird

Petty's famous Roadrunner Superbird, on display at the Richard Petty Museum

However, NASCAR's homologation requirement demanded that vehicles to be raced have to be available to the general public and sold in sufficient numbers. In 1970, NASCAR raised the production requirement from 500 examples to one for every 2 Manufacturer's dealers in the United States; for Plymouth, that meant having to build 1,920 Superbirds. 1970 would be its only production year.

"Superbird" decals were placed on the outside edges of the spoiler vertical fins featuring a picture of the Road Runner cartoon character holding a racing helmet. A smaller version of the decal appears on the driver side headlight door. The Superbirds came fitted with the 426 Hemi engine, the 440 Super Commando with a single 4-barrel carburetor, or the 440 Super Commando Six Barrel with three two-barrel carburetors. Only 135 models were fitted with the 426 Hemi. As the 440 was less expensive to produce, the 426 Hemi engine was homologated by producing a minimal number that was optioned in several different Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth vehicles.

On the street, the nosecone and wing were very distinctive, but the aerodynamic improvements hardly made a difference there or on the drag strip. In fact, the 1970 Road Runner was only slightly quicker in the quarter mile. At speeds in excess of 90 mph the differences were more obvious.


In Autumn 1968, Richard Petty left the Plymouth NASCAR Racing Team for Ford's. Charlie Grey, director of the Ford stock car program felt that hiring Petty would send the message that "money rules none". However, the Superbird lured Petty back to Plymouth for the 1970 season. Petty did reasonably well against strong Ford opposition on the NASCAR tracks that year, winning eight races and placing well in many more. A recent tribute to Petty's Superbird was seen in the 2006 film Cars with Petty voicing "The King", a stock race car bearing a strong resemblance to a Superbird.

NASCAR's rules implemented for the 1971 season limited the "aero-cars" to an engine displacement of no greater than 305 in³ (5.0 L) or they had to carry much more weight compared to their competitors. While they were still legal to race, the power-to-weight consequences that would come with the smaller engine or the increased weight rendered the cars uncompetitive. This was the start of a trend of rules slowing down NASCAR, because the races were exceeding the technology of tires and safety over 200 mph. Ford in response also designed the 1970 Torino King Cobra with a 240Z-like nose, but it was abandoned.

Market impact

The Superbird's styling proved to be a little extreme for 1970 tastes (many customers preferred the regular Road Runner), and as a consequence, many examples sat unsold on the back lots of dealerships as late as 1972. Some were converted back into 1970 Road Runners to move them off the sales lot. In recent years, however, the Superbird has become quite valuable. A Superbird can fetch anywhere from $80,000 to US$300,000. On eBay, bids for original Superbirds crossed $800,000. Some manufacturers produce Superbird conversion kits for 1970 Road Runners and Satellites. Kits are also available for non produced 1971 and 1972 bodies for the Superbird.

The Superbird and the Dodge Charger Daytona were each built for 1 model year only (1970 and 1969 respectively). Appearing at the peak of the muscle car era, it is certainly one of the rarest and most desirable of muscle cars.

Superbird in popular culture

The car has inspired muscle car enthusiast rock band Fu Manchu's song Superbird

"The King" car in Disney/Pixar movie Cars bears a strong resemblance to the Superbird

A rusted out Superbird (or possibily a Charger Daytona) was owned by the character Joe Dirt in the film of the same title. As Dirt drives the car underneath a parking lot gate, the arm of the gate closes and knocks off the large rear wing.

External links

Plymouth Road Runner Superbird, 1970 Road Runner Superbird | -

Plymouth Superbird

Superbird and Daytona aerodynamics and history

Daytona Superbird Auto Club

Winged Warriors/NBOA

Aero Warriors

Plymouth Barracuda (Cuda)

Plymouth Barracuda 1970 Plymouth Barracuda

Manufacturer Plymouth

Parent company Chrysler Corporation

Production 1964–1974


Ontario, Canada

Class Muscle car

Layout FR layout

The Plymouth Barracuda is a 2-door car that was manufactured by the Plymouth division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1964 through 1974.

The first-generation Barracuda, a fastback A-body coupé based on the Plymouth Valiant, had a distinctive wraparound back glass and was available from 1964 to 1966.

The second-generation 1967 – 1969 Barracuda, though still Valiant-based, was heavily redesigned. Second-generation A-body cars were available in fastback, notchback, and convertible versions.

The 1970 – 1974 E-body Barracuda, no longer Valiant-based, was available as a coupé and a convertible, both of which were very different from the previous models.


First generation

Production 1964–1966

Body style(s)

2-door fastback coupe

Platform A-body


170 cu in (2.8 L) Slant-6
225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6
273 cu in (4.5 L) LA V8

Wheelbase 106 in (2692.4 mm)
Length 188.2 in (4780.3 mm)
Height 70.1 in (1780.5 mm)

Related Plymouth Valiant, Dodge Challenger

Automotive trends in the early-mid 1960s had all the US manufacturers looking at making sporty compact cars. Chrysler's A-body Plymouth Valiant was chosen for the company's efforts in this direction.

Ford's Mustang, which significantly outsold the Barracuda, gave to this type of vehicle its colloquial name "pony car", but the Barracuda fastback's release on 1 April 1964 beat the Mustang by two weeks.

Plymouth's executives had wanted to name the car Panda, an idea that was unpopular with the car's designers. In the end, John Samsen's suggestion of Barracuda was selected.

The Barracuda used the Valiant's 106 in wheelbase and the Valiant hood, headlamp bezels, windshield, vent windows, quarter panels and bumpers; all other sheet metal and glass was new. This hybrid design approach significantly reduced the development and tooling cost and time for the new model.

1965 Plymouth Barracuda

The fastback body shape was achieved primarily with a giant backlight, which wrapped down to the fender line. Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) collaborated with Chrysler designers to produce this 14.4 ft² (4.4 m²) rear window, the largest ever installed on a standard production car up to that time.

The Barracuda was able to return the Valiant's favor the next year, when the fenders and tail lamps that had been introduced on the 1964 Barracuda were used on the whole 1965 Valiant range except for the wagon.

Powertrains were identical to the Valiant's, including two versions of Chrysler's slant-6 engine. The standard-equipment engine had a piston displacement of 170 cu in (2.8 L) and an output of 101 bhp (75.3 kW); the 225 cu in (3.7 L) option raised the power output to 145 bhp (108.1 kW).

The highest power option for 1964 was Chrysler's all-new 273 cu in (4.5 L) LA V8. A compact and relatively light engine equipped with a 2-barrel carburetor, it produced 180 bhp (134.2 kW).[5] The Barracuda sold for a base price of $2,512 (USD).

1964 was not only the first year for the Barracuda, but also the last year for push-button control of the optional Torqueflite automatic transmission, so 1964 models were the only Barracudas so equipped.

1965 Barracuda Formula S

In 1965, the 225 slant-6 became the base engine in the US market, though the 170 remained the base engine in Canada.

New options were introduced for the Barracuda as the competition between pony cars intensified. The 273 engine was made available as an upgraded Commando version with a 4-barrel carburetor, 10.5:1 compression, a more aggressive camshaft with solid tappets. These and other upgrades increased the engine's output to 235 bhp (175.2 kW).

Also in 1965 the Formula 'S' package was introduced. It included the Commando V8 engine, suspension upgrades, larger wheels and tires, special emblems and a tachometer. Disc brakes and factory-installed air conditioning became available after the start of the 1965 model year.

For 1966, the Barracuda received new taillights, new front sheet metal, and a new dashboard. The latter had room for oil pressure and tachometer gauges on models so equipped. The 1966 front sheet metal, which except for the grille was shared with the Valiant, gave a more rectilinear contour to the fenders. Deluxe models featured fender-top turn signal indicators with a stylized fin motif. The bumpers were larger, and the grille featured a strong grid theme. A center console was optional for the first time.

Although the first Barracudas were heavily based on the contemporary Valiants, Plymouth wanted them perceived as distinct models. Consequently, the "Valiant" chrome script that appeared on the 1964 model's trunk lid was phased out on the 1965 model in the US market. For 1966, a Barracuda-specific stylized fish logo was introduced, though in markets such as Canada and South Africa, where Valiant was a marque in its own right, the car remained badged as Valiant Barracuda until the A-body Barracuda was discontinued.

In profile, the 1967 Hillman Hunter-based Sunbeam Rapier Fastback coupé from Chrysler's United Kingdom company (the former Rootes Group), resembles the 1964–66 Barracuda. However the Rapier's designer, Roy Axe, said that there was no direct connection.


Second generation

Production 1967–1969

Body style(s)

2-door fastback coupe
2-door notchback coupe
2-door convertible

Platform A-body


225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6
273 cu in (4.5 L) LA V8
318 cu in (5.2 L) LA V8
340 cu in (5.6 L) LA V8
383 cu in (6.3 L) B V8
440 cu in (7.2 L) RB V8


Dodge Dart
Plymouth Valiant

The second-generation Barracuda, now a 108 inches (2,743 mm) wheelbase A-body still sharing many components with the Valiant, was fully redesigned with Barracuda-specific sheet metal styling and its own range of models including convertibles as well as fastback and notchback hardtops.

1969 Plymouth Barracuda

The new Barracuda was styled chiefly by John E. Herlitz and John Samsen. It was less rectilinear than the Valiant, with coke-bottle side contours and heavily revised front and rear end styling.

Design cues included a concave rear deck panel, wider wheel openings, curved side glass, and S-curved roof pillars on the notchback.

The rear portion of the roof on the fastback coupe was more streamlined, and the back glass, raked at a substantially horizontal angle, was much smaller compared with that of the previous model. Also, the use of chrome trim on the external sheet metal was more restrained.

During this time frame the first U.S. Federal auto safety standards were phased in, and Chrysler's response to the introduction of each phase distinguishes each model year of the second-generation Barracuda:

1967: no sidemarker lights or reflectors.

1968: round sidemarker lights without reflectors.

1969: rectangular sidemarker reflectors without lights.

As the pony-car class became established and competition increased, Plymouth began to revise the Barracuda's engine options.

1967 Barracuda fastback

In 1967, while the 225 slant-6 was still the base engine, the V8 options ranged from the 2-barrel and 4-barrel versions of the 273 to a seldom-ordered 383 cu in (6.3 L) "B" big-block, the latter available only with the Formula S package.

In 1968 the 273 was replaced by the 318 cu in (5.2 L) LA engine as the smallest V8 available, and the new 340 cu in (5.6 L) LA 4bbl was released. The 383 Super Commando engine was upgraded with the intake manifold, camshaft, and cylinder heads from the Road Runner and Super bee, but the more restrictive exhaust manifolds specific to the A-body cars limited its output to 300 bhp (224 kw).

Also in 1968, Chrysler made approximately 50 fastback Barracudas equipped with the 426 cu in (7 L) Hemi for Super Stock drag racing. These cars were assembled by Hurst Performance and featured lightweight items such as lightweight Chemcor side glass, fiberglass front fenders, and hood with scoop, lightweight seats, and sound deadener and other street equipment such as rear seats omitted. An included sticker indicated that the car was not for use on public roads; it could run the quarter in the mid 10s in 1968.

'67 Plymouth Barracuda

1969 Barracuda

Today, original Hemi super stock Barracudas (and similarly configured Dodge Darts) are highly prized collector vehicles, with original unaltered cars commanding high prices.

For the South African export market, a 190 bhp (140 kW) high-performance version of the 225 slant-6 called Charger Power was offered with 9.3:1 compression, 2-barrel carburetor, more aggressive camshaft, and low-restriction exhaust system.

A handful of Savage GTs were also built from the second-generation Barracuda.

In 1969 Plymouth placed increased emphasis on providing and marketing performance. A new option was the Mod Top, a vinyl roof covering with a floral motif, available 1969and 1970. Plymouth sold it as a package with seat and door panel inserts done in the same pattern.

The 1969 version of the 383 engine was upgraded to increase power output to 330 bhp (246.1 kW), and a new trim package called 'Cuda was released. The 'Cuda, based on the Formula S option, was available with either the 340,383 and new for 1969 the 440 Super Commando V8.


Third generation

Also called Plymouth 'Cuda

Production 1970–1974

Body style(s)

2-door notchback coupe
2-door convertible

Platform E-body


198 cu in (3.2 L) Slant-6
225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6
318 cu in (5.2 L) LA V8
340 cu in (5.6 L) LA V8
360 cu in (5.9 L) LA V8
383 cu in (6.3 L) B V8
426 cu in (7 L) Hemi V8
440 cu in (7.2 L) RB V8


Dodge Challenger

The redesign for the 1970 Barracuda removed all its previous commonality with the Valiant. The original fastback design was deleted from the line and the Barracuda now consisted of coupe and convertible models. The all-new model, styled by John E. Herlitz, was built on a shorter, wider version of Chrysler's existing B platform, called the E-body. Sharing this platform was also the newly launched Dodge Challenger; however, no sheet metal interchanged between the two cars, and the Challenger had a 2-inch (51 mm) longer wheelbase.

The E-body Barracuda was now "able to shake the stigma of 'economy car'." Three versions were offered: the base Barracuda (BH), the luxury oriented Gran Coupe (BP), and the sport model 'Cuda (BS). The high-performance models were marketed as 'Cuda deriving from the 1969 option. The E-body's engine bay was larger than that of the previous A-body, facilitating the release of Chrysler's 426 cu in (7 L) Hemi for the regular retail market.

Two six-cylinder engines were available — a new 198 cu in (3.2 L) version of the slant-6, and the 225 — as well as six different V8s: the 318, 340, 383, 440-4bbl, 440-6bbl, and the 426 Hemi.[10]. The 440- and Hemi-equipped cars received upgraded suspension components and structural reinforcements to help transfer the power to the road.

Other Barracuda options included decal sets, hood modifications, and some unusual "high impact" colors such as "Vitamin C","In-Violet", and "Moulin Rouge".

Swede Savage and Dan Gurney raced identical factory-sponsored AAR (All American Racers) 'Cudas in the 1970 Trans-Am Series. The cars qualified for three pole positions but did not win any Trans-Am races; the highest finish was 2nd at Road America.[citations needed]

A street version of the AAR 'Cuda was produced, powered by the 340 cu in (5.6 L) "six pack" (three two-barrel carburetors) engine.

The Barracuda was changed slightly for 1971, with a new grille and taillights, seat, and trim differences. This would be the only year that the Barracuda would have four headlights, and also the only year of the fender "gills" on the 'Cuda model.

The 1971 Barracuda engine options would remain the same as that of the 1970 model, except the 4-barrel carbureted 440 engine was not available; all 440-powered Barracudas had a six-barrel carburetor setup instead. The 426 Hemi remained available, and the Hemi-powered 1971 Barracuda convertible is now considered one of the most valuable collectible muscle cars. Only eleven were built, seven of which were sold domestically, and examples of these cars have sold for US$2 million.

In 1970 and 1971, the shaker hood and the Spicer-built Dana 60 rear axle were available. The shaker hood was available with 340, 383, 440-4bbl and 440-6bbl, and 426 Hemi engines. The heavy-duty (and heavy) Dana 60, with a 9¾ in ring gear, was standard equipment with manual transmissions and 440-6bbl and 426 Hemi engines, and was optional on those with the automatic transmission.

After another grille and taillight redesign in 1972, the Barracuda would remain unchanged through 1974, with dual headlights and four circular taillights. Big Block engines (383, 440, & 426 Hemi) were no longer offered; and the 318 was added to the 'Cuda (BS) as the base engine. This continued through 1974 with the 340 being dropped in lieu of the HP 360.

As with other American vehicles of the time, there was a progressive decrease in the Barracuda's performance. To meet increasingly stringent safety and exhaust emission regulations, big-block engine options were discontinued. The remaining engines were detuned year by year to reduce exhaust emissions, which also reduced their power output. There was also an increase in weight as bumpers became larger, and for 1973 doors were equipped with heavy steel side-impact protection beams. By 1974, only the 318 and 360 engines were available. Higher fuel prices and performance-car insurance surcharges deterred many buyers as the interest in high performance cars waned. Sales had dropped dramatically after 1970, and Barracuda production ended April 1, 1974, ten years to the day after it had begun.

After 1974

A 1975 Barracuda was planned before the end of the 1970-74 model cycle. Plymouth engineers sculpted two separate concepts out of clay, both featuring a Superbird-inspired aerodynamic body, and eventually reached a consensus upon which an operational concept car could be built. Due to a rapidly changing automotive market, the concepts were scrapped and the 1975 Barracuda was not put into production. [12]

The Barracuda is today a muscle car sought by collectors, though the rarity of specific models and option combinations today is largely the result of low buyer interest and production when the vehicles were new.

In 2007, Motor Trend magazine reported a rumor that the Chrysler Group was considering reviving the Barracuda in 2009 alongside the revived Dodge Challenger to compete with the Ford Mustang and new Chevrolet Camaro. Because the Plymouth brand was withdrawn from the market in 2001, the new Barracuda would be branded as a Chrysler. However, a Chrysler official called the Barracuda's reintroduction unlikely.

External links

"The Plymouth Barracuda: First Pony (Fish?) Car".

John Samsen's Plymouth Barracuda design history

Barrett-Jackson auto auction results 2005

Forbes - Covetable 'Cuda

1975 Barracuda - The Fish that Got Away

Motor Trend's Return of the 'Cuda Plymouth Barracuda Page

Plymouth Fury

The Plymouth Fury was an automobile made by the Plymouth division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1956 to 1978. The Fury was introduced as a premium-priced halo model (a production automobile designed to showcase the talents and resources of an automotive company, with the intent to draw consumers into their showrooms).

First generation: 1956-1959

First generation

Production 1956-1959

Body style(s)

4-door sedan
2-door coupe
4-door station wagon
2-door convertible


303 cu in (5.0 L) V8
350 cu in (5.7 L) V8
361 cu in (5.9 L) V8

The Fury was sold only as an off-white hardtop coupé with gold anodized aluminum trim in 1956, 1957 and 1958. From 1965 to 1974, Plymouth sales owed a great deal to the Fury's popularity. When Plymouth reintroduced a full-size car in 1965, the Fury was available in four trim levels, dubbed Fury I, Fury II, Fury III and Sport Fury, which were priced to meet Chevrolet's Biscayne, Bel Air, Impala and Impala SS models, body style for body style.

In 1959 Plymouth introduced the Sport Fury as its top model, and the Fury name was stepped down to replace the Plymouth Belvedere at the top of the regular Plymouth line-up. In doing so, the Fury range now contained sedans and station wagons as well as a hardtop coupe and sedan, while the Sport Fury series had only a 2-door hardtop and convertible.

The Sport Fury was dropped at the end of 1959, but was reintroduced in mid-1962.

Stephen King's Christine

Although the 1958 Plymouth Fury is identified as the car in John Carpenter's adaptation of the Stephen King novel Christine, two other Plymouth models, the Belvedere and the Savoy, were also used to portray the malevolent automobile.

Several statements about the car in the book version were factually incorrect for the 1958 Fury, referring to features that were found on the Belvedere model and not on the Fury. Some of these include:

"rear doors" (Christine is referred to as a four-door, but the Fury was only available in a two-door model until 1959)
the automatic transmission (called a Hydramatic in the book—a GM transmission; Chrysler Corporation transmissions were called TorqueFlite)
"gearshift lever" (refers to the transmission shifter; all 1958 Chrysler automobiles with automatic transmissions used push-button drive).

Another slight inaccuracy was shown in the film version of Christine: In the scene where Leigh Cabot chokes on a hamburger, Arnie is locked out of the car and can't help her. The door lock button clearly goes down by itself, yet these cars did not have lock buttons. They required the door handle to be rotated counter-clockwise to lock them.

However, the author did note that Christine was "a special order", which could explain these inconsistencies. Also, since the car is possessed by a supernatural force (the previous owner in the book and an unknown force in the movie) it is possible that the car could do just about anything it (she) wanted.

Second generation: 1960-1964

Second generation

Production 1960-1964

Body style(s)

4-door sedan
2-door coupe
4-door station wagon
2-door convertible

Platform B-body


318 cu in (5.2 L) "poly" V8
383 cu in (6.3 L) 330 hp "SonoRamic Commando" V8
225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6
261 cu in (4.3 L) I6
361 cu in (5.9 L) V8
413 cu in (6.8 L) 375 hp V8
426 cu in (7.0 L) "Wedge" V8 (1964 only)

Suddenly it was 1960, and Chrysler/Plymouth was scrambling to produce cars to please the public, fins suddenly having become passe. The Fury remained Plymouth's sales volume model through the troubled early 1960s, when the full-sized Fury was saddled with odd styling and an intermediate (or mid-sized) platform. The first year a Fury convertible was offered was in 1960.

Also in 1960, Chrysler introduced its Ram Induction system of manifolds, which increased low end and reduced high end torque for drag racing. The Fury also moved to unibody construction for greater rigidity and better cornering. The fins dropped off completely in 1961, after reaching new heights in 1960. The original 318 and 383 were available (not related to the later 318 and 383), along with a 361 and the brand-new Chrysler Slant-Six 6-cylinder engine, producing 145 hp (108 kW) at 4000 rpm. The 383 produced 330 hp (250 kW).

Starting in 1962 and ending in 1969, the Sport Fury was offered as a hardtop coupe or a convertible.

Third generation: 1965-68

Third generation

Also called Plymouth VIP

Production 1965-1968

Body style(s)

4-door sedan
2-door coupe
4-door station wagon
2-door convertible

Platform C-body


426 cu in (7.0 L) "Wedge" V8
383 cu in (6.3 L) V8 (avail:2 & 4 barrel)
318 cu in (5.2 L) "LA" V8
225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6
440 cu in (7.2 L)


3-speed automatic
3-speed manual
4-speed manual

Wheelbase 119.0 in (3023 mm)

Station Wagon: 121.0 in (3073 mm)

In 1965, Plymouth came up with three special Furys: the Fury I, Fury II, and Fury III. The Fury I was marketed to police and taxi fleets, or sold to private customers wanting a basic, no-frills full-sized car, while the Fury II and Fury III were the bread and butter lines. Many Sport Fury models (as well as Fury III models) came loaded with options such as automatic transmission, power steering, white sidewall tires (along with full wheel covers), stereo radios, vinyl tops and air conditioning.

The overall design changed, with the grille losing chrome but gaining two vertical stacked headlights on each side. All new Furys got a new 119" wheelbase (121" for the wagons) - one inch more than before. The 426 "Street Wedge" V8 was introduced, rated at 385 hp (287 kW) but finally street-legal.

From 1966 to 1969, a luxury version of the Fury, called the Plymouth VIP (marketed as the Very Important Plymouth in 1966) was fielded, in response to the Ford LTD, Chevrolet Caprice, and the Ambassador DPL. These models came with standards such as full wheel covers, vinyl tops, luxuriously upholstered interiors with walnut dashboard and door-panel trim, a thicker grade of carpeting, more sound insulation, full courtesy lighting, four door hardtops, etc. In addition to options ordered for the Fury III and Sport Fury models, VIPs were often ordered with such items as automatic transmission, air conditioning, power windows, and power seats.

Fourth generation: 1969-1973

Fourth generation Also called Plymouth VIP ]

Production 1969-1972

Body style(s)

4-door sedan
2-door coupe
4-door station wagon
2-door convertible

Platform C-body


426 cu in (7.0 L) "Wedge" V8
383 cu in (6.3 L) V8
318 cu in (5.2 L) "LA" V8
225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6
440 cu in (7.2 L)
400 cu in (6.6 L)

Wheelbase 120.0 in (3048 mm)

The 1969 models debuted "Fuselage" styling then in vogue at Chrysler. For 1970, the VIP was discontinued, and the Sport Fury range added a four-door hardtop sedan. The Sport Fury added two new hardtop coupes to retain some semblance of a sporty image: the S-23 and the GT. 1970-71 Sport Fury GT models were powered by a 440-cubic-inch engine, which could even be had with the "Six-Pack" option, which consisted of three two-barrel carburetors.

1972 Fury's cotainted a unique twin-loop bumper desingn with a small insignia space between the loops and hideaway headlights as standard equipment on the Sport Suburban, and the newly introduced Fury Gran Coupe and Gran Sedan, which eventually would become the Plymouth Gran Fury. Later in the year, hideaway headlights became an option on all models.

Fifth generation: 1974-

1973 was the last for the C-body and full-size Fury.

Fifth generation Production 1973-1974

Body style(s)

4-door sedan
2-door coupe
4-door station wagon
2-door convertible

Platform C-body


360 cu in (5.9 L) "LA" V8
318 cu in (5.2 L) "LA" V8
400 cu in (6.6 L) V8
440 cu in (7.2 L)

Wheelbase 120.0 in (3048 mm)

Sixth generation (Gran Fury and the end of the Fury): 1975-1978

Sixth generation Production 1975-1978

Body style(s)

4-door sedan
2-door coupe
4-door station wagon

Platform B-body


225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6
400 cu in (6.6 L) V8
360 cu in (5.9 L) "LA" V8
318 cu in (5.2 L) "LA" V8

Wheelbase Sedan: 117.5 in (2985 mm)

Coupe: 115.0 in (2921 mm)

In 1975, Chrysler moved the Fury nameplate to Plymouth's redesigned mid-size models that had previously been marketed as the Satellite. A Fury Road Runner was offered on the redesigned coupe, but was moved to the Plymouth Volare the following year. The full-sized Plymouth then became known as the Plymouth Gran Fury. The Gran Fury was dropped after 1977, and the mid-sized models were dropped after 1978, replaced in Canada by the rebadged Dodge Diplomat model called the Plymouth Caravelle (not the be confused with the E-body Plymouth Caravelle from 1983-1988). There was no 1979Fury, Gran or otherwise.

In 1980-81 a new Gran Fury was available, in what was a virtual twin of the concurrent Chrysler Newport intended mainly for fleet sales. For 1982, Dodge Diplomat was rebadged to create yet another Gran Fury. In reality, this was the Canadian-market Plymouth Caravelle sedan which had been available since 1977. This version was available through the 1989 model year, and was sold mainly as a fleet vehicle, and was a popular choice as a police cruiser.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Plymouth (automobile)

Withdrawn from market (2001); models discontinued or rebranded as Chryslers

Plymouth (founded 1928 - dissolved 2001) was a marque of automobile based in the United States, marketed by the Chrysler Corporation and DaimlerChrysler.



1928 Plymouth Model Q Coupe

The Plymouth automobile was introduced on July 7, 1928. It was the Chrysler Corporation's first entry in the low-priced field, which at the time was dominated by Chevrolet and Ford. Plymouths were actually priced a little higher than the competition, but they offered standard features such as external expanding hydraulic brakes that the competition did not provide. Plymouths were originally sold exclusively through Chrysler dealerships. The logo featured a rear view of the Mayflower ship which landed at Plymouth Rock. However, the Plymouth brand name came from Plymouth Binder Twine, chosen by Joe Frazer for its popularity among farmers.

The origins of the first Plymouth can be traced back to the Maxwell automobile. When Walter P. Chrysler took over control of the trouble-ridden Maxwell-Chalmers car company in the early 1920s, he inherited the Maxwell as part of the package. After he used the company's facilities to help create and launch the Chrysler car in 1924, he decided to create a lower-priced companion car. So for 1926 the Maxwell was reworked and re-badged as the low-end Chrysler "52" model. In 1928, the "52" was once again redesigned to create the Chrysler-Plymouth Model Q. The "Chrysler" portion of the nameplate was dropped with the introduction of the Plymouth Model U in 1929.

Great Depression, 1940s, and 1950s

1948 Plymouth Special De Luxe Coupé

1949 Plymouth 4-door sedan

While the original purpose of the Plymouth was simply to cover a lower-end marketing niche, during the Great Depression of the 1930s the car would help significantly in ensuring the survival of the Chrysler Corporation in a decade when many other car companies failed. Beginning in 1930, Plymouths were sold by all three Chrysler divisions (Chrysler, DeSoto, and Dodge). Plymouth sales were a bright spot during this dismal automotive period, and by 1931 Plymouth rose to the number three spot among all cars. In 1932 with the Model PB, the company introduced Floating power and boasted, "The economy of a four; the smoothness of a six."

In 1939 Plymouth produced 417,528 vehicles, of which 5,967 were roadsters, or two-door convertibles with rumble seats. The 1939 Roadster was prominently featured at Chrysler's exhibit at the 1939 World's Fair, advertised as the first mass-production convertible with a power folding top. It featured a 201-cubic-inch, 82 horsepower (61kW) version of the Chrysler Flathead Six engine.

For much of its life, Plymouth was one of the top selling American automobile brands, along with Chevrolet and Ford ("the low-priced three"). Plymouth even surpassed Ford for a time in the 1940s as the second most popular make of automobiles in the U.S.

Plymouth Station Wagon 1954

Through 1956, Plymouth vehicles were known for their durability, affordability and engineering. In 1957, Chrysler's Forward Look styling theme produced cars with much more advanced styling than Chevrolet or Ford, although Plymouth's reputation would ultimately suffer as the cars were prone to rust and sloppy assembly. Because of its new "Forward Look" styling, however, 1957 total production soared to 726,009, about 200,000 more than 1956, and the largest output yet for Plymouth. The marque also introduced its limited production Fury line in 1956, and it too benefited from the crisp Forward Look designs.

Financial/marketing struggles

1957 Plymouth Fury Hardtop Coupe

The Plymouth brand lost market share rapidly in the early 1960s. While Plymouth was a styling leader from 1957 to 1958, its 1959 through 1962 models were awkwardly styled cars that failed to strike a chord with the public. Plymouth also found itself in competition with its own corporate sister division Dodge when the lower-priced, full-size Dodge Dart was introduced for 1960. Rambler, and then Pontiac would assume the number three sales position for the remainder of the decade. Plymouth went into a decline from which it would never fully recover.

The marque regained market share following the introduction of the 1965 models, which returned Plymouth to full-size vehicles and more mainstream styling. Plymouth regained its traditional third place in the sales race in 1971 and 1974, primarily with its popular Valiant and Duster compact models, but as a brand Plymouth was hardest hit by Chrysler's financial woes of the late 1970s. Marketing decisions progressively thinned Plymouth lineup while giving new models to the Dodge and Chrysler brands; by 1979, the Plymouth range consisted of only the domestically produced Volare and Horizon models, and some rebadged Mitsubishi imports.

Reliant wagon

Despite the introduction of popular models like the 1981 Reliant and 1984 Voyager, Plymouth sales and production numbers continued to decline. Such was the extent of the badge engineering that substantially identical Dodges and Plymouths were being sold at substantially identical prices, eroding the last of Plymouth's market

1981-1985 Gran Furydistinction and quashing any significant reasons for buying one over the other.

Final years

Most Plymouth models offered from the late 1980s onward, such as the Acclaim, Laser, Neon, and Breeze, were badge-engineered versions of Chrysler, Dodge, or Mitsubishi models. Chrysler considered giving Plymouth a variant, to be called the Accolade, of the new-for-1993 full-size LH platform, but decided against it. By the late 1990s, only four vehicles were sold under the Plymouth name: the Voyager/Grand Voyager minivans, the Breeze mid-size sedan, the Neon compact car, and the Prowler sports car, which was to be the last model unique to Plymouth.

The late 90's letter emblem from a 1999 Neon

After discontinuing the Eagle brand in 1998, Chrysler was planning to expand the Plymouth line with a number of unique models before the corporation's merger with Daimler-Benz AG. The first model was the Plymouth Prowler, a modern-day hot rod.


The PT Cruiser was to have been the second. Both models had similar front-end styling, suggesting Chrysler intended a retro styling theme for the Plymouth brand. At the time of Daimler's takeover of Chrysler, Plymouth had no unique models besides the Prowler not also available in the Dodge or Chrysler lines. Further, while all Plymouth dealers also sold the Chrysler line of cars, many Dodge dealers sold only Dodge; it would have caused much greater disturbance to the dealer network to discontinue Dodge than Plymouth. Consequently, DaimlerChrysler decided to drop the make after a limited run of 2001 models. This was announced on November 3, 1999.

The last new model sold under the Plymouth marque was the second generation Neon for 2000-2001. The PT Cruiser was ultimately launched as a Chrysler, and the Prowler and Voyager were absorbed into that make as well. Following the 2001 model year, the Neon was sold only as a Dodge in the US, though it remained available as a Chrysler in Canadian and other markets. The Plymouth Breeze was dropped after 2000, before Chrysler introduced their redesigned 2001 Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring sedan.

Events leading to the demise of Plymouth

1960: Dodge introduces the smaller, lower-priced "Dart" series that competes directly with Plymouth's offerings.

1961 and 1962: Rambler and then Pontiac assumes third place in industry sales for the remainder of the 1960s.

1962: Sales drop dramatically with the introduction of a line of unpopularly-styled, downsized full-size models.

1971: Unable to afford to develop its own subcompact, the British Hillman Avenger is imported as the Plymouth Cricket, which is discontinued in mid-1973 due to quality concerns.

1974: The Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant are, for the first time, different only in name and minor trim details. This identicality continues with the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volaré as well as all further passenger car models. The car that would ultimately become the Chrysler Cordoba is reassigned to Chrysler from Plymouth. Last year for Barracuda.

1976: Last model year for the Valiant/Duster. First model year for the Volare.

1977: The large Gran Fury is discontinued.

1978: The mid-size Fury is discontinued at the end of the model year.

1979: Plymouth's lineup is reduced to the Horizon and Volaré, and three rebadged Mitsubishi imports.

1979/1980: Chrysler makes several thousand more Dodges than Plymouths for the first time. More Plymouths would be made than Dodges for 1981 and 1982, but from then on there will always be more Dodges made than Plymouths.

1980: Newport-based Gran Fury introduced. Last year for Volaré.

1981: The full-size Gran Fury and Trailduster SUV's last year.

1989: The mid-size Gran Fury (Caravelle in Canada) as well as the Reliant are discontinued after this model year. The Reliant is replaced by the Acclaim.

1994: The little-advertised Laser sport-compact as well as the popular Sundance and Colt compacts all end production. They are replaced by a single car, the Neon.

1995: Plymouth's lineup is at its all time low, just 3 cars: the Acclaim, the Neon, and the Voyager/Grand Voyager. The number will go up to 4 in 1997, with the introduction of the Prowler, but will never get any higher.

1996: In an attempt to move Plymouth downmarket, Chrysler makes the redesigned Voyager only available in base and mid-level SE models. All of the higher-end trim levels available on the previous generation can now only be found on the Dodge Caravan.

1999: The redesigned 2000 Neon becomes the brand's last new model.

2000: The mid-size Breeze ends production. This is also the last year for the Voyager minivan as a Plymouth. All 2000 Voyagers built in December 1999 and beyond are badged as Chrysler Voyagers. In Canada, the redesigned Neon is sold under the Chrysler name, leaving only the Voyager and Prowler in the lineup. Almost 250,000 more Dodges are built than Plymouths for this year.

2001: Plymouth's final model year. Only the Neon remains in the Plymouth line. The Prowler becomes a Chrysler. The Breeze is dropped as Chrysler issues the Chrysler Sebring sedan to replace the Chrysler Cirrus. The PT Cruiser is launched as a Chrysler, though it was originally planned to be a Plymouth. The final Plymouth, a Neon, is assembled on June 28, 2001.

Throughout its later years Plymouth's meager advertisement (in relation to Chrysler and Dodge) played a part in the marque's demise.

Plymouth car models

Former slogans

The Plymouth division went through numerous slogans, including the following:

"If it's important to you, it's important to Plymouth" (early 1990s)

"The nine most important words to Plymouth: Satisfy the customer, satisfy the customer, satisfy the customer" (late 1980s)

"The pride is back, born in America" (mid and late 1980s)

"Now that's imagination, that's Plymouth!" (late 1970s)

"Chrysler-Plymouth, coming through!" (mid 1970s)

"And the Plymouth win-you-over beat goes on!" (late 1960s and early 1970s)

"Plymouth is out to win you over this year" (mid-1960s)

"Plymouth - star of the forward look" (late 1950s)

External links

Plymouth Website Circa Dec. 24,1996

HowStuffWorks: How Plymouth Cars Work

What's in a Name? (How Plymouth Was Named)

Concept Cars: Concept Cars Timeline

Lexington (automobile)

The Lexington was an automobile manufactured in Connersville, Indiana, from 1910 to 1927. From the beginning, Lexingtons, like most other Indiana-built automobiles, were assembled cars, built with components from many different suppliers. The Thoroughbred Six and Minute Man Six were popular Lexington models.

Lexington Model R-19 Minute Man Six Touring 1919

Two racing cars at the Lexington Motor Company facility in Connersville, Indiana, 1920


The Lexington Motor Company was founded in 1909 in Lexington, Kentucky, by Knisey Stone, a Kentucky race horse promoter. Several months later, the company outgrew its building.

In 1910, a group of Connersville businessmen noted the community had too much tied up in the buggy and carriage industry, which was being displaced by the growing use of the automobile. The group enticed the infant Lexington Motor Car Company to relocate from Lexington to a new plant at 800 West 18th Street in the McFarlan industrial park, with headquarters at 1950 Columbia Avenue. John C. Moore, the company's chief engineer, immediately started on improvements to the Lexington to keep the company ahead of its competition. His 1911 multiple exhaust was reported to give 30 percent more power on less fuel. Each cylinder had a separate exhaust. Dual exhaust pipes and mufflers were used.

The company entered both the Glidden Tour and Indianapolis 500 in 1912.

Acquisition and Expansion

Financial difficulties were solved in 1913 when E.W. Ansted acquired Lexington to assemble the six-cylinder Howard for a contract with a Chicago distributor. The resultant company was named Lexington-Howard. In 1915, the named changed back to Lexington Motor Company. The regular four-cylinder engine was supplemented by a light six and a supreme six. With the new Ansted engines, its cars became modern and powerful. In 1916, Lexington was using the Continental engine.

Lexington's first plant expansion was in 1915. A factory building was erected just north of the office. Also built at the same time was a 100-foot (30 m) smokestack with the Lexington name in lighter color bricks. Four years later the company built a 106,050 sq ft (9,852 m2) assembly building just west of the office.

In 1917, Moore put together a new frame with a rigid box cross-section that eliminated the problem of jammed doors caused by frame flexing. This car also had an emergency brake affixed to the drive shaft. In 1918, Lexington autos featured hardtop enclosures made by the Rex Manufacturing Company, also of Connersville.

Also in 1918, the newly formed Ansted Engineering Company acquired Teetor-Harley Motor Corporation of Hagerstown, Indiana. In 1919, the 85,306 sq ft (7,925 m2) Ansted Engine building was erected just north of the Lexington plant and extended to 21st Street. The combined Lexington and Ansted facilities measured three blocks long and two blocks wide totaling 270,000 sq ft (25,000 m2) of floor space.


Two short-wheelbase race cars with the powerful Ansted engine were built by Lexington for the 1920 Pikes Peak hill climb. The cars placed first and second in their initial outing and brought home the Penrose trophy. Again in 1924, Otto Loesche won, with a 18 minute 15 second dash and brought the trophy home for keeps. The Penrose trophy is on display at the Reynolds Museum on Vine Street.

The formation of the United States Automotive Corporation was announced by President Frank B. Ansted at the New York Auto Show on January 12, 1920. It was a $10 million merger with the Lexington, the Ansted Engineering Company, and Connersville Foundry Corporation, all from Connersville, plus the Teetor-Harley Motor Corporation of Hagerstown. 1920 marked the high point of Lexington production with over 6,000 built.

On December 16, 1921, William C. Durant, founder of General Motors and former GM president, ordered 30,000 Ansted engines for his new Durant Six, being built in Muncie, Indiana by Durant Motors, Inc. Late in 1921, Alanson P. Brush (designer of the Brush Runabout and consulting engineer to General Motors) sued the company, alleging the Ansted engine infringed a number of his patents. The negative publicity hurt.

Records show in 1922, United States Automotive Corporation, Lexington's parent company, owned ten different factories building parts for its cars. Auto historian Henry Blommel notes, "It was a great alliance of parts-making plants that found the culmination of its efforts in the finished Lexington car."


The post-World War I recession of the early twenties destroyed many American automobile manufacturers. Lexington Motor Car Company and United States Automotive Corporation were affected by these recessionary events. Production in 1922 plummeted to roughly a third that of 1920. In 1923, Ansted Engine Company entered receivership, with Durant as a principal shareholder. Lexington also entered receivership in 1923. In 1926 and 1927, respectively, E.L. Cord's Auburn Automobile Company purchased Ansted Engine and the Lexington Motor Car Company. The Lexington was soon phased out.

Cord then invested $2 million in plant and production facilities. The new manufacturing plant was comparable to the most modern assembly plants anywhere in the world. It consisted of 20 buildings on 82 acres, and 1,500,000 square feet (140,000 m2) of manufacturing area available for the production of 400 bodies and 250 completed cars per day. Sheet metal, wood, engines and other materials entered the plant on the northeast side, and the completed car was delivered to the customer near the southwest corner.

Yearly Model Changes

The early Lexingtons of 1910 to 1913 were four-cylinder automobiles built on 116 in (2,946 mm) to 122 in (3,099 mm) wheelbases, with body styles including 2 seat runabouts and roadsters, 5 and 7 passenger tourers, and limousines. The year 1914 marked the introduction of a six-cylinder auto on a 130" (3302 mm) wheelbase. In 1915, the 29 hp (22 kW) Light Six rode on a 128 in (3251 mm) wheelbase and the 41 hp (31 kW) Supreme Six on 130 in (3302 mm), offering a range of body styles: 3 seat roadster, 5, 6, and 7 passenger tourer, and 7 passenger limousine. In 1916, the Thoroughbred Six sold for US$2875,[2] the Minute Man Six tourer US$1185 and convertible sedan US$1350. Both offered electric horns. By comparison, the Enger 40 was US$2000, the FAL was US$1750, the Oakland 40 US$1600, the Cole 30 and Colt Runabout was priced at US$1500, the Oldsmobile Runabout US$650, Western's Gale Model A US$500, the Brush Runabout US$485, and Ford's Model T already US$440.

For 1919, there were new, enclosed bodies with names like Coupelet, Sedanette, and Salon Sedan all with six-cylinder engines and a 122 in (3099 mm) wheelbase.

There were two series of 1921 and 1922 Lexingtons: Series S, a 47 hp (35 kW) six-cylinder on a 122 in (3099 mm) wheelbase, and Series T, a 60 hp (45 kW) six on a 128 in (3251 mm) wheelbase; body styles included 5 and 7 passenger tourer, sedan, coupe, and sedanette, and 7 passenger Salon Sedan. In 1924 and 1925, Lexington again offered two versions: the Concord, a 65 hp (48 kW) six on a 119 in (3023 mm) wheelbase, and the Minute Man, a 72 hp (54 kW) six on a 123 in (3124 mm) wheelbase; body styles included 5 and 7 passenger tourer, sedan, and coupe, 5 passenger Royal Coach, and 5 passenger Brougham. In 1926 and 1927, Lexington offered the Model 6-50, a with same engine and wheelbase of the Concord, in 4 passenger roadster or landaulet, and a 5 passenger phaeton, sedan, or landau sedan.

Production Totals

The following lists the number of Lexingtons in each year, from 123 in 1909 up to 6,128 in 1920, followed by a decline to 183 in 1926, the final year.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Auburn Automobile

Auburn Automobile Historical Marker, Auburn, IN

Auburn was a brand name of American automobiles produced from 1900 through 1936.

Corporate history

The Auburn Automobile Company grew out of the Eckhart Carriage Company, founded in Auburn, Indiana, in 1875 by Charles Eckhart (1841–1915). Eckhart's sons, Frank and Morris, began making automobiles on an experimental basis before entering the business in earnest, absorbing two other local carmakers and moving into a larger plant in 1909. The enterprise was modestly successful until materials shortages during World War I forced the plant to close.

Auburn 8-100A Custom 4-Door Sedan 1932

Auburn 652Y Custom Phaeton Sedan 1934

Auburn 851 Phaeton Sedan 1935


The 1904 Auburn was a touring car model. Equipped with a tonneau, it could seat 2 or 4 passengers and sold for US$1000. The flat-mounted single-cylinder engine, situated at the center of the car, produced 10 hp (7.5 kW). A 2-speed planetary transmission was fitted. The angle-steel-framed car weighed 1500 lb (680 kg) and used half-elliptic springs.

In 1919, the Eckhart brothers sold out to a group of Chicago investors headed by Ralph Austin Bard, who later served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and as Under Secretary of the Navy for President Roosevelt and for President Harry S. Truman. The new owners revived the business but failed to realize the profits that they hoped for. In 1924, they approached Errett Lobban Cord (1894–1974), a highly successful automobile salesman, with an offer to run the company. Cord countered with an offer to take over completely in what amounted to a leveraged buyout. The Chicago group accepted.

Cord aggressively marketed the company's unsold inventory and completed his buyout before the end of 1925. In 1926, he partnered with Duesenberg Corporation, famous for its racing cars, and used it as the launching platform for a line of high-priced luxury vehicles. He also put his own name on a front-wheel-drive car, the Cord, later referred to as "L-29"..

Employing imaginative designers such as Alan Leamy and Gordon Buehrig, Cord built cars that became famous for their advanced engineering as well as their striking appearance, e.g., the 1928 Auburn Boattail Speedster, the Model J Duesenbergs, the 1935–1937 Auburn Speedsters and the 810/812 Cords.

Styling and engineering failed to overcome the fact that Cord's vehicles were too expensive for the Depression-era market and that Cord's stock manipulations would force him to give up control of his car companies. Under injunction from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to refrain from further violations, Cord sold his shares in his automobile holding company. In 1937, production of Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs ended.

The company's art deco headquarters in Auburn now houses the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. It was made a National Historic Landmark in 2005.

The Auburn Automobile Company also had a manufacturing plant in Connersville, Indiana, that occupied a facility formerly owned by the Lexington Motor Company.

Auburn production specifications

Auburn 8-Eighty-Eight Sedan

References in popular culture

In the 1937 musical comedy film A Damsel in Distress Fred Astaire drives a Cord 810 Convertible.

In the 1974 film The Great Gatsby Bruce Dern drives a 1927 Auburn 8-88.

The popular 1980's TV Series Remington Steele featured a 1936 Auburn Speedster replica as one of the company cars, appearing in many episodes.

The crash of a Buick that is modified to look like an Auburn 852 Speedster sets the plot in motion for the 1937 film "Topper." The car features prominently in the film, being driven by stars, Cary Grant, Constance Bennett and Roland Young.

The car driven by the character Short Round in the opening scenes of the 1984 movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a replica of a 1936 Auburn Boattail Speedster.

In "Dial Axminster 6-400", one in a collection of short stories called Hollywood Nocturnes by neo-noir author James Ellroy, Lee Blanchard of The Black Dahlia and his partner pursue a group of hostage takers from Oklahoma who are on the lam in a maroon 1936 Auburn Speedster.

In the 1989 comedy Who's Harry Crumb?, John Candy's character engages in a comedy pursuit in a replica Auburn Speedster which gets locked onto a late 1980's Chevrolet Camaro's tow hitch. The Auburn then crashed into an orange tree.

In the 2008 concert tour Sticky & Sweet Tour by Madonna. In the Pimp Act, the first section of the show, Madonna drives a white 1935 Auburn Speedster, singing Beat Goes On, song from her eleventh studio album Hard Candy.


Auburn-Cord-Dusenberg Club Official Website

The Auburn Gallery at White Glove Collection Auburn Photo Galleries

Auburn Automobile History and Photo Galleries


Duesenberg (Duesy) was an Auburn, Indiana based luxury automobile company active in various forms from 1913 to 1937, most famous for its high-quality, record-breaking roadsters.


In 1913, brothers Fred and August Duesenberg founded Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc. on State Street in Garner, Iowa to build sports cars. Born in 1876 and 1879 in Lemgo, Germany, the two brothers were self-taught engineers and built many experimental cars. Duesenberg cars were considered some of the very best cars of the time, and were built entirely by hand. In 1914, Eddie Rickenbacker drove a "Duesy" to finish in 10th place at the Indianapolis 500, and a Duesenberg won the race in 1924, 1925, and 1927.

1923 saw the only use of a Duesenberg as the pace car at the Indianapolis 500. In 1921, Jimmy Murphy became the first American to win the French Grand Prix when he drove a Duesenberg to victory at the Le Mans racetrack.

Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company moved from New Jersey to a new headquarters and factory in Indianapolis in July 1921 to begin production of passenger vehicles. Although the Duesenberg brothers were world-class engineers, they were unable to sell their Model A car, their first "mass-produced" vehicle—just 667 were ever made. It was considered extremely advanced, offering features such as dual overhead camshafts, four-valve cylinder heads, and the first hydraulic brakes offered on a passenger car. The company went into receivership in 1922, finally being acquired from creditors by a Fred Duesenberg-led investor group in 1925, forming the Duesenberg Motors Company.

1930 Duesenberg J Walker Legrande Torpedo Phaeton.

E.L. Cord, the owner of Cord Automobile, Auburn Automobile, and other transportation firms, bought the company in 1926 for the brothers' engineering skills (and the brand name) in order to produce luxury cars. Hiring Fred Duesenberg to design the chassis and an engine that would be the best in the world, the newly revived Duesenberg company set about to produce the Model J, which debuted at the New York Car Show of 1928. In unsupercharged form, it produced a whopping 265 horsepower (198 kW) from a dual overhead camshaft straight 8 and was capable of a top speed of 119 mph (192 km/h), and 94 mph (151 km/h) in 2nd gear. The supercharged version, sometimes called the SJ, was reputed to do 104 miles per hour (167 km/h) in second and have a top speed of 135–140 mph (217–225 km/h) in third. Zero-to-60 mph (100 km/h) times of around eight seconds and 0-to-100 mph (160 km/h) times of 17 seconds were reported for the SJ in spite of the unsynchronized transmissions, at a time when even the best cars of the era were not likely to reach 100 mph (160 km/h). Duesenbergs generally weighed around two and a half tons; up to three tons was not unusual, considering the wide array of custom coachwork available.

1932 Duesenberg J Murphy-bodied coupe convertible.

Only the chassis and engine were displayed at New York, since the interior and body of the car would be custom-made by an experienced coachbuilder to the owner's specifications. The bodyworks for the Duesenbergs came from both North America and Europe, and the finished cars comprised some of the largest, grandest, most beautiful, and most elegant cars ever created. The chassis cost $8,500 ($9,500 after 1932); the completed base model cost $13,500; and a top-of-the-line model could reach $25,000 at a time when the average U.S. physician earned less than $3,000 a year.

A 1929 Duesenberg J 350 Willoughby on display at the 2005 United States Grand Prix.

The supercharged Model J, with 320 hp (often referred to as "SJ") was introduced in 1932. Special-bodied models, such as the later "Mormon Meteor" chassis, achieved an average speed of over 135 mph (217 km/h) and a one-hour average of over 152 mph (245 km/h) at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. The SJ's supercharger was located beside the engine; to make room for it, the exhaust pipes were creased so they could be bent easily and extended through the side panel of the hood. These supercharged cars can be recognized by these shiny creased tubes, which Cord registered as a trademark and used in his other supercharged cars from Cord and Auburn. It was said, "The only car that could pass a Duesenberg was another Duesenberg—and that was with the first owner's consent."

1930 Duesenberg J Judkins.

The Duesenberg quickly became one of the most popular luxury cars in America and also in Europe, driven by the nobility, rich and famous, among them Clark Gable, Gary Cooper (each driving one of the two very rare SSJ 125″ short-wheelbase convertibles), the Duke of Windsor, the King of Spain Alfonso XIII, who was very keen on motoring, chose his now missing Duesenberg J, among his cars, to go to exile after the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic. Duesenberg advertising claimed it was the best car in the world, and their world-beating performance and extreme opulence tended to back that up. There was a gradual evolution (up to the 1937 model) to preserve the "stately lines" while moving into a more integrated mode of styling. The final evolution of the Duesenberg engine was ram-air intakes, which were added to some of the last supercharged models to produce 400 hp (298 kW), referred to as "SSJ" (also a name never used by the factory). Of the 470 Model Js and 11 SJs produced between 1928 and 1937, about 384 are extant. Duesenberg ceased production in 1937 after Cord's financial empire collapsed.

Model X Duesenbergs are very rare. According to Randy Ema, the top Duesenberg authority in the United States, only 13 were built. They fit in between the Duesenberg Model A and the famous J and SJ; only four known Xs survive.


Birthplace of Fred & Augie Duesenberg, in Germany.

After World War II, August Duesenberg tried to revive the Duesenberg name, but was unsuccessful; several later attempts were also unsuccessful. The closest came in the mid-1960s, with Fritz (August's son) at the helm and Virgil Exner as the stylist, using the chassis of a 1966 Imperial and a Chrysler engine. One of Exner's Duesenberg designs was later produced as the modern Stutz Bearcat.

A 1970s Duesenberg was also created, based on a Cadillac Fleetwood and with modern styling, although its production was not high.

In 1969, another car was the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ. Approximately 100 of these cars were purchased brand new and shipped from GM to Italy, where they were provided with a new bodywork, pearlescent paint, and a custom interior. Other than that, they were absolutely stock Pontiacs. Finish and final assembly took place in Beverly Hills, and they initially had a list price of around $60,000.

Beginning with its introduction in 1975 at the ACD Festival in Auburn, Indiana, the reproduction Duesenberg II automobile was produced and sold through mid-2000. Five models of the original Duesenbergs were made, each one carefully copied from an original and visually identical, with a modern Ford V8 driveline and modern comfort features. These exacting reproductions sold for up to US$225,000.

The Duesenberg name still lives on as an object of opulence and luxury. It is estimated that as of 2006, approximately 50% (or roughly 600) of the originally manufactured Duesenbergs are still on the road as classic cars or "oldtimers". Today, Duesenberg Model Js and SJs are among the most desired collectible classic cars in the world. It is not uncommon today for a Duesenberg in good condition to sell for over $1-million, and a few sell for multimillion-dollar figures. At the Barrett-Jackson auction in January 2008, a Duesenberg J went for more than $1,000,000.
Etymological note

The origin of the American slang word "doozy," meaning something excellent or powerful, is either the Duesenberg's nickname, "Duesy," or an older term (derived from earlier slang, "daisy"). describes the origins of the term as unknown, and lists it as possibly a blend of the terms "daisy" and "Duesenberg." lists it as "1903 (adj.), 1916 (n.), perhaps an alteration of daisy, or from popular Italian actress Eleonora Duse (1859–1924). In either case, reinforced by Duesenberg, an expensive, classy make of automobile, 1920s–30s."


1921–27: Duesenberg Model A (~650)
1926–27: Duesenberg Model X (13)
1927: Duesenberg Model Y (1)
1929–37: Duesenberg Model J (435)
1932–37: Duesenberg Model SJ (36)
1933–36: Duesenberg Model SSJ (2)


Auburn Automobile

Cord Automobile

List of automobile manufacturers

List of Indianapolis 500 pace cars

Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club Official Website

History and Picture Duesenberg in Russian

Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg Museum

Duesenberg History and Photo Albums

The Duesenberg: The Grandest Yet. Article by worldwide expert Randy Ema

History, Pictures and GE-Placemark of the Duesenberg Bros. Farmhouse in Germany

picture of the 1966 Duesenberg prototype at the Imperial website

other site about the 1966 Duesenberg prototype

about the words "doozy" and "Duesy"

Duesenberg Custom Coach - Proposed makers of the 2007 Duesenberg Torpedo Coupe

French article about Duesenberg returns

French article from Le Blogauto

Kaiser Motors

1954 Kaiser Darrin in "yellow satin"

1954 Kaiser Darrin in "pine tint"

Originally formed as the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation in 1945, the corporation was reorganized in 1953 under the name Kaiser Motors Corporation after withdrawal of Joseph W. Frazer from the venture. The Kaiser-Frazer stock was redeemed, and Kaiser Motors stock was issued at that time. Kaiser Motors manufactured automobiles in a number of locations around the world with the primary facility and corporate headquarters at Willow Run, Michigan (USA).

The company, founded by Henry J. Kaiser, a United States industrialist, and Joseph W. Frazer, president of the Graham-Paige Corporation, started making automobiles with the brand names Kaiser and Frazer almost immediately after World War II. Kaiser-Frazer also built a small car called the Henry J, named for Henry Kaiser. A slightly re-designed version of the Henry J was sold by selected Sears Auto Centers during 1952 and 1953 under the brand name Allstate. This car was tagged as a product of Sears-Roebuck. While listed for informational purposes in the Sears "wish books", the Allstate could not be purchased by mail order.

In 1948, after too many disputes with Henry Kaiser, Joseph Frazer resigned as president of Kaiser-Frazer; Henry Kaiser's oldest son, Edgar was made president in April 1949. The Frazer marque was discontinued after the 1951 models. Mr. Frazer remained as a sales consultant and Vice-Chairman of the Kaiser-Frazer Board of Directors until 1953. At the 1953 annual stockholders meeting, Kaiser-Frazer Corporation's name was changed by stockholder vote to Kaiser Motors Corporation. Shortly before the stockholder meeting, Kaiser-Frazer's Kaiser Manufacturing Corporation division worked out a deal to purchase certain assets (and assume certain liabilities) of the Willys-Overland Corporation, makers of Willys cars and Jeep vehicles. Kaiser Manufacturing Corporation changed its name after completing the Willys acquisition to Willys Motors, Incorporated. During late 1953 and 1954, Kaiser Motors operations at Willow Run Michigan were closed down or moved to the Willys facility in Toledo, Ohio. Kaiser car production in the USA ended during 1955.

At the end of 1955, the management team of the Henry J. Kaiser Company used Kaiser Motors Corporation to create a new holding company encompassing the various Kaiser industrial activities. Kaiser Motors' name was changed to Kaiser Industries Corporation, and functioned as a holding company for various Kaiser business holdings including Willys Motors, Incorporated.


1954 Kaiser Darrin — a car that was built to compete with the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette

Visible in this picture is one of the pocket doors that slide forward into the fenders and an after-market hard top.

Kaiser includes Deluxe, Carolina, Traveler, Dragon and Manhattan sedans.

Henry J, a small economy car including Corsair and Vagabond.

Darrin, the first production fiberglass sports car in the USA, beating the Corvette to market by one month. Featured a unique "pocket door" design that made the doors slide into the fender of the car. Only 435 were made for the 1954 model year.

Willys, including "Aero-Willys" and all sub-trim levels include Aero-Lark, Aero Ace et al.

Jeep, including pick-ups, CJ Vehicles, all steel wagons, Wagoneer and Jeepster marques.

Allstate, designed to sell through and by Sears-Roebuck Department stores in the southern USA, a slightly restyled Henry J. The cars were equipped with Allstate products (tires, battery, etc.). The modest styling changes distinguishing the Allstate from the Henry J were executed by Alex Tremulis, the designer of the Tucker.

Production of Kaiser and Willys automobiles ceased during the 1955 model year, but production of Willys Jeeps in Toledo, Ohio continued. Kaiser continued automobile production in Argentina under the Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) name and Willys passenger cars moved to Brazil under the Willys-Overland do Brasil name, using the dies formerly employed in the U.S. well into the 1960s.

The company changed its name to Kaiser-Jeep in 1963. By 1969, Kaiser Industries decided to leave the auto business, which was sold to American Motors in 1970. As part of the transaction, Kaiser acquired a 22% interest in AMC, which it later divested. Included in the sale was the General Products Division, which Kaiser had purchased from Studebaker in 1964 as it prepared to leave the auto business itself. AMC renamed the division AM General, which still operates today, and is best known as the manufacturer of the original Hummer, now called the H1, and also manufactures the Hummer H2.

Kaiser-Frazer Owner's Club International (KFOCI)


Kaiser Manhattan 4-Door Sedan 1953

The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation was the result of a partnership between autombile executive Joseph W. Frazer and Industrialist Henry J. Kaiser of Kaiser Company/Kaiser Industries. The company also combined the dwindling assets of the former Graham-Paige Motor Company. The concern was the only new US automaker to achieve success after World War II if only for a few years.


1953 Kaiser Darrin sports car in 3D Anachrome. Body design by Dutch Darrin and Bill Tritt.

1953 Kaiser Darrin in Anachrome 3D.

Note that the doors slide into the front fender.The company was founded on July 25, 1945 and in 1946 K-F displayed prototypes of their two new cars at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The Kaiser was of an advanced front wheel drive design while the Frazer was an upscale conventional rear wheel drive car. The production costs and time available prevented the front wheel drive design from seeing production so the new 1947 Kaiser and Frazer shared bodies and powertrains. Being some of the first newly designed cars to hit the market while the "Big Three" were still marketing their pre-war designs, the Kaisers and Frazers made quite an exciting entrance. Kaiser and Frazer would continue to share bodies and engines through 1950 with different exterior and interior trim.

Henry Kaiser had no automotive marketing experience while Joseph Frazer did, having been president of the Graham-Paige Corporation prior to WWII. Henry Kaiser believed in pressing on in the face of adversity; Joseph Frazer was more pragmatic. As the market for K-F products slowed in 1949 with the introduction of new designs from the Big Three, Kaiser pushed for more production creating an oversupply of cars that took until mid-1950 to sell. Kaiser and Frazer continued at odds until Frazer left the company in 1951, and the Frazer nameplate was dropped after a short 10,000 unit production run. In 1952 the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation was renamed Kaiser Motors Corporation and continued building passenger cars until 1955.

In 1953 Kaiser bought the ailing Willys-Overland company for US$63,381,175 and merged the Kaiser and Willys operations together under the name Willys Motors. The decision was then made to exit the passenger car market, which was accomplished at the end of the 1955 model year. By 1956, Willys Motors was building only utility vehicles, many for export, and was turning a healthy profit.

In 1970, the Kaiser Jeep Corporation, as the company had been renamed in 1963, was sold to American Motors Corporation which continued to manufacture Jeep vehicles until AMC itself was purchased by Chrysler in 1987 for $360 million. Chrysler wanted the Jeep vehicle line and had estimated that for them to create a similar competing product and build a reputation to match would have cost in excess of $1 billion.

Production of Kaiser-Frazer models was centered at Willow Run, Michigan. Willow Run, the largest building in the world at that time, was built by the U.S. government just prior to World War II for Henry Ford to build B-24 Liberator bombers. Once the war ended, Ford had no interest in the facility, setting the War Assets Administration off in a search for someone to lease or buy the building. When K-F expressed interest in the facility, the WAA offered them an attractive five-year lease rate. K-F also had manufacturing facilities in Jefferson MI, Long Beach CA, Portland OR, Leaside, Ontario, Canada, Haifa, Israel, Kawasaki, Japan, Mexico City, and Rotterdam (known as "Nekaf" Nederlandse Kaiser-Frazer fabrieken). U.S. production was concentrated at Toledo, OH upon the purchase of Willys-Overland starting in 1953; the Willow Run facility had been sold to General Motors after GM suffered a disastrous fire at their Livonia, MI Hydramatic automatic transmission plant and needed a facility quickly to resume production.

Kaiser Frazer Products

1949 Kaiser Virginian

Kaiser includes Custom, Deluxe, Virginian, Carolina and Manhattan sedans, as well as the Vagabond 4 door hatchback utility sedan. First post war production car to offer Supercharging (Kaiser Manhattan, 1954)

Henry J, a small economy car including Corsair.

Darrin, the first production fiberglass sports car in the USA, beating Corvette to market by one month.

Frazer includes Standard, Deluxe and Manhattan sedans and the Vagabond hatchback. The 1951 Frazer Manhattan convertible was the last four-door American convertible until the 1961 Lincoln Continental.

Willys, including "Aero-Willys" and all sub-trim levels include Aero-Lark, Aero Ace et al.

Jeep, including pick-ups, CJ Vehicles, all steel wagons, Wagoneer and Jeepster marques.

Allstate, designed to sell through and by Sears-Roebuck Department stores in the southern USA, a slightly restyled Henry J. The cars were equipped with Allstate products (tires, battery, etc.). The modest styling changes distinguishing the Allstate from the Henry J were executed by Alex Tremulis, the designer of the 1948 Tucker Sedan.

Kaiser in Argentina

In 1951 Argentina sent their emissary, Brigadier General San Martín, to the United States in an attempt to convince an auto manufacturer to build cars in Argentina. In 1954 Kaiser was the only one to accept the offer with the rest believing the market was too small to justify the investment. Also, they didn't have the rugged products Kaiser did. On January 19, 1955 Kaiser and the government of Argentina signed an agreement to permit Kaiser to manufacture automobiles and trucks in Argentina. In February, Kaiser created a wholly owned subsidiary named Kaiser Automotores, the holding company which in turn owned part of the newly created Industrias Kaiser Argentina S.A. (IKA), the manufacturing and marketing arm. Other partners in IKA included the government-owned vehicle manufacturer IAME and private investors. In August Kaiser applied for and got an import license to bring in 1,021 completed cars, manufacturing equipment and spare parts from the USA. Groundbreaking for the new factory was in March 1955 with the first Jeep vehicle rolling out of the plant on 27 April 1956.

The new Argentine factory was built in the city of Santa Isabel in the province of Córdoba with the Kaiser Manhattan being rechristened the Kaiser Carabela — named after a type of Spanish sailing ship. The USA vinyl and fabric interior was replaced with a more rugged leather interior, the speedometer was recalibrated in kilometers with the temperature, oil, and fuel gauge annotations in Spanish and the spring rates were increased to accommodate the unimproved Argentine roads. Oddly, the dash castings with annotations for vent, heater, headlight and wiper controls remained in English. No consideration was given to offering an automatic transmission due to the anticipated difficulty in obtaining service in remote towns. Production started on the Carabela on 25 July 1958 and, in the remaining months of year, 2,158 cars were built. IKA was also building Jeep vehicles at the Cordoba factory and assembled 20,454 Jeeps in 1958 alone. The combined Carabela-Jeep production of 22,612 units was 81% of all vehicles manufactured in Argentina in 1958 with the only competition being a state-run utility vehicle manufacturer. Many have questioned the wisdom of building IKA automobile factory in remote Santa Isabel which was far from ports and transportation hubs but the primary reason is that Córdoba was General San Martín's home province and he had a close, influential relationship with President Juan Perón.

In 1962 the Carabela, the "Gran coche argentino" (the Great Argentine Car), ended production with some 15,000 cars assembled providing elegant transportation for the doctors, bankers and other notables in Argentina. The Carabela had some stable mates in 1960-62 in the form of an Alfa Romeo 1900 sedan derivative named the Bergantin (another type of Spanish sailing ship) and an Argentine-manufactured Renault Dauphine (badged IKA Dauphine). In 1962 Rambler variants licensed from AMC would replace all of these. The final form of the AMC variants was the potent Torino which saw a lot of racing on international circuits. In 1970 Kaiser sold IKA to Renault.

Kaiser-Frazer Owner's Club International (KFOCI)