Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Again Chrysler

206 Again, Chrysler

Calling Walter Chrysler. Come back home. All is forgiven. Oh. Wait. He’s dead. And so is the company he founded. Walter knew enough to lie down. The company doesn’t. And it’s gone through at least seven of its prospective nine lives.

If ever there was a company that escaped the grave more often and better than this outfit, someone please write or call and be heard. This outfit was in financial hot water from the get go. Walter had worked for Alco, Willys and Buick before striking out on his own.

To do that, he bought the maker of Maxwell cars and killed the brand. Always in the forefront of engineering, the company came up with all kinds of improvements we take for granted today. In style…. Well, WHAT style. That is until one of their near-death financial experiences led them to the tail fin look of the 1950s, at which no one out dazzled them.

Since then, they’ve gone through two takeover attempts, both of which were fended off and one “merger of equals” in which they replaced “Benz” as the last name in Daimler-Benz, which is now DaimlerChrysler. If you remove the last three letters of “Daimler” and the first four letters of Chrysler, you get what they’ve become.

Jerry Flint of Forbes Magazine called the new American Division of Daimler “Occupied Chrysler.” Which probably landed him in trouble with the PC police. Anyway, he’s stopped using the term.

The last guy anyone remembers running the company was Lee Iacocca, who is best known for (a) appearing in commercials and for (b) the statement “you can’t succeed if all you ship is crap.”

We had the comical “Dr. Z” in the commercials for awhile, but people couldn’t relate and they pulled the ads. Plus “Dr. Z,” Dieter Zetsche, has bigger knockwursts to fry. Like solving what the automotive press genteelly calls “quality issues” with the Mercedes.

Since then, a parade of The Scared and the Colorless have run the company into its present position. If Ford weren’t so pathetic, Chrysler would look like a homeless guy sitting on the curb and drinking from half a bottle of Listerine.

In efforts to stay afloat, Chrysler has killed the Plymouth and DeSoto brands and turned Dodge into a Chrysler clone with no real existence on its own. It has taken the Jeep brand and turned it into just another SUV, for the most part.

They’re firing a gazillion workers, and they are for sale. Who wants ‘em? A bunch of people are kicking the tires. The main contender as of February, 2007 is General Motors, which has made some multi-boneheaded decisions lately, like selling off its parts division and most of its profitable financial subsidiary.

Two losers rarely make a winner. What Chrysler needs is new faces. It’s just grand that they’ve revived the 300 and the Dodge Charger. But its not enough.

Whoever ends up buying this thing will want to suck out the cash reserves, close factories and slap the name on a Korean or Chinese built tin can.

The humane thing would have been to shoot this thing and put it out of its misery sometime in the 1940s.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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