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August 18, 1940 – Walter Chrysler passes away

The founder of the Chrysler Corporation, Walter P. Chrysler, passed away on this day in 1940 after succumbing to a cerebral hemorrhage caused by a stroke two years earlier. Chrysler was born in Kansas in 1875 and began his career as a machinist and mechanic in the railroad industry. Chrysler’s introduction to the automotive industry would come in 1911 after being recruited by James J. Storrow, a banker who was a director of the American Locomotive Company and also an executive at General Motors. Storrow asked Chrysler if he had interest in pursuing automobile manufacturing and Walter said yes. A meeting was arranged with Charles Nash, then president of Buick, who was looking for a production chief. He was brought on board shortly thereafter at the Buick plan in Flint, Michigan where he was put in control of production. Chrysler started at Buick making $6,000 a year and when he threatened to leave after Durant took control of the company in 1916 he was offered a salary of $10,000 a month for three years, plus bonuses. That is equal to $165,000 a month. Chrysler took the offer and stayed on for the next three years before resigning from Buick, selling his stock in the company for $10 million and as becoming one of the richest men in America. In 1921 he acquired a controlling interest in the ailing Maxwell Motor Company. Chrysler phased out Maxwell and absorbed it into his new firm, the Chrysler Corporation in 1925. In addition to his namesake car company the brands Plymouth and DeSoto were created and in 1928 Chrysler purchased Dodge. Chrysler would remain in the day to day operations of his company until stepping down in 1936.  Images:Walter with a 1924 Chrysler Six, one of the first cars he built with his name on it.The mausoleum of Walter Chrysler in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

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