Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius

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Oxford University Press, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 720 pages
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Walter P. Chrysler was a man who loved machines, an accomplished mechanic who also had highly developed managerial skills derived from half a lifetime on the railroads, and whose success came from his deep understanding of engineering and his total commitment to the quality of his vehicles. Here, Vincent Curcio presents a richly detailed account of one of the most important men in American automotive history, based on full access to both Chrysler Corporation and Chrysler family historical records.
Curcio traces Chrysler's rise from a locomotive wiper in a Kansas roundhouse to his rescue of the Maxwell-Chalmers car company, which led to the successful development of the 1924 Chrysler--the world's first modern car--and the formation of Chrysler Corporation in 1925. Chrysler was quite different from the other auto giants--a colorful and expansive man deeply involved in the design of his cars, he established his headquarters in New York City and built the world's most famous art deco structure, the fabled Chrysler Building. Because of his emphasis on quality at popular prices, the company weathered the Great Depression with flying colors and remained profitable right up to Chrysler's death in 1940.
The definitive portrait, Chrysler is a must read for all car enthusiasts and for everyone interested in the story of a giant of industry.
  

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User Review  - SiSarah - LibraryThing

This is a tiresome, long, unfocused book that lauds its subject with overly purple prose and winds on endless tangents. By its conclusion, I felt largely relief that it was finally done. While ... Read full review

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If ever an author captured the essence of a man and an entire era, it is Vincent Curcio! Chrysler is alive in every page, the details utterly astounding and so detailed as to bring life to the main rivals, Alfred P Sloan, Henry Ford and William Crapo Durant, all of whom make their presence known by the sheer dominance of language and persuasion of Curcio; the foibles of Chrysler, like his dalliance with La Grande Horizontal "Peggy" add the human touch that literally melds the entire theme into the most readable and educational book I have ever read; from the creation of his dream team who created the Chrysler engine (Breer, Skelton and Zeder) until the introduction of his famous Plymouth car which made him a many times over millionaire, I couldn't part with this book until I had devoured every page, reread chapters and reviewed the events leading up to the burial in Terrytown, New York of Della Chrysler; one can almost feel the grief experienced by Chrysler as he pondered the lake beyond the grounds of his Forker House, wheel chair bound and immobilized, a giant literally dying before the eyes of the reader as the fading memory of Della consumed the end of his life. What an extraordinary author.Chrysler by design, eclypses all the mechanical marvels of that astounding era. Virrtually incomparable. Thank you! 

Contents

The Land from Which Walter Chrysler Sprang
3
The Background of the Chrysler Family
7
Kansas the Plains Indians the Stage Coach and the Coming of the Railroad
16
The Birth of Walter Chrysler How Financial Corruption Built the Railroads What Texas Cattle Meant to Kansas
26
Ellis Kansas The Cradle of Walter Chryslers Life
37
Boyhood in Ellis
44
Going to Work at the Union Pacific Roundhouse
55
Working on the Railroad
68
Chrysler at Buick
215
Chrysler at Willys
261
Putting Together the First Chrysler Car
281
The Significance of the First Chrysler Car
307
Maxwell Becomes the Chrysler Corporation
323
Art and Color Take Over the Car Business
336
Chrysler Makes It the Big Three
361
The Chrysler Building
400

Getting Married and the First Big Break
77
Putting a Lid on It and the GoAhead Signal
83
Trinidad The First Major Responsibility
86
Childress Springboard to the Future
99
Oelwein Iowa Superintendent of Motive Power and the First Car
104
The First Manufacturing Job ALCO
117
THE AUTOMOBILE AND THE ASSEMBLY LINE
125
The Early History of the Automobile
127
The Development of Mass Production
178
GREATNESS
213
1929 The Crash
445
The Great Depression Hits the Automobile Industry
466
Streamlining and the Airflow Car
518
Labor and the Strike of 1937
558
How He Lived Summing Up
603
Acknowledgments
667
Sources
671
Index
691
Copyright

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About the author (2001)


Vincent Curcio, a veteran theatrical manager-producer, is the author of Suicide Blonde, a biography of Gloria Grahame. A long-time car enthusiast, he divides his time between Union City, New Jersey, Paris, and the White Barn Theatre in Westport, Connecticut.

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