Chrysler Corporation has always been like the little brother to GM and Ford. While GM and Ford always seemed locked in a race for superiority, Chrysler has spent most of its time manufacturing vehicles that the other two didn’t. And they did so with much success. After all, Chrysler with all of its brands — Dodge, Jeep, Plymouth, Ram, Eagle, De Soto and Imperial— gave us things such as the first aerodynamically-designed sedan, the transistor car radio, the alternator, the Hemi V8 and, of course, the minivan.
Even the most casual enthusiasts know the big name Chrysler models such as the Plymouth Baracuda and Dodge Charger but there have been more than a few models that have fallen between the cracks. With assistance from Bosak Motors of Merrillville, IN, a full-service Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, we have identified a few unique Chrysler Corporation models that have largely been forgotten. If see one hidden away in a barn somewhere, see if it’s for sale and then buy it.
When Lee Iacocca took over Chrysler in the late ’70s, he quickly made the decision to shift most of its production to profitable, front-wheel drive compacts. The exception was the rear-wheel drive Imperial which was designed to compete with Lincoln and Cadillac. The result was a gawky, expensive coupe that never really took off. Just over 12,000 imperials were built.
1963 Chrysler 300J
Chrysler’s 300 series cars represent one of its most iconic nameplates of all time. The 1963 300J offered a fire-breathing 413 cubic inch V8, excellent handling (for the era, at least) and a full leather interior. Just 400 were built before it was replaced by the cheaper, less-powerful, and incredibly successful 300K.
1967-1971 Plymouth GTX
The GTX was Plymouth’s version of 300 series car, updated for the muscle car era. Chrysler took two of its most powerful engines — the 440 six-pack, or the 426 Hemi V8 — and offered them in a fully optioned Plymouth Belvedere. Chrysler marketed this car as “The Gentlemen’s Muscle Car .” The problem was that the Plymouth GTX got lost in a lineup that offered outstanding muscle cars such as the Barracuda, Road Runner, and the Superbird. Tough competition; in five years, Chrysler managed to sell just under 50,000 of them.
1971 Dodge Demon
In 1970, Plymouth launched the Duster. It was a popular model and proved to be a hit against cars like Chevy Nova and the Ford Mustang. Chrysler was besieged by religious groups threatening to boycott Chrysler over the car’s allegedly blasphemous name. It could have been worse, Dodge originally planned to call it the Beaver.
1975-1978 Dodge Charger SE
No, not the Hemi-powered Dodge Charger from the 1960s. For 1975, Dodge transformed the once-mighty Charger from a muscle car to a bloated “luxury coupe” that was closely related to the Chrysler Cordoba. Sales proved to be a disappointment, and it was quickly repdiscontinued.