by Gerard Wilson
For details on production records and how these numbers were calculated, see the first article in this series, “Plymouth US Production Figures 1946-2001.” These tables are not definitive or fully accurate, but are the best I could do with the available information. I would welcome correspondence with anyone who is interested in this material and can correct any errors or misinformation on my part.
— Gerard Wilson, June 2013
Editor’s note: totals are for models or model groupings by generation. In some cases, totals may not be included on a chart, but will be found on the next chart. In other cases, totals on one chart include cars from a prior chart. This is unavoidable if we are to have reasonably sized tables.
The 1946-48 cars from nearly all automakers were essentially prewar models, somewhat upgraded; the need to convert factories from a wartime footing led the major companies to produce cars as quickly as they could, knowing that demand would be strong no matter what the product was.
From 1946 to 1948, the only Chryslers made in Canada were the C38 Royal and Windsor club coupes and sedans. Entries are Canadian serial numbers. Model year production reported by Chrysler aggregates Canadian and U.S. production over 1946 - 1948, an aggregate which exceeds the serial number total by 3,950 units. The table totals are serial number totals.
All Chrysler products for 1949 - 1952 had a high body and shot length for optimum interior space, in contrast to the lower and longer products of other makes. For the C45, C48 and C51, standard and 8 passenger models are in the same series. The series numbers for each country and each year are apportioned by the model year totals of standard and long wheelbase units. Standard models were built on a 3.2 meter wheelbase; 8 passenger sedans were built on a 3.5 meter wheelbase. No eight-passenger cars were built in Canada for 1952, but Canada did build the Saratoga, equipped with the new 5.4 liter “Firepower V8.” All enties for 1949 - 1951 are estimated; the 1952 entry is the serial number total.
The replacement of the straight-eight with the V8 allowed Chrysler to consolidate Windsor and New Yorker models on the same 3.2 meter wheelbase. While the cars were restyled with a one piece windshield, new rear window, and integrated rear fenders, they still looked dated as competitors moved on. Model year totals are used, apportioned between U.S. and Canada by serial numbers.
All Chrysler products underwent a complete transformation for 1955 - 1956 in what was called the “hundred million dollar look.” They were the first Chrysler products for which design, not function, was the first priority. The Chrysler brand vehicles were all built on the same chassis and had powerful standard V8 engines.
Totals for 1955 and 1956 are Canadian serial numbers, adjusted to equal the dual country model year totals.
These stylish cars gave way to an even more dramatic transformation, the “Forward Look” for 1957 - 1959 (the initial tagline: “Suddenly it’s 1960.”) Chrysler had the most advanced-design cars on the market, but they were completely undone by inadequate engineering and poor assembly quality. The resulting problems on brand new cars permanently erased Chrysler’s formerly solid reputation for quality engineering. Models for 1958 and 1959 remedied the worst defects, but confidence in the company would take time to recover. Numbers for 1957-1959 are from corporate records.
The 1957 - 1958 Canadian Windsors were equivalent to the U.S. Saratogas, using the 3.2 meter wheelbase, and the 1959 Canadian Saratoga was the U.S. Saratoga. Model year totals from factory record cited.
The 1959 Canadian Windsor was equivalent to the 1959 U.S. Windsor, using the 3.1 meter Desoto Firedome/Fireflite wheelbase. Model year total from factory record cited.
Yet another dramatic transformation occurred at Chrysler for 1960: not only were all the products (except Imperial) now semi-unitized and completely new, but the dealer networks were rationalized. The Windsor and Saratoga (1960-1962) shared a 3.1 meter wheelbase unibody and were available at both Chrysler-Plymouth and Dodge-Chrysler dealers in Canada, replacing the Desoto at the latter. Model year totals are combined U.S. + Canada model year totals less U.S.
The 1963 - 1964 Chryslers were the last to be designed by Virgil Exner. They were not much larger than the 1960 - 1962 models, but the styling made them appear larger. Chrysler quality was improving, as were public confidence in the company, and sales. Model year totals are from Wards.
The 1965 - 1966 Chryslers were designed by Elwood P. Engel. They were strong designs, and set a postwar production record during their two year model cycle. The Town & Country wagon was not produced in Canada during 1965 - 1966. When these cars ended their run, with the launch of a trade pact between the United States and Canada, Chrysler centralized all production in the U.S. until the introduction of the J-body Cordoba in 1975. Model year production for 1965 - 1966
Chrysler resumed Canadian production with the J body Cordoba coupe, 1975 - 1979. This car, and the companion Dodge Charger/ Mirada, were Chrysler's first “personal luxury coupes,” late but popular arrivals. These were the first Chrysler Corporation cars for North America to be sourced entirely from Canada. Model year production is compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates, with reference to other sources.
Chrysler had to write off a massive investment on the R-body cars, including Chrysler Newport, which were intended to reclaim a place among the large luxury cars where Chrysler had been for so many years. Although the R cars were equal or superior to their GM and Ford competitors, Chrysler's financial situation sent affluent buyers elsewhere. Model year production is from Wards.
The second Cordoba, on the Volare-based J body (1980-83), was a downsized, more attractive, better performing luxury coupe than its predecessor, and its market failure was again more attributable to the company's finances than to the product. Canada remained the sole source for this car and the similar Dodge Mirada. Model year production is from sources cited, which correspond closely to one another.
The M platform was introduced in 1977 as a smaller semi-luxury car, extremely similar to the economy Volare and Aspen in all but looks and trim; but with the declining sales and losso of larger cars, it remained in the line until 1989. Chrysler Canada made the LeBaron, New Yorker, and New Yorker Fifth Avenue sedan on this platform from 1981 to 1983, starting in mid-1981; in 1984, it was moved back to the U.S., and Chrysler-brand car production in Canada ceased until the 1993 LH cars. Model year production was compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates.
The LH cars, of which Chrysler got the New Yorker, LHS, Concord, and (in Canada and for export) Intrepid, were a dramatic transformation away from boxy front drive cars to an advanced design which made Chrysler a style leader (most reviewers neatly missed the functional advantages of the new styling, which was driven by aerodynamic concerns). The LH cars were the largest front drive cars built by Chrysler up to that time; smart design brought about interior dimensions unheard of in cars of their exterior size.
LH production was mostly in Canada, except for a few built in the U.S. between 1994 and 1996. The Dodge Intrepid was sold as the Chrysler Intrepid in Canada. The New Yorker, launched in 1993, lasted only until 1996, while the first generation Intrepid and Concord were launched in 1993 and lasted through 1997.
Model year production is compiled from monthly production and changeover dates. Intrepid units are Canadian model year sales, and are subtracted from Canadian production of the Dodge Intrepid. Net production of the Dodge Intrepid is reported in the Dodge table.
Meanwhile, the NS Town & Country van (1996-2000) was a long wheelbase (3.03 meter), luxury version of the NS vans, the same basic body as Dodge Grand Caravan and Plymouth Grand Voyager but with more upscale trim. At the end of its cycle, the Plymouth Grand Voyager was rebadged as the Chrysler Grand Voyager from January to June of 2000, and the Plymouth Voyager was rebadged Chrysler Voyager, the first short-wheelbase Chrysler minivans.
The second generation LH cars (Concorde and Intrepid, 1998-2003; LHS, 1999-2001; 300M, 1999-2003) were redesigned for greater strength, rigidity, and quietness, with upgraded engines and suspensions; they were even more successful than the first generation. Model year production compiled from monthly totals, changeover dates, and model year sales of Intrepids sold as Chryslers in Canada.
Between 2001 and 2003, the Town & Country name (now on the RS body) designated the larger 3.03 meter wheelbase vans, but in 2004 the smaller 2.8-meter Voyager vans were also renamed Town & Country; LX was the short wheelbase, LXi was the long wheelbase. In 2005, the smaller Town & Country went into Canadian production; it lasted through model-year 2007. Starting in 2008, there were no short-wheelbase Dodge or Chrysler minivans. Model year production between 2001 and 2004 is compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates. Model year production for 2005 - 2007 is estimated from monthly production and changeover dates, apportioned between the larger and smaller van on the basis of U.S. model year sales of each.
Chrysler called the minivan-based Pacifica (2004-08) a “sports tourer;” it was a large wagon with 3 rows of seats, a high stance characteristic of utilities, and passenger-car styling. It was an innovative vehicle, well thought out and built, but it did not generate the volume needed for survival, and was discontinued during Chrysler's financial difficulties.
After nine disastrous years, Daimler finally ejected Chrysler — one of the world’s most profitable automakers in 1998, losing money and sales every year Daimler fully took over management in the mid-2000s — into the waiting hands of Cerberus Capital Management, spurning an offer from the more-qualified Canadian auto supplier Magna. There was great hope and optimism until Cerberus but Bob Nardelli, who had been ejected from Home Depot with a diamond-encrusted golden parachute, in charge.
Chrysler continued its disastrous cost-cutting until forced into bankruptcy in 2008; in a deal sponsored by the U.S. and Canadian governments, Fiat ended up controlling the American automaker. Under new CEO Sergio Marchionne, Fiat invested large sums of time and money into Chrysler, hiring thousands of engineers, recalling laid off employees, and bolstering quality and design. Putting money into the existing cars, ending the cost-cutting and replacing it with lavish interiors and new features, turned the company around, and Chrysler rapidly became profitable again, slowly recapturing lost market share.
Chrysler 300 was dramatically upgraded for 2011, but the company also eliminated low-end models, particularly in 2012, to improve lease deals; some customers were lost to Dodge and Chrysler 200, but the residual values skyrocketed. The RT Town & Country was also dramatically upgraded for 2010, and retail sales shot up, though they remained stubbornly below past heights. Part of the problem for both cars was new competition, particularly in the minivan segment.
Also see Chrysler history by year
Also by Gerard Wilson: Chrysler 1945-48 • Chrysler 1949-52 • Chrysler 1953-54 • Chrysler 1955-56
and Production numbers and histories, 1946-onwards
All Mopar Car and Truck News