by Gerard Wilson
For details on production records and how these numbers were calculated, see the first article in this series, “Plymouth U.S. Production Figures 1946-2001.”
These tables are not definitive or fully accurate. They are the best I could do with the information which I was able to uncover. 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
D25 Deluxe/Special Deluxe were Plymouth P15 cars with Dodge badges and a scaled-down Dodge grille. Model year totals are serial numbers.
D24 Custom club coupes and sedans were built in Canada. Annual production is compiled from annual serial numbers in each country and the reported model year production in both countries combined for the same period. Serial number totals were adjusted downward to equal the reported model year production. Chassis were excluded. Data is in italics because the annual allocation between standard and long wheelbase is not known, nor is the allocation of each in each country. These are assumed to be proportional.
D24 Custom 7 passenger sedans for 1946-1948 were built on a 3.5 meter wheelbase chassis, vs 3.035 meters for the other Custom models. Annual model year production is estimated as in the previous note.
D30/D34 Custom and D42 Coronet 7 passenger sedans for 1949-1951 were again built on a 3.5 meter wheelbase chassis. The total for 1949, U.S. + Canada, is estimated as the difference between the combined U.S. and Canadian model year totals and serial number totals, or 757 units, which are them apportioned between the U.S. and Canada. For 1950 and 1951, the known model year totals are similarly apportioned. None were built in either country for 1952.
D31/D35/D39 Dodges were equivalent to the smaller 1949-1952 Plymouths, but had Dodge grilles and identification. Chrysler dealers in Canada were either Chrysler-Plymouth or Desoto-Dodge prior to 1961, so the model ranges sokd by each had to be comparable. Model year totals are serial number totals.
D32/D36/D40 Dodges were equivalent to the larger 1949-1952 Plymouths, with Dodge grilles and identification. Model year totals are serial number totals.
D30/D34 Custom and D42 Coronet club coupe and sedan models were built on a 3.1 meter wheelbase. Model year production is compiled from the serial number totals for the model year in each country and the model year production, which combines Canada and the U.S.. A futher complication is that 1951 and 1952 model year production is aggregated, as for 1946-1948. However, the availability of model year serial numbers for each country makes possible the computation of estimates.
Dodge Crusader and Regent Mayfair were redesigned and downsized for 1953-1954, but retained their boxy dimensions. Entries are serial numbers.
Dodge Coronet and Royal sedans for 1953-1954 used a longer version of the Crusader/Regent/Mayfair body, but the exciting news was the “Red Ram” V8, made in the U.S. Entries are derived from serial numbers, with adjustments.
All Chrysler products were completely redesigned for 1955, replacing the boxy look with sleek designs, putting their brands back on buyer's lists. Table entries for the 1955-1956 Crown Royal are Canadian serial numbers.
The Crusader, Regent, Mayfair for 1955-1956 were the attractive new Plymouths, with Dodge grilles and badges. For 1955, all export Dodges were built in the U.S., but Canadian production was still strong. Entries are Canadian serial numbers.
After the complete makeover for 1955, Chrysler did it again for 1957 with Virgil Exner's “Forward Look” for 1957, dramatically ahead of the rest of the market. Unfortunately, in a rush to put the “Forward Look” into production, pre-production engineering and assembly quality were neglected, and the 1957 models were a disaster, erasing a Chrysler reputation for engineering capability that went back to 1924. The problems were gradually corrected, but it would take Chrysler some time to build back to their mid 1950s volume.
The Kingsway, Crusader, Regent, Mayfair and Viscount passenger cars were Plymouths with Dodge front-end clips and identification. Model year total for 1957 is serial number total, entries for 1958 and 1959 are estimated.
Kingsway, Crusader, Regent, Mayfair, and Viscount Suburbans, 1957-1959, were built on the same 3.1 meter wheelbase chassis as the Custom Royal models. These too were beautiful designs, and they too left the assembly lines with major flaws. The 1958 and 1959 were much improved. Custom Royal data is from Factory shipments; Suburban entries are estimated from that and other sources.
In 1960, Chrysler redesigned all of its cars from a clean sheet of paper, and all bodies except that for Imperial were semi unibody with a front subframe. The cars were stronger, well put together, and had the best anti-corrosion protection in the industry to counter leftover concerns from 1957. The Dodge Dart and Plymouth became competitors, both using the same 3 meter body with different sheetmetal. Dodge and Plymouth wagons were built on a longer 3.1 meter body also used for the 1960 Polara. The following year, Desoto-Dodge dealers became Dodge-Chrysler dealers, as Chrysler replaced both Desoto and the Polara. These entries are from Factory shipments.
As the 1962 Dodge and Plymouth were being designed, Chrysler management acted on erroneous information that the 1962 Chevrolet was being downsized, and ordered that the 1962 Dodge and Plymouth be downsized to a 2.95 meter wheelbase with a 5.1 meter overall vehicle length. The resulting 1962 Dart was an efficient package, recalling the 1953-1954 models, but failed in the market. Entry is from Factory shipments and Wards.
Recognizing its mistake, Chrysler added 75 cm to the wheelbase of the 1963-1964 Dodge, and 155 cm to the car length, to make it more acceptable. The Plymouth was enlarged by a lesser amount, but the increases were largely cosmetic, as the interiors were unchanged from 1962. The new styling was not necessarily an improvement, but quality was, and Chrysler’s 5/50 warrantly helped improve sales. The 1963-1964 wagons were also redesigned, but maintained the 2.95 meter wheelbase from 1962. Entries are from factory shipments.
Chrysler introduced new large cars for 1965, and the Dodge entries for 1965-1966 continued the effort to place Dodge above Plymouth again, while sharing as many components as possible. The Dodge 330, Polara, and Monaco were somewhat larger inside and out, more luxurious and more expensive than the Plymouth trim lines. Model year totals from Factory shipments. Many of these cars were imported into the U.S. under the U.S.-Canada Auto Pact from January 1966.
Most of the Valiants built in Canada between 1963 and 1966 had been Darts with a Valiant front end clip, so it was easy to build Darts for export to the U.S. when the Trade Pact made that commercially viable in 1966. Some of these may have been sold in Canada but most were exported to the U.S.. Entry is from factory shipments.
The full sized Polara and Monaco grew even larger for 1967-1968, restyled with sculptured contours and recessed grilles. Interior demensions were unchanged. Model year production compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates.
Polara and Monaco for 1969-1970 used the corporate “fuselage” unibody, a massive car with a flowing design. Canadian production ended in 1970, but were imported from the U.S. through 1973. Model year production compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates.
The Dodge Darts (and Plymouth Valiants) built in Canada between 1970 and 1976 were important for Chrysler. Although profit per unit was extremely modest, they sold steadily over a long product cycle with only minimal investments for annual updates. Although a compact, the conventional three-box design of the sedan and hardtop was a visual link to larger cars, which the Nova and Maverick did not have. Simple, conventional engineering, repeated over many years, reassured buyers they were buying a reliable product.
Only sedans and hardtops were built in Canada for 1970-1971. After that, published production totals combine U.S. and Canadian Darts and also combine sedan/ hardtop with coupe models which used the Valiant platform. An effort has been made to factor these out, but the table totals must be considered best estimates.
The Dart Demon, renamed Sport for 1973-1976, was Dodge's adaption of the Duster coupe, developed by Plymouth on the Valiant platform to replace the Valiant 2 door sedan. The Demon/Sport was a smaller car than the Dart sedan/hardtop models. Model year production is estimated as per the preceeding note.
The significance of the 1975-1979 Charger SE/Magnum is not that it was the first Dodge “personal luxury coupe,” a market owned by Ford and GM for the previous five years, but that it was the first car to be completely sourced from Canada for the North American market. Chrysler may have missed the boat on “personal luxury coupes,” but they understood the efficiency of single-point assembly sourcing and put it to work before everyone else. Model year production is compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates, with reference to other information.
The J-body Mirada was a trim, scaled-down replacement for the Charger SE/Magnum, which sold poorly despite a competitive design. Buyers of a mid-price-to-luxury coupe were probably influenced by Chrysler's financial situation. Model year production is compiled from monthly production and changeover dates.
The M-body Diplomat sedan had gone into U.S. production as a downsized luxury Dodge in 1977. Production was transferred to Canada during the 1981 model year, through 1983, then back to the U.S, for 1984-1989. It could be ordered in luxury trim, but many were sold as fleets — indeed, by 1983, most were fleets, with civilian buyers preferring the Chrysler version. Model year production is compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates.
The Voyager/Caravan minivans created a new vehicle category, a front-drive unibody van which drove like a passenger car, with abundant, flexible space for passengers and cargo. The first generation Caravan minivan (1984-1990) set a production record for a Canadian Dodge (since surpassed by the LX Charger/Magnum). Model year production is compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates.
When Chrysler acquied AMC in 1987, the acquisition included a Renault 30 adapted for North American markets, a new Canadian plant equipped to build it, and a Jeep-Eagle dealer network to sell it. Chrysler put it into production as the Eagle Premier, adding a Dodge Monaco when the Eagle failed to generate much interest. The Monaco was priced at the same level as the Dodge Dynasty, a more conventional choice by far (critics tended to prefer the Premier/Monaco, which was the ideological basis for the later Dodge Intrepid, but the PRV engine could be problematic). Model year production is from monthly totals and changeover dates.
The T Caravan minivans received major engineering revisions for their second cycle (1991-1995) to maintain their appeal against the vans being introduced by competitors. Model year production is from monthly totals and changeover dates.
The LH cars, including Intrepid, were a complete departure from the boxy front drive sedans that had sustained the company during the 1980s. They were low, wide and sleek, the first of a series of “cab forward” cars which made Chrysler a style leader, and profitable, during the 1990s. Because the Intrepid was sold as a Chrysler in Canada, model year production was compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates, and model year sales of the Chrysler Intrepid in Canada were subtracted from the totals. Chrysler Intrepid sales are recorded in the Chrysler table (coming soon). Thus, Intrepid entries are in intalics.
For the two cycles of minivans ending in 1995, standard wheelbase vans had been built in Canada, extended wheelbase versions in the U.S.. When the NS vans were introduced in 1996, Chrysler had equipped its plants in both countries to build both versions. The published data for 1996 through 2000 does not distinguish between standard and extended vans, so the table entries are estimates, based on monthly production and changeover dates for both versions combined. This total is apportioned using U.S. model year sales of each type, a different total than that of model year production, and thus the entries are italics.
A second generation of the LH cars was built for 1998-2003. The structure was redesigned for greater strength, rigidity, and quietness; the suspension was new, as were base and optional engines. All second cycle LH cars were built in Canada. Even allowing for U.S. production of the first generation Intrepid, the second generation was more successful. Model year production is compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates, with reference to other information.
RS Caravan, Grand Caravan, 2001-2007: The RS was a thorough revision of the NS, influenced by conversations with owners and prospects (as the NS had been). It remained a versatile, competent, spacious package at a reasonable price. The Caravan had a 2.88 meter wheelbase, the Grand Caravan had a 3.03 meter wheelbase, both with three rows of seats in different configurations. Production was somewhat lower than the previous versions, reflecting a shift in consumer preferences toward utility vehicles and stiffer competition from Honda and, later, Toyota. As with the previous vans, Canadian model year production of both versions combined is compiled from monthly totals and changeover dates, then allocated on the basis of U.S. model year sales of each. Table entries are thus shown in italics.
While Chrysler was already planning replacements for the Intrepid, Concorde, 300M, and LHS when Daimler took over in 1998, immediately after the takeover, existing plans were junked and the large-car team set out to adapt Mercedes’ large car architecture to Chrysler needs. The results were critically acclaimed, largely due to the new Hemi V8 engine, though some found the cheap interiors to be a come-down from the LH series, and the V6-powered cars suffered from added weight without added performance.
There was no immediate replacement for Dodge Intrepid; buyers wanting a large sedan (rather than the Magnum wagon) had to go to Chrysler, and Dodge large car sales plummeted until the Charger appeared in 2006. For two years, Charger easily beat Intrepid’s final-year sales, but the story afterwards was inconclusive.
Magnum itself was not especially popular, especially when compared with Intrepid or Charger. While the nameplate was dropped in 2008, the car itself continued to be made as the Chrysler 300 Touring for European export, wearing a Chrysler front fascia.
The Challenger (LC body) was added in 2008, with highly attractive “retro” exterior styling and a drab interior; the car was a niche vehicle but garnered respectable sales for a modern large coupe. The car was reportedly a bridge model between the first generation LX series and the second generation.
Chrysler entered a controlled bankruptcy in 2009, and emerged owned by a pension-and-healthcare fund, the Canadian and American governments, and Fiat. This impacted heavily on sales, both due to temporarily closures and due to consumer reaction; aside from warranty concerns, many believed it was wrong for GM and Chrysler to have any government intervention and ownership, and turned away from the companies to Ford (which accepted $6 billion in subsidized, low-interest government loans, possibly avoiding bankruptcy that way) and imports.
The Charger and Grand Caravan were both redesigned in the 2011 model year, cutting into 2011 production but rapidly increasing sales and, perhaps more important, average sale prices once the new models were out; large rebates were no longer needed to make the sale. Charger gained an eight-speed automatic with its V6, providing V8-type acceleration (0-60 in 6.6 seconds), with highway mileage of 31 mpg (US measure), along with a vastly upgraded interior and new electronics. The suspension tuning was changed for a lighter feel, with different mounting points. Grand Caravan gained a standard six-speed automatic and powerful V6, along with a complete interior redesign.
Sources expect Chrysler to refresh the Charger and Challenger in calendar-year 2014; the Challenger refresh is expected to be far more extensive. Both are expected to standardize on the eight-speed automatic, and it is unknown whether Challenger will continue to have a manual transmission option. A new 6.2 liter supercharged V8 is expected to join the current engines. A completely new minivan is to debut in calendar year 2014 or 2015 (more likely 2015). Both lines should continue to be built in Canada.
Also see Chrysler and Dodge 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