Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge in Switzerland: AMAG car factory
Starting in 1948, the Swiss assembly plant run by AMAG in coordination with Chrysler Corporation produced Plymouth and Dodge cars in Switzerland, along with Volkswagen Karmann Coupes and Studebaker Larks. The plant was known for high quality, albeit at a relatively high production cost. It took over from a local assembler, Saurer-Arbon, which built some 2,000 Chrysler Corporation vehicles (including limousines and convertibles designed in Switzerland) from 1934 to 1939.
Hans Ensing, of the Chrysler Rotterdam plant, wrote:
After the second world war, the Swiss AMAG company started an assembly operation (1948) and cars were built like Swiss premium watches, with a corresponding retail price. The Swiss, having come rich out of the war, had no problem with these prices, but their market was closed and few were exported. This compact model plant was finally closed in 1972. Unfortunately there is no real publication about the Amag history.
A curious incident happened in the mid-60s when AMAG ordered in Rotterdam a small series of B body 4 door sedans. Two weeks after delivery to AMAG, the cars were back in Rotterdam, having been rejected by the Swiss quality control. But Rotterdam, being a low cost Chrysler plant, argued that for their production prices they could not build Swiss quality. After lengthy negotiations, Rotterdam put new bodies on the cars and was allowed to charge $200 more (quite some money in those days) and shipped the cars back to AMAG. After that, export business to AMAG was very low key.
An interesting company in Switzerland has also been MOWAG who made Dodge and DeSoto based military and special purpose vehicles. Today the company is owned by General Dynamics.
The Chrysler Valiant was the most popular model built in the factory, with just 14,000 cars made over 13 years; following it was the closely related Dodge Dart, with 4,440 cars made in 12 years. A small number of Dodge Challengers were imported in the early 1970s, and only a handful are known to survive.
The plant closed in 1973. AMAG currently (2009) imports Volkswagen-Audi Group and Porsche vehicles.
MOWAG was founded in 1950 by engineer Watler Ruf, and early in its history made over 1,600 4x4 troop carriers for the Swiss army. The company built Dodge-based and DeSoto-based military and special purpose vehicles, including versions of the W (4x4) / B (rear drive) trucks. The 2,700-kilogram Feuerblitz fire truck, for example, was based on the Dodge W200 4x4. The basic chassis and powertrain would be adapted to whatever body style was needed.
Today, under General Dynamics, MOWAG makes cross-country and amphibious armored vehicles from seven to 25 tons in gross weight.
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